FCI London’s Founder and CEO, Firdaus Nagree, is an action-driven serial entrepreneur, a seasoned professional, father, husband, and a passionate scuba diver who has founded numerous successful companies since 1999.
After beginning his career as a strategy consultant with Accenture, Mr Nagree became involved in the London property scene, trading properties from the age of 21. He began investing in equities in 1999. He has been actively involved as an executive, board member, or investor in a variety of sectors including digital hospitality, F&B, construction, interior design, retail, bridge finance, PropTech, education, aggregated logistics, property, on-demand food delivery and insurance.
A Glimpse of FCI
FCI was established in 1985 and has grown from a 5000 sq. ft showroom to one of the largest luxury furniture and interiors brands in the UK. The company is an independently owned family business with deep roots in furniture design, manufacture and interiors. Today they showcase over 700 carefully curated furniture brands from Europe and beyond in their North London showroom as well as offering a comprehensive interior design service with a team of highly-trained designers.
FCI’s clients are spread across a variety of sectors, from high-net-worth individuals and corporates to regular Joe Public. The company ethos is centred around customer service. All companies talk about wanting to make their customers happy but not all succeed. At FCI, the focus is on understanding what a customer wants and solving their problem in a way that makes them happy. When you have a team of people this committed to solving problems and making the customer feel you have gone out of your way, it creates faith in the brand and you will see success.
Interview with Firdaus Nagree
What factors influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur?
I’ve grown up in a business environment. I’ve always enjoyed interacting with people and figuring out what they wanted, then giving them what they wanted and making them happy and, in doing so, creating a profit for myself. In my early days I worked for Accenture, a global consulting organisation. I enjoyed the whole process of understanding a business and figuring out the bits within the business that were not efficient, then dismantling those pieces and re-assembling them. In building my businesses, that’s what we’ve done consistently. Build a business, figure out what makes the client happy and what the problem is that we are trying to solve; going back to reiterate, fine-tune and optimise.
What challenges did you face along the way?
There are many challenges on a day-to-day basis, some you can predict and some you can’t. That is the path of business and entrepreneurship it’s the fun of it, but also the problem-solving. The primary challenge is getting the team right. You have to understand what drives them and be clear on the culture that you want within the company. You then bring people into the company who understand the core values and themselves have similar core values, because that makes everything else easier. Once you’ve got the team right, everything else can work around that. If there are technical things that need to be taught and people have the right attitude, they will learn. If there are challenges and people have the same mindset, they will attack them together as one rather than having conflicting opinions, which would slow things down.
What support systems do you have in place?
I didn’t accept help from people and that was of my biggest downfalls. I used to think that I knew it all, but obviously I didn’t. It’s only in the last 5 or 6 years that I started seeking out help from others. EO has been a big part of that. EO is an Entrepreneurs Organisation, a global network of entrepreneurs whose aim is to help members learn and grow and find peer support. It has around 14 000 members and most of the entrepreneurs involved cite EO as being a huge part of not just their business and financial success but also their life success, their family success and their success in their happiness.
What is the most important thing you’ve learnt?
It’s a simple thing, but I would say view each failure as a learning opportunity. I do get down when things don’t work out or when things don’t work out quickly enough, but I never wallow. I keep moving forward and it always turns out for the best. Everything that happens is a learning opportunity you learn something, then you move forward and you try again. Most importantly, you never give up.
A day in Firdaus’s life
My day begins at around 5am. I go for a run or a swim followed by meditation and journaling, where I sit quietly and write down whatever comes into my head. I’ll also do some yoga and stretching. I love to read and while I’m running, I’ll usually listen to an audiobook, something around a subject I’m interested in or an industry that I’ve invested in. Sometimes it’s books on personal development or breathing. When I get the time, I love scuba diving. After a full day of work, I unwind before bed at 9pm by reading, usually something fiction this time. Before I go to sleep at night, I block out all blue light.
Favourite Book: Aldous Huxley – Last and First Men
From the CEO’s Desk
What’s next in the near future?
We’re building a sass platform for one of our businesses which is the big thing that I am excited about. I love technology and solving problems. I
think the platform that we’re going to build will solve problems that haven’t yet been solved. We’ve built an MVP of it that went well. I don’t want to say too much about it, we are still in the very early stages.
Awards and milestones
We’ve won many different awards for best showroom, best interiors, best up and coming business. They’re all great but I don’t think we get over-excited about these. The things we get excited about are the customer reviews. We do have some not-so-great ones and we try and learn from them, but the positive customer reviews that we get are the correct rewards to pay attention to.
Your best piece advice
Starting a business isn’t easy. Whether it’s picking a business idea, creating a business plan, or attempting to secure funding, a lot of things can go wrong. However, with a solid idea and a strong support system, anyone can become a successful entrepreneur.