Nik Spencer is an entrepreneur, business consultant and inventor of the home energy recovery unit (HERU) – a world-first solution to domestic waste management. Owner and founder of numerous successful startups, Nik traces his entrepreneurial career back to school.
Born in Oxfodshire in 1970, Nik lived in Tysoe with his parents. Although never suited to the education system, Nik was a born entrepreneur. Unlike the other children, who spent their pocket money on sweets and toys, Nik saved up for months to buy a briefcase. In his mind, a successful businessman wouldn’t dream of keeping his papers in a rucksack.
His first experience in the corporate world was through washing cars. After speaking with the local bakery, Nik negotiated an empty car park that he used as headquarters. To ensure the highest possible customer satisfaction, Nik would walk around the village and inspect the cars after every wash to ensure each were completed to meticulous standards. This attention to detail has continued to play an instrumental role in his career ever since.
Quickly building a strong reputation in the local community, Nik started a window cleaning venture – repurposing the same sponges and buckets used to clean cars. After building a strong portfolio of customers and a respected local brand, this became the first business he sold, aged 20.
As a true country gent, Nik had always been well-accustomed to the agricultural way of life. He therefore reinvested his profits into two businesses, which he ran in parallel. Alongside building a livery yard, Nik purchased a tractor and mower and set about contracting for local farmers. Demand quickly increased and Nik continued to invest in new equipment, which led to the agreement of a significant verge cutting contract with Warwickshire County Council.
In 1994 Nik sold the contracting business and focused efforts on the equine industry. As a cost-effective animal bedding alternative for his customers, Nik began collecting old newspapers, which he would shred and sell. This business was lucrative, but the market’s ups and downs were challenging. After receiving a buy-out offer from Biffa, he agreed to sell up.
From here, Nik started a number of businesses. These included a refuse vehicle hire company that grew to a fleet of 180 trucks, alongside a recycling facility using custom-designed MRF equipment, developed using processes learned from the food and drink industry. After securing a buyout offer from Kier Environmental, Nik once again agreed to sell, with the caveat of taking a seat on the Kier Environmental Board whilst remaining Chairman of the companies he retained.
In 2013 he left Kier and once again ignited his passion for entrepreneurship. Utilising his knowledge and understanding of the recycling industry, he set a clear goal – to solve the national issue of domestic waste management.
Working in partnership with numerous academics from across Europe, he developed an idea which would bring waste-to-energy (WTE) technology to the home – the Home Energy Recovery System (HERU).
HERU was born out of a personal drive and passion to stop homeowners wasting valuable resources, as well as wider pressures to minimise the landfilling of waste. Designed to fit seamlessly into domestic properties, the unit will process all domestic waste into clean energy, generating hot water for the household.
In 2016, the HERU was awarded support from the Government’s Innovate Energy Game Changer fund, enabling further development and trials. Multiple full-scale field evaluations will commence at the end of 2017, with a view to full production 2019/20.
Nik’s outlook is simple – set your dreams, work hard, make mistakes and learn from them. If you feel like you don’t fit in, don’t worry. Some of the most successful figureheads in global business have experienced the very same feeling… and some of them still do!
When pushed, he states honesty, integrity, hard-work and attention to detail as key factors in his success. An advocate of learning and development, Nik is married and lives with his wife and two children in Worcestershire.