Syd Nadim: Time to give something back

PUBLISHED: 14:14 24 July 2010 | UPDATED: 14:48 20 February 2013

Syd Nadim is committed to helping others

Syd Nadim is committed to helping others

Ten years ago, Syd Nadim was jobless and homeless. Today, he runs one of the country's top digital marketing companies, thanks to a grant from The Prince's Trust and now devotes his time to give other disadvantaged youngsters the chance he had

SYD Nadim's company Clock is housed in an 18th century schoolhouse in King's Langley. Inside, the atmosphere is relaxed and funky. A signpost to Royston Vasey greets you at the entrance - evidence of the fact that the firm's client list includes BBC2's cult comedy, The League of Gentlemen.

Clock Ltd has designed websites for the likes of comedians Eddie Izzard and Bill Bailey, and corporations ranging from Channel 4 to JD Wetherspoon. It has an office in Shanghai and is recognised as one of the 100 top digital marketing companies in the country.

Today Syd, the company's founder and chief executive, is clearly fulfilled and at ease with himself. At 33, he's already a millionaire. But, ten years ago, he was unemployed, with nowhere to call home. He had been made redundant twice, and his family home had been repossessed. The Prince's Trust came to his aid, giving him a 3,000 and 500 grant to launch a design and marketing company. And today Syd is repaying the debt he feels he owes the Trust, having become chairman of its fundraising committee in Hertfordshire.

Syd devotes up to 15 hours a week to his work with the Trust, which helps disadvantaged young people set up their own business. The Herts committee aims to raise 100,000 this year - a loan of 5,000 can help a young person launch a new business and money is also spent creating training schemes for youngsters who have been excluded from school or in trouble with the law. 'Many of these young people just need someone to support and believe in them,' explains Syd, 'and the more money we can raise, the more lives we can turn around.'

Syd grew up in St Albans and later north Watford, the son of an English mother and an Egyptian father. His family belonged to a strict religious organisation, which in those days forbade the celebration of Christmas or even birthdays. Followers were expected to donate large sums of money and 10 per cent of Syd's pocket money was tithed.
It was only when he was 21 that Syd finally broke from the church. Today, he is a passionate agnostic and believes he is a far more tolerant, humbler person than he was then.

After abandoning an art foundation course after three months, Syd found work at an advertising agency. He was made redundant, however, a few months later. Another job at a design agency in London ended when he was made redundant again after 18 months. 'I do believe I was fairly unemployable,' he says. 'I was seen as a bit of a loose cannon who kept asking too many awkward questions!'

So, at the age of 23, he was jobless and homeless but he spotted the potential of the internet very early on, and his vision of creating the 'best digital marketing agency on the planet' was formed.

He approached his bank for a loan, but with no job, assets or home, they were not prepared to back him. They did, however, direct him to the Prince's Trust, which recognised Syd's potential. They gave him a loan of 3,000, plus a 500 grant, helped him construct a business plan, and offered him support and mentoring. The Trust loan persuaded his bank manager to lend him a further 6,500. It was enough for Syd to launch his own business.

He rented a small office from the Watford Enterprise Agency for 100 a week, worked round the clock - hence the company name - and, still homeless, slept on a rolled-up mattress on the office floor for the first five months. 'We built our own desks out of MDF and we used to toast bread by nailing it to a broom handle and waving it in front of this big, noisy gas heater,' says Syd. 'It was very much a hand-to-mouth existence, but I was just totally dedicated.'

Article taken from September issue of Hertfordshire Life

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