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John Nichols

Career Path: Founder & Editor-in-Chief, NFT Insider & Head of Content,
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Post-graduation, I wanted to combine my drive to improve my sales ability, my interest in media, and my desire to work with high-end products and brands. I found an ideal fit at Living North, where I quickly rose to lead the sales team, working with global brands such as Rolex, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, generating almost £200,000 in sales over my tenure.


In February 2021, I developed an interest in web3 and blockchain technology. I created NFT Insider - a media outlet covering developments in the industry - in May 2021, building it on evenings and weekends whilst still at Living North.


Just four months later, I sold the brand to Solutions GmbH and took a strategic role at one of Europe's fastest-growing web3 companies, helping them grow from less than 10 people to a global team of over 40 that has facilitated $500M+ in trading volume to date.

What are you doing now?John Nichols

Today, I'm the COO of NFT Plazas, one of the longest-tenured media outlets in web3. My day-to-day sees me manage our global team of writers, salespeople and freelancers, explore growth opportunities and plan & execute on the strategic direction of the wider company. That includes major strategic acquisitions in Q2 2024 as we look to expand our global operations.


I’m a regular speaker, panel moderator & interviewer at major industry conferences, spanning NYC, London and Cologne in the past 12 months, to name a few. This includes exclusive interviews with world-leading figures in AI, such as Ben Goertzel, creator of humanoid robot Sophia.


In addition, I'm a podcast host & producer, and a consultant on NFTs, blockchain and Web3.


Away from web3, I’ve recently founded a media company in the motorsports industry. We cover real-world motorsports alongside the burgeoning sim racing industry, and explore where and how the two converge.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

Northumbria stood out as one of the UK's leading universities for Student & Graduate Enterprise. After speaking to staff and students, its innovative, practical and forward-thinking approach to Entrepreneurship study struck a chord with me - and in hindsight, I couldn't have made a better choice than to study here.


The supportive staff, the skills I honed and the ample opportunities to broaden my horizons with real-world experience made my studies a time I remember fondly. I wouldn't be where I am today without the skills, knowledge, and experiences that my time at Northumbria gave me.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

As a degree focused on practical knowledge, our day-to-day featured a medley of lectures and seminars that led to team projects, encouraging us to start our own small businesses and gain real-world experience of the degree material - not just theory.


Due to the vast and varied experience of the lecturers, there was always a specialist on hand - whether you had questions on venture capital, marketing, productivity or more.


Feedback was regular, constructive, and always with the view of not just improving your grades and test scores, but challenging your perceptions, developing your critical thinking, and making you a better entrepreneur.

How connected was your course with industry?


The degree featured ample opportunities to engage with local, national, and international start-up environments. Introductions were made to numerous accelerator programmes to further develop and field-test our ideas, and we could also benefit from cross-degree projects, dedicated networking events with local business leaders, and connections with other entrepreneurship programmes across the UK.


Guest lectures were a regular occurrence, giving us the ability to learn from the experience of, and ask questions to, tenured leaders from a variety of industries.

What was the best thing about your course?

I can't emphasize enough just how many opportunities the course provided to us students. Barely a week went by without an intriguing guest lecture, an invitation to an accelerator programme, or a networking event for us to attend. At every corner, there were fresh opportunities within our reach.


The lecturers had a genuine care for both our personal and professional development, and there was ample support, guidance and extra-curricular activity on offer for all students to take advantage of.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

I’d started my own business at the age of 13 - a graphic design service - so I knew Entrepreneurship was the path I wished to take. With that said, I came into Northumbria with limited knowledge of where my real strengths and weaknesses lay. The guidance, challenges and support offered by the lecturers was key in helping me better understand myself - furthering my strengths, improving my weaknesses, and revealing aspects of my personal and professional skillset that I'd yet to uncover.


The skills, advice and mentorship provided helped further not just my own ability, but to also better understand and appreciate the ability of those around me. No entrepreneur succeeds alone, and that perception has paid dividends over my career thus far, helping me recognise talent, build better teams and forge great culture.


As President of the Entrepreneurs Society from 2017-18, I had further opportunities to make great connections - not just for myself, but for the whole society cohort - with business leaders and entrepreneurial minds from across the UK, plus additional opportunities to gain experience in leadership, management, interpersonal skills and more

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

The realisation, recognition and improvement of my sales and presentation ability was undoubtedly one of the biggest advancements I made in my personal development at Northumbria. The confidence which my lecturers instilled in me is an asset that I use every single day, and has proven vital in my various on-stage, presentation and pitching roles.


Our team projects - and the various roles I held within them - led to ample leadership and management progress. The academic theory, practical tips and sound advice given to me were a big part of my success at Living North, and more recently with the growth in company and culture at both and NFT Plazas.


Core theory - such as setup, taxation and legal matters – gave me the know-how necessary to set up NFT Insider in May 2021 (and other businesses since), and the focus on developing practical professional skills has guided my personal growth to this day.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

The camaraderie between peers on my degree was fantastic. I've kept in touch with a number of fellow students - not just in my own year, but across the degree programme - as they've began their careers, many of them helming successful startups. I’ve crossed paths with a few many years later!


The numerous opportunities to go out into the real-world and conduct real business - with full support of the faculty, lecturers and more - was invaluable, both to my degree programme then, and to the entrepreneur I am now.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

If you have an entrepreneurial mind – whether you’re looking to start your own business or wish to develop the practical skills to help your career kick-start with a bang – Northumbria’s entrepreneurial degrees are a no-brainer.


There's ample opportunity to further your personal and professional development – not just the academic theory, but the practical skills that’ll set you up to succeed in any industry.


Once here, rest assured the lecturers take your development to heart, and they have vast amounts of experience, knowledge and insights they’re more than willing to share.


Explore the fabolous extra-curricular opportunities on your degree programme and at the Student Union – and make the most of where you are too! Newcastle is a rapidly growing hotbed for startups, especially in tech and creative industries, and there’s many fantastic networking events, co-working spaces and mixers right on your doorstep.


Newcastle is much more than its vibrant nightlife - it's a melting pot of cultures, ideas and new thinking, so whatever it is you're interested in or whatever career path excites you, get stuck in, ask questions and put yourself out there. "Shy bairns get nowt" is a Geordie saying for a reason!

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Modern. Innovation. Opportunity.

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