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Meet the accountant getting London on its bike

Author: Student Insights

Published: 12 May 2020

A London cyclist

ICAEW Chartered Accountant Andy Nunn is co-founder of Buzzbike, a subscription bicycle service based in London. Here’s how his accountancy background has propelled him forward

“Cycling, sustainability, subscription models. There are lots of things to kick off with that suggest we should be successful,” says Andy Nunn, ICAEW Chartered Accountant and co-founder of Buzzbike, a subscription bike service. “Obviously you’ve got to add hard work into that, but hopefully we’ll get there.”

It is this kind of optimism that underpins Nunn’s ethos. He set up Buzzbike in 2016 with co-founder and business partner Tom Hares. 

Nunn may now be in the saddle of a start-up, but he started in audit. After spending a year at a boutique corporate advisory firm while at university, Nunn realised his skills lay within the world of finance. He had an uncle who was an accountant and had some understanding of the profession from an early age. 

“I recognised the ACA was a good foundation qualification that would allow me to then go into whatever career I wanted,” says Nunn, reflecting on what led him to train as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. Qualifying with KPMG, he subsequently spent nine years with the Big Four firm. The first three were spent in audit, before Nunn transferred into corporate strategy, focusing on financial services and asset management. 

Throughout his ACA, Nunn often found himself interacting with CFOs and business leaders. “This can be quite an intimidating experience to begin with, but you quickly get to grips with it and learn you can do it,” he explains. “I’ve been thrown in the deep end, having to present to boards with very little notice. You think: ‘Well, if I can pull that off, then I can pull most things off’”. 

The fundamental financial knowledge he has gained has helped in building his business. “Being able to look at financial models and talk about business models in an articulate way is largely down to the grounding I got with the ACA and at KPMG,” he says. He also thinks that the credibility this has provided has paid dividends when speaking to potential backers. “When I’m pitching to investors and they see my background, I think they are reassured that the numbers will be accurate and well considered – less pie in the sky.” 

This confidence has certainly converted to commercial success. Buzzbike deals directly with its customers and is getting a lot of good feedback. However, this was not the original model. Rather, Nunn and Hares started out creating branded bike schemes for businesses, beginning with a couple of partnerships with PayPal. “We earned some really good revenue from those partnerships and that gave us a false sense of security, the idea that we were on to a real winning idea,” Nunn explains. 

But the business-to-business model came with challenges and left both him and Hares feeling the growth of Buzzbike was not entirely within their control. “We were almost at the point of signing contracts and then a person would get promoted or leave the business and suddenly all bets are off and we’ve lost that partnership,” he recalls. Not to be deterred, they embraced the challenge. “We’ve had a couple of pivots as a business and I think that’s because we have been flexible. It has actually put us in good stead. Ultimately I think we’ll be a much better business because of it.”