CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Julian Nevin, Founder & CEO at roamad

Julian Nevin, Founder & CEO at roamad, an all-in-one app designed for caravan, campervan and motorhome owners.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I grew up in a non-academic working-class family. We never had much money, and my parents separated when I was young. I decided not to go to uni and instead pursue a different path.

I’ve always had a “work” mentality. Aged 13, I started a weekday paper round, which I would do before school and then switched to weekends. At 15, I worked for my auntie and uncle as a fishmonger in their shop every Saturday morning and would caddy for a golfer on the occasional Sunday morning.

At 16, I was legally allowed to work in stores and had various jobs. One was a Team Leader role for a well-known retailer in the UK. I would work here in between studying photography at college. At19, I was promoted and became the youngest Customer Service Manager in the company. 

Aged 21, I started working for a corporate events agency and began Freelance Event Management. I’ve managed events for some of the world’s most successful brands.

I realised in my early 20s, I wanted to one day found my own company and become a CEO. I’d always had the “work hard” mentality, but I realised I had a set of skills, abilities and experience to put to great use. My biggest challenge was finding an industry I loved and in which I knew I could make a difference. 

Just before I turned 23, I left the UK to go backpacking for one year. I stopped in Australia for ten weeks on the trip and purchased a self-built campervan. After the experience, I knew I would one day convert my own to live, work and travel in – I knew that I had “The Travel Bug”.

Upon my return, I continued working as a Freelance Event Manager, which I did alongside a photography job working for an international school portraiture company, allowing me to travel around the world and get paid simultaneously!

Working for the photography company, I met my Fiancée in Singapore. She lived an hour from me in the UK, and I learned she also wanted to convert a campervan. Fast forward a few years to the pandemic, we bought a van to transform into a motorhome, which we planned to use as a home and office. We started a small wedding photography and videography business. Having the motorhome meant we could accept clients all around the UK whilst travelling and exploring on days off.

I quickly realised there was an opportunity in the camping sector for a new product which is an improvement on existing products but with new features and more benefits. 

My entrepreneurial mindset kicked in and I founded Roamad – A marketplace to find campsites, parking locations and public facilities for the camping and motorhome communities. I began planning and eventually hired developers to develop the app. I hired a few people to work on the project with me, knowing we had a mammoth task ahead.

I can’t classify myself as an entrepreneur because we’re in the startup phase. We’ve bootstrapped the project and will be releasing our MVP in April.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

As I live an alternative lifestyle and our company is remotely operated, my workday is unusual compared to the conventional work life. I have a different view and office throughout the week. 

Most mornings, I wake up, take the dogs out, feed them, and myself and I jump straight online. 

For the past few months, I’ve been working abroad, which has meant I’m often working in the mornings and then working mid-afternoon into the evening. I’m a few hours ahead of our clients and team, so I usually have meetings later in the day.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

As I worked a lot in my younger years, I realised the importance of a healthy work-life ratio.

My lifestyle in the motorhome allows me to live a healthy work-life balance. Although always being “on the go” gets tiring. Living in a confined space can be challenging, especially living with someone else and two dogs.

I work based on tasks, not time and break up my work throughout the day. I’m more productive focusing on one task, taking a break, and concentrating on the next. Depending on the location, I may take the dogs out, have food, go on a short hike, paddle boarding or swim during my breaks.

I’m still waiting to earn a salary from my business, so I’m committing much of my time to making the company successful – My work pattern will change once we’ve fully launched. 

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

I’ve realised that although I enjoy my current lifestyle, I’ve been doing it for over two years.

It’s been great as I can live a much cheaper lifestyle, meaning I can work less for financial gain, and it’s enabled me to have more free time to focus on my business.

However, as we get closer to the release date, I want to be based in the UK to network in person, have a base with more space and live a slower pace of life. My Finacée and I are selling our motorhome to buy a narrowboat – Another excellent alternative method to living an off-grid and cheaper lifestyle. 

I’ve realised the importance of routine and stability. We plan to convert another van later in the year for extended holidays. We’re considering flying abroad to travel and work, living a nomadic lifestyle and having a remotely operated business tied in with a healthy work-life balance.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

I want to use social media as an educational tool. I recently started new social media accounts and manipulated the algorithms to follow a small number of people who are personal inspirations of mine. 

My two most inspirational ntrepreneurs and influencers are Steven Bartlett and Alex Hormozi.

My two book suggestions: Startup CEO by Matt Blumberg and The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib.

I love listening to The Diary of a CEO.

If you’re a startup or looking to start your own business, check out “Y Combinator”, which has many excellent tutorials. Annoyingly, I only recently discovered the platform, but I suggest checking them out.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Growing up, I saw others around me conforming to the traditional way of life. Many have houses and kids, and some have very successful careers. I often felt envious and thought I’d underachieved and made the wrong choices.

I’ve tried a few different industries and started and stepped away from business ideas. I’ve always seen my career path as an experiment to discover what I do and don’t like. 

Although I never proceeded this far with other ideas, I still gained valuable knowledge and experiences which have allowed me to have greater knowledge on how to start and run a business compared to many people I know working for one company in one field.

I didn’t know what industry to start a business in, but I knew what I wanted to be. Instead of wasting my youth trying desperately to find it, I enjoyed it by travelling. I found my career by pursuing my dream of converting a van and my passion for travel.

I’ve always had a “work hard, play hard” lifestyle, but I knew my skills, abilities and goal: to become an Entrepreneur. Even though I’m not there yet, I know what I need to continue to do to succeed.

I’ll sum it up with this: Sometimes, when we try too hard to find the answers, we miss what’s in front of us. When we compare ourselves to others, we’re devaluing ourselves. Stop comparing yourself, forget the past, focus on the present and think about what you want your life to look like in the future.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.