Tuesday, August 28

inspired by locals: nate from urbanist guide

As you all know, I started my "Inspired by Locals" series to educate myself and you all about starting a business and following your passion. This week, I'd like to introduce Nate, my boss and the founder of Urbanist Guide, a free map of San Diego highlighting the spots around town that represent the best urban San Diego.

A few months ago, I was searching for something more in my life. I didn't know if anyone even read my blog and I felt my love and passion for San Diego and small businesses just itching for more attention. Though I'd been a big fan of Urbanist for a while, I had no idea who was behind the guide. So I did what I do best: I stalked/harassed/bothered Dayna (the editor) and Nate (the founder) until I was granted an intern position which turned into Urban Dish columnist. [Persistence is the key, people!] And I found what I was missing. I needed a chance to work alongside passionate and intelligent people. I needed role models and creativity in my life. I needed to feel like I was making a difference. And that's exactly what I've gained from Urbanist. Though it's not my full time job, the opportunity to work with Nate has been nothing less than a privilege. He's accomplished so much yet remains a humble and passionate individual who is continuously striving to better his product and help small businesses in any way that he can.

I can't think of anything more inspiring.

nate, founder of urbanist guide

You've had quite the career path! Tell me about it. 
I grew up in Chicago and wanted to get to the west coast or the mountains after I graduated from Indiana University. I wasn’t having much luck finding a job where I wanted to live. [Previously], I had visited Colorado on a family vacation and while there I was there, I found a job for a bank management position. I was obsessed with snowboarding and I wanted to be around the mountains so I took the position to live in Breckenridge. I lived there for five years and worked as a bank manager. I snowboarded every minute in between. Then I picked up and moved to California. My main goal was to get into action sports but that didn’t work out. I was managing a credit union and I loved living in San Diego. Around the same time, I discovered a guide similar to Urbanist in Chicago while visiting my family. My sister raved about it so I brought the guide back to San Diego and put it on my coffee table. Whenever friends came over, I showed it [the guide] to them. Everyone was excited and thought San Diego could use something like that. So I partnered with the guy in Chicago and convinced him to grow the brand in San Diego and LA. Then, I quit the bank job, saved 10 grand and scrounged for six months trying to launch the print guide. By then, I had made all of these relationships so I got into commercial real estate. I've been doing that about seven years now and just six months ago, started a third endeavor [a jewelry business with wife, Kristi].  

What hardships did you come across when starting your own business? 
The biggest challenge was going from a corporate job into self employment. The funniest part is the first conversation you have with your parents. Especially if they're used to you having a steady paycheck and you’ve been on that route. But I saved up a little money and just went for it. My parents weren’t talking me out of it or anything but [there was] lots of “are you sure?” There's always uncertainty with any entrepreuneuial endeavor. But it's something I'm thankful for: to promote other people and businesses. To find something that you're passionate about and give it a whirl.

What's something you wish you knew when you were 23?
When I was 23, I still had this perception of the world that it didn’t matter who you knew but it was more about your education and what you learned. By the time I got to be 27, I realized that relationships were everything. You can't go through the business world alone. You have to get out there and meet people; many industries are more who you know than what you know and you have to cherish those relationships.


What are your plans to grow Urbanist? 
People ask us all the time if we'll grow into the beach or north but for now, it's a walkable guide [of urban San Diego]. We're talking with four different cities now to grow the brand in the next year or six months. 

What do you hope people get out of Urbanist?
I've heard of people who just moved to San Diego and I'll hear, "that’s been my bible for the last two months! I just moved to town and I check off all of the spots from my fridge!" I love that. I've gotten that sort of response more than once and it makes me feel great. Whether people are new to town or just visiting for the weekend, if they try one spot and love it, they'll keep using the guide while they're in town. That’s what our goal has been and the feedback has been great. It's a more unique San Diego experience. So many people end up walking aimlessly and guessing where to eat and where to go when they visit a new city. Hopefully the guide is an avenue for people to make these places easier to find.

If you had 24 hours to show a visitor around San Diego, where would you take them? 
I have a weekly craving for Pizzeria Bruno. It's completely underrated. But I swear their salami pizza is my favorite thing in San Diego right now. I also love going to Hamilton's. It's by my house and feels like the bars I grew up around. Between the juke box, beers and shuttleboard, I keep going back there. I go to Neighborhood all the time for lunch; their ahi sandwich is incredible. I go to Roast Coach for coffee; they pour a mean cup of joe. And I go to the Casbah to see bands whenever I can. When I have people in town, I go to Bencotto. It’s the best Italian in San Diego.

Why do you think living in San Diego is so special? 
I moved here to surf and I still live here because of the surf. I wake up at 4:30 a.m. and I go surfing before work, two or three days a week and then once in a while on the weekend. You can't do that many other places year round. I love so much about the city; I get so excited about new businesses. I think we have a very special arts and culture and dining scene here and I've tried my best to support and promote that. But the natural assets of the beach and the sun and the weather are really what keeps me here. To have an outdoor lifestyle but with all of the benefits of a big city, you can't find that many other places in this world.

If you live in San Diego, you most definitely cannot miss the 2012 Urbanist Release Party at Seven Grand in North Park. Free amazing beer, great food, great tunes and even better people.


Jess | the Jess Journals said...

Great series, and love this interview too!

Kate Fitchett said...

What a great blog post and interview! It makes me wish I just pick up my bags and fly to Cali.

Anonymous said...

LOVE this! That's you boss?? Sounds like a great guy to work for!

Tiffany @ Polka Dotted Cats said...

I don't know how on earth I missed this, but I will read nothing else besides this guide.

Allie said...

i will bring you one (or you can probs find a bunch wandering the streets of north park) WHEN WE HANGOUT!

Katherine / Of Corgis and Cocktails said...

if i ever am by / in san diego (hopefully soon) i would love to use this guide. such a great idea - and so true about who you know in business. education is great and all - but connections mean so much

<3 katherine
of corgis and cocktails

Jenny said...

I love hearing success stories like Nate's! What an inspiring man. x


Anya Volkov said...

Must get to San Diego asap!! What a great interview & great idea behind the company.

Emily said...

How exciting that you were able to get a job working with Urbanist! Your persistence is inspiring as I'm in the hard place of looking for a job now. This was a reminder to keep trying when I really, really love something.

Vic said...

I only spent a few days in San Diego when I visited, but I absolutely loved it. I can't wait to come back!