- Recommendations: Dean Fankhauser of NUJI
- Posted 29 months ago by Jack Lowe · culture · 6903 Views
"Recommendations" is the name of a new regular feature we will be running in which we ask industry leaders, creatives, and innovators to tell us what they do, where they came from, and what they love about the city they currently live in, recommending their favourite food spots, shops, retreats and more…
First up we have Dean Fankhauser, the London-based founder and director of Nuji.com - a "social wishlist" website which allows you to favourite items from any store and follow people with similar taste.
I'm the founder of Nuji.com. I love the stage of our business right now. It's small enough that I can get my hands dirty in design, marketing, finance, HR, anything I want really. It's the one job I've had where I'm not counting down the hours to 6pm. It's an interesting project for me to work on because I think the way people shop and discover things is ripe for disruption. eBay and Amazon were created more than 10 years ago. It's time for commerce to be rethought on a blank slate and that's exactly what we're doing.
It's really exciting to think of things as a blank slate and say "if we were to think of commerce from scratch, how would it work, what would it be?". I think it should happen in all industries much more often. Most industries are ripe for disruption every 10 years.
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia. It has a big art, design, fashion and food scene that I think rivals some of the best cities in the world. To sum it up, I'd describe Melbourne as a mixture of Berlin and San Francisco.
Berlin would have to be my second influence. My dad lived there most of my life, so I was coming and going since I was a kid. It was a great experience to see it transition over the last 15 years since the wall came down. To me, Berlin was a blank canvas when the wall came down. It was an opportunity to rethink what the city was and it was great to see a bunch of really creative people from around the world embrace it and turn it into one of the most exciting cities on the planet.
I'm really curious as to what will happen to the city over the next 15 years. I know the locals feel as though it is going to lose its creativity, its edge and rawness but I think if the right people guide it, it can become something really great.
Most people don’t know this but Vincent and I started Nuji from a kitchen bench in a small flat in Kreuzberg. It was one of Berlin's worst winters and let me tell you, we were productive!
I've been living in London on and off for about 5 years. I live in Hackney in a beautiful part of town called Lauriston Village. It's right next to Victoria Park. It was always nice, though now that they’ve done the park up for the Olympics, it's really special. It's my little escape from London, even though it's right in the middle of things.
I just got back from visiting lots of US cities and every time I leave I can't keep the smile off my face when I'm on that tube back home. This city has energy, history, culture and diversity that rival any other. It doesn't matter if you look at its past, present or its future; London is probably the most amazing city in the world. I was reminded of that in the opening ceremony.
It's unique in that it can marvel in its past but still manage to look far into the future. That's why it's the perfect HQ for a company like Nuji. We need both of these things. I'm glad this city is shaping the culture of our business.
For me, special places to eat in London include The Hemingway; their sirloin is amazing! La Bouche; you can basically close your eyes and point and your meal will still be good. I eat there almost everyday. It's sending me broke, but I don't care. Climpson & Sons; the coffee, the smoked salmon with peppers, wasabi mayonnaise on toast. Do it. Loafing; I'm there every Sunday morning getting the best bread in town and sometimes a coffee to go. Hurwendeki; great Korean food with an equally nice atmosphere and décor. Moro; tapas on Exmouth Market. Hoxton Bar and Grill; one of the best burgers I think I’ve ever had.
It's always been difficult for me to want to live in one city my whole life. The city I choose to live either has to grow with me or I'll move as my taste and needs change. There is no perfect place, just an ideal place for different periods of your life. At this stage in my life, I could only live in London or New York. I'm certain that I'll feel differently in five years time and somewhere like Copenhagen, Berlin or San Francisco will appeal to me more.
I'm definitely happy to call London my home.