Nashville, Orbis Consultants
Cowboy hats, bottles of Jack Daniels and mini US flags adorn the Orbis office. The team sit anticipating the news from our Managing Directors...
Orbis is launching in Nashville, Tennessee.
A few years ago when Orbis decided to go stateside, the team had broad horizons. Since opening our office in New York, these horizons have only extended. If we could map out our dreams and potential, we would have dotted lines across the world - and right through the heart of America.
After a successful 2 years in New York, researching the market and establishing substantial relationships - Tom Langley expressed an interest to set up in Nashville, Tennessee.
1 Month later
It’s a cold and drizzly Friday evening in London when Tom and I sit down at the pub with our colleague Seb. Pints of lager and IPA in hand, we have a chat about Nashville, when it first came onto the Orbis radar and how it's going so far – one month since opening our third office.
So, why Nashville?
"I always had an itch to live somewhere else. To be honest with you, we'd done some research and then it just so happened my partner landed a job out in Nashville. Everything fell into place.
In terms of initial research, on a business perspective, it's about understanding the centres for diverse technology-centric industries, and growing ones at that!
I have a background in Capital Markets across Finance and Technology recruitment. Originally, we had explored Austin, San Fran and Charlotte with North Carolina, Seattle and Chicago in the mix too – miserable weather though!
Since joining Orbis, it's been a breath of fresh air
, because we work with a wide variety of industries: Health Tech, Fintech, Buy & Sell Side firms and real estate tech 'prop-tech'
In Nashville, you can find this variety and good weather. One industry doesn’t dominate the landscape, so you're not at risk, you don't have all your eggs in one basket.
There are a few good colleges there too, including Vanderbilt, who project talent into the industry."
"Looking at the named corporations out there, you've got UBS, Amazon AllianceBernstein, a plethora of health techs and startups. Eyewear company Warby Parker, Lyft transport, Smile Direct Club HQ...What is that, dentech?!"
Companies are setting up to take advantage of the low cost and high talent level
"Living costs are better than most cities, the state income tax is non-existent and saves a lot of pennies, living cost calculator says Nashville is 30-60% cheaper than NYC.
But it's a lively city, there are bars, restaurants, everything in NYC but it's a smaller version. "
This city has rhythm
"It only takes one visit to see it clearly has a lot of culture. Music is rife!
...And no, it's not JUST country music!
From 90's pop to emo nights through to electronic dance - there's old school country rock and roll through to modern pop. Throughout the various neighbourhoods, the music scenes pretty banging!
Away from Broadway and the honky-tonk bars, there are loads of bustling neighbourhoods. Like The Gulch, German Town, 12 South, East Nashville...
It’s not just the music that’s diverse either, here's a lot of fusion food. We went to a Japanese fusion restaurant recently- The Green Pheasant , which was incredible.”
So, what about your brand new pad?
"Finding a place to live was so easy. There are a lot of modern apartment buildings - search for 505 Church for an example - swimming pools, tennis courts, dog parks and a rooftop.
No broker fees, it was really simple and easy to secure. So different to New York where you have high deposits and astronomical broker fees... "
"It might sound slightly out of context; there are cranes everywhere in Nashville, there's a 35-story building that's broken ground and a somewhat secretive 70 + floor high rise that will be going up. It's developing, you've got all that coming!
A few years ago, they had a huge issue with a lack of hotels - so there are a number of new developments here now. This proves there's continued investment coming into the city."
Do they have any major sports teams?
"Tennessee Titans - the American Football team, compete in the NFL and they just recently lost out in the playoffs for the 2020 SuperBowl by the favourites #titanup.
Their ice hockey team - Nashville Predators, compete in the NHL, they're really good.
Coming this year is a brand new major league soccer team to enter Major League Soccer, Nashville SC - that's cool, I'm excited for that."
Aside from field sports, Tom's signed up to a co-ed soccer league and hockey team.
"I've always been enthusiastic about watching sports, I'm especially excited about the MLS and ice hockey
I played a bit of hockey when I was younger, but since then my love for hockey has grown and it's a great sport to watch - very entertaining."
"There's also a massive climbing community, within an hour of the city there are lots of hiking trails"
"Do you climb?"
"Yeah, I try..."
Nashville is officially the friendliest city in America
"The people are accommodating. I've made a few friends, mainly fellow dog parents within the building I live in, and from the dog park. There are building wine nights
, and other networking events like boardgame Thursdays to encourage people to meet each other. Outside the apartments, the meetup scene is pretty popular too!"
"There seems to be a big network of people that come in from out of town, so not just pedigree southerners. There's been a huge influx of various major city dwellers coming to Nashville."
Tom tells us about a recent comedy show - out of 50 people in the crowd, 3 were only Nashville residents. Just like our other Orbis base camps, the majority of the city is not born and raised in Nashville, just like New York or London.
"Also, Nashville is the 'bachelorette capital of the world'"
Seb chokes on his beer and interrupts - "Hang on, have you just made that up?! Fact check, please... "
"I swear! Look it up!" Tom insists.
Google does indeed say, 'this is Nashville'.
Aside from hosting world-class parties, according to Travel + Leisure, Nashville has been voted the friendliest city in America. It sounds like Tom is an advocate for that.
“It's true. Everyone is really friendly, in a weird weird way... I'm used to New York and London - and I've realised how the people in these cities are so damn rude!
I normally walk around with my head down, minding my own business, but in Nashville, people say 'hi' and I'm like 'what?!' Completely taken aback by their welcome attitude to someone they've passed on a sidewalk."
So how do you get around the city?
"It's easy! There are trams and buses, but honestly, everything downtown is within walking distance. There are bikes and electric scooters, but I walk from neighbourhood to neighbourhood on foot with ease.
The football stadium is a 15-minute walk from downtown and the ice hockey stadium is on Broadway next to the honkytonk bars. I mean, you won't ever end up in suburbia.
Nashville airport is a 15-minute uber ride. Oh yeah, and Uber is dirt cheap there! There are also midweek flights to New York that take around 2 hours, £90 / $75 - $80 each way."
It's a damp evening the wind picks up outside. One in three people in the UK suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and with global warming, climate is a serious consideration to focus on now.
There's a TV screen up on the wall, imitating a snow-covered windowsill and snowflakes are floating down, a pretty spectacular view. It catches our eye and Tom talks about how much he loves the snow.
"Nashville is so warm all year round, no New York winter storms - thank god! You do get distinct seasons in Nashville, hot summers and mild winters but you tend to get most of the snowfall around the mountains.
I mean, I love winter and I love snow, so I will miss being near that."
Does that mean more ski incentive trips...?! If you wanted to get out of town, where could you go?
"Memphis is nearby- home of the king!
Look, I've been based in a big city for the last 14 years of my life, and this is great. It's manageable - I can wrap my head around the whole city.
I couldn't do that in New York or London.
I still love NYC and I'll probably move back at some point, or have a base there at least, but Nashville is big enough it's connected to other cities and it has a lot going on.
Hey! Rent is a lot cheaper, so you don't have to feel bad taking a mini-vacation!"