Risum: Stuart Megarry
Risum is a social sports subscription service aiming to bring people together
Name of founders: Stuart Megarry
Date launched: January 2020
Number of employees: 1
Age of founders: 30
Which university, if any, did you attend? University of Strathclyde
Through its social sports subscription service, Risum. aims to be an alternative to the gym and also provide a way for people to connect. Here, Stuart Megarry describes the journey from side hustle to full time business.
Tell us what your business does:
Risum. is a social sports (think football, tennis, yoga, rugby etc) subscription service taking on the soul-destroying gym experience. Major cities are increasingly lonely to live in so Risum. is here to help fix this by bringing together solo players in memorable venues.
We are unique in that a portion of each membership is donated to a sport-related charity every month and we use technology to improve the process.
Where did the idea of your business come from?
It built up over years of playing sport and working in the startup industry. I couldn’t help but notice offerings I wanted were not suitable and I struggled to find a good group of people I wanted to play sports with. Even if I did find something close, it then was never followed up with useful technology to streamline the process.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I had set up a Meetup group to test the market initially. I couldn’t help but notice every session was filling up quickly and the group kept growing. I built a strong relationship with my members who fed back exactly what they wanted. This feedback really helped show the demand and also provided my first group of members.
What were you doing before starting up?
I worked for a travel tech startup which brought together solo travellers for awesome holidays. It was a bit of a dream job going on a trip every six weeks with genuinely lovely customers. Sadly, the founder was not a strong enough entrepreneur to build the business so the role had a shelf life but it helped show the potential of Risum. in bringing people together for experiences.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I have – one might say I can’t do much else! I had a natural inclination towards it and made the choice to study Entrepreneurship at university. I never quite found a fit in my corporate roles.
How did you raise the money?
Thankfully, I have been able to self-fund the venture while also gaining a little help from a Virgin startup loan. The key is that the business model makes money from day one so I am grateful I can expand the company and revenue at the same time.
Describe your business model and how you make money.
We focus on block booking venues and then filling them with our members. Members save money, the venues get filled and we have a set amount of capital to spend each month – a win win win scenario. With the regular bookings we see better value in pricing.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Dealing with the venues can be difficult. Sadly, the venues have no motivation to make sure they are full as they are publicly funded. It can be difficult to even get people to answer emails or phone calls. Thankfully, building human relationships face-to-face is an art form not to be outdated soon. We have sadly been unable to work with a lot of venues, which I hope changes in the future.
What was your first big breakthrough?
When I noticed we had two full weeks of sessions sold out in our Meetup group. This felt like the right time to launch the subscription and we gained our full allocation of members the first time round. I felt very grateful to my awesome community for the support.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
It might not be a sexy response but one thing a lot of founders forget is their personal financial situation. I would recommend saving up enough money to live off for a year without income. However, we are very lucky to have great government support and I would say start your business first as a side hustle then commit full time.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
As long as people want to play sport and have fun Risum. will be here. As much as I have ambitions to expand Risum. globally and build a successful venture, I must admit: if in five years I have attended a few weddings from people who met through Risum. I will be rather happy.
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