Export Business of the Year 2018

Fancy Dress Worldwide

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  • Julia Watts

Start-up name: Fancy Dress Worldwide
Founder: Dom Portman
Started in: 2016
Based in: Worcester
Business description: An online retailer of fancy dress costumes

This year's Export Business of the Year, Fancy Dress Worldwide is a breathtakingly successful start-up.

Launched in 2016 by Dom Portman, the e-commerce site for fancy dress costumes has been profitable since year one – no mean feat for a brand new business – and has gone on to grow 100% year-on-year.

Exporting to 85 countries worldwide, over the past two years the business has sold over 380,000 products; expanded its product range from one item to a whopping 20,000; and grown its employee numbers from one to 25.

But how has Fancy Dress Worldwide achieved such rapid growth? Portman says it is, in part, down to the business’ unique software system, which has streamlined its entire e-commerce process.

For customers, the start-up’s clever tech has introduced a one-click buying portal and fostered ultra-slick customer service. Behind the scenes, the software has enabled the efficient management of mass amounts of stock.

In short, the retailer’s very foundation is one that can adapt easily and quickly to rising demand.

In August this year, Fancy Dress Worldwide launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs. Within just 27 days, its £200,000 funding target was hit and exceeded by 39%, bagging £278,109.

With plans to use the investment to break the US, and to increase sales on Amazon by integrating with Prime, the start-up is now barrelling towards a £10m valuation in 2021, with a predicted 500% growth in the three years until then.

And with ambitions to develop several more e-commerce brands under the same tech umbrella, the future certainly looks big for this business.

Fancy Dress Worldwide faced strong competition in the Export Business of the Year category. At the ceremony, healthy instant noodle brand Mr Lee’s Noodles was awarded the Highly Commended trophy, while automated transcription service Trint took home the Commended title.

Julia Watts

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