Why an investment from The Start-Up Series fund is ideal for seed-level start-ups
Chris Moon of Together Travel is our April Start-Up Series winner. Learn how he secured investment from the largest UK seed funding competition, and how you can too
Founders: Chris Moon and Aaron Evans-Aghoghogbe
Company: Together Travel
Description: A travel club offering flexible holidays which make it easy for people aged 18-35 to achieve their travel goals
From student hobby to successful start-up: The story behind Together Travel
It’s a learning curve, a rite of passage, and an experience like no other. But for many young people travelling is also a distant daydream, hindered by the constraints of time and money and the daunting process of booking a trip.
Built around the idea that “travel is a lifestyle, not a wish”, Together Travel is looking to change this.
Offering flexible holidays for those aged under 35, Together Travel helps customers achieve their travel goals by demanding no upfront payments or deposits and allowing them to pay over 12 months, with the option to add a second trip as a bolt-on after three months’ payment.
According to co-founder Chris Moon, the start-up is less of an agency and more of a club: “The ‘together’ element means that when people do get to that destination, they have insider access to all the best things that are happening at that resort.
“You’ll be able to message 500 other people that are there at the same time through Together.”
Customers are also encouraged to build a destination wish list, which they can share among friends and family to have them chip in: “If before Christmas you think, I’d rather have my grandma sponsor my trip to Ibiza than get me some socks, you can do that.”
Though the company launched in January 2016, its earliest incarnation can be traced back to Moon’s university days, during which he ran events for fellow students to cover his university costs.
It was after a disappointing lads’ holiday to Ibiza that the enterprising student saw potential for better-informed, immersive package holidays, and Moon’s events “snowballed” into trips abroad.
What it’s really like to compete in The Start-Up Series
One graduation and four years later, Together Travel officially launched and “immediately sold loads of holidays”, later being named one of the UK’s top new businesses.
However, after a year of organically funding the start-up and the addition of former Contiki employee Aaron Evans-Aghoghogbe as co-founder, Together Travel was ready for a funding boost:
“We were at the stage where we’d proven the model – we’d made quite decent revenue and we just wanted to push ahead.”
It was then that Moon and Evans-Aghoghogbe came across The Start-Up Series, the UK’s largest seed funding competition run by Startups.co.uk and investment promoters Worth Capital, offering one start-up per month the opportunity to take home £150,000 SEIS investment.
Moon describes the application process as “unique” compared to seeking investment from funds and private investors. To enter, he submitted a detailed business plan before undertaking a telephone interview.
Next, the co-founders met with Worth Capital face-to-face for an in-depth consultation, which Moon says was “not just an investment meeting”, and explains he was impressed by the expertise offered by Worth Capital:
“They were both really good guys, which is obviously important. I think a lot of start-ups which are pre-revenue forget that there’s quite a lot of dodgy options for them to take.
“For a lot of founders that I’ve spoken to who have had their business fail, one of the main reasons is because they’ve worked with the wrong people at the start, so working with the guys at Worth Capital is really great, especially at seed stage.”
What does it take to win investment from The Start-Up Series?
Worth Capital were impressed by Together Travel and, shortly after the deep-dive consultation, Moon and Evans-Aghoghogbe were informed they had won April’s Start-Up Series competition.
Along with £150,000 equity seed funding, the duo’s win also means they receive business guidance from Worth Capital, and media coverage on Startups.co.uk. Moon tells us that “winning was great”: “Winning a competition is even better than winning investment! It’s going to really take us forward, and provide proof that we’re in a good position.”
Having built a fruitful yet disruptive model in a tough industry, Moon believes that – while many previous winners have been pre-launch – his win is partly down to the fact that his start-up had a proven track record:
“The travel business is such a hard market to crack. There are hundreds of start-ups in financial technology (fintech), whereas not many entrepreneurs go into travel. But we’ve entered the market and got quite good growth in year one.
If you can solve a big enough problem and nobody else is doing it, then that’s going to make good money.”
How Worth Capital’s investment will “take the business forward”
Moon already has a clear vision for Together Travel and plans to feed the majority of his £150,000 equity investment into the development of a new app to tie in with the business’ booking, wish list and sponsorship functionalities.
Ultimately, Moon says that he wants Together Travel to be the “de-facto place where under 35s book their travel experiences and work towards their travel goals.”
With plans to boost international custom, build a content platform for customers and launch the next phase of its travel club in November, Worth Capital’s investment and expertise has enabled Together Travel to take flight towards this vision.
Could your business be next to win £150,000 equity seed funding from The Start-Up Series? Entries for the September competition close at midnight on Thursday 14 September. Submit your details here.