Why The Start-Up Series competition was the “perfect” funding route for our business

First-time founders Helen and Olivia Collins won £150,000 seed investment for their business MYZA after entering the UK’s largest seed funding competition in March. This is their story…

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Founders: Helen and Olivia Collins
Company: MYZA
Description: An online marketplace retailing sleep-enhancing products and providing content and advice around sleeping well
Website: www.myza.co

Uncovering the power of sleep: The story behind MYZA

Sleeping is absolutely central to our lives. It’s essential for the proper functioning of our bodies and minds, and something that the average person spends a third of their lifetime doing. And yet, according to MYZA co-founder Helen Collins, one in three people in the UK have difficulty sleeping.

Helen was all too familiar with sleepless nights: “Over the years I’ve suffered from insomnia – I would spend quite a lot of time trawling through the internet trying to find a solution, something that would help me sleep better. But there was no one site that would provide all the products and advice.”

Through this frustration, Helen and her co-founder, financial professional Olivia Collins, glimpsed an enticing gap in an ever-more health-conscious market:

“Diet and exercise isn’t enough – people are becoming much more obsessed about sleep and the quality of sleep. You’ve only got to look around and see how well some of these mattress brands are doing now.”

You don’t have to look farther than the 2017 Startups 100 index – which ranked Simba Sleep as the fifth best start-up in the UK and eve Sleep as the first – to see that she’s right.

Realising that they were on to something, the ambitious entrepreneurs founded MYZA; an online marketplace which collates sleep-related products, content and expertise all in one place – and has been crowned winner of the March Start-Up Series competition.

“MYZA is the first online platform that has a singular focus on sleep and the sleep experience. Not only are we selling the best sleep products on the market, we’re also providing professional advice from a team of leading sleep experts as well.”

Finding the “perfect” funding route

Named The Reach Marketplace before rebranding to MYZA, the business’ first landing page quickly gained traction. “In the first month alone we received well over 1,500 subscribers who wanted to be notified of our launch.”

Helen adds that the website attracted a number of “really good quality brands” as well as sleep experts who were keen to get involved – an impressive feat for a start-up with “a really limited marketing budget” and a site which had only gone live three months before.

With early success under their belts, the duo set their sights on supercharging this momentum with a funding boost. When they read about The Start-Up Series, run by Startups.co.uk and investment promoters Worth Capital, they knew immediately that the monthly equity seed funding competition was the “perfect fit”:

“Worth Capital appealed to us because they’re not just financiers. It’s very clear to us that they’re actually experienced entrepreneurs, and they had already grown successful companies. Obviously we were keen to get investment, but it’s this aspect that really appealed to us.”

What it’s really like to compete in The Start-Up Series

On deciding to enter, the duo found the application process “straightforward”: “The great thing about it was that it wasn’t too time-consuming, which is a real plus when you’re so busy establishing a new business at the same time.”

After submitting a detailed business plan and later flying through a telephone interview, the Collins’ were invited to meet Worth Capital for a face-to-face ‘deep-dive’ consultation which would see them discuss MYZA’s investment potential:

“It was very painless and surprisingly enjoyable! We ended up bouncing ideas off the guys at Worth Capital. It was a really positive experience.”

Preparing to become the “go-to” sleep marketplace

Having received the news of their win, which brings with it a £150,000 equity investment from an SEIS alongside access to Worth Capital’s expertise, the duo are excited for what lies ahead. “It feels absolutely brilliant. We thought our business concept was a good idea and winning the competition really validated that for us. Now we’re able to progress the business much more rapidly.”

Now, with the help of the essential investment, things are all go for the MYZA team;“We’re still pre-launch at the moment – our website is being developed, and we’re intending to launch our platform in late September.”

In using the funding for website development and crucial marketing, the entrepreneurs are on schedule for launch. The business has content writers and sleep experts engaged and ready to contribute, as well as an ever-growing list of sleep-enhancing brands lining up to retail through the site – though the business is “selective” about which make the cut:

“To date we’ve had around 150 brands that have wanted to sign, but we make the decision not to accept if the products do not fit our core values; which are independent, high quality and ethical.”

Ultimately, the Collins’ say that MYZA intends to be “the go-to destination for your sleep needs.” For now, with crucial business expertise on offer from Worth Capital, £150,000 investment and a business that’s no longer under the covers, this is one dream they certainly won’t want to wake up from.

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