Manchester-headquartered passenger transfers booking platform, Ski-Lifts, secured funding via NPIF Maven Equity Finance earlier this year, to develop its technology platform and enter new markets. The airport transfer market alone is growing at around 7% per year and Ski-Lifts is well positioned to take advantage of this growth and expand into new areas, including golf and cruise and ground transport markets.
But how does a scale up technology platform raise growth capital to enter into its next development phase? What are the obstacles, or should you grow organically?
In our latest guest blog, investee Richard Smith, Managing Director of Ski-Lifts, talks through the company’s funding journey with Maven and how the finance has impacted the business.
- Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself – what does your business do and what’s your role?
I’m Richard Smith, Managing Director of Ski-Lifts. We are an ambitious, growing airport transfer agency which means that we find the best local suppliers and onboard them onto our proprietary platform. Travel companies and independent travellers then use our websites to manage their ground transport in currently 27 countries, taking the hassle out of endless searching, stress and uncertainty normally associated with this sector.
- How did your search for funding lead you to Maven and what attracted you to Maven as a funding partner?
We spoke to a wide range of potential investors and were recommended to contact Maven on several occasions as they have a range of options that could help us realise our ambitions. We immediately found the team at Maven to be open and easy to work with, investigating solutions and working hard to support us to achieve our goals. We felt confident that they understood our challenges and the opportunities and trusted our management team, strategy and plans.
- How has the investment impacted your business?
The investment has been transformational to the business. Before the investment we were growing at around 30% to 40% but this has accelerated that significantly. Our strategy is to move into new high growth vertical markets such as Golf and Cruise, developing the brands required to deliver in those markets. We’ve also pushed out our geographical coverage to offer a greater choice of locations. In addition, we’re launching an umbrella brand, LIFTS TO, that will facilitate cross selling between our brands and the targeting of new major prospects.
- Knowing what you know now – is there anything you would have done differently when you began your funding journey?
The main thing we’d do is start earlier as the process to find the right funding partner can take a while. Fortunately, once we’d engaged with Maven, the investment process moved very quickly and everything was completed painlessly.
- What would you say to a business that is put off by taking on investment and would prefer to grow their business organically?
Every business is different, but you have nothing to lose by talking to people who can help you to realise your dreams. Have a clear idea before you start those conversations about what you want to achieve, how investment can help you get there and what you are prepared to give away but listen to the feedback as well.
Throughout most of our history we grew our business organically, so we understand it from both perspectives. Having made the decision to take on investment we can see how much of a positive impact this is already having on our business and how it will help us reach our goals faster than we could have without it, so from our perspective we have no regrets.
- What do you think are the main obstacles to accessing finance to grow that businesses face today?
Knowing who to ask for advice and understanding which people/businesses can help them. Navigating the funding landscape is time consuming if you are new to it, so get some trusted advisors or mentors to help you steer in the right direction and avoid you wasting time and money pursuing options that aren’t right for the business in the long term.
- What are the long-term goals for your business, and how will the funding you secured through Maven help you to achieve them?
Our aim is to be the most trusted global transfer platform, grow significantly year on year and broaden our product offering into new markets and territories. The investment from Maven has helped us make a large step towards that goal and has given us more confidence in our strategy.
Throughout this relationship we have been able to rapidly grow our team and bring in more expertise and it has given us the resource to accelerate the pace of our growth, invest in our tech solutions, broaden the scope of our marketing activities and more.
NPIF Maven Equity Finance is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, in collaboration with the British Business Bank. The Fund is designed for small businesses that need equity finance to grow and can invest £50,000 - £2 million to support start-up and established companies based across the Northern Powerhouse aiming to create jobs and contribute to the economy.
If your business is in need of finance to help unlock its growth potential, NPIF Maven Equity Finance may be able to help. Contact Maven’s local team today on 0161 233 3500.
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