Although Luke Massie’s business, Vibe Tickets, didn’t win Virgin Media Business VOOM this year, the competition still had a huge impact on his business. We caught up with him to find out more.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” he says of the experience of pitching to Richard Branson. “I think looking back, it was probably too clean. I think it came across a bit too scripted.”
While he admits that he was “pretty gutted” not to be crowned the winner, the experience as a whole and the exposure that his company received has led to numerous opportunities for the Preston-based entrepreneur.
The day after the final of the competition, the finalists headed to Kidlington for the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 conference, where Massie’s business really received a boost. “I met some really interesting contacts there and some of them have agreed to come and invest in our next round,” he says. “We met up with David Buttress from Just Eat, and we’re still talking to him, and we also met with Wilson Barrett and Colin McCarthy from Panther Logistics and they’ve agreed to invest a quarter of a million in our next funding raise – and that was all jus from being at that event.
“It was pretty amazing because you were just in a room of other motivated people who had been there and done it. As a young entrepreneur, you’re out there constantly trying to get advice off people and the majority of the time it’s from people that don’t even share the ambition as you. Especially people from Lancashire, where I’m from, they might have done well by their standards but I want to scale this globally and there were people in that room who had done that already.”
Of course, one of the major reasons that many businesses entered the VOOM competition was to get some advice from Richard Branson and Massie was no different. “He said if you can build a brand around culture and as you scale, don’t forget about that culture. He think that Vibe will do well because it’s built on the right morals and ethics.”
So what’s next for Vibe? Massie says that they’ve just launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to further the business. “Through the whole of the competition, I knew we were going to go into our next round of funding but it was planned for December,” he explains. “But the first round of the VOOM journey was to get public votes and it was just crazy how much public support we had. One of our current investors said ‘wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could get our fans to be part of this journey?’ So I had it in my mind and then after the VOOM finale, I decided that it was the right time for us to go out there and raise some more cash and let our users be part of it.
“They’re the ones we’re building the product for and the community for, I think it’s important to bring them in as stakeholders. The timing’s right and it’s all just fitted into place so now it’s just executing it and getting the funding in.”
They’ve already secured funding in the crowdfunding round from Massie’s local authority. “I’m an ambassador for Lancashire County Council so Vibe Tickets is going to be the first private investment they’ve ever done,” he says. “They’re only putting in £5,000 of the £600,000 that we need but it shows that as well as private investors we’ve got the public sector backing it as well. I think they’re doing it to show that they’re supporting SMEs in the area, especially those with big ambitions.
“It’s a win-win situation really. It adds credibility to our pitch and reassures other businesses in Lancashire that the council is trying to do something.”