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DesignMyNight: Powering the UK nightlife industry without VC investment

When two best friends get together for a night out, who knows what can happen. Of course, the same can be said of two best friends who decide to launch a business – for the DesignMyNight founders, they developed the finest nightlife guide in the UK and found a spot in our Everline Future 50 2016.
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Name: DesignMyNight
Industry/sector: Lifestyle
Date founded: 2010
Founders: Nick Telson and Andrew Webster
Location: London

Many entrepreneurs and small business leaders will often say that access to finance is a key problem when growing a business. However, Nick Telson and Andrew Webster were adamant they wanted to avoid the hyperactive buzz surrounding VC investment when launching DesignMyNight.

Best friends since university, the pair set out to develop a sustainable and responsible enterprise that generated profits in the process, without depending on venture capital to see them through.

Their inspiration to develop a business came after spending time in New York back in 2009, which is where and when they were impressed by the extensive nightlife knowledge of hotel staff.

Launched in 2010, DesignMyNight is now the fastest growing online nightlife guide in the UK. 

In all of this time, only £250,000 of angel investment was accepted in 2014 – a decision that was made to bolster the platform’s technology. Until then, the majority of profits had been reinvested into the company to support its growth.

The website now supports over 15 cities including London, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham, with all venues tailored to support specific needs, whether that’s for a hot date, a corporate outing or a big night out.

In addition, DesignMyNight comes with its own unique booking and enquiries service, Collins, to offer a completely streamlined system for those on a quest to sell or consume alcohol.

The firm now boasts over 500 clients and has booked over three million covers – 600,000 a year – with bar bookings accounting for the majority of the firm’s revenue. This was achieved due to no such facility existing previously, while it launched alongside the rise of the cocktail boom.

DesignMyNight’s other clever move was the introduction of a ticketing service for event organisers of all sizes. It resulted in 75 per cent of clients switching from global ticket providers to join, which has enabled 250 per cent growth of ticket sales.

The team of two is now at 25 and the site has 3.5m monthly views.

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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