Founders Diaries

From Harry Potter tours to ghost walks and cheese crawls: The events company putting the magic back into discovering cities

6 min read

14 August 2018

Former special projects journalist

SYC started off life as a Harry Potter walking tour company. Here, co-founder Ferry Hunt tells us how it expanded to include ghost tours and cheese crawls.

See Your City (SYC) is a walking tour and events company, operating in cities around the UK. It’s most popular event is the Harry Potter walking tour, but it’s not resting on its laurels – it also operates a ghost tour, which includes a boat ride on the Thames, and more recently it has launched a cheese crawl where foodies can sample weird and wonderful cheeses around London.

The business was launched by two friends from York, Tom Brace and Ferry Hunt. Brace had previously trained as an actor and Hunt had a background in running events, so the pair felt they had the perfect combination of skills to make SYC a success.

Only 18 months later, the company has expanded to 15 tour guides and growing. We caught up with Hunt to find out more about SYC’s story:

What is your company’s impact on UK/global market? What do you want your business to be remembered for?

We want to be remembered for our dedication to customer service. Although we also cater for a domestic market, we know that there is a language barrier for some tourists, so our tours create an audio-visual experience to tie those from around the world together into the same adventure. We do this using the latest projection and tablet equipment, and host games within our events that everyone loves to get involved with.

We want to create city-wide magic – this is why we are currently hiring expert improvisational tutors and vocal coaches to make sure our staff are the best of the best.

What is your business model?

We have some popular events, like our Harry Potter walking tour, but we are always looking to build new, amazing tours, such as our latest event, the Cheese Crawl, which offers the latest and greatest cheese crazes on offer in London.

Once we’ve created the perfect event, we upload them to tour reseller platforms around the world to maximise visibility. These tour resellers work like marketers for our products, making sure content is accurate and that those interested are aware and excited about them. These marketers take a small cut of the sale, and we use the money to invest into future events and ideas.

Do you plan to trade globally, enter new markets, etc. in the next 12 months?

In the last 12 months, we’ve launched on dozens of new platforms.

We’ve most recently been sponsored by one of the world’s largest tour resellers and activity brokers, which has meant a huge recruitment drive for SYC. It’s been great fun, it’s amazing to see so many new starters as keen as we are to boast the SYC brand.

How did you fund your business?

We actually simply started from scratch, and bootstrapped it. Being tour guides ourselves, we ventured to do every piece of work we could, admin and hosting. It was only after a month that we hired a guide, which gave us more time to focus on growing the business and creating new events.

What has been your highest point?

Our highest point was the offer, and acceptance, of sponsorship by one of the world’s most successful activity providers. It’s proof that we’re doing the right thing, and it’s been recognised by our customers.

What has been your lowest point?

Early on we were trying a number of different ideas to capture the world’s attention, but it’s taken us time to find the customers voice.  We know what people want now, and we’re providing it.

What would tell your younger self?

Chin up fella – you’ll be doing something you love, and getting paid for it in your early adulthood.

What is your biggest piece of advice to other entrepreneurs?

Find your voice, cement it, and then project as far as you can.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I like to go down now and again and watch as my happy customers are expertly choreographed by my employees onto tours around the city.

What is a day in your life like?

I try to get up before my fiancé so I can part walk her to work, I strongly believe a brisk morning walk opens your eyes and prepares you for the day, as someone that works from home.

I clear my inbox at my desk at home, then try and create new work for myself by reaching out to clients and customers. Once I’ve done that I dash down to watch the tours run, so I can physically tweak their running too.

What’s on your reading list right now?

I’ve recently started reading a “how to speed read” book, which is fascinating.  It trains you to do so by encouraging you to speed read the book itself. So, I’ve sped read a speed reading book, and feel all the better for absorbing important information from the world around me.

What’s on your watch list right now?

I think I may have left it too late, and the world is full of spoilers, but “The Wire”.