Home Startup Stories Ibiza Invasion : How it all started

Ibiza Invasion : How it all started

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Ibiza Invasion : How it all started

1 How did you come up with idea?
At University, I was an active member of the Leeds University Law Society where I was the Society Social Secretary and then President. My job description included organising tonnes of socials and trips away for our members. These events were always packed out and we developed a reputation for organising the best socials on campus. In particular, I organised one event in Birmingham which saw the law societies of Leeds, Manchester and East Anglia ‘invade’ Birmingham for the weekend. We had over 400 law students on the weekender and it got me thinking that if we can get this amount of just law students on the event, can we not have cities invading other cities…and that’s how invasion events was born!

2 When and how did you set up your business. What was difficult and how long did it take you?
I set it up upon graduation in July 2008. I had a 7 month gap year coming up that I needed to fund and rather than getting a temporary job, I thought this was going to be my golden goose and make an immediate nice chunk of cash! How wrong I was.

How did your first event go? As planned?

We actually made a £4,000 loss! As the Birmingham Law event had been a weekender, we initially set Invasion up as a company offering weekend packages. We were charging £59 which included return coach travel, 2 nights in another city, accommodation and the club entrances. Whilst the package was really good value for money, after about 2 months of advertising we still only had had a couple of sales and the events looked bleak. So we restructured the event format by cutting out the hotel, which reduced our costs and we made it a 1 night invasion to another city for £20. This proved to be a much better formula because sales then started to pick up. The only problem was that we had signed a contract for 75 rooms with the hotel for the first original weekender event which had now been cancelled…so our first event involved myself and my business partners and 75 empty rooms in the hotel!

4 When did you notice that your idea was successful and think this could work?
As soon as we restructured the event format and saw sales starting to pick up, with the strength of the brand, we knew that it was a winning formula. Despite making a massive loss on our first event, I didn’t despair and always believed that we’d pull it back. This proved correct as by the end of the first year, we had taken away 1000 students and managed to pay off the debt from the first event.

5 What difficulties did you face in the process?
The difficulty of any new business is survival. I remember when I set up Invasion somebody told me that 80% of new businesses fail in their first year and that it takes about 3 years before a new business starts turning a profit. As an ambitious and budding entrepreneur, I naively thought that I would be  an exception to the rule, but how wrong I was . Businesses require time as a lot of mistakes are made in the beginning which are inevitable and you can’t see coming because new businesses generally don’t have the experience or track record to know what works  best and so they require the use of trial and error and their owners intuition. But that’s what experience is and by learning from your mistakes you find the right formula and so you need to be patient. In addition, most new businesses can’t benefit from the word of mouth of previous customers, testimonials or supplier relationships that existing businesses do and it takes time to develop these.

Nick (far right) on the Ibiza Invasion last year

6 Where do you see yourself in 2 years?
Invasion has grown remarkably since its launch in 2008. After the success of the city invasions, we expanded the concept to more cities in the UK, before looking a little bit further afield and organising trips abroad to destinations such as Amsterdam, Paris and Dublin. We also organise a summer event to Ibiza which we debuted last year and people who went described as the best 4 days of their lives! In addition, we can also offer people the chance to go and do gap year/voluntary projects in countries such as Brazil, the Maldives and Thailand through our charitable arm called InvAID. Within the brand, there is also a promo agency called ‘The Invasion Angels’ that we have recently launched. If that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, regarding the future we’re looking to launch an Invasion holiday in the USA this summer and we also have some potential projects on the table in Thailand and Australia so the future is looking bright!

7 How does a typical work day look for you?
Good question and I don’t know where to begin with that one! I’m certainly not a 9-5 person that’s for sure! As Invasion is a tour operator, it allows me to travel quite a lot! For instance, in the last 6 weeks I have travelled to Amsterdam, Paris and Thailand and I’m going to Ibiza next week and then Portugal afterwards. As our trips also involve taking people to explore the nightlife of different cities, it means I have to spend a large amount of time in bars and nightclubs, which at the end of the day is still ‘work’ related. A lot of people on our events often come up to me and say I’ve got the best job in the world because I get paid to party and travel around the world. It’s not quite that simple but when you love what you do and do what you love for a living, there is no better feeling.

What would your advice be to others that are thinking of starting a business?
It may sound a little corny but always believe in yourself. I have had countless people tell me at the beginning that Invasion was all a pipe dream and that I should just concentrate on a legal career. Especially during the bad times, it would have been easy just to give up, but I persevered and kept that belief and it’s now starting to pay dividends. You reap what you sew and as long as the belief is there, anything is possible. If the worst does happen and it’s not a success, as long as you gave it your best shot that’s the most important thing and take that experience and use it to your advantage in life. Remember every business owner has had a venture that’s failed at some point and so don’t be too disheartened if it does.  Whether its a success or not, you still would have learnt many valuable lessons, which is called the business learning curve. You dont stop learning regardless of how old you are or how long you’ve been trading and I’ve met business owners in their 40s, 50s and 60s who started out in their 20s and they tell me that everyday is still a learning curve for them, because there are situations that sometimes you simply cannot see coming, regardless of how much planning you do.

Also try and get as much business advice too when starting up from other business owners. They too would have been starting up their own business at some point and if they can see mistakes you’re making that they might have made, they could save you years of problems you would have otherwise faced. Many business start up owners are arrogant (and I was no exception) because they want to do it their way and leave their own mark on the world and so are not very receptive to other peoples ideas. However it wouldn’t hurt to find a mentor or speak to a business consultant who would be able to give you constructive guidance in the early days of your new venture. Try and network as much as possible too with other business owners, because you never know who might be able to help you out in the future and what potential doors it could open. People that have set up or run their own companies have a spark that most normal people, until they have been in that situation just don’t get and so try to surround yourself around likeminded thinkers and doers.

For more information, check out www.ibizainvasion.com and www.invasiontravel.com

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The founder of Younilife and still living in the Uni years although they have long passed. I am constantly looking for the latest content to publish right here for you and crazy for anything digital. Established during my Uni Years, Younilife hopes to provide current students with the possibility to grade their universities and pass on their experiences. If you wish to contact me, for whatever reason, please use: Hagen at younilife.com