Help to hone key messages into a succinct pitch was one of the important lessons learnt from a Virgin StartUp Accelerator programme, according to one successful founder.

Photo of Andy McNulty

Andy McNulty, co-founder and CEO of digital guidebook, Touch Stay, took part in our CrowdBoost programme, which equips entrepreneurs with the skills needed to attract investors through crowdfunding campaigns.

Touch Stay allows accommodation providers to digitise the post-booking and pre-arrival information they give to their guests: from detailing how to access the property, to finding the perfect ice cream parlour nearby.

“TripAdvisor and Google are great research tools. But they can send guests down a rabbit hole, wasting their precious holiday time,” Andy said.

“We utilise what’s already out there by leveraging technology to curate lists for guests. If I’m an owner of a property, I can use this to show the best places to go for everything. We can link to these places and make it a better experience for the guests.”

Originally launched in 2014, Touch Stay scaled up after Andy participated in CrowdBoost in 2018, having learnt about the programme in the Virgin StartUp newsletter. And although the brand didn’t actually go on to crowdfund, Andy chose to use the skills learned during the six-week programme to gain £230,000 from angel investors.

He said: “We deliberately applied because, although we knew we needed more investment, we didn’t have all our ducks in a row to stand in front of potential investors.

“Having worked extensively in finance, I felt we were strong on the financial side of things, but not so much in our succinct messaging to encourage people to invest. I had raised £30m before for larger companies, but I wasn’t sure about how a tiny business would find angel investors.

“The main takeaway from CrowdBoost was being able to stand in front of investors and get our message across in less than 30 seconds. In fact, we got it down to about 15 seconds. And then it was about making sure we could hold the conversation and have the right answers for the next ten minutes or so.

“We knew investors wanted to make quick decisions, so it was important they had all the information. It got us into that mindset very quickly.”

Touch Stay is currently being used by up to 70,000 guests a month, across 7,000 active properties.

Andy added: “Like any start-up, there’s always something going on. But when I look back at what we have achieved, we’ve come a long way.”

Find out more about CrowdBoost today.