We love that our startups are an ambitious bunch. For example our StartUp of the Week, Holey Molies, is the UK's largest indoor mini golf course, boasts the world's longest mini golf hole, and is hoping to attract the world's mini golf champions for international championships. Exciting stuff! We asked founder Andrew Oliver about his business.
1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less
We are Holey Molies - the UKs largest indoor mini golf course with bar and diner. Catering for all ages and most disabilities, we also have the world’s longest mini golf hole. As well as golf we have theme nights, quiz nights and live bands, and you can even throw a party with us (and with Walter, our 7ft mascot). Above all, Holey Molies is a place to have fun.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
Holey Molies is based in an industrial park in the village of Skelton In Cleveland. The location is ideal as the industrial park already has a play factory and gym that ensures a steady stream of people. New housing estates are also in the pipeline, within walking distance to our venue.
The location is close enough to cater for tourists that visit the North Yorkshire Moors and Whitby. We are also close enough to attract customers from the major towns of Middlesbrough and Stockton, but our location means it has cost us about a quarter of what it would to set up in these major towns. This then gives us the means to charge very competitive prices that brings us a lot of repeat custom.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
At the age of 12 I watched a film starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn called Overboard. A part of the film that many people forget about is the part where Kurt’s character builds a mini golf course. But I never forgot that part - it stuck with me for 27 years, and finally my dream became reality!
4. What stage was your business at when you applied for the start-up loan?
The business had a detailed business plan, planning permission granted for the venture, lease on the building and was around three weeks from finishing construction. We also had three members of staff lined up.
5. How have you used it to grow your business?
The money has been used to be able to build the course to a better standard than we first planned. The course will always be a work-in-progress, as it’s designed in a way to make constant changes and improvements possible. This helped to get Holey Molies to give the customers the wow factor from day one, which has only helped to increase revenue.
6. Who is your mentor and how did they help you?
My first point of call was a member of the Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council Business Growth Team, and a guy called Ainsley Mullen. For around eight months he helped with the business plan, guided me through the market research that needed to be done, and helped me understand how best to create a plan for potential investors. He actually became a part of Holey Molies without even realising it!
Once the plan was sorted he put me in touch with the TEDCO team. I then met with Mark Johnston, a TEDCO business advisor. With Mark’s help as a business advisor and the continued support of Ainsley, we finalised the business plan -and the rest is history. Mark has been an ongoing part of Holey Molies, providing us with really valuable advice for future growth of the business.
7. Biggest achievement so far?
We’re most proud of creating a venue that the community is proud of, and that has created employment for more than 20 local people.
8. What’s next for the business?
Reinvestment into the business and staff is essential as we already have an excellent reputation for everything from our customer service to the quality of our food. This is very evident in the 84 reviews we currently have through Facebook. We already have plans to turn the course into a spooky graveyard for Halloween and a Winter Wonderland for Christmas. If we get it right, people will look forward to this every year.
Competitions are also a big part of the business. Having talked extensively with the President of The World Mini Golf Federation and The UK Mini Golf Association, Holey Molies plans on one day being the venue for the world’s biggest mini golf tournament, attracting the top players from all over the world. As well as being good for the business, it will be amazing for the local area. We also need to keep it affordable whilst keeping the quality within the business. As the saying goes: “It’s not a race, it’s a marathon”!