Good businesses cater for niches and this start-up of the week does exactly that by connecting equestrian fanatics all over the world. Founder, Lucienne Elms, introduces her business and explains what made her decide to follow her dream of becoming her own boss. 

1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less

Horse Scout is the only global equestrian online platform that allows enthusiasts to connect socially, professionals to connect professionally. Businesses and customers to find each other. Think FaceBook + LinkedIn + eBay, but all focussed on the equestrian world.

2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?

Horse Scout is based in Bournemouth, Dorset, namely BOX 44 (a co working space). I have found Bournemouth to have great 'Start Up' aspirations, my team are local to Bournemouth, and it is an easy commute into London for the necessary meetings. It can't be denied that Bournemouth is now recognised as a digital hub. I feel a responsibility to 'give back' where possible and have started public speaking when invited to enabling others at the start of their journey to hear a 'true' story. Fund raising, pitching, and securing VC money is not romantic. 

3. How did you come up with the idea?

I have worked in the equestrian sector all my life, and the past 15years ridden as a professional competition rider. I was very interested in uptake of Facebook, and now more so LinkedIn, there were gaps in the market that these social and business platforms lacked specificity for, and I wanted to form a recognised brand, strong enough/ classy enough even that equestrian professionals sought after it, and desired to be associated with it. My vision was never rigid with respect to functionality, my drive comes from knowing the space and market opportunity.

4. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?

Horse Scout had been through Beta testing, received pre-seed investment to facilitate proof of concept prior to my Start up loan application. I have sourced the loan to both by me time, and assist as a bridge while under VC negotiation. 

5. How have you used it to grow your business?

My Virgin Start Up loan has been used for development costs in the main. Creating a digital masterpiece has and will continue to be a huge cost. Development for Horse Scout will never come to an end point, I would point to Instagram, and Facebook to substantiate that; continuous change, namely simplification, implementation of image and video expectations need to be matched.  

6. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?

Alex Chisnall and Cassie Francis supported my Virgin Start Up application.

7. Biggest achievement so far?

Biggest achievement to date would be having 40 world ranked riders associated with Horse Scout, and being on route to 40,000 members readily acting as market influencers because of their belief in the brand. Receiving multiple international partnership requests from very reputable manufacturers early 2017 felt like we were making headway also. 

8. What’s next for your business?

The next step for Horse Scout will be scaling the team, more specifically developers, sales, and marketing talents. We are rapidly expanding and always seeking forward thinking, experienced individuals who want to be part of a very niche and ambitious start up!



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