Ski marketplace Maison Sport secures funding for global growth
Travel tech start-up defies the pandemic to secure £1.25million and brings Skyscanner’s Gareth Williams on board as investor.
Ski instructor marketplace, Maison Sport - founded by a trio of former members of the British Ski Team, including Edinburgh-based CEO Nick Robinson - has completed a new round of funding, achieving a raise of £1.25million, following collaboration with a collective of investors, alongside a Seedrs crowdfunding campaign.
Over the past six months, the business has secured further funds from their existing advisory board members Kevin Byrne, Founder of Checkatrade.com and serial entrepreneur Lorenz Bogaert, as well as new investor, Gareth Williams, Co-Founder of Skyscanner. The investment will allow Maison Sport to continue to expand globally and to build its enviable portfolio of independent ski instructors.
Despite the pandemic, Maison Sport and its trio of founders have raised significant funds and have more than doubled the number of instructors represented on the platform. It leaves the tech travel start up in pole position as it now boasts the third largest selection of instructors in comparison to any ski school in the world. Maison Sport now offers individual and group ski lessons from over 1,200 passionate and talented independent ski and snowboard instructors.
The pandemic has thrown challenges in the way of many travel companies over the past year, but the trio of former ski champions who started Maison Sport – Edinburgh-based Nick Robinson, his brother Olly Robinson and Aaron Tipping - have attributed their steely focus on raising enough investment for their next growth phase, to the combination of commitment, persistence, and resilience they had to adopt as professional athletes from a young age.
Maison Sport was born out of the trio’s passion for the industry and ambition to continue working in the sport they love, despite adversities from injury, funding, and international travel. Created in order to challenge the status quo and connect people directly with the very best independent and passionate ski and snowboard instructors, the innovative platform has continued to grow over the past year, overcoming many challenges felt across the entire travel industry.
The recent round of funding will allow the tech start-up to continue to grow their portfolio of instructors and loyal customers globally, enter new markets and continue to support independent ski instructors across the world. The team set their sights on expansion into four new markets in 2021 – Scotland, Norway, Sweden and Japan, and are already making plans for even further expansion into Asia and South America next year, following their successful funding round.
Other plans to grow the business as a result of the funding, include expanding the team from 15 to 20 by the end of the year, launching a new Edinburgh office, continuing to enhance the technology and ease of bookings for both their instructor community and customers, as well as developing new and innovative brand partnerships.
Founder and CEO, Nick Robinson says; “We initially set out to raise £1.4million, but little did we know then, we were set for another UK lockdown, as well as further restrictions on travel rolled out across Europe. We’ve been blown away that we managed to come really close to the ambitious targets we set ourselves, but it’s taken a lot of hard work, dedication and resilience.
“Right from the outset, launching the Maison Sport business has come with obstacles to overcome. We set out to challenge the status quo and make real change, so from day one, the three of us have worked incredibly hard to share our vision and ideas with the ski industry. We’re disrupting the way things have been for years and years, so we’ve really had to be persistent and positive in order to open minds and push progressive change.
“I think those circumstances, matched with the mental drive, recovery and resilience we’ve all had to learn as athletes, have helped us stay focussed and navigate our way through the pandemic. We’ve done everything we can to stay positive, motivate our teams, think about new ways of doing things and continue to move forward with ambition. Aaron and Olly have both had to overcome serious injury, but we’ve all found ways to take positives from the experiences we’ve had and continue to work in and help evolve the industry we love, for the better.”
Despite the pandemic, Maison Sport’s instructor numbers have more than doubled, and new disciplines in the sport have allowed the platform to stay active throughout, in both France and Switzerland. Resorts remained open in Switzerland and despite the lack of holiday makers, Maison Sport secured over double the number of bookings in Switzerland this winter vs last.
As the only platform dedicated to independent instructors, Maison Sport has proven to be a game changer for ski and snowboard instructors who can significantly increase their earnings using the platform. The marketplace has recently surpassed 23,000 hours of lessons taught and prides itself on the site’s 3,400+ individual instructor reviews left by over 70% of customers, placed on instructor’s profile after their lessons, over 90% of which are rated 5 stars.
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