Leeds-based Euroventure Travel was founded by brothers Kevin and Philip Cabra Netherton with the aim of making European package holidays easier for students to organise.
The company is a tour operator which creates European package rail holidays, providing train tickets, reservations, accommodation bookings and directions from stations to hostels and hotels.
BQ’s Bryce Wilcock caught up with co-founder Philip to find out more about the duos entrepreneurial journey so far.
The concept of the business was inspired following their own experiences travelling around Europe, as Philip said, “my brother, the other director, was inspired by taking a year abroad in Singapore whilst at the University of Leeds.
“As an international student he wanted to visit all the surrounding countries but found no organisation catering for this need locally, so when he returned to Leeds he set up Euroventure to help international students at the universities here discover Europe. As we both had backpacked a lot in Europe we were able to bring our tailored travel expertise to the company right from the start.”
Whilst studying at the University of Leeds, the duo received support from the University’s SPARK fund and secured a £4,000 grant to get the business off the ground.
“This paid for the set up costs and some initial marketing, and we have put all the profits back in ever since to allow the company to grow. We have not needed any credit since the initial grant.
“As part of the grant we were entitled to free accountancy and legal advice for the first year, and we continue to take advice from the same accountant now, who we are entitled to see for free again through Leeds Beckett Enterprise and Innovation Centre where our office is based. Other than this, we do as much research as we can ourselves.”
The firm has already taken on four members of staff, which has proved to be one of their biggest challenges so far. “The biggest challenge has been forecasting sales and therefore how many staff we need.
“When we employed our first administrator in January on 20 hours a week, thinking it was what we needed for the year, four days later we employed the second candidate as well, and ten weeks later a full-time member of staff as the third employee.”
Following this expansion, the firm is now set to launch a sister site named Venture Britain which will cater more to the original target audience of international students, or in general to tourists who wish to travel around Britain.
“The model will be the same, using trains and hostel or hotel accommodation. We hope that this will help bridge the gap in seasonality we experience with Euroventure, as we are selling largely to UK students who only go away in the summer.”
Speaking on the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, Philip told BQ: “The best thing is being in the driving seat, crafting the company out of nothing and seeing it and the brand grow.
“The other side of the coin is that your life becomes the business and it can be hard to disengage. The worst thing about actually being a start-up specifically would be winning people’s trust, although we seem to have managed it!”
As with any start-up business that is launched in an already established industry, it is hard to be innovative and break away from the competition.
In ensuring Euroventure offered something a little different, Philip said: “There are plenty of companies that cater for student travel, but they are all group tours by bus that leave on set dates and do set routes.
“We offer the independent travel experience which is totally customisable by date of departure, exact route and number of travellers.
“We are helping first time travellers in particular to take the leap and go backpacking, by injecting our expertise into their trip to make sure they have the best time possible.
“Rather than having a tour and selling seats, we turn our individual customers’ travel bucket lists into reality.”
When asked who is dream customer would be, Philip said: “Our dream customer would be George Bradshaw, cartographer and author of the Bradshaw Guides, first published in 1839 – he wrote his travel guides for railways all over Britain, Europe and India which are still published today.”
BQ will continue to report the progress of Euroventure as the firm continues to grow and break into the global travel industry.