Sheffield publishing firm eyes rapid growth

Sheffield publishing firm eyes rapid growth

13 September 2017

A Sheffield publishing startup is preparing the ground for rapid growth – and they’re giving the public a chance to buy a share in it.

Horizon Guides publishes digital travel guides to activities and experiences in destinations around the world. The guides are free for readers to download, and the company makes money by selling sponsorship and advertising services to travel companies.

In 12 months it has proved a success and the firm, located on Portobello in Sheffield city centre, now needs an injection of new finance to fund expansion. They’re using the equity crowdfunding website Crowdcube on which the general public can see the pitch, view the business plan, and buy shares with investments from £10 and up.

The company is aiming for £150,000 which it says will finance an 18 month period of growth as they publish 65 new guides and recruit additional sales and editorial staff.

Matthew Barker, founder and CEO, explained how the business works: “We publish guides to travel experiences such as touring Cuba, seeing the Northern Lights, and going on safari in East Africa.

“Written by professional travel writers and beautifully designed, the guides are free to download from our website. We make our money by selling digital marketing services to tour operators, helping them reach their customers when they’re planning a trip.”

After 12 months, the company has published 20 guides, notched up over 10,000 downloads and signed 11 sponsors.

Barker says: “The general consensus is that travel publishing is in decline. Advertising revenues have dried up, the number of publications has dwindled, and the quality of writing is in freefall. But we’re part of a movement of new businesses that show there’s still plenty of life left in the industry. It’s just about finding smart new business models to pay for it.

“It’s exciting to be building our business in Sheffield. The city is the perfect environment for a venture like ours and we’re looking forward to expanding our team and hiring locally. We’ll be bringing on tech, editorial and new sales staff in the coming months and years.

“I’m confident that if we get the finance we’re looking for we can take Horizon Guides to the next level. Eventually I want us to be a worldwide name in travel publishing.”