Midlands-based travel management platform ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ has secured a development capital boost of £1.1m. The funding will accelerate the company’s pre-Covid ambitious expansion plans, enabling it to invest in continuous product development, fuel sales and marketing activities and embark on a recruitment drive to create 29 new jobs by 2024 in the Midlands region.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund (“MEIF”) Debt Finance, managed by Maven Capital Partners (“Maven”), has provided ‘You. Smart. Thing. Limited’ (“YST”), with £250,000 from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) alongside an existing £250,000 MEIF loan, taking its financial backing of the company to £500,000. Maven’s funding, in addition to an Innovate UK grant (via West Midlands 5G) and private investment brings the total to more than £1m.
YST will use the funding to develop its existing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) ‘Travel Assistant’ platform which allows consumers to plan their journey to a venue or event and is completely free to use via the destination or ticket vendors’ website, app or at the point of booking tickets. By embedding the Travel Assistant into existing customer touchpoints, its licensees can offer up-to-date personalised travel assistance, manage travel demand and curate the visitor experience to destinations, venues and events. Users are kept up to date in real time with any changes or disruption to their journey and are notified of alternative routes or travel options.
The global destination management software market was projected to grow from $5.7 billion in 2019 to $11.4 billion by 2024, driven by the growing need for software to plan, manage, and automate the activities associated with venues and events throughout their lifecycle. Since the pandemic this need has become significantly more acute. As it helps the cultural sector navigate its recovery from the pandemic, YST is seeing additional un-met demand for a platform development that can allow transport operators to more effectively promote services whilst managing capacity, a feature that it has now deployed for Transport for Wales and Transport for West Midlands metro services.
Alongside a UK wide roll-out and plans for international expansion, the team at YST are currently working with Coventry City Council on a bespoke Travel Assistant deployment for the 2021 UK City of Culture programme of events.
The company is led by Founder and CEO, Chris Thompson, whose career spans digital product development, marketing and technology. Chris is supported by COO, Andrew Steele, who has 20 years’ experience managing intelligent mobility software product development.
Chris Thompson, Founder and CEO of ‘You. Smart. Thing.’, said, “The funding will enable us to continue to invest in our platform, which is tailored around optimisation of resources, improved customer service and access to data that enables better marketing and service delivery for destinations and transport operators. Thanks to the team at Maven, we are continuing our upward trajectory and look forward to extending our team to help us meet our goals.”
Sajid Sabir, Investment Associate at Maven Capital Partners, added, “Travel Assistant is an innovative product delivering a genuinely personalised travel experience. The business is backed by an experienced management team who have in-depth sector knowledge and technical know-how to drive the business forward and we look forward to working with Chris and the team as they execute their ambitious growth plans.”