Like a lot of our portfolio companies, we met the Mainstage Festivals founders, Rob and Aden several years before investing. When we met, they’d been running the ski and music festival Snowboxx for 3 years and were seeing strong organic growth. Snowboxx was the first international festival that the pair had created, and we were impressed from the offset about the reputation they were building in the international space. It was another 2 years before we invested, but we stayed in contact with the team and watched Snowboxx grow in popularity. Getting the timing right on when a business is ready for that next stage of growth through investment is really important, and so we like to meet businesses that excite us early on to begin building a great relationship.
Rob wanted to use the investment to continue to turn Snowboxx into a globally-recognised brand”
When we invested in April 2017, Snowboxx had just finished its 5th year and the team were ready for the next challenge. Rob wanted to use the investment to continue to turn Snowboxx into a globally-recognised brand; something he’s achieved by growing the audience year on year, and by launching a second iteration of the festival in New Zealand scheduled for Winter ‘19. The team were also keen to diversify and prove that their business model and expertise could be applied to festival holidays that weren’t snow-based, culminating in the launch of Kala in June ‘18. In contrast to Snowboxx, Kala is a beach fronted event on a beautiful stretch of the Albanian coastline, with a focus on electronic music, wellness and exploration of its surroundings.
Festivals are a market that we know inside out, having invested upwards of £200m and enjoying great success both at Edition and in previous employment, and so we knew where we could add value on operation and at an exit. What the Mainstage Festivals team did so successfully was notice and join the wave of ‘festival tourism’ early-on; recognising that millennials want to look further afield for their festival experience for guaranteed weather and an enriched holiday experience. The Mainstage team cater for this expertly, providing smooth travel options and the Instagram extras like mountain-side bottomless brunches, igloo parties and mass snowball fights.
What the team did so successfully was notice and join the wave of ‘festival tourism’ early-on’
Since investment, we’ve worked closely with the team on their reporting processes to make sure they’re best in class, and we’ve introduced them to contacts in our network. They, in turn, have introduced us to a number of fellow entrepreneurs who they recommended partnering with us to.
So what’s next? The value of festival brands continues to grow, as new players in VC and festival verticals look to enter the market on seeing the strength of the industry. We’re looking forward to an exciting few years ahead with the team, watching their brands go from strength to strength. And we can only hope that the Edition team’s skiing ability goes the same way.