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Two-time Escapee Searches for Business Model: Can You Help Ed?

Ed escaped the city over a year ago to launch a startup, and has written in the past about how Escape the City’s Tech MBA helped him along his journey. He initially quit his job to launch a travel business (Dromomaniacs) but after a few months pivoted to another direction and underwent a rebrand. World in London was founded earlier this year.

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The background

One of the pieces of advice which I always thought most salient from the stuff I’ve read from ESC was ‘Don’t quit your job just yet. Build your business on the side, when you are confident of it and its making some money, then take the plunge’. But what happens if you read that, take the plunge, then realise that what you ‘plunged’ into wasn’t quite right?

That’s the situation I found myself in when I quit my corporate job I didn’t even hate to launch Dromomaniacs.

However, soon I realised that a) nobody could remember/spell the name and b) it wasn’t actually right for me. Dromomaniacs was ‘the society for those with the insatiable urge to travel’ – but it somehow didn’t quite fit well. So I pivoted earlier this year to something I felt was a much more interesting, niche and environmentally/ socially responsible concept which was still all about travelling the world – but doing it in your own city. Hence World In (London) was born.

Although I genuinely believe that this is a much better idea than the original, the result of this is that, essentially I went back to square one. New business, unproven and searching for a business model. But having quit my job already rather than having the safety net of it.

So I need to find the business model for World in London quickly – I’d love you to help me test my idea out and hopefully it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun along the way. We are going to start by testing during the World Cup.

Some options

The ‘mission’ of World in London is ‘to help people discover unique experiences in their own city’. I’m happy with that as a mission, but what that business actually is could be a number of different things….

Here are the options:

1)    A written and online guide (rev model advertising and book/ magazine sales)

2)    A discount card in the form of a passport (for all things multicultural. Like the Time Out Card)

3)    A large scale events company which recreates festivals from around the world (a kind of multicultural Secret Cinema)

4)    A smaller scale ‘experience’ company (possibly peer to peer). In the model of ‘sidetour’ in the US

5)    Just a distributor. A multicultural ‘Y Plan’.

6)    A leftfield one is for it to be an investment company/ incubator

Thus far I’ve been experimenting with all of these and seeing what works/ what I’m good at in practice. In time, ‘World In’ (London is the first city) could be a combination of all these things. But it needs to start off being one I feel.

The World Cup Festival experiment

The World Cup seems like a natural place to experiment here. All the nations competing are represented in London and they’ll be at their loudest and proudest. I also bloody love football (although being a season ticket holder at Wolves challenges that sometimes). So I’ve set up a number of things to test what people want (as well as test the overall concept of ‘travel the world in your own city’)

Here are the questions I want to ask:

1)    Do people really dig this ‘travel the world in your own city’ thing as a concept?

2)    If yes, what specifically do they want?

3)    Can different biz models/ revenue streams co-exist?

4)    Am I any good at the practicalities of this (negotiating, event creating, selling, building audience?) (I was good at my corporate job – but it involved playing on excel a lot. I know I’m good at that! Not so helpful here!)

And here’s what I’ve done…

1)    Produced a guide of where to watch each nation which is free to download

2)    Just straight up selling tickets to an awesome Brazilian party for a commission

3)    Curating unique matchday experiences with a guide (we’ve got a Spanish one hosted by the ‘ex Team Operations Manager’ of FC Barcelona

4)    Got some press coverage (in Time Out & on London Live so I can test with a decent sized number of people) and lined up some distributors to see who’s good.

(N.B. I attempted to create my own big World Cup party but shelved that a couple of weeks ago after realising it was too expensive and I hadn’t given myself enough time to produce and sell it. I was also concerned it would be a) less authentic and b) more expensive than the Brazilian party which I was also promoting)

And here’s how you can help

Please visit this site and just do what comes naturally to you. I’m sure it’ll be great fun and it will be incredibly helpful for me! As a thanks to escapees, you can have a 10% discount code for the matchday experiences by quoting the code ESCAPEWORLDCUP.

Please feel free to contact me directly with feedback (ed@worldinlondon.co.uk), and recommend people who might be interested in the whole concept (as employee, partner, investor or consumer). Tweet @worldinlon and find us on Facebook.

world cup fest


What is Escape the City all about then?

Frustrated by climbing the corporate ladder, we decided to build a community to help people build meaningful careers doing work that matters – to them and to the world. We help talented people find fulfilling work by making big career changes, building businesses, & going on big adventures. We’d love you to come with us on this journey.

How do you get involved?

1. Job Seeker? Create an Escape Profile to get matched to exciting jobs.

2. Aspiring Career Changer / Entrepreneur? If you’re in London, come and see us at The Escape School.

3. Want to stay in touch? Subscribe to one of our newsletters. Find us on Facebook or @escthecity.

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