The inspiration for Yuup came when Dominic was looking to treat his wife. After becoming frustrated at how hard it was to find and book an original experience, he had a lightbulb moment. After our first full year of trading that lightbulb moment had already put £400k in the hands of local small businesses and side hustlers, helping many of them find alternative revenue streams during the pandemic's upheaval.
Now, two years in, Yuup has welcomed over 400 hosts to the platform, added 7 new members to the team, and has started to expand out of the cosy home it has made in Bristol.
We caught up with Dominic to find out more about Yuup's past, present, and future (and because we're nosey and wanted to find out more about him):
Hey! Tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in rural Somerset before living just outside London for a few years.
I returned to Bristol to start my first business realising the West Country was where I wanted to be based. Bristol has been home now for nearly 20 years.
And how would people describe your personality?
Committed (obsessive?), resilient, hardworking, family-focused, caring, and always tries to do the right thing.
What was your background before founding Yuup?
In my early career, I was working for a large US tech consulting company. I left to start a digital agency called Auros in Bristol and then sold that agency to a London-based agency called Zone. I stayed and helped grow the combined business and then we sold again (ironically to a large US tech company called Cognizant).
I was also a non-exec director of a community interest company called Bristol Media (now Bristol Creative Industries) during this time. After Zone, I took a short break before starting Yuup.
When did the idea of Yuup first come to you?
I founded Yuup because when trying to find a special experience for my wife, I got frustrated with how difficult it was.
After much Googling, I found many inspiring creators and small businesses offering experiences but they were hard to find and very often there wasn’t an online booking option. It was very much 'contact me, get a voucher, and then organise the experience offline'.
I spotted an opportunity to create a platform bringing all these incredible people together into a single community. I thought it would be fantastic for customers looking for fun things to do and it would help the small business hosts and side hustlers to grow their experience-based businesses.
I was also excited by the prospect of people who have never previously hosted experiences joining the platform to turn their passion into an experience to share with others while earning additional income for themselves.
How did you go about building Yuup?
We started as a small team in 2020. Initially getting to grips with understanding the market and talking to potential hosts and customers.
We then created the brand and built the platform, and in late September 2020 soft-launched with about 50 hosts. By Christmas 2020 we were getting really positive feedback from hosts and customers alike and launched a full pilot in late March 2021.
Since then, over 85,000 experiences have been sold putting £2m into the hands of our now 400+ hosts.
What was the biggest hurdle/challenge you’ve faced whilst starting Yuup?
Prioritisation – there is so much to do and so many possibilities. Making the right calls about where to focus time and resources is key.
What’s your favourite thing about Yuup so far?
The people. We've got an awesome team, absolutely incredible hosts and a rapidly growing community who really value what we are creating.
What does your day-to-day role entail?
As founder, my role is hugely varied. You'll usually find me working with the team to shape our proposition, drive growth and help scale operational delivery. I'll chat with partners and hosts and find new team members. I also spend a lot of time focused on our scale-up strategy and meeting with potential investors. The one consistent daily theme is data- reviewing business performance, trends and considering how we can use the insights gained to help our hosts thrive.
What's your proudest moment so far at Yuup?
In our first two years, we've put over £2m in the hands of local small businesses and side hustlers – that made me extremely proud and underlined the potential to help so many more people as we scale Yuup.
Do you have any advice you’d give to a future entrepreneur?
Go for it. Get started. Make mistakes. Celebrate your successes.
Surround yourself with brilliant people – those that are the most passionate and really want to go on the journey with you.
Are there any experiences you’d like to see on Yuup?
So many! Live music, sport, nature and animals….there really is no limit!
What ambitions do you have for Yuup? What does the next year look like?
With Yuup I believe we are building something really special! I want to make a huge positive impact on the communities that we work with by creating income-generating opportunities for thousands of side hustlers and small businesses. I also want to help hundreds of thousands of people find fun things to do in their local communities.
Our first fundraising campaign is well advanced (more on that very soon!) which is super exciting because it will enable us to accelerate our growth plans and support even more hosts.
For the next year we have two ambitions- continue to scale Yuup in Bristol and get ready to launch in a second city.
Within five years I want Yuup to be in over ten cities. But wherever we go, we’ll always be a business proudly made in Bristol.
Speaking of Bristol, what's the best thing about living here?
The diversity that makes up our great city and the different communities and cultures. People here are really open and welcoming. There is so much raw enthusiasm within so many people in Bristol, they're so passionate about making our home the best it can be.
The food is incredible too. I also love how easy it is to get from the buzz of the city to the countryside.
Do you have any favourite haunts or hidden gems in Bristol?
I'm a big fan of so many fabulous Bristol independents: Reg the Veg, Ruby & White Butchers, Clifton Coffee, Harts Bakery, Mokoko, Bosco, Paco Tapas, so many….and of course the 400+ incredible local businesses across Bristol who are Yuup hosts.
What would be your perfect weekend in Bristol?
A walk in the great outdoors with my family, a perfect Sunday roast, pootling around the countryside in my classic car, and sharing a bottle of red wine with my amazing wife!
Oh wow, that does sound pretty perfect! Is there anything else we should know about you?
I'm a dad to a beautiful little girl who makes me smile every day. I'm an (amateur!) pilot and a classic car owner. I love new experiences, exploring new places and travel. Italy is a particular favourite- the countryside, the food, the people and the culture.