Jack studied early modern history and has always enjoyed travelling to new places, but their guided tours have never grabbed his attention.
So, he thought about what a fun and interactive travel guide would be and came up with the idea of a mystery saga – written as an enduring fictional crime story which you solve while exploring and learning more about the city.
He started with his hometown of Portsmouth, and it was such a success that he published more copies and set about writing a guide for London and then Bath…and he is now working on book 11!
Jack explains the formula of his business, Mystery Guides:
“Every book has evidence to gather along the way and various suspects to eliminate. There’s also always a twist to keep people guessing and the book eventually leads you to something you find at the end, so it has meaning. Each story has strong links to the city it’s based on, for example, York is about the Gunpowder Plot because it’s the birthplace of Guy Fawkes and Bristol is about the sabotage of an air balloon.
The key part of my business is in creating memories. Encouraging people to spend a day out with family or friends to explore and share some good times that they will remember for life.”
The Outset Start and Grow workshops and one-to-one business support have helped Jack refine his business, explore additional revenue opportunities and operate more efficiently.
“I didn’t have a business plan so Robert Bentley at Outset Start and Grow – Portsmouth helped me to develop one. Robert encouraged me to take a step back from my business, which highlighted some opportunities as well as areas for improvement. I now have a clear goal, objectives and a document that I can refer to. I also attended workshops about business excellence, marketing, e-commerce and leadership which have also proved very useful.”
Jack successfully applied for grant funding from Outset Start and Grow to help him grow the business:
“My website is essentially an e-commerce site and I plan to use the funds to re-design it and better optimise my conversion rate. I have a mentor who’s an e-Commerce expert and he’s helping me with my online store and marketing strategy. I need to be less reliant on the seasonal gift market, where I currently make most of my sales around the Christmas period. As an outdoor experience product, my new marketing strategy aims to re-balance the business and get people buying and enjoying the guides during the summer months too.”
Jack currently has a researcher working for him, funded by the Outset Start and Grow bursary scheme, to help generate the material for more mystery guides. Jack has also reconfigured his role in the company, outsourcing more of the design and business support functions, freeing up more time to do what he is best at and loves to do most.
Mystery Guides is not just about books. Jack has also designed a puzzle advent calendar and craft beer mystery box, which he plans to re-visit and potentially release again.
Follow Jack’s progress and explore his product range: mysteryguides.co.uk
Find out more about how Outset Start and Grow can support your business to get off the ground or reach the next level.