Former Eurostar director to help scale family leisure platform
Former long-time Eurostar commercial director Nick Mercer has joined family leisure platform Kidadl as it plots international expansion.
Launched by Hannah Feldman and Sophie Orman last year, London-based Kidadl has rapidly built a community of 120,000 parents in the capital who use the platform to discover and book family days out.
In a career spanning 15 years on the board at Eurostar, Mercer tripled turnover and oversaw the digitalisation of the business with Eurostar.com becoming its dominant distribution channel.
He was also part of the founding team at Air Miles and built the biggest loyalty programme in Europe, creating a household brand in the travel and leisure industry.
Following his appointment as a non-executive director, Kidadl will now hope to take advantage of his industry contacts and relationships.
“We’ve grown exponentially since launching in January last year,” Feldman, a former lawyer and investment banker, told BusinessCloud.
“We’ve done that with pretty much zero marketing spend: it’s been built through parents telling other parents about us.
“We wanted last year to be the one where we built and launched the product and this year to be the one where we take it to scale. We are now in growth mode moving the business towards a Series A.
“I’m delighted that Nick has joined us. Having somebody who's built and scaled leisure businesses on our main board is a real game-changer as we move the business to scale.”
Mercer, who left Eurostar at the end of last year, said of his appointment: “I am thrilled to be able to support the Kidadl team at this exciting time. They have created the premier platform that enables families to maximise their valuable leisure time.
“I look forward to being part of the international expansion of this exciting British business.”
Feldman worked closely with recruitment entrepreneur and former Dragons’ Den star James Caan on his investment deal flow at Hamilton Bradshaw before striking out to solve the problem of finding affordable and age-appropriate activities for family days out.
Already a mother to three-year-old twins – now aged six – she discovered she was pregnant just eight weeks after launching Kidadl. You can read the full inspirational story of how she raised funds and built the business while expecting and looking after a newborn in the next edition of BusinessCloud magazine.
“James was fantastic and completely inspirational. Every day you would see the coalface of business that I had never seen in prior roles,” she revealed. “He’s a complete strategic thinker and is always a few steps ahead when it comes to mapping out a deal and scoping out the options around it.
“He involved me in everything at board level, so I got huge exposure to the kinds of deals that were being done and management of the business.
“He inspired me to think it was something I could legitimately pursue. I'd seen first-hand how addictive it is to build something that doesn’t exist.
“I've wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was a teenager but I didn’t have the confidence to pursue a path so different to my peers until I got older and realised you just have to take the leap.
“You don’t realise until later that no one is going to tap you on the shoulder and say 'go and be an entrepreneur today' – you have to decide that this opportunity in front of you is too great to pass up.
“You have to be happy to take all the pain that goes with that, and sacrifice in income and a degree of comfort in your life, because you’re so compelled to go and do it.”
Kidadl works with household names like Disney on Ice and Wembley as well as top London theatres and attractions. It will now launch its Android, iOS and web platforms globally.
“[In London alone] there are 260 venues and event providers trying to come on to the platform – we can’t process them fast enough. They come to us,” said Feldman.
“You have some boroughs where you have almost every parent using the product. We want that to go out across every London borough and Greater London borough in requisite depth.
“Then we'll go into key hubs that have the right concentration of parents who can consume and enjoy the inventory week in, week out, in addition to tourists who are looking for the kind of experiences to live like a local. It's that blend that makes a city a Kidadl city.
“Parents the world over want better tools to get out and about with their kids.”