Engine Shed Case Study: TravelLocal

As an enabler of a sustainable and inclusive economy, Engine Shed works to create the environment where companies access people and organisations that can work together to achieve success.

We are interested in the support of companies as they grow from start ups into scale ups and beyond, through hosting the SETsquared Bristol business incubator, our inclusion, innovation and growth projects, coworking spaces, networking opportunities, and more.


Who are TravelLocal?

TravelLocal is a tourism company founded in Bristol in 2016, which took its first office in Engine Shed’s Boxworks as a team of two. In just three years, it has accelerated and scaled up to 27 employees, and 50 partners worldwide. 

Through their time in Boxworks, TravelLocal Joint Managing Director & Co-Founder, Huw Owen, was able to connect with like-minded companies and individuals that helped his company grow, starting with incubators like Rocketmakers and WebStart, before eventually joining the SETsquared Bristol business incubation programme, based on the first floor of Engine Shed.


What’s the business?

TravelLocal’s online platform puts travellers in touch with the best local companies and guides at their desired destination. Sidestepping commoditised experiences via travel agencies, it connects people with trusted local experts and guides, so that travellers can be immersed in local culture.

The system allows holidaymakers and travellers to book and manage their trip quickly and easily, but is a bespoke and complex piece of tech that requires much strategic focus and development to ensure B2C success.

TravelLocal Joint Managing Director & Co-Founder, Huw Owen, said:

“When we came to Engine Shed, TravelLocal was two guys with laptops and a plan. But we needed a network, a physical base or home, some camaraderie, mentors, and a location to meet investors. Engine Shed was basically perfect and we stumbled upon it, really – a very lucky break for us, with hindsight. 

“The team there have been supportive at every stage, shared the highs and lows, connected us with great people (including people on our team of 27 now), and the whole set up has unfailingly impressed every investor we’ve met there. It’s a fantastic initiative for Bristol and the wider region.”


Scaling with Engine Shed

After achieving its first round of investment, TravelLocal joined SETsquared Bristol’s incubation programme, moving into its shared office space where they continued their role as an active member of Engine Shed’s community. Here, TravelLocal also benefited from SETsquared’s ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors, and business support experts.

TravelLocal is an exemplar of how companies are able to scale up with Engine Shed’s support. Through connections made at Engine Shed, TravelLocal has been able to establish its brand and business model, run a number of successful recruitment drives, and connect with Angel investors and VCs. It has also partnered with large brands including Waitrose, Yeo Valley Yogurt, and Oxford University.

It has raised investment as part of the Silicon Gorge project, backed by Engine Shed and TechSPARK, and they have been part of Engine Shed’s Quarterly Investment Briefing, which offers companies exclusive access to investors who are active in the South West region.

If you are looking to scale your business, engage with new partners, clients, and investors, and immerse yourself and your business into a community of like-minded yet diverse companies and individuals from a range of private and public sector backgrounds, visit our website to discover the opportunities available to you at Engine Shed.