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26 January 2012

A Happy Chinese New Year for Glamorous Travel

Yan Zhang, founder of Glamorous Travel outlines her experience obtaining finance from The North West Fund...

Glamorous Travel

Left to right: Joyce Zhao (Operations Assistant), Yan Zhang (MD) and Tonya Liang (Operations Manager)

Manchester-based bespoke tour operator, Glamorous Travel, secured £100,000 funding from The North West Fund for Venture Capital, in return for an equity stake in December 2010. The company now plans to double its turnover in 2012.

We spoke to the founder of the business, Yan Zhang, about Glamorous Travel and working with The North West Fund.

What business are you in and how did it develop?

I set up Glamorous Travel in late 2010, as a tour operator that specialises in providing tailor-made special interest tour packages and programmes for Chinese nationals visiting Britain and continental Europe.

As China's economic boom continues, a significant amount of wealth is being created, giving Chinese nationals the potential to travel abroad, and the opportunity for businesses like ours to set up and service their needs.

We provide our customers with bespoke packages that range from high-end shopping trips and exclusive dining events to sport holidays and business conferences.

What did you do before Glamorous Travel?

After holding roles with a number of major Chinese tour operators, I moved to the UK and worked with Manchester City Council within performance management, but also became actively involved in supporting local communities and promoting Chinese culture in the North West.

What are your plans for 2012?

We plan to double our turnover in 2012 and capitalise on a booming Chinese tourism market. By taking full advantage of our equity funding from The North West Fund for Venture Capital, we will be able to expand our team of travel consultants in order to take on larger bookings.  

How did you hear of The North West Fund?

The North West Fund presented at Manchester Metropolitan's business hub, Innospace, and gave an introduction to the sub-funds. They explained how the process works, its criteria and how the funding can be used to help businesses in the North West. It was a useful session that ultimately sparked my interest and encouraged me to apply.

What has it been like working with The North West Fund?

The North West Fund for Venture Capital has been extremely supportive of our business over the past year. We opted for equity investment as it provides much more than just financial support. For instance, Enterprise Ventures (EV), the fund manager of the Venture Capital Fund, has been integral in developing our network in the tourism industry. The team at EV is a readily accessible source of management support, an extremely useful resource for a fledgling business such as Glamorous Travel.

Can you describe the process that you went through from application to funding?

The whole process took around three to four months. After seeing The North West Fund at Innospace, I sent across my business plan. After a number of interviews focusing on both myself as an entrepreneur and the business, we gradually developed my plan into a solid business venture. I am extremely passionate about Glamorous Travel and knew that the idea would work. With the financial and management support from The Fund, I was able to realise my ambitions and start up the company.

Yan Zhang obtained funding from The North West Fund for Venture Capital managed by Enterprise Ventures who specialise in early stage and new start-up funding for businesses. She has since received follow-on investment.

For more information about how you may be able to access funding for your new business please visit http://www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk/funds/venture-capital

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