Odyssey Marine Adventures

Matt Relton and Pete Harrison have launched a new water adventure business based in Newquay, breaking the waves with their recommissioned boat and naming the new business after her – Odyssey Adventures.

The pair love the sea and boats with a background in sports marketing, marine engineering and they both volunteer for the RNLI. So, for the new businesses owners, being out on the waves is clearly a dream come true.

The idea for setting up a business came after they spent the last couple of summer seasons helping out a local scuba diving business.  Running a boat for dive trips they had more fun than the customers, so they hatched a plan.  Getting together at Matt’s house over a cup of tea they discussed how they could make it into a business and do this full time.

The first place to start was, of course, Google. Searching “How do two middle aged guys have a midlife crisis and set up a business” it was The Growth Hub that came up!

Booking an appointment with Connector Richard, Matt and Pete met with him to discuss their plans and launch their business out of Newquay harbour.

Meeting with Richard they were surprised that he took it seriously saying “When it’s your own idea you are a bit cautious, but he thought it was a good idea which gave us a lot of confidence”

In fact, he thought it was such a good idea that Richard pointed them in the direction of a funding grant to get their business off the ground, putting them in touch with Business Investment for Growth.

Pete volunteers for the RNLI and Matt for the Coastguard Rescue team, and they both volunteer for Surf Life Saving GB on the Cornwall Flood Rescue Team. Their volunteer roles sparked the idea for their business as Life Boat Experiences. The plan was to get a new boat and offer the experience of being on a rescue and being an extra pair of eyes in the water.

In the process of applying for grant funding they came across an opportunity too good to miss. TV star Monty Halls was selling his rib The Odyssey which was a specially built for an expedition in South Africa. It was a high specification, specially adapted adventure boat and perfect for what they wanted to offer for their customers.

Having to move quickly to secure a sale, they changed their mind on a funding grant and Growth Hub Connector Richard pointed them to Outset Finance for a loan which they secured quickly, bagging themselves their most important team member.

The rib is a third partner in the business, with its own profile on their meet the team webpage. The huge black shiny rib stands out proudly in Newquay Harbour alongside the more traditional fishing boats, so it is no wonder it attracts attention.

Matt and Pete say The Odyssey has its own personality, with customers booking in just to experience a ride. The popularity of their new boat prompted a change of mind on their business name. Lifeboat Adventures became Odyssey Marine Adventures and they launched the rib and the business in May.

Pete is a marine engineer and intends to keep his hand in fixing local boats in the off season, which maintains their great local connections with the local fishing industry. Matt worked in marketing for water sports adventure companies and he has been appointed by Pete as in charge of the business side, like learning cashflow forecasts on Oxford Innovations financial readiness training, and after looking at the figures they found they could make the idea into a business.

From being best mates messing about in boats to starting a business together, was like getting married with a big loan and responsibilities they laugh.

“It is definitely like a marriage! It was frightening to get a massive loan, it is a lot of money to chuck at it.” But the idea of crashing about in the sea and getting paid for it was too good to miss.

Working with local businesses

The target market for Odyssey is thrill seekers. They are picking up bookings and, working with local business Newquay Water Sports Centre, running boat trips for coasteering experiences.

“Working alongside local businesses is essential. We are not taking any business off them, we are adding to what they can offer and providing an extra reason to come to Newquay.”

The next stage for Matt and Pete is to work through the summer and go into 2019 looking for a second rib, opening a new booking hut in the harbour and they credit The Growth Hub for helping them get the business up and running.

“Starting up a business is a rollercoaster but there is a lot of help out there.  We are not specialists in all the fields but we have been pointed in the right direction to get help with things like finance and marketing to getting the loan and the funding. Without that meeting, we wouldn’t have been where we are today” Matt concludes.

Matt and Pete got their business support with the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub. If you’re ready to take the next step with your business call 01209 708660