Travel

Edinburgh Glamping firm sees opportunities in UAE

Name: Calum MacLeod.

Age: 28.

What is your business called?

Glampitect.

Where is it based?

We have headquarters in Edinburgh and operate UK-wide as well as in the UAE and in other areas of the Middle East.

I went to Dubai for a break last November between lockdowns and spotted a gap in the market for glamping (with air conditioning!).

What services does it offer?

Our main service is helping people set up glamping sites. We offer full planning applications prepared by an internal team of architects. Before that we also carry out feasibility studies for clients – is the proposed site likely to gain planning approval and have a successful glamping site on it? We can also help with websites, booking systems and marketing.

To whom does it sell?

Predominantly we sell to people who already own land, although recently we have been in talks with corporates looking to do glamping on a larger scale.

What is its turnover?

We recently hit the £1,000,000 turnover mark for the first time since forming the business, which is really exciting. Year one turnover was £41,000, year two was £330,000.

How many employees?

We have 17 full-time but suspect that figure will rise to over 40 in 2022.

When was it formed?

The company was set up in August 2019 by myself and my business partner Ali Young. To date we have completed over 450 feasibility studies, the majority of which are still live, and we have submitted more than 70 full planning applications. There are 10 sites open across the UK under the operation of people we have advised and that number could triple in the next six months. In the UAE, we are in the very early stages of three projects along with one in Saudi Arabia.

Why did you take the plunge?

I suppose there has always been an entrepreneurial streak in me since I was young. I was always devising little ways to make money – for example I used to go to a cash and carry with my dad and bulk buy chewing gum packs then sell them at school for 50p! As I grew older, the realisation dawned that this was what I was meant to do so I left my full-time job. We set up our own glamping business, the NC500 Pods, which operates glamping sites at Brora and Achmelvich, and felt there was a gap in the market for a firm that provides the kind of services Glampitect does.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

There was very little at the start and we transferred around £500 from our own glamping site to get things going.

What was your biggest break/worst moment?

Ali and I had set the firm up while working in other full-time jobs but had both left them just as Covid hit. We basically had enough to last 10 days or so. I went to bed early one night, woke up at 4am, went into the office where I researched our entire database of people we had spoken to and prioritised them in order as to who was least likely to give us money. I systematically phoned them all from 9am and tried to sell stuff. By 11am I’d done a £20,000 deal when our previous best was £4,000.

What do you enjoy most about running the business?

Freedom but in a strange way! I work more than I have ever done before but I still have the freedom to do what I want, when I want. I enjoy the success and regard success as a state of mind and a daily occurrence rather than a goal and an objective.

What do you least enjoy?

People can be tough to deal with at times and there are times when I feel more like a politician than someone running a business. The flip side of that, though, is it’s great being able to reward staff with a pay rise or promotion and great when we chat to clients who have just had planning through.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

I want us to be synonymous with glamping worldwide. We have already gone out into another continent with Glampitect UAE and there will be more to come, with a lot of interest in the USA at the moment.

What are your top priorities?

Keeping people happy with the company internally and externally; staying on top of my health and mental wellbeing with good sleep, exercising and eating well; company growth – that has got us where we are today and will take us where we want to go just as quickly; marketing and PR; having fun.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that could help?

I’m a firm believer in controlling the controllables. I can’t control either Westminster or Holyrood so whatever they do I’ll react in the best way possible for me and my business. Life is 10 per cent what happens to you and 90% how you react. They can do whatever they want with the 10% per cent and I’ll deal with my 90%. I’ll always be successful because of that and will always focus on being the best I can be and not worry about what others might do.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Whatever a problem might be, don’t worry about it as it will get fixed. I have great belief in my ability to fix things.

How do you relax?

I watch lot of documentaries to destress myself. I’m currently based in Dubai where I enjoy a bit of surfing, go to the gym most mornings and enjoy reading books.

Basically, I’m enjoying a lot of the things that until recently I hadn’t been able to.

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