A Chat with Ben and Lisa Simpson, Co-Founders at Travel-Tech Startup: Easol

To date, the challenges for experience creators to launch and grow their business has involved the frustrating process of stitching together multiple third-party tools for key aspects of their business. From building and hosting their website to taking bookings and managing payments, multiple tools are often loosely grouped together, which gives experience creators little control and ultimately results in lost revenue.

We’ve redesigned e-commerce for experiences – Easol is an experience commerce platform built especially for experience creators, so that the technology, ownership, and possibilities are in their hands. We’re now powering experience creators globally from wellness retreats, festivals, sports, tour operators, conferences and more to launch and grow their business seamlessly and on their terms.
Notion portfolio: Easol

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

We set out to build Easol in 2017, previously we’d spent 10 years running a company called Rough Hill, which was the UK’s largest events business. We were selling over 2 million tickets a year – and we grew that across the UK and Europe. After that, we started a winter music and snow sports festival called Rise in 2014 which now has 10,000 attendees each year.

When we were building Rise, we were selling so many items from tickets, lift passes, airport transfers across different countries with varying types of accommodations, packages, snowboarding lessons (and the list goes on). It became incredibly complicated and we ended up running the event across several different platforms: the front end website, payment platform, ticket platform, one for accommodation, one for transport. In addition, we were paying enormous fees to all these third-party platforms, where they’d often hold onto our money until after the event, which caused more problems when paying suppliers.

Meanwhile, we were seeing this emergence of really exciting entrepreneurs around us who were creating experiences based on their passions. Being amongst a community of inspiring people with enormous potential exacerbated our frustration with the lack of tools that were available for creating these experiences – so we decided to start building the dream platform we would have wanted for our own experience business, and more.


You have just raised $25m from Tiger Global – what do you plan on doing with the cash?

We’ve seen some strong growth over the last year, particularly after such a challenging period when travel and restrictions impacted the experience economy. Since our $4.5 million seed round in 2020, we’ve increased the number of creators on Easol by 913%.

With this new funding, we’re forecasted to treble this growth further in 2022, and we’re looking to expand our team across our London HQ, Lisbon and US offices. We’re also looking to invest heavily into product development, with more new and exciting tools to enable experience creators to power their own growth.

How has the company fared during the pandemic? How have you supported your customers?

It’s been a challenging time for us and our creators for sure. However, our focus has been on supporting our community of experience creators to retain their customers, launching new features to help to manage postponements, provide flexible payment options, editing bookings seamlessly and communicating transparently and effectively with their customers to retain them.

We also launched a trend report ‘Better Days are Coming’, which featured insights from 3000 consumers on how they want to travel in 2021 and beyond, as well as tips and ideas on how to stay thriving despite the pandemic.