Entrepreneur Interview: with Matt Mavir, Last Night of Freedom
Posted on the 24 June 2019
Taking inspiration from Newcastle’s vibrant nightlife, Matt Mavir, founder of www.lastnightoffreedom.co.uk, has created a niche company that specialises in delivering lasting memories for ‘stags’ and ‘hens’ on an international scale.
The business provides an all-round, comprehensive service for stag and hen parties across the UK, in Europe as well as in Las Vegas.
Now in its 20th year, Matt is focused on delivering continued growth and embarking on new projects to strengthen the company’s brand and following. He explains all in the latest Entrepreneurs’ Forum member interview.
Tell me about your background in business
I had various jobs throughout my time in education, but no real business experience until I set the company up during my third year at Manchester Metropolitan University.
How was Last Night of Freedom founded?
I took a year out of university and spent that time in Newcastle because I really liked the city. After seeing the nightlife in the city, I suppose I put two and two together linking the nightlife with hen and stag dos, and that was the inspiration behind starting the company.
It was back in 1999 during the dotcom boom when people were getting funding for any good idea with ‘.com’ at the end of it! I played a lot of sport, but was injured, so I had quite a bit of free time and ended up creating a website just out interest.
I needed a topic and being a student at the time, I thought I could write about the vibrant nightlife of Newcastle, which then got me thinking about stag dos. My initial idea was to write a website that would get enough traffic to attract advertising space.
In my first six months, I made about £23, which I was really chuffed about! And then one day about five or six emails came in, which gave me the confidence that I was on to something and I began selling stag and hen weekends through an agency, and the business has grown ever since.
In your own words, what is it that the company does?
We provide people with a solution for their stag or hen weekends, all the way from advice and the inspiration to the weekend itself, including organising the travel and accommodation, and much more.
Last Night of Freedom currently operates 70 locations throughout the UK, in Europe and in Las Vegas.
What is your proudest moment with Last Night of Freedom?
We’ve done a lot of things over the years and it will be nice to celebrate our 20th anniversary later in the year, in November.
For me, though, it was the moment when things really started to get serious for the business. It was in 2013 and, up until that point, we had been setting up other companies and sites, but that year was the defining moment that saw all our efforts go into Last Night of Freedom.
We really started to make strides, doing more market research, branding sessions and other initiatives that have contributed massively to our growth.
Is there a particular mistake you have made while in business? And how did you overcome/learn from it?
In the early years, we signed some contracts that came with good financial arrangements, but real stringent terms that actually nearly crippled the business. So, I’ve learnt to pay even more attention to the fine print on contracts.
We’re also very reliant on search engines and in the past we have pushed SEO a bit too far and got our fingers burnt! Nowadays, we have reined ourselves in a bit more than we used to.
What is your USP?
We try to do everything right and as well as can be done. Our industry can be seen as a murky one, so we try to buck that trend.
We ensure that our staff are paid well, so, for example, we signed up to the living wage years ago, became ABTA registered and fully compliant, so we’re not cutting any corners.
How has the company grown and what do you attribute this to?
Probably the defining moment for the company in 2013, when we focused solely on Last Night of Freedom, as opposed to having different irons in the fire.
Sometimes multiple enterprises and ideas can become too hard to manage, but since we took the decision, we haven’t looked back.
Do you live by/do business by a certain motto?
Profit is the aim of the game but it’s important to treat everyone fairly in the pursuit of it – customers, staff, suppliers and partners. I want to be able to look myself in the eye and know I did things the right way.
What are the future plans of Last Night of Freedom?
Recently, we went further up the supply chain in the industry and became shareholders of Honeypot House, in Newcastle’s Bigg Market. It is part of a £300,000 project that has seen the conversion of flats into themed apartments for stag and hen dos.
We’ll be looking to progress this project and extending our core services as we aim for further growth.