The Piper Podcast: Flight Club founders on raising £160,000 in an afternoon

Steve Moore and Paul Barham, co-founders of social darts chain Flight Club, have told how they were forced to raise £160,000 in an afternoon after their bank lending failed.

‘Our builders were going to go off site, so we basically had six hours to borrow money. It was horrible,’ says Moore in the latest podcast of Piper’s third season of ‘How I Grew My Brand’ interviews with leading entrepreneurs. ‘We raised about £160,000,’ adds Barham. ‘And that wasn’t from a couple of rich friends or us two guys. We had mates putting in £5,000 or £10,000 just to get us over the line.’

Despite this shaky start, Flight Club has gone on to become a huge success since its launch in 2015, revolutionising the traditional game of darts by introducing ‘a ton of tech’ along with ‘amazing food and drink’. It now employs nearly 800 people across seven sites in the UK and two in the US and estimates that customers have thrown more than 111m darts at its boards.

In an enlightening interview with broadcaster Mary Nightingale, Moore and Barham, who previously worked in finance and had no background in hospitality or technology, tell how circumnavigating the globe in a fire engine to raise money for a lung cancer charity helped them understand that anything is possible.

They describe the ‘proper lightbulb moment’ that led to the genesis of Flight Club and the exhaustive process of bringing it to market which involved ‘300 focus groups’, mostly in Moore’s garden shed. They also explain how the technology for their special darts was invented. Says Moore: ‘We found a chap who used to work for NASA who cracked it in under a year.’

Piper’s ‘How I Grew My Brand’ podcasts launched in 2018. The third season focuses on the challenges faced by co-founders as has featured Mindful Chef’s Giles Humphries and Myles Hopper, Sipsmith’s Fairfax Hall and Sam Galsworthy and Flash Pack’s Radha Vyas and Lee Thompson.

The first two seasons have featured interviews with PROPER co-founder Cassandra Stavrou; Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley; Neom Organics’ co-founder Nicola Elliott; Camden Town Brewery founder Jasper Cuppaidge and Deliciously Ella’s Ella Mills. All previous episodes can be streamed on or downloaded on iTunes or SoundCloud.