Here’s a small selection of what people have said about us.
  • ‘Work hard, party hard, make a positive impact’ - this is the ethos and driving force behind Invasion a tours, gap year and summer camp specialist.

    With unprecedented popularity among the millennial generation and a cool Salford office under their belt, it seems to be a winning approach.

    Co-founders Lee McAteer and Nick Steiert, who met at university, exude a playful approach to business despite their growing success story.

    And having demonstrated that the meeting room is in fact fitted with disco lights, they get down to talking tactics.

    Not to mention how they have grown a university idea into a business on course to turnover £4m.

    First off - the concept - organising working trips to camps and destinations worldwide, and why it works.

    “Millennials like to party but they are fast becoming a lot more conscientious and also want to do something meaningful”, explains McAteer.

    “Also the way the job market is now, they need that something extra to put on their CV. It’s not good enough anymore to say they’ve been on a gap year, they need to have done something with their time. With our programmes, yes they are going to cool places and going to have a good time, but it’s all about that ethos and having a positive impact.”

    Founded in 2008, Invasion owns and runs brands such as AmeriCamp, Camp Thailand, Camp South Africa, AusJob and amongst others and claims to have a collective social media following of over 4m people.

    Popular with the student population, it’s no surprise that the concept was born out of their own university experience.

    The pair first met while studying law at Leeds University where they both went on to serve as president of the law society.

    Steiert remembers: “We did a lot of travelling back then. Lee did a summer camp programme in America and recruited three of his friends to go out to the camp directly. The following year I went out there too and that was basically how AmeriCamp was born.”

    The pair were inspired to create a better summer camp experience after feeling frustration towards the scheme and the status quo.

    McAteer states: “I got paid $550 for the summer and thought this is absolutely BS because my co-councillor was on $1,500 and did a terrible job.

    “I also won a councillor of the year award but didn’t qualify for the bonus that came with it because I had gone through a third party, I 
    was really disappointed because I wanted to use the extra money to go travelling.”

    Once back in the UK an idea struck to set up their own travel experience.

    “I thought I can help recruit from university and that’s when Nick and all my housemates came as well. We were building our contacts.”

    Invasion started life as an organised pub-crawl between UK destinations but quickly moved international when they trialled Amsterdam in 2010.

    Laughing, 30-year-old Steiert reminisces: “We took our first coach of 50 people and made a £7 profit.”

    But the hard work paid off as the numbers grew and new destinations were added including Paris, Rome and Prague.

    And the steady pace of growth led to other benefits.

    “We’ve had no need for external investors because it has all been organic, so we are lucky in that we haven’t given away any shareholding.

    McAteer adds: “To get it off the ground we scrimped, saved and lived on the edge.”

    In 2011 the savvy pair bought the domain after a night of intense negotiating and despite ‘not having a penny to their name’.

    “We knew it was the right call because from a branding perspective it was a real statement,” says Wirral-born McAteer.

    With momentum behind them the defining moment for AmeriCamp came when they gave up pursuing their legal ambitions to focus on the business full-time.

    McAteer, 32, quit his LPC with Squire Sanders and began working on the roll-out.

    “It was always at the back of our minds that we should create something, but we didn’t have the right amount of knowledge to make it happen.

    “I then decided to reverse engineer the process while Nick was working on Invasion events. I realised how the whole system worked and was like, oh my gosh. We flipped the recruitment fee that you would normally get and made it people’s salaries instead.”

    With a simple website set up, including an embedded application form, all they needed now was the reach.

    “Invasion were so ahead of the game on social media”, adds the Wirral co-founder.

    “We had almost one million people on different Facebook groups so it was easy to access 18-21 year-olds and we could get things going viral very quickly.

    “We sent out a message to all our groups on social media plugging the AmeriCamp brand and in the first hour we had 200 applications.”

    Building on the AmeriCamp success, they went on to launch programmes across the globe and are proud of the difference their youngsters have made.

    “When you go out there and see the real difference they are making it chokes you up.

    “We set out to do something better than anybody else, but we couldn’t envisage just how much it was going to change peoples lives for the better. It is that buzz that really drives us.”

    With ages ranging between 16 - 40, Invasion collectively organise for 20,000 people to travel abroad each year.

    “The challenge now is to manage that growth and not overgrow because you have to do things the right way” says McAteer.

    After three years in Ancoats, Invasion are newly moved to their fun-filled premises at The Foundry in Salford.

    And with a team of 35, up from 12 last year, they are also looking at office openings in London, Amsterdam and Australia by the end of the year.

    Chipping in with a football analogy, Italian-born Steiert says: “At the beginning it was just about us and now we have brought staff along 
    we need to transition away from being the players on the field to becoming the man on the side dictating play.”

    Speaking of ambitions they go on to tell me the 10-year plan is to have 1,000 staff working for them worldwide.

    Although this will never jeopardise the quality of the experience.

    “What we don’t want to do is create a faceless, commercial-type programme because that’s not what we’re about,” reassures McAteer.

    Philosophically his business partner adds: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer and it’s so true because you learn skills you will never learn in a classroom.

    “It helps us grow as individuals and we see people come back with a completely different outlook.”

    So how does it feel to get this far?

    “We were determined to make it work because the one thing about me and Nick is that we will run through brick walls and work 24 hours a day if we need to.”

  • An office building on the former Littlewoods site in Edge Lane has been crowned the most stylish in Britain.

    The Bunker building was once where pools and catalogue giant Littlewoods stored its catalogues , next to its famous art deco headquarters.

    But the once derelict site enjoyed a £4m makeover last year as part of plans to make the area a hub for the film industry - and has now won an award for its stylish design.

    The firms based in the 20,000 sq ft site, redeveloped by Liverpool architects Shedkm,include film and TV companies which make graphics and carry out post-production work.

    Bunker took home the award for the best workplace of its size at a national award ceremony organised by British Council for Offices (BCO) last night.

    The judges were impressed by the large amount of natural light, and the way the stark concrete structure has been restored and kept visible throughout the building.

    The site has a distinctive, simple white, yellow and stone design, with chic minimalist kitchens.

    The revamp of Bunker was also praised for helping to kickstart the wider regeneration of the Littlewoods Edge Lane campus and Liverpool Innovation Park.

    Council bosses across the region agreed to help fund the the main Littlewoods building’s transformation into an 11,000 sq metre film studio next door in July.

    Developers Capital & Centric hope to make the site the “Pinewood of the North” with a £30 film and TV studio complex.

    Liverpool has become a popular destination for film shoots in recent years, including scenes for Sherlock Holmes Captain America and Peaky Blinders.

    But the developers are hoping the city can become a hub for post-production too, which is often largely done elsewhere.

    Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the BCO, said: “The approach to the project demonstrates how simple design can be effortlessly effective and deliver a great product, turning a redundant, derelict building into flexible commercial work space. The success of the Bunker shows a clear path forward for regeneration in the area.”

  • A ‘missing’ link in the city centre is to be filled in with a brand new bohemian neighbourhood - after plans for the new Kampus development on Aytoun Street were approved by the council.

    The £200m scheme will transform Manchester Metropolitan University’s old campus near to the Gay Village, creating 500 apartments alongside independent businesses and a ‘secret garden’.

    Adam Higgins, from developers Capital and Centric, said it would be a ‘quirky’ and ‘off-beat’ neighbourhood that was ‘completely non-corporate’, including a mixture of independent cafes, bars and restaurants - stressing they didn’t want to build ‘something that is new and shiny and lacked soul’.

    The development will create 500 apartments alongside independent businesses and a ‘secret garden’

    £200m new Kampus neighbourhood 'could harm treasured city centre buildings'

    He added: “In our view Kampus really represents this missing link between Piccadilly, Canal Street and the village...and the fire station site, so it plays a very pivotal role in this area of the city in terms of future regeneration.”

    At its heart will be a ‘secret botanical garden’ surrounded by restaurants and overlooked by rented apartments, where all bills will be included in the monthly price. Residents will also have their own communal garden.

    The remaining Aytoun Tower will be refurbished, with a ‘rooftop village’ of Dutch-style timber houses on top.

    Kampus will also have space for two gyms, an art gallery and a doctor’s surgery or dentists.

    Councillors approved the plans, which Historic England had warned would cause harm to listed buildings in the vicinity, including Minshull Street Crown Court and London Road Fire Station, because of their scale.

    Kampus will also have space for two gyms, an art gallery and a doctor’s surgery or dentists

    Kampus: Stunning images show how the new city centre district could look after transformation

    Developer Tim Heatley of Capital and Centric said he was delighted the plans had been approved.

    He said it would help the gay village remain a ‘thriving’ place by adding restaurants and shops that people will visit during the day as well as at night.

    “We have very much knitted into the local fabric so that it’s a real melting pot of people - students, people going to the village, tourists, lawyers from Minshull Street, so I think it will be somewhere that’s like nowhere else in the city,” he added.

    Demolition work on most of the existing campus is expected to start in the autumn, with the first apartments due to be ready in 2019.

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