Month: July 2020

Entrepreneur hits right notes with Leeds app company

An entrepreneur who switched from classical music to app and web development is hitting all the right notes with his Leeds company looking to top £1m turnover.

Sam Ducker, who came to the city to study music, set up Lucky Duck in 2017 after deciding there were not many career opportunities playing the clarinet. The company now employs eight people full-time, is moving into new offices in Mabgate and has an office in London.

Lucky Duck works with some of the biggest, household-name tech companies in the world designing apps and complex websites. Its expansion has been supported by AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Despite the lockdown Sam plans to take on four new employees this year and a further five next year. Turnover is expected to double this year from £350,000 to £700,000 and top £1m by the end of next year.

Sam says he has been entrepreneurial since he was a child; he sold sweets to his classmates at school, and has always wanted to run his own business. But he spent several years working for companies in web and app development before studying at Leeds College of Music

Sam said: “When I graduated I worked out there are literally only a handful of professional clarinet players in the country; so I went back to my plan of setting up a business.

“I was tempted by the idea of running a bar, but I had always been fascinated by the internet. Fourteen years ago my older brother who was an aerospace engineer said I should get into maths, physics and programming, and learn how to work with computers and technology.  So, I have him to thank.”

Lucky Duck was launched by Sam in his bedroom and soon grew. But Sam admits he was not so good at the admin side of the business.

“That’s where AD:VENTURE came to my help. They literally sat me down and helped me do all the stuff like accounts, sales and funding applications. And I had a brilliant mentor who has helped me every step of the way,” said Sam.

“I really can’t say enough good things about the AD:VENTURE programme. They are there for you to help your business thrive and they really encourage entrepreneurship in the region.”

As well as one to one mentoring, Sam has been helped with access to funding, including an AD:VENTURE grant of £2700 that supported a digital marketing campaign and purchase of virtual meeting kit to help the business adapt and thrive during lockdown.

Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer of Economic Development at Leeds City Council said “Lucky Duck are an excellent example of how digital start-ups are contributing to the region’s economic growth. It’s an incredibly challenging time for all businesses, so to see a young company thriving and creating new jobs is a positive boost for everyone. Supporting new and growing firms is an important aspect of our wider growth strategy, and we are proud to partner with AD:VENTURE to offer much needed support to help our young firms in achieving their ambitions”

Support available to businesses from AD:VENTURE also includes professional workshops, accelerators, grant funding, access to networks and specialist sector advice. To qualify for AD:VENTURE support businesses must be less than three-years-old or pre-start.

AD:VENTURE’s  funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities.

To find out more about Lucky Duck go to https://luckyduck.digital/ and for AD:VENTURE https://ad-venture.org.uk/

ACCELERATE Goes virtual to boost business recovery

Leeds Beckett University is urging the regions young businesses to sign up for the third cohort of its popular accelerator programme.

Launching in late July, ACCELERATE has been reshaped to address the impacts of COVID 19 and will give SMEs in the Leeds City Region expert help and advice to regain control, build resilience and prepare to embrace the new business landscape.

Businesses accessing the support through Accelerate will benefit from a series of 6 pre-recorded Masterclasses covering key topics such as Re-setting the Business, Re-connecting with Customers and Moving my Finances Forward, all of which can be accessed flexibly as a result of the new virtual delivery style.

The programme also includes a weekly live webinar to explore the Masterclass topics, giving businesses the opportunity to discuss the topics with an academic lead and other businesses taking part.

Those taking part will also have exclusive access to 15 hours of one to one mentoring, supported by guided learning tasks and access to a resource library to help them develop their own Action Plan for recovery.

In addition to this comprehensive offer , ACCELERATE will also provide access to wider University support including student and graduate talent via recruitment, internships and placements and opportunities to collaborate on research projects.

As part of the wider AD:VENTURE business support programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development fund, there will also be opportunity for delegates to access advice and support in applying for grants and funding.

Kirstie Frenneaux, project manager at Leeds Beckett University says, “In these uncertain times, we want to help businesses regain focus, provide them with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions and give them the confidence and support to get their business back on track’’

Helen Hepworth, founder of Collective Stories Agency said this about her experience of ACCELERATE “I can’t praise it enough. It’s challenging and the content is very strategically driven. You will think of things you have never considered before. There are a lot of lightbulb moments!

It brings focus and clarity and it gave me the tools and skills I needed to scale up. It also introduced me to a lot of other outside agencies too which has been invaluable”

The Accelerate programme is available to organisations that are aiming to grow and create jobs in the Leeds City Region; deliver products or services to other businesses rather than direct to the consumer; and any organisations looking for a structured programme, with flexible one to one support.

For further details about the Accelerate programme or to register your interest, please visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/unisupport/accelerate/