Tag: AD:VENTURE business support

MADEBY.STUDIO

About the company

madeby.studio was set up in 2019 by Matt Wheeler and Sam Taylor, who were both in their final year of a Graphic and Communication Design degree at the University of Leeds.

The creative and digital agency offers services from website design and search engine optimisation through to brand development and motion graphics.

Matt and Sam hit the ground running as they had already picked up freelance clients either before or during their time at university, and had secured free office accommodation at the university’s Nexus building.

They came third in a university business competition, and have since been shortlisted in a Santander business entrepreneur award, Leeds Digital Festival Thrive Awards and are regional finalists in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in the Creative Industries Entrepreneur of the Year category. They were also listed in the Digital Enterprise Top 100 in early 2021.

Matt and Sam are both concerned about climate change, so use renewable energy where possible and support a scheme that offsets their carbon impact, both for the business and the team’s personal emissions.

 

Project objectives

Matt and Sam approached AD:VENTURE within a few months of setting up because they wanted advice about building a business.

“As soon as we graduated we were thrown in at the deep end and needed to know how do we grow a business, how do we actually make money to survive,” says Matt.

AD:VENTURE introduced them to business mentor Alan Thompson.

“Alan was really helpful for the initial bit of figuring stuff out about where we should take the business. We had both worked in small design agencies in our year in industry. So, we had all the experience in design, but we weren’t knowledgeable about the business side of things, like how do you do marketing, how do you create a sales workflow, how do you gain clients and maintain clients, and how do you work on projects to a budget that is viable?”

As well as being given advice by Alan, the pair went on AD:VENTURE workshops on topics such as the ‘power of the telephone’ and ‘strategic marketing’. They were also accepted onto Accelerate, which is a six-month programme of support run by Leeds Becket University, made up of masterclasses, seminars or webinars and one-to-one support, along with advice on grants and funding.

Matt and Sam also received a grant from AD:VENTURE, which meant the pair could buy new iMacs, needed for a large contract they had just won.

 

Results

The pair successfully completed the contract using their new iMacs. So far it is the biggest contract they have worked on, but they have two large projects in the pipeline.

madeby.studio tripled turnover during Covid, with profit up a very healthy ten times. In September 2020 they moved into Dock Street Workshops in Leeds, which are run by LCVS Enterprises, a not-for-profit company set up to help small businesses.

Matt and Sam have a paid intern and plan to take on a developer in the near future and a designer; meaning they will have more time to bring in new clients.

 

Feedback

“Alan is there if we need him; if we need to just chat through anything, if we are stuck with a plan or we need to bounce an idea off someone.

“He acts as a neutral party. He doesn’t tell us what to do; he won’t give us directions. We’ll say here’s our problem and he’ll outline potential solutions and say you need to figure it out yourself and that is the best way,” says Matt.

“And Accelerate was great for helping us learn new skills from experts and while on the Accelerate course we met people we have gone on to collaborate with, and that’s what AD:VENTURE also does; it helps you build networks across Leeds and the city region.”

Matt adds: “With AD:VENTURE it’s all the different aspects that help. Alan’s advice, the workshops, Accelerate and the funding all work together. Each one was a boost to us. It all really paid-off. I think there’s a correlation there with how much we grew the year after we got this support.”

BUSINESS IDEA TO BUBBLES AND BACK AGAIN!

Start-up advice

When Selby based work colleagues, Cassie Fennell and Wendy Langfield, went out for drinks with a friend one Friday night the last thing they expected was to wake up with a sore head and a business – but that’s exactly what happened.

As two trained accountants working for the same firm, which specialised in servicing larger organisations, the pair had become frustrated with the number of small businesses that were often turned away and left to look elsewhere for support. But, little did they know at the time that this would start a journey that would see them launch a company and never look back.

It was during this particular night out that Cassie and Wendy started to talk about their concerns and realised that they could pick up these start-ups and young businesses and provide them with a professional service that they could rely on.

Cassie comments: “We had no intention of talking about work, we were simply on a night out to have fun and to let our hair down. Yet, after a glass of fizz we started to discuss how frustrating it was to send people away to find help when we were perfectly capable of offering it ourselves!

“Our existing employer didn’t cater for smaller businesses or one-man bands so the more we thought about it, the more we realised we could manage these clients in our own time and earn some extra cash in the process. It made perfect sense and before we knew it, we had a business.”

Waking up the next day both ladies had time to consider the decision that they had made but were still adamant that this was the right thing to do. Taking the next step, they approached their boss and explained the situation. Rather than be annoyed or upset, he gave his support and that is when WJC Solutions went from being a plausible idea to an exciting reality.

It was while on holiday in Benidorm that Cassie met with a local friend who recommended networking and although she initially felt it wasn’t right for her she went along to a Selby Council networking event when she got home and found that it wasn’t half as bad as she had expected.

As well as the usual introductions, Cassie was introduced to Heidi Green, the Business Adviser from Selby District Council and Growth Manager for Leeds City Region LEP who put them in touch with AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded programme that offers practical and match-funded grant support to start-up and young businesses throughout the Leeds City Region.

As a result of that they had their first meeting with Lisa Whalley the regional adviser and then registered on to a selection of workshops that would give them the practical support and confidence that they felt they needed to start and run a business. They also accessed sessions that would teach them certain specialisms that they felt would be important including marketing.

Wendy comments: “What is great about the AD:VENTURE events and workshops is that you know everyone is in a very similar boat. It’s good to share experiences and to learn about the different skills you need, which you would otherwise not have come across.

“The programme is also supported by Selby District Council, so that gives you extra confidence that the events you are accessing are credible and delivered by professionals.

“As well as understanding more about how to market our business, we are also looking forward to accessing training about social media. In addition, we are working with an AD:VENTURE Business Advisor to look at possible ways in which we can access funds to support the design and development of our website. This will be a further big step in our journey.”

In just over a year WJC Solutions now has over 45 clients and although, like all businesses, it has come across a number of challenges, the founding Directors say that they would not change a thing. Their decision to start a business during a night out turned out to be less hangover and more happy ending.

For further details about the AD:VENTURE programme please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk and for regular updates including case studies of the businesses that have benefited from practical and match-funded grant support, please follow on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook