Tag: Ad:venture

York bee innovator causes a buzz around the world

A York company that lifts the lid on beehives is making a buzz around the world from Australia to the Caribbean.

AgriSound supplies sensor systems that can remotely monitor the state of beehives and alert owners when action needs to be taken. Their systems are designed for use by amateur beekeepers, by businesses  who provide pollinator bees and even to monitor wild bees.

Dr Casey Woodward, who set up the company in 2020, said they were already supplying equipment to St Lucia, Australia, New Zealand and the US, as well as the UK and western Europe.

The company, which has been given support by AD:VENTURE, a business support programme part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has a team of five, with plans to increase to 20 within the next 18 months.

Casey, who has a degree from the University of York and a PhD from Hull, was working with companies looking at using sensors in livestock farming to optimise animal health and productivity. But he realised there was little technology being used to monitor bees, which are generally kept in remote areas.

And with more than 90 million beehives around the world and more people taking up beekeeping during lockdown, Casey saw a gap in the market.

“As well as making honey, bees play a vital role in pollinating food crops, particularly in developing countries, but also with high yield crops such as almonds, cashews and coffee, as well as beans and other legumes.

“Our technology means both new and experienced beekeepers can gain an understanding of what is going on inside the hive, and can protect against disease, predation and losses.

“For people using bees for pollination, early detection of changes can lead to quicker treatment. And quicker treatment leads to healthier pollinator numbers. And if you think that without pollinators, bees, butterflies, moths and other bugs, we’d lose more than 70 per cent of all food crops, you can see why their welfare is so important.”

The sensors that AgriSound supply will monitor factors like humidity, temperature and weight of hives, then analyse that information and send it via 3/4G to the client. The company is also developing systems that detect wild pollinators and so will help sustainable agricultural practices, in places like Africa.

“In the long term, we see ourselves as a pollinator brand, also working with wild bees, and not just a brand for beekeepers,” said Casey.

“If you can improve pollination and improve yields and have less need for herbicides and pesticides, you can actually go a long way towards alleviating poverty and hunger.”

AgriSound has been given business advice by AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire. AD:VENTURE has provided more than £1.7m in grant funding and helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region since its launch at the end of 2016.

Casey said: “We’ve had lots of support from AD:VENTURE and their help has been really valuable. Working with them has helped us open lots of new doors and make new contacts. And it is about supporting the whole company, you get support for the team, which has been amazing and led to some real growth.”

The company was also awarded a £3,000 grant by AD:VENTURE to pay for a 3D printer, and given a grant by Innovate UK through the Sustainable Innovation Fund.

AD:VENTURE has funding and delivery partners across the Leeds City Region, including City of York Council and the region’s other eight  local authorities; the Business Enterprise Fund; Leeds Beckett University; West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning at City of York Council said: “It’s really exciting to see a home-grown business working on ideas that could change lives around the world.

“It shows that giving support to early stage businesses can really make a difference, not just to the business, but the local economy and even further afield.”

For more information about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

For more information about AgriSound go to https://www.agrisound.io/

Start up creating a social buzz with growth and recruitment

A digital marketer who made the move to start her own agency in Leeds in the middle of a pandemic is already taking on staff as her new businesses grows.

Rebecca Hopwood moved into an office in Morley in December and has taken on an apprentice, with plans to take on another member of staff in the next few months.

Her company, Youbee Media, offers marketing services including social media, blog writing, online advertising, websites and email marketing.

“I started Youbee Media because I saw an opportunity to help businesses who may be affected by the pandemic to not only ‘ride it out’ but to actually do better than the previous year.

“I realised that many businesses needed help with their communications and simply didn’t know where to start,” said Rebecca, who has a degree in media and marketing from Leeds Trinity University.

The company, which has been given support by the AD:VENTURE business support programme, already represents 12 brands and works with clients including Saltaire Brewery, DTX Network Services and Yonda Sports.

Before the pandemic Rebecca had been commuting an hour and half each day to her job at an agency where she had worked since 2014. The lockdown made her re-assess her priorities.

“I had always wanted to run my own business. And working from home and seeing the world change in 2020, I decided that it was the time to act, be brave and make my stamp on the world,” said Rebecca.

As soon as she left her previous job, Rebecca turned to AD:VENTURE for help. She was given her own business mentor, the chance to attend workshops on everything from PR to legal matters, and a grant of £2,300 which she used to buy office equipment and furniture.

Rebecca in YouBee Media HQ

AD:VENTURE helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, and has provided more than £1.7m in grant funding since its launch at the end of 2016. In that time it has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and a number of regional partners including the areas 9 local authorities.

Rebecca said “I always wanted to have my own business, but was never confident enough to do it. But knowing that support was there really gave me that confidence and I knew I was not alone. Even knowing that I could have a mentor and share my concerns, plans and aspirations took some pressure off. I am so grateful for AD:VENTURE,”

“AD:VENTURE has given me the encouragement to keep going, when I could have quite easily given up. It has supported me financially, but also emotionally. I recommend the programme to any young businesses that I come across.”

Cllr Mary Harland, Executive Board Member for Economy & Culture at Leeds Council said: “Success stories like Rebecca’s show that even in the middle of a pandemic it is possible to start and grow a business if you have a good idea, the ambition to succeed and the right support in place.

“This is why it is so important for programmes like AD:VENTURE to support the private sector, especially in these difficult times, as ultimately the region’s social and economic wellbeing depends on our businesses thriving.”

For more information about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

AD:VENTURE Programme – New Tender Opportunity

West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

The delivery of a series of business growth workshop for pre -starts, start-ups and young business as part of the AD:VENTURE programme.

The West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce are looking to engage a number of contractors to deliver a series of workshops across the Leeds City Region as part of the AD:VENTURE business support programme.

The AD:VENTURE programme provides ERDF funded growth support to pre-start, start-up and young business in their first three years of trading in the Leeds City Region. For further details please see: www.ad-venture.org.uk

The AD:VENTURE Programme is part funded by European Regional Development Funding.

Requirement

 Contractors will be required to deliver;

  1. Virtual and physical workshops that cover the themes set out below. Physical workshops will be delivered at a specified venue, virtual workshops will be delivered via an online platform.
  2. Virtual Workshops are expected to last no longer than 1.5 hours, with approx. 1 hour of main content delivery, allowing 15 minutes for initial client registration and tech check, and around 15 minutes for client Q&A and workshop close down. Workshops delivered virtually may require two or more sessions to cover more in-depth content, where this is the case this will need to be delivered within a 7 day window.
  3. Physical Workshops are expected to be no longer than 3 hours, contractors will be expected to arrive at the specified venue at least 15 minutes prior to the workshop for set up purposes.
  4. Details of expected learning points and/or outcomes for participants. There should be a minimum of 3 learning points and /or outcomes. As a result of participating in a workshop an AD:VENTURE clients should have the additional skills, knowledge and tools to implement changes and improvement in their business. The contractor will need to provide appropriate resource such as; toolkits, checklists or action plan to enable and support client to achieve this aim.

Physical workshops will typically be delivered to a group of between 10-15 clients with a maximum of 20 participants (subject to room size), Virtual workshops will be delivered to a group of approximately 15- 20 clients with a maximum of 25 clients attending online, via the specified web conferencing software platform provided by AD:VENTURE. Physical workshops will be delivered in locations across the Leeds City Region. AD:VENTURE covers the following Local Authority Districts;

Harrogate, Selby, York, Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees, Craven, Bradford, Calderdale.

Number and frequency of workshops required will be determined by the programme and subject to demand from and popularity with AD:VENTURE participants.

Workshops should be engaging and interactive, enabling clients to ask questions and apply practical learning.

Workshop Topics

We are looking for providers that are able to cover the themes identified below. We would welcome proposals that offer specific topics that address areas identified within each of the key themes.

Please consider the section below as a broad description of the kind of proposals we would like to receive, rather than a prescriptive list of workshop titles or content. We would like providers to use their own experiences of working with this particular client group to propose workshop titles and content that will appeal to and address the needs of AD:VENTURE participants.

Providers can submit proposals for any 1 or more of the themes, and outline any number of proposed workshops under each theme to address the topics identified.

AD:VENTURE participants will come to the programme with different levels of existing knowledge & experience of the business topics below. To address this, where appropriate we would welcome proposal that include workshops or workshop series designed for these different levels of knowledge.

  1. Marketing Your New Business
  2. Customer Management
  3. Making Sales& “Selling” your Business
  4. Funding & Finance for Business
  5. Staff & Developing your Team 
  6. Business Strategy 
  7. Website Creation and Optimisation

Tender Open Date

Tuesday 16th March 2021

Deadline Date

Your response is required by: 12noon Wednesday 7th April 2021

How to return your Proposal

You are instructed to return your documents by email to:

events@ad-venture.org.uk

Emails must be clearly marked:

“Confidential – Ad: Venture workshop Provision Proposal”

 You MUST respond by the date and time indicated to be considered.

For full details please see the downloadable PDF document HERE 

Yorkshire business support programme shortlisted for financial award

A Yorkshire business support programme, which has helped hundreds of new businesses, has been shortlisted for a financial award.

AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, is one of the finalists in the Yorkshire Financial Awards 2021. It is shortlisted in the Accelerator category alongside others including Barclays Eagle Labs and Natwest Accelerator.

Programme manager Sarah Carling said:

“Every day at AD:VENTURE our team and partners work hard to support the ambitious, innovative and resilient entrepreneurs we have here in Yorkshire. We were delighted to have that hard work acknowledged by being invited to enter these awards and even more delighted to be shortlisted.”

The awards, now in their fourth year, are designed to highlight the excellence of individuals, teams and organisations connected to finance across Yorkshire. Other finalists include Lloyds Banking Group, Leeds Building Society and Chase de Vere. The final will be held online on February 25.

AD:VENTURE has provided more than £1.7m in grant funding and helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region since its launch at the end of 2016.

The programme offers workshops, masterclasses, one-to-one mentoring and access to finance. Since the first lockdown, delivery has switched to online, with over 100 online events, attended by more than 1300 delegates.

“The last year has been particularly tough for businesses, and we know that the support the programme provides has been more important than ever.” said Sarah

“The last year has been tough for businesses and we know how important our support is. We have moved mountains to keep on delivering and have actually seen the number of enquiries up by nearly a third,” said Sarah.

“We have continued to run our services and be there for businesses. And despite Covid we have seen amazing success stories. We know that every success story leads to a boost for the local economy and ultimately AD:VENTURE is all about helping the local economy.”

Plans for this year include a new scheme called Elevate for businesses in Kirklees, with advice available from academics at Huddersfield Business School, and Northern Max for young digital and technology-focussed firms in Bradford, a scheme that has already been run successfully three times.

AD:VENTURE is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with funding and delivery partners across the Leeds City Region, including the region’s nine local authorities, the Business Enterprise Fund, Leeds Beckett University, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

There are eligibility criteria and some sectors, including retail, are not eligible, but among the companies that have been given support are those offering training, HR support, digital and design services, specialist manufacturing, health and wellbeing, and electrical services.

For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

For more information about Yorkshire Financial Awards, or to watch the event online, go to www.yorkshirefinancialawards.co.uk

Image – Andy Jack and Mark Langdale of Candle Digital – Previous AD:VENTURE Clients.

Five Agency Trade Secrets for Building Brilliant Small Business Websites

Picture of the Other Things Agency

If you’re reading this then you’re probably thinking about building a website for your business. That’s a great start, because if you don’t have a website then you could be missing out on a ton of business that might not come your way otherwise.

Having a well-made website can help with the perception of your brand and help to build trust with your potential customers.

But where to begin? The team at my creative agency, Other Things, has built successful websites for some of the world’s biggest brands. We also work with start-ups that want a shortcut to website excellence.

When we did the brilliant AD:VENTURE Northern Max accelerator program last year, we met a lot of start-up founders who were looking for varying degrees of help with building their own websites. Should they make it themselves or get help from the professionals?

There’s no silver bullet to it, and every business is different, but there are a few bits of advice that apply to many if not most small business website builds.

I’m going to list some of them for you:

1) You CAN Build It Yourself

If you’ve got a social media profile and you know your way around the internet, you can build yourself a website. There are some well-established services out there (such as Wix, or Shopify if you’re looking for an online store) that will hold your hand through the process.

That said, it might be awful and do more harm than good for your brand. I mean, you could tailor yourself a cocktail dress if you really wanted to. Doesn’t mean it will be any good.

Still, if you stick to the pre-defined templates, have a decent eye for design and can string a meaningful sentence together then you should be able to create a simple website that meets your business’ needs.

2) You Don’t Have to Figure It All Out From Scratch

Take a look at your competitors and other businesses that you admire. What are they doing on their websites? What are they doing badly, and what are they doing well?

What ideas can you draw inspiration from that would work with your website and brand?

That’s not to say that you should create a carbon copy of a competitor’s website, or plagiarise their copy and messaging, but you will likely identify some things that you think they do well and then you can put your own spin on them.

3) .co.uk Might Not Be the Way

If the .com domain name that you want is not available, but the .co.uk one is, it still might not be the best option.

People searching for your brand will probably find you either way, but you will inevitably and inadvertently be sending traffic to the .com version of the website domain. Not great, especially if it’s a competitor or a brand that could be mistaken for yours.

It’s still worth buying the .co.uk domain if it’s going cheap, and if you only ever plan to trade in the UK, but better to rack your brains for that .com domain name. Common ways around this are to add ‘we are’ or ‘this is’ in front of a brand name e.g. weareyourbrandname.com

We experienced this at Other Things, and we opted to go for otherthingsagency.com (we also grabbed otherthings.xyz to be what’s known as a ‘vanity URL’, but that’s another story…)

4) Cut to the Chase

When people visit your website, what action do you want them to take or what opinion of your brand do you want them to leave with? Make the fulfilment of these things the filter for all of your website-related decisions.

But don’t beat around the bush. Keep your choice of words and messages short and to the point. Challenge yourself to say what you need to say in as few words as possible, right up front on the home page, so that visitors know exactly what your business offers straight away.

This is your website content, and visitors to your site will form an impression of your brand based upon it.

It’s an area where professional help might be worth investing in if you’ve no experience in writing or producing content for the web. But if you want to DIY then keep it simple. Avoid using crappy Word art or DIY sketches. Stock photography can be great, but some of it is very cheesy. If you don’t think you can tell the difference then rope in someone who can.

And make sure you proofread it ad nauseum. If you’re not confident in that area, have somebody who knows how to properly use an apostrophe take a look at it.

5) Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel

Usability is essentially how well people can use your product to achieve their goal, and websites more often than not are built to a format that is familiar to the average visitor so that they can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

At Other Things we love to see experimentation in this area, but if you’re looking to DIY build yourself a website for your business and you have little experience of doing such things then sticking to the ‘norms’ is your best bet. No need to reinvent the wheel. It will probably just confuse your visitors.

If you use a website building platform (such as Wix, Gator or Squarespace) there are templates and ‘themes’ that are put together with usability in mind. You won’t be winning awards for website innovation, but visitors to your site will have a better chance of navigating around your website nice and easily and developing a positive impression of your brand.

These platforms can also take care of some of the basic nuts and bolts stuff around hosting your website on the internet, and help you avoid pitfalls with potentially baffling things such as optimising it for mobile, SSL certificates, SEO and other acronyms.

So there you have it. The above is by no means comprehensive or universally true, but it might help set you on the right path if you’re considering how to build your small business website.

If you’re going DIY then keep things simple, utilise the templates and simplifying tools available to you and don’t go too left-field with your creative ideas. You’ll learn something and maybe even enjoy it.

And if it’s terrible, at least you tried. Give a good agency or freelancer a call and they’ll see you right.

Matt Hitchcock is the co-founder and Managing Director of Other Things, an alternative creative agency that specialises in producing disruptive advertising and marketing solutions for the gaming and entertainment industries.

www.otherthingsagency.com

Photo credit: Jodie Beardmore (www.jodiebeardmorephotography.co.uk)

AD:VENTURE sees demand up by nearly a third in 2020

AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region since it was started at the end of 2016. And this year the enquiries have been up by around 30 per cent. 

Programme manager Sarah Carling said: “We have seen an increase in demand for the programme since lockdown. 

“We have continued to deliver support throughout the year, adapting to deliver virtually where this was needed. Despite the pressures of an extremely challenging business climate, we have seen incredible resilience from the businesses we work with, and a real determination to keep moving and adapting in order to survive and grow. 

We found that one to one advice has been more important than ever, giving the business owners we support a much needed sounding board, but also helping with crucial issues like adapting their business models to cope with current challenges and accessing government funding.”  

This year AD:VENTURE, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has run 116 events, mainly online, to over 1300 delegates. Topics have included strategic marketing, building effective sales, pitching your business and podcasting.  

Since its launch AD:VENTURE has paid out  336 grants totalling just over £1.7m , including funds for purchasing vital equipment and refurbishing premisesThe programme also offers mentoring and support from experts and academics via masterclasses and one-to-one support. 

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

In 2020 the support has included ‘Northern Max 3’ which was launched in April in Bradford and helped  21 businesses with a mix of masterclasses and mentoring; Accelerate which was run by Leeds Beckett University and helped 40 new and young businesses; the ‘Survive and Thrive’ programme in Wakefield, which is supporting a variety of start-ups in developing and adapting their businesses to tackle Covid-19 challenges. New schemes are planned for 2021 including one for businesses in Kirklees. 

Sarah said: “Consultation with clients and ongoing feedback and engagement enables us to adapt our delivery to meet the needs of our start-ups as they change. 

“Heading into 2021 we know times are still tough for many businesses and we will still be here for ambitious entrepreneurs to help them on their journey. We know their success ultimately leads to the success of the city region.” 

There are eligibility criteria and some sectors, including retail, are not eligible; but businesses that have been supported come from a variety of sectors, including Agri-Tech, Fin-Tech, Med-Tech, health and wellbeing, digital, healthy food manufacturing and eco-construction.  

One of the businesses benefiting from the programme is Proper Oats, set up by former accountant and body builder Suzanne Ferreira, from York. 

The ready-to-eat overnight oats are now stocked in various farm shops, on Amazon Fresh, and at Sourced Market at Skelton Lake Services motorway services near Leeds and at St Pancras Station in London 

Suzanne, who went on the Accelerate programme, said: “When people think of business support they think of funding, but the expert advice you get is invaluable. They have specialist knowledge in different areas, which would be hard to access if you don’t have the funds to pay for it.” 

For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/ 

Ad:Venture Business Advisors

WE ARE HIRING – The AD:VENTURE programme is looking for enthusiastic and knowledgeable Business Advisors to join our team!

A BIT OF BACKGROUND:

AD:VENTURE is a £22.4 million programme, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) The programme is delivered and supported by a wide partnership of organisations, including, local authorities, chambers of commerce, universities, and social enterprises.

SO WHAT DO WE DO?

We support new and young business across the Leeds city region achieve their growth potential. It’s great!

The programme offers a range of support including, grants, one to one advice and workshops, along with specialist support from our partners. We are recruiting Business Advisers to join our team, to work across the Leeds City Region Area, working out of both our offices and those of our partners.

IS IT THE RIGHT JOB FOR YOU?

We are looking for people who have a background in business, or have experience in delivering business advice and support.

The advisor team is central to the delivery of the AD:VENTURE programme, the main point of contact for new and growing businesses, and as an advisor you would need to have a passion for supporting people and business and seeing them grow.

Delivering support and guidance to pre-start and start-up businesses up to 36 months old, who will have strong growth potential with opportunities for job creation, advisors will be allocated a specific geographic area in order to capitalise on local expertise and knowledge, as well as building up strong local networks which are essential to supporting the business community.

Experience of working with growth start-up businesses would be an advantage along with a strong emphasis on support with business planning and financials, in addition to strategic planning. Advisers will assist the beneficiary businesses in accessing various aspects of the programme including a series of workshops.

In addition to having a sound knowledge of other business support solutions/programmes available both nationally and across the Leeds City Region, the ideal candidate will have strong written and oral communication skills to aid effective communication with clients and stakeholders and be expected to work to a high level to meet the programmes compliance requirements.

HOW DO I FIND OUT MORE AND/OR  APPLY?

The roles are 35 hours per week, and £32 – 35K PA

Click here to download the full Job Description

APPLY NOW– Upload your CV along with a completed Equal Opportunities Form

Leeds digital agency doubles office space to keep up with demand

A Leeds digital marketing agency has doubled its office space and taken on more staff to keep up with demand during lockdown.

Wildfire Marketing, which was launched by Billy Foulkes and Neal Foster in 2018, has moved into new premises at Thorpe Park Business Park. The agency, which specialises in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), has seen its turnover increase by 50 per cent since March.

The company, which has been given support by AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), now employs seven full-time, with several regular freelancers, and has plans to take on more staff.

But Billy admitted the start of lockdown had been hard as clients looked to tighten their belts and cut back their marketing spend.

“It was tough, but by July we were back up and running again and the last few weeks in particular have been crazy on the sales front,” said Billy.

“I think at least part of that is because we offer a monthly rolling contract, rather than tying clients into a long-term retainer. It means clients know we will give them continual good service rather than sit back and just take their money.  A lot of people have been stung in the past by SEO companies, but we’re straightforward Yorkshire chaps and don’t work like that.”

As well as the office in Leeds, Wildfire Marketing has a base in London, with some clients down south, but most in Yorkshire. The agency, which also provides website development and social media management services, was shortlisted in the Start-up of the Year category in the Leeds Digital Festival Awards 2020.

Wildfire Marketing was given a £4,000 grant from AD:VENTURE to pay for equipment including a 60-inch TV screen to display work to clients, a sign, sofa and chairs in company colours, and new PCs and monitors for the growing team. They have also received mentoring support from an AD:VENTURE business coach.

Billy said: “The mentoring and guidance we have received through the AD:VENTURE programme has been invaluable to us as a young start-up business.

“Without the funding from AD:VENTURE the business wouldn’t be what it is today. Having a modern headquarters to show off to clients will help us establish ourselves as one of the top SEO agencies.”

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

Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer Economic Development at Leeds City Council said: “It is impressive to see companies not just surviving, but also thriving during this difficult time, and I would like to congratulate Billy and Neal for all their hard work and initiative.

“It also shows that giving support to local businesses is vital, especially in in the current climate, and can help create much-needed jobs. Support programmes like AD:VENTURE are so important for the local economy.”

To find out more about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

For more information about Wildfire Marketing go to https://www.wild-fire.co.uk/seo-leeds/

Yorkshire mum launches child-friendly holiday business

mother-of-two from West Yorkshire has used her own experiences to launch a child-friendly holiday business. 

Jo Addison’s website Kiddieholidays is designed to help families with pre-school children find suitable accommodation and activities in the UK and Europe. 

Jo, who lives in Gomersal and runs her business from a base at Hub 26 in Cleckheaton, said the idea first came to her when she was on maternity leave with her first child. 

“My son was only little and we wanted to go to Wales on holiday, but we found it difficult to book somewhere suitable that did not cost the earth,” said Jo. 

“It just got me thinking that there must be thousands of families in the same position who can’t afford a luxury place that works for them. They might just want to go camping or glamping or stay in a cottage, and it can be so hard to find somewhere. 

Jo, who was then working for Jet2 Holidays part-time, started the website as a hobby in her spare time, writing blogs and collaborating with holiday and activity providers. The business slowly evolved into a listings site until last September Jo decided to make the leap and quit her job. 

“I was 40 last year and I thought it is now or never to work for myself. But what is really great is that doesn’t feel like work because I am so passionate about it, said Jo. 

“I just want to give families more choice. They might want to go to Majorca or Cornwall. And they just need to know simple things like is there a baby monitor or cot or soft play area. And then the rest of the family might appreciate a baby-listening service or spa treatment for them.” 

She uses a team of freelancers to write the copy, and aims to become the go-to website for families with babies or toddlers.  

But Jo admits that her timing was unfortunate with the lockdown effectively putting the business into temporary hibernation. Despite this, her turnover has doubled since last year and the number  of visitors to her website has increased to 150,000 a month.  

She is working with more and more holiday property owners, holiday parks and leisure activity providers and getting plenty of enquiries already for 2021 as people look to book their staycations with a reputable holiday provider. 

The impact of COVID-19 has been challenging, but at the same time it has created an opportunity for the business, as it means parents are much more conscious of the need to find a high quality and safe place to take their children,” said Jo. 

The lockdown has also given Jo the time to develop the business and improve the website ahead of the official launch with help from AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  

“Their help has been invaluable. They have helped with everything from actually running a business through to search engine optimisation and supporting me to focus on what exactly the business is all about,” said Jo. 

I have been on workshops and webinars covering everything from content creation to maximising the customer journey and taken so much from these. The quality of the presenters is excellent and all of them are industry experts who a new business might otherwise struggle to access in the early stages.”  

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

Councillor Peter McBride, Kirklees Council cabinet member for regenerationsaid: “It is great to see someone like Jo turn her passion and expertise into a thriving business. It just shows that with practical support it is possible to take that step and start your own successful enterprise. 

“Programmes like AD:VENTURE are all about helping new businesses of all shapes and sizes and that is so important particularly now when we are faced with massive economic challenges. 

“Success stories like this are exactly why we support this programme. In such difficult economic times, I’m sure it will give hope to many others who read about Jo’s achievements.” 

To find out more about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/ 

To find out more about Kiddieholidays go to https://www.kiddieholidays.co.uk/ 

 

Wakefield agency turns over £680,000 in first year

A Wakefield marketing agency celebrated its first birthday with a turnover that has already reached £680,000.

bolt, which has its headquarters at the Junction workspace in Horbury, Wakefield, has grown its team from two to 16 since setting up in summer 2019. This has included taking on an apprentice, with plans to take on two more apprentices and other staff by the end of 2020.

The agency also has offices in London and Macedonia and a new location in Warsaw in Poland, which has begun hiring.

bolt specialises in growth marketing, website design, customer relationship management (CRM) and branding for high-performing professional service organisations, including financial services, tech, engineering and commercial real estate.

To support its expansion plans within the Leeds City Region, bolt has received mentoring through AD:VENTURE – a programme which helps pre-start and new businesses with growth potential in West and North Yorkshire including offering mentoring, events and access to finance.

bolt was set up by business partners James Coughlan and Jamie Clifton. The pair met in 2013 while working for a direct marketing agency in London.

James Coughlan, head of operations at bolt, said: “At bolt it’s our aim to become integral to a client’s business, helping them with client acquisition and growing their company profits. In our first year of trading we’ve been successful in securing contracts around the world, but it’s always been our aim to create a name for bolt closer to home.

“AD:VENTURE has opened doors for us by introducing us to local networks and contacts which have been invaluable in growing our operation in Wakefield and attracting talent in the region. Everyone at AD:VENTURE have been genuinely invested in our growth strategy which has really helped us develop as a business. We’re looking forward to working with them into the future.”

Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said: “bolt is a fantastic example of the type of ambitious company that we are so proud to have here in Wakefield. They are creating jobs and boosting the local economy even in these difficult times.

“And it is important that we do our bit to support them, which is why the AD:VENTURE programme is so vital.”

Since AD:VENTURE started in early 2017, the programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has helped nearly 4,000 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved over 160 grants to help start-up businesses grow.

Partners of AD:VENTURE include the region’s nine local authorities, the Business Enterprise Fund and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, with businesses also able to access academic input through programmes delivered by higher education partners, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University.