Seedcorn Fund Case Study
Ember Ads is a unique online advertising business based in Leeds at the Round Foundry Media Centre.
It was established by young entrepreneur Dom Hodgson, 25, along with four friends who met at marathon computer programming competitions, where teams had to solve a given problem, write the code and pitch a working solution.
The friends excelled at the events and Dom said he realised the team worked well together at the high-pressured, 24-hour marathon events.
Dom said: “The competition involved us working together as a team for long hours and surviving on pizza at 4am – this is when we realised that if we can work well together at ridiculous hours in the morning then we made a good team.”
The friends then began working together on a new business venture.
He added: “Businesses display relevant and engaging ads on their sites, but to do this there is a lot of work involved and companies can spend a lot of time dealing with advertisers.
“The idea behind Ember Ads is to cut this middle man out and do the work for businesses. Our process is much more streamlined and quicker than other similar services, like Google Adsense, and only takes 15 seconds to sign up.”
Dom met Graham Davies, a Finance Yorkshire Investment Manager at a networking event in 2011.
Dom added: “I started talking to Graham about Ember Ads and explained it was a way to revolutionise the performance and effectiveness of online affiliate advertising.
Graham really liked the idea and told me about Finance Yorkshire’s Seedcorn Fund, which helps new business start-ups. We were invited to the offices to present our concept and showcase a prototype, which was carefully crafted through. We also talked about the details of each person’s role in the company and agreed the terms.
After we found out we had been successful in receiving the start-up funding we then met with Graham every two weeks.”
The Fund invested in Ember Ads in December 2011 and the investment has now given the team the chance to work together full time on a new start-up that they have spent many years hoping to establish.
The Investment Rationale
Graham Davies, Investment Manager at Finance Yorkshire said: “I was really impressed with the concept for Ember Ads and our due diligence confirmed the team’s view that there was a gap in the market for its services.
“Dom and his team were obviously experts in the field and I am glad Finance Yorkshire could help to get this unique idea off the ground which will help to benefit many websites.”
Dom said: “The investment meant that the five of us were able to take this idea and run with it full time. It will help towards wages and pay for hosting the server, which we are really happy we are able to host locally.”
He added “more than 1,000 companies have now used Ember Ads system and the company works with a lot of retailers like Play.com and George at ASDA.”
Note: this case study is from Finance Yorkshire’s previous fund. Read more about Finance Yorkshire