Friends ignite new business idea

Left to right: Graham Davies from Finance Yorkshire, Martin Buddy, Rahoul Baruah and Dom Hodgson from EmberAds Ltd

A group of computer experts who became close friends after meeting at a series of IT events have now formed their own unique online advertising business thanks to a Finance Yorkshire Seedcorn investment.

Young entrepreneur Dom Hodgson, 25, along with four friends, Rahoul Baruah, Caius Durling, Melinda Seckington and Cristiano Betta, began taking part in marathon programming competitions, where teams had to solve a given problem, write the code and pitch a working solution to a panel of experts.

One of the real world challenges the friends worked through was the charity box feature, which was a way of donating to charity without web users incurring extra costs.

The friends excelled at the ‘hackdays’ and have now come together to establish EmberAds Ltd, based in Leeds.

Dom said: “The five of us got involved in the competitions where we were given 24 hours to come up with a solution and hack it together.

“This would involve 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.”

A few months later Dom said he met Graham Davies, a Finance Yorkshire Investment Manager, at a networking event.

Dom added: “I started talking to Graham about our vision for a new product, which would revolutionise the performance and effectiveness of online affiliate advertising.

“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 EmberAds is to cut this middle man out and do the work for businesses by aiming to effortlessly find the best adverts for businesses and only takes 15 seconds to sign up.

“Graham really liked the idea and told me about Finance Yorkshire’s Seedcorn Fund. We were invited to the offices to present our concept to the Seedcorn team and showcase a prototype. We also talked about the details of each person’s role in the company and started to discuss the terms.

“We worked closely with Graham during the investment process and he has since joined the board of the company.

In January 2012 Martin Boddy joined EmberAds as Non Executive Director. Martin has a wealth of experience and is also currently Chief Executive of at 20:20, a digital marketing and technology company.

Graham Davies, Investment Manager at Finance Yorkshire said: “I was really impressed with the concept for EmberAds 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 owners and businesses make money from their sites.”

Dom added: “The Seedcorn Fund investment meant that the five of us were able to take this idea and run with it full time. It will help towards wages costs and pay for hosting the server, which we are really happy to be able to do locally.

The business is now going really well. We are based in Leeds at the Round Foundry Media Centre and have two employees who work remotely in London.

“We are now serving adverts for more than1,000 retailers, including household names like, Easy-jet and Vodafone.”

Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development.

Finance Yorkshire is supported financially by the European Union. It has attracted £30million investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme, £15million from Yorkshire Forward’s Single Programme, and £45million match funding from the European Investment Bank.

For more information about Finance Yorkshire, please visit or ring 0845 649 0000.

Note: this news article is from Finance Yorkshire’s previous fund. Read more about Finance Yorkshire