Teesside University student launches £100,000 crowdfunding campaign

James Drew, of Teesside University, spent placement year working for himself and is now employing four people at JDrew Creations

Michelle Maddison Photography Jordan McCord, Kate Baucherel, Adam Hilditch and James Drew of JDrew Creations
Jordan McCord, Kate Baucherel, Adam Hilditch and James Drew of JDrew Creations

A Teesside University student who took the unusual step of spending his third year industry placement working for himself is embarking on a £100,000 crowdfunding campaign to develop his business further.

James Drew came up with the concept for Ambix - an intuitive intranet that allows secure networking and collaboration - while studying for his Web Development degree.

Instead of going to work for an external company in his third year, he asked the university if he could set up his own to work further on the idea.

Kate Baucherel, an experienced business consultant, then joined as a director and agreed to act as James’ supervisor.

Within only a few weeks, JDrew Creations secured its first major customer in the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), which opted to use the technology for its Business Acceleration for SMEs (BASME) project.

James, who will graduate next month with a first class BSc (Hons) degree, has since grown the company to employ four people and has moved to new offices in Stockton’s Digital House.

Now, he is looking to take Ambix to the next level with a crowdfunding campaign through which he hopes to raise up to £100,000 in return for 17% of the shares in the company.

He said: “I was hoping to use the placement year to develop the concept, but when NEPIC bought the Beta version, all of a sudden we were up and running as a business.

“It’s been amazingly hectic - particularly my final year - but my tutors have given me a lot of support.

“I’m massively grateful to them for allowing me to run my own business as my placement year.

“Doing a work placement is fantastic experience and now we’re in a position to offer undergraduates the chance to benefit from one.”

JDrew Creations recently employed Jordan McCord, a Teesside student who will also be graduating next month, as a UI/UX Designer.

In addition, Adam Hilditch, a BA(Hons) Web and Multimedia Design student, will work for the company during his third year placement.

Kate Baucherel said: “From an employer’s point of view there’s a massive difference between a graduate who has been on placement and one who has not.

“I saw that Ambix had real commercial potential and so the placement year was an ideal opportunity to develop the concept.

“It’s a very unusual structure for a third year placement but the university has been incredibly supportive.”

Barry Hebbron, senior lecturer at Teesside University’s School of Computing, said: “We strive to foster an entrepreneurial spirit amongst our students and were happy to accommodate James with his unique request to work for himself during his placement year.

“We are very pleased that he has taken the opportunity to develop Ambix and JDrew Creations is growing into a successful company.

“We are also delighted that he is working with the university to offer students the chance to experience working within a growing company by offering placements to our undergraduates.

“Ambix is an exciting piece of software and we wish James and the team the best of luck with their crowd-funding drive.”

For more details on the crowdfunding campaign, visit www.growthfunders.com/investments/pitches/view/101.

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