Teesside University student launches crowd funding campaign

A Teesside University student who spent his third-year industry placement working for himself in a business he set up, is embarking upon a £100,000 crowd-funding campaign.

James Drew took the highly unusual step of spending his third year working for JDrew Creations, an internet software development company for which he is Managing Director.

James then returned to University to complete his final year, combining his studies with running his own company.

During that time, James, who graduates next month with a first class BSc (Hons) Web Development, has grown the company to employ four people and moved to new offices in Stockton’s Digital House.

JDrew Creations has developed Ambix, an intuitive intranet which allows members of organisations to collaborate and network securely.

James is now looking to take Ambix to the next level with a crowd-funding campaign which is hoping to raise up to £100,000 in return for 17% of shares in the company.

James developed the concept of Ambix whilst studying his degree and instead of working for a company in his third year asked the University if he could set up his own business to develop it further.

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

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

James 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 also employs Jordan McCord, a Teesside student who will also be graduating next month with BA(Hons) Web and Multimedia Design, as a UI/UX Designer.

In addition, they have taken on Adam Hilditch, a BA(Hons) Web and Multimedia Design student, to work for the company for his third year placement.
JDrew Creations was also the only North East SME to be shortlisted in Britain’s biggest business contest, The Pitch 2014.

Kate Baucherel added: ‘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 in the 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.’

Teesside University Media Centre