My name is Emma Coles and I am the founder and CEO of Adlet.
Adlet is an online advertising platform for bloggers and social media influencers - we provide a service that allows bloggers and online publications to easily sell advertising on their websites and social media platforms in a secure and easy way, handling all of the financial and technical details.
When a publisher signs up they create a profile which includes their website information, social media links and advertising options. The profile is listed in our Marketplace, which is designed as a way for brands and businesses to find new and relevant places to advertise their products to an engaged potential customer base.
The last few years have seen a huge rise in blogging and businesses are starting to realise the power bloggers and online publications have over consumer purchasing decisions. With the decline of printed media and the reduced effectiveness of advertising on platforms such as Facebook, advertising with bloggers is growing in popularity as brands realise how powerful their influence can be.
Adlet is a platform on which they can connect and we are currently looking at ways in which we can further provide a match making service to increase advertiser's engagement and return on investment.
Adlet is based in TechHub Wales in central Swansea and have 2 full-time staff with our current intern joining us full-time when she graduates from Swansea University in the summer.
What I did
Since 2008 I have run a successful ecommerce website, Ji Ji Kiki, which sells vintage and handmade jewellery, clothing and accessories.
Online advertising, and working with bloggers in particular, has proved to be a great way to promote Ji Ji Kiki, but I found the process involved with purchasing a blogger's advertising to be very time consuming and unnecessarily complicated. From running a business and working with bloggers I felt that I had a good understanding of what both parties would require from the solution that Adlet could provide.
I entered Wales' first Startup Weekend with the idea in 2013 and from that I won the Women's Category of the Global Startup Battle.
The Global Startup Battle prize was to be sponsored by Coca-Cola, who flew us out to Atlanta last year to meet with a number of their top executives including their Chief of Sustainability, Director of Digital Communications & Social Media and Strategic Project Director for their 5by20 initiative.
We are continuing to work closely with Coca-Cola to ensure that the functionality and analytics we build into Adlet are inline with what a large corporation requires when advertising. This feedback and support has been invaluable to a startup business and gives us a good standing when we contact brands that we feel would benefit from using Adlet.
Adlet has just taken on our first full time staff member, Kristy Lear, who graduated from Swansea University in 2014. We have also offered a place to our current intern, Chloe O'Connor, when she graduates from university in June this year and we're currently looking to hire a full-time software developer.
We are applying the Lean Startup methodology to the business, which requires us to be creative with the ways in which we market. This has lead us to start a blogger-specific conference, BlogConf, as a way to engage with bloggers as well as meet other people within our industry.
In October 2014 we held the first BlogConf in Swansea with practical and educational workshops, talks from inspirational speakers and networking opportunities. The day was a great success and based on feedback and demand we are now taking BlogConf on the road to other cities around the UK, with the first 2015 location being Bristol on Saturday 21 February.
We are keen to use BlogConf as an opportunity to match brands with our attendees and are offering sponsorship opportunities for brands that are interested in working with bloggers.
What I would do differently
Making the decision to run Adlet from a co-working space has allowed me to grow the business a lot quicker than I did Ji Ji Kiki.
Budget is one of the most important factors when starting a business, but I feel that the support from other TechHub businesses and exposure I've received as a result of being a member has been invaluable.
My proudest moment in business
Winning the Global Startup Battle within the first few weeks of the business being founded was a fantastic moment.
Adlet has also reached the final of a number of other competitions and this in turn has lead to us getting some fantastic press and coverage for the business.
Please state the type of assistance / support both non-financial and financial you have received from Welsh Government / Business Wales, if any
We have received advice and support from a business adviser with Business Wales and the Jobs Growth Wales scheme has allowed us to take on staff to grow the business.
- enter as many competitions as you can, if you win its fantastic exposure, but even if you don't the questions on the entry forms get you thinking about the business and what you have - and want to - achieve
- don't be afraid to ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness
- businesses in Wales have a fantastic amount of support, from co-working spaces, schemes like Go Wales and support from Business Wales and Business in Focus, take advantage of this as much as you can!