Climb Online isn't your average digital marketing agency. Just ask Britain's version of Donald Trump. In 2014, Lord Sugar, a billionaire media mogul, invested more than $425,000 in Climb, after its founder Mark Wright's successful appearance on The Apprentice UK.
More than 7.2 million people in the UK tuned in to see Wright take the crown and secure his investment. But just what impact does this ready-made audience have on a new venture like Climb? Here's what Wright had to say about it.
Ready-made customers, too
"The Apprentice helped us sign up some companies without a doubt," says Wright. Though, he's keen to point out that the momentum has continued long after the series finale. "What I have come to learn very quickly is that the proof is in the pudding. A big company chooses a digital marketing partner based on reputation and campaign results. Now we have over 200 running campaigns we have a whole bank of case studies and results, which has proved more effective than winning The Apprentice."
The Apprentice win has also helped land Wright a keen voice in his company. "I see Lord Sugar once a month for a board meeting," says Wright, who appreciates the symbiotic nature of Sugar's investment. "This is always business assistance not digital marketing speak. His role is to grow the business to be profitable and my role is to know the digital marketing sector."
Regular advice from a phenomenally successful entrepreneur and a ready made team of legal and financial advisors are luxuries most startups simply cannot afford.
Naturally it hasn't all been rosy for Wright. After The Apprentice win, he fell under intense scrutiny from others in the industry. People felt he was selling himself as something he wasn't, he says. But even that dicey situation helped the entrepreneur. "Since then, I've done a number of talks at industry events and this has restored the reputation of both myself and of Climb Online.
Even so, Wright is confident that Climb Online would have been a hit even without the backing of Lord Sugar.
"I have no doubt the company would be a success," says Wright. "A business is defined by its people, not by its director or profile. The sales would have been much lower in year one through five but ultimately we would have grown a reputable business."