SPARK case studies

The following examples were all by Leeds students with the help of Spark services & advice.


Enam Ruf, Selim Irez & Abdullah Chowdery

Business Plan Competition – 1st Prize Pre Trading Winner

First place in the pre-trading category was awarded to students Enam Ruf, Selim Irez and Abdullah Chowdery for their business, Motive – a one-stop event ticketing platform for universities, their students and societies. Through the app, students can easily register for events and manage memberships, while students’ unions can track and monitor event attendance and view ticket sales.

Fourth year medical student Enam explained: “This app was made by students for students, and this has been central to our success. Students actively look at ways to participate in university life and have new experiences, and university societies play a huge role in shaping this. We also appreciate the value of managing ticket sales for large scale events and our intuitive analytical tools has made this facility much more effective.

“Winning this competition is brilliant and gives us so much confidence because it shows Spark’s validation of our business. Our continued relationship with the Spark team and the network of professional advisors will allow us to gain specialist advice on intellectual property and patents ahead of launch in a few months’ time.”

Enam Ruf, Selim Irez & Abdullah Chowdery - Founders & Directors of Motive


Unid Books

Cesca Douglas

Business Plan Competition – 2nd Prize Trading Winner

UnidBooks is an online marketplace for students to buy and sell second-hand university textbooks. Cesca Douglas launched UnidBooks as a final year medical student to reduce textbook waste and to ensure textbooks are affordable for all.

Sustainability is at the heart of UnidBooks. This marketplace strives to keep pre-loved books within the community for future students and encourages a sustainable mindset amongst students.The ‘buy online and meet in-person’ concept enables same day delivery at no extra cost to the planet.

“For the last six years at university, I have seen first-hand the amount of textbook waste within the student community. Students pay extortionate prices for textbooks, use them for one semester and the textbook collects dust for the rest of their degree. UnidBooks disrupts this unsustainable cycle, allowing textbooks to be bought for an affordable price and ensuring students can re-sell their textbooks when they graduate”.

Cesca Douglas - Director & Founder of Unid Books


“Leeds students have made over £5000 from selling second-hand textbooks on UnidBooks. Sales have diverted over one tonne of paper waste going to landfill and redistributed valuable textbooks within the student community”.

“I believe that textbooks should not cost the earth. I am proud to have created a platform that ensures textbooks are affordable for all, whilst promoting sustainable change”.

The Spark Enterprise Scholarship Award has allowed UnidBooks to establish a strong presence on Leeds Campus by facilitating website improvements and a clear marketing strategy. UnidBooks received the runner up award for the 2022 Business Plan Competition which will allow UnidBooks to expand to additional universities.

“I am incredibly grateful to the Spark team for their invaluable support and guidance. Spark has allowed me to meet and learn from incredible entrepreneurs, it is an inspiring network which I am proud to be a part of”.



Theo Youds

Theo Youds has always dreamt of going to space. Since forming the first ever rocketry association at Leeds and leading two successful rocket flights, he set his sights on the Spaceport America Cup.

Leeds University Rocketry Association (LURA) is a student-led, multi-discipline engineering team capable of designing, building and flying sub-orbital rockets. Their mission is simple: “We want to prepare the Mars generation. In the next 10 years Mars will happen and we want to make sure Leeds is a part of it.

“Ever since I was a child, I’ve been obsessed,” says Theo, third year mechanical engineering student. “But space travel has always been one of those things you see in the movies. By building rockets, understanding how things work, I realised it’s all possible and other Leeds students are seeing it too.”

Theo Youds

A first year disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions proved the catalyst Theo needed to pursue his passion. In the summer, he applied for the coveted European Space Agency programme and was one of 24 undergraduates selected from across Europe: “I met people doing amazing things. It changed my perspective and I decided to stop waiting for opportunities to come to me. “The course demystified things for me. I learnt how rockets worked and brought it back to Leeds.”

At the start of the new term, Theo got to work on his goal: to design and build a rocket to compete in the most prestigious student rocketry competition in the world, the Spaceport America Cup. “It was ambitious,” Theo admits, “the equivalent of picking a new sport and heading straight to the Olympics.”

Theo published a website, developed a social media platform and recruited like-minded students, there are now 30 people on board. “We ran interviews and hired the right people for each job, which ranged from roles in engineering to marketing."

Thanks to alumni donor support, Theo also undertook a summer internship within the School of Mechanical Engineering, which allowed him to focus on the development of fin designs for the rocket. The team raised finances through sponsorship, crowdfunding, faculty support and the University’s business start-up service, Spark. Theo's Enterprise Scholarship was funded by long term supporter of Spark and Leeds alumus Professor Adam Beaumont and his company aql.

On Friday 24th June, Theo and his team successfully competed in the Spaceport America Cup, launching their rocket 10,000ft above the New Mexico desert. “This was a particularly stressful flight for the team. We lost sight of the rocket in the clouds and there were reports that the parachutes hadn’t deployed and had hit the ground. Just as we started to lose hope, Freya spots it gliding down to the ground, both parachutes deployed and in perfect condition”

LURA rocket lauch from the Spaceport America Cup 2022


The Egalitarian

Elysia O’Neill & Della Claydon

Spark Special Recognition Prize Winner

Second year International Relations MA student, Elysia O’Neill co-founded the social enterprise ‘The Egalitarian’ dedicated to raising awareness of systemic inequality in society, specifically but not limited to gender inequality.

"We are a social media platform and community that tackles injustice within society by raising awareness of issues and offering action-led content to empower our following to make a difference."

“We publish articles and opinion pieces from our community who offer different perspectives from lived experiences on current issues. Our social media platform offers a voice to spiking and sexual harassment, assault and violence survivors as part of our goal to empower people within our community to speak out about issues that are less visible in mainstream media.”

Elysia O’Neill & Della Claydon - Founders of The Egalitarian


In light of the rise of spiking incidents by injection in October 2021, Elysia and the Egalitarian team created the Spike Report. The UK's first publicly viewable spiking incident database allows survivors to report their spiking incident, creating a feeling of empowerment whilst tackling the data gap on spiking. Alongside information regarding where, when and how spiking incidents are occurring, they collect ratings of venue and police responses. They have received 290 spike reports since launch and over 35,000 visitors to their database.

“The data that we hold is unique and exclusive to The Egalitarian, and have appeared in numerous news articles (national and local) as well as television news appearances”

In light of the Home Affairs Committee's report on spiking, the team also launched their ‘Safe Place Project’ using their collected data to inform the Government on this issue.

The Safe Place Project is also a unique certification scheme for venues in the night time economy whereby they will receive bespoke training packages, policy and procedural consultation, discounted anti-spiking products from their supplier and unique signage and assets to notify customers that the venue is a safe place, as verified by The Egalitarian.

“Our certification scheme is the first of its kind and has received substantial interest since launch with numerous service proposals having already been sent to potential clients”

Alongside their communication with venues, the team are currently liaising with local councils and licensing authorities, universities and West Yorkshire Police with the expectation that their certification will be verified by official bodies and become a recognised scheme.


EO Charging

Charlie Jardine

EO Charging

EO Charging Point


Previous Spark Business

With the support of a Spark Enterprise Scholarship, Charlie Jardine (Design 2013) started his first company whilst studying at Leeds. Ten years on, the CEO and founder of EO Charging is creating the infrastructure for a transport revolution.

For Charlie Jardine, it was all a matter of timing – arriving at Leeds as the University developed its award-winning programme to nurture entrepreneurial talent; entering the electric vehicle industry during a global transformation in the way we travel; and starting a business when space became available in his grandfather’s pig shed.

Charlie Jardine

“My idea was to create waterproof onesies that were both warm and practical at festivals,” he recalled. “We called it Rusty Can Ltd. The problem was, I had no idea how to start a business.”

Charlie Jardine

EO Charging

EO Charging manufactures and provides charging solutions for electric vehicles, with a particular focus on the commercial fleet market. Using skills developed during his time working with SPARK – the University’s business start-up service – Charlie founded the company in a barn in Suffolk in 2014. Since then, the electric vehicle market has grown at 300 percent each year, and EO's clients now include Amazon, Sainsbury's, Tesco, GoAhead London and Uber.

For Charlie, his passion for the planet keeps him motivated. “I couldn’t do something if it was just for monetary gain. The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of all. I have to wake up on a morning knowing I am making a difference.

But when he arrived at Leeds, Charlie was still looking for that driver. “I had no interest in academia at school – I just didn’t see the point. I was always creative though, and I enjoyed designing things. I’m also very competitive.” It was the perfect combination to get involved with SPARK. He entered the business plan competition, which gives students the opportunity to pitch a business idea to gain funding and support – and Charlie was successful.

A Spark Enterprise Scholarship meant Charlie received a £3,000 grant and a programme of tailored business support. He also benefited from advice and mentoring from experts. “That was incredibly important to me,” Charlie said. “Rusty Can didn’t work out in the end, but the enterprise scheme at Leeds taught me how things were done.”

On graduating, Charlie worked for Pod Point, a manufacturer of electric vehicle charging stations based in London – a job that made him “very passionate” about the industry. After two years, Charlie decided to take matters into his own hands. “Everyone in my family is a business owner, and I’d learnt a lot during my time at Leeds. It was definitely time.”

In 2014, Charlie set to work designing his first charger on his grandfather’s farm, before launching the product in 2016. Although cars dominated electric vehicle sales, Charlie recognised an opportunity to be one of the first in the market charging commercial vehicle fleets.

“People were sceptical of electric vehicles when we started. But now, with the UK ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030, and the recent rapid increase in the cost of fuel, the transition to electric is exponential.”

Charlie’s team has now grown to over 200 people, with over 80,000 charge points installed across 35 countries.


Ping Technology Labs LTD

Timur Gok

Ping Labs

Bloxed interface

Previous Spark Business

Timur Gok is a University of Leeds alumnus, having graduated last year with a BSc degree in Economics. His entrepreneurial journey began during his university years, where he was awarded an Enterprise Scholarship and won the Spark Business Planning competition in 2019 for a venture in reselling limited-edition footwear.

Inspired by the potential of technology to transform businesses, Timur founded Ping Technology Labs LTD three years ago. The company, which he started using the funding he received from winning the Business Plan Competition and Enterprise Scholarship, provides specialised hosting and VPN infrastructure. Their brand, Ping Proxies, enables companies to programmatically gather and interact with websites on a large scale. This is achieved by providing access to millions of IP addresses, preventing websites from rate-limiting their requests. Their services have a wide range of applications, including business intelligence, brand protection, price comparison, and training AI models using web data.

Timur Gok

“Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, Spark has been an invaluable source of support. They provided me with some of the initial funding for Ping Technology Labs LTD, which allowed me to bootstrap the company without needing any initial third-party investment or giving away any equity. The Entrepreneur Scholarship bootcamp offered by Spark was instrumental in my growth as an entrepreneur. It provided me with the opportunity to learn from business, accounting, and legal professionals about how to run a company. Their support system has been a reliable source of legal and accounting advice, which has been incredibly helpful. One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur is knowing where to look for good professional advice in these areas without spending a huge amount of money, and Spark has been essential in guiding me through this process.”

Timur Gok - Founder & Director of Ping Technology Labs LTD


Since its inception in 2020, Ping Technology Labs LTD has grown significantly. They have become profitable, served over 21,000 customers, and generated over £1.4 million in revenue. This year marked their move into new offices in Manchester, UK, and the expansion of their team to include three full-time software developers. These milestones underscore their commitment to innovation and growth.

Looking ahead, Timur is excited about a new project, Bloxed™. This spin-out business from Ping Technology Labs LTD aims to build a SaaS platform that allows companies across industries to rapidly collect, validate, process, and analyse web data at a massive scale. The platform will remove much of the friction and hassle associated with web data collection, allowing firms to work more efficiently and cost-effectively. They also plan to provide seamless integration for AI model training and aim to launch the Bloxed™ platform in beta in Q1 2024.

Timur and his team are excited about the future of Ping Technology Labs LTD and look forward to continuing to innovate and grow in the technology industry.