Bristol-based SEO companies upUgo and GoRank have announced completion of an initial successful investment round for half a million pounds. Valued at a combined £10 million, both businesses secured funds from entrepreneur and Angel investor, Hayden Rushton. The capital will finance expansion into new market territories, with a particular focus on the States, and software development. Luke Sartain, founder of both businesses, takes on the roles of chairman and CEO for upUgo and CEO of GoRank.

With UK headquarters in Bristol, upUgo is thought to be the UK’s largest search engine optimisation company with over 1,000 SMEs on its books as well as recognised brands such as Hotel Chocolat, Vouchercloud and WHSmith. GoRank is the SaaS partner providing the SEO software and has plans to automate SEO tasks for WordPress users, allowing brands to white label and resell these services at volume to small business owners. Both businesses are eyeing up substantial growth accelerated by the current Covid-19 situation which has seen SEO services and software demand increase by 300% since the start of the outbreak, according to Google trend analysis.

Not originally seeking investment, Luke and Hayden completed the deal within 18 days. Early in his career, Hayden took on the family window manufacturing business turning it into a multi-million pound venture, and has been a serial investor in tech and environmental tech businesses for the past five years. With his minority stake in both businesses, Hayden, alongside Luke, plans to co-invest in other companies requiring digital support now and after the pandemic outbreak.

Commenting on the investment, Luke Sartain, CEO, upUgo and GoRank, said: “This investment marks a significant point in our successful growth path as we realise our plans for upUgo and GoRank with continued expansion in the UK market and entry into new territories. The SEO industry was already on a major upward trajectory before the pandemic broke, and now global businesses are turning to online channels for growth, expansion and security as consumers adapt their purchasing habits.  Working with Hayden and his team brings added depth of experience and knowledge for our companies. The future for us is exciting, and one that we can help all businesses to survive and prosper.”

Hayden Rushton, investor, added: “As soon as I met Luke and the team as a potential client, I just knew I had to invest in upUgo and GoRank. The GoRank software that they have developed is a game changer in the world of SEO, designed to automate the top 100 Google SEO tasks at a fraction of the cost of doing it manually. At the same time, upUgo uses cutting edge technology to deliver clients a better digital solution that is finely attenuated to performance rather than looking good.  Collectively they have the right attributes to perform consistently at the highest level which will guarantee success.”

The next step for both companies is the opening of their first overseas office in Seattle, Washington as well as recruiting for the expansion. Support for SMEs through the pandemic has been extended to include payment holidays when necessary and discounted rates for new businesses that pivot to online sales and marketing. Hayden and Luke are now actively seeking investment opportunities for businesses that are planning to scale and increase their use of digital marketing to help support the south west and UK burgeoning digital economy.

Geraint Evans