Husband and wife Andy and Ann Kitchener invested everything they had in Shopcreator. In 1998, after one year of trading, they had just £240 in the bank and spent most of it on a Christmas party. But a government small-firms loan and £250,000 from the venture-capital firm Downing Classic enabled them to kick-start growth. Since then the Daily Mail and Close Brothers have invested £4m. The Leeds company offers portals and e-commerce software and has seen sales rise 106% a year from £240,000 in 1999 to £1m in 2001, when it made a loss. Shopcreator employs 32 people.
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