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Ian Barton, Managing Director at the business advisory firm Quantuma, has advised on the sale of digital marketing agency Climb Online, founded by ‘The Apprentice’ winner Mark Wright, to xDNA Group.


Founded in 2015, Climb Online has established itself as a trusted and reliable provider of quality digital marketing services to clients across several sectors. The shareholding of the company is held 50:50 between Wrighton Investments Ltd, the investment vehicle of Mark Wright, and Amsvest Limited, the investment vehicle of Lord Alan Sugar. The company was formed as a collaboration following the airing of the 2014 BBC TV business programme ‘The Apprentice’, which Mark Wright won. Over the years, Climb Online has developed an enviable blue-chip client base including TikTok, CV Library and Groupon.

Ian, Anne Pritchard, Corporate Finance executive at KBS Corporate, and the team at Quantuma led the sale process for the shareholders and through their approach, the business attracted a significant level of interest from a combination of international and UK trade buyers, with the successful offer coming from xDNA Group – an award-winning digital agency with offices in Asia and the UK. The group is currently following an aggressive growth strategy having previously acquired Big Reach Marketing and Fluid Studios and opening an office in Dubai.

Mark Wright, who will continue as a shareholder of the group, commented: “I couldn’t have sold my business without Ian and his team’s expertise. When Lord Sugar and I first started being approached by trade and financial buyers and decided to sell our business we knew, in order to have the most structured process and achieve the highest price, we needed to work with people like Ian.

We were initially impressed with the marketing materials they put together. The teaser document and IM were professionally written and beautifully designed and they took the time to understand our business to present it in the best possible light.

All that said, by far the best part of working with Quantuma was the team. They are truly a different class of professionals. Their knowledge of buying and selling a business is unmatched and they dominated the process at every stage. The buyer profiling, pre-screening, meeting prep and follow-up made my job easy, so that all I ever needed to do was talk about my business. It was no surprise we got lots of interest and a great price. They were always at the end of the phone, sometimes at crazy hours to educate me on a point or calm my nerves towards the end. I genuinely think of the team as friends and the next time I’m buying or selling a business, they will be our first call. Thanks for everything!”

Lord Sugar commented on the major milestone: “Climb Online has experienced rapid growth since Mark and I founded the business, and I’m so proud of what has been achieved. I look forward to seeing the next phase of growth with great interest, as this is a great example to all budding entrepreneurs of what can be possible.”

Ian Barton commented: “The whole of the team at Quantuma are delighted to have advised Mark and Lord Sugar on the sale of Climb Online, the first successful exit of a business founded by the winner of BBCTV’s ‘The Apprentice’. Having watched Mark start his journey so publicly on the show and to have been trusted to advise the shareholders on the completion of their entrepreneurial journey together was a huge privilege. The business attracted huge interest from a number of international parties and we were pleased to have completed the deal in a smooth and targeted process with xDNA Interactive. We wish Mark well in his next entrepreneurial venture and the whole Climb Online team in the newly enlarged global group, and we will be watching the 2023 series to see who Lord Sugar hires as the next winner.”