The Elite Ad:Venture…


About the company

Elite Marketing and Communications was set up by Gemma Dunn at the end of 2020 after she left her job as head of marketing, PR and comms at Bradford College.

Before that, Gemma had worked in a variety of marketing roles, including at Leeds Bradford Airport and Leeds City College. Having studied marketing at university, she has a wealth of knowledge about everything from digital and social media to publications and websites.

Gemma specialises in offering clients a 360-degree audit of their marketing functions, looking at what they do well and what they could maybe improve, and even looking at their competitors. She then provides a detailed report of actionable recommendations; for example, a training need, or improvements to SEO or social media content. Where appropriate she can help with the need or she recommends an expert from her bank of trusted associates.

“My role at Bradford College just got bigger and bigger. It wasn’t just marketing and comms, I was head of a huge department. And then I had a mini-wobble and thought, do I really enjoy my job?

“It was during Covid that the job did become more hands-on and I enjoyed that, and I realised that my creativity was being stifled and I wanted to roll up my sleeves and get more involved with marketing at an operational level again,” says Gemma.

She left the college on good terms; in fact, she is one of their approved suppliers, and within a few weeks launched Elite Marketing and Communications.

Project objectives

Gemma was recommended AD:VENTURE by a business acquaintance who had benefited from their advice.

Gemma says: “I have been a PAYE employee all my working life and had mainly worked in the public sector. I realised I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So, I needed someone to fill in the blanks.”

She was given an adviser to work with who helped her with tasks like creating a business plan and putting her in touch with other organisations or services that could help, like getting an accountant.

But it was the regular catch-up chats with the adviser, Tim Gillies, that really helped, says Gemma.

“It was like having a colleague in the background to sense check things. I was so used to working in big organisations with a team around me. I left a corporate role and suddenly I was in an office all on my own.

“But with Tim I could run ideas past him and no question was too daft. As well as the practical issues like the business plan, he helped build my confidence and help me along the roadmap of a new business.”

Gemma also attended several webinars run by AD:VENTURE, including sessions on social media and SEO. These she found were not just useful for the content, but also the contacts.

“The webinars are great for networking with other business owners and have generated quite a bit of client work, and they have linked me with other experts I can work with,” says Gemma.

AD:VENTURE has also introduced Gemma to SEO, IP and website expert Scott Sellars at West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, who is giving her one-to-one advice on her own website.

Gemma is currently considering applying for a grant through AD:VENTURE to pay for new equipment.



When Gemma started her business she set herself the target of matching her previous salary. Just a few months in, she is well on the way to exceed that.

She is working with a range of clients including a plumber, a candle-maker, an author, a research agency, a student accommodation provider, two colleges and a life sciences and pharmaceutical agency.

She says: “I have got enough work for me and could look to take someone on, but for now I am choosing to collaborate with others and create work for them too.”


“When you set up a business you can just get totally overwhelmed. But AD:VENTURE works with you like a human and helps you with the basics,” says Gemma.

“It’s been great having access to people like Tim and Scott. Tim is there to give me a different perspective and to guide me and give me confidence, and Scott’s support has been unbelievable.

“For me AD:VENTURE has been fantastic. People worry that a publicly-funded scheme will be dry and corporate, but it’s been a breath of fresh air. Their approach is not patronising or high-brow, and it can tailor and flex to your needs.

“I was recommended AD:VENTURE by the friend of a friend and now I recommend it to everyone!”

Learn more about Ad:Venture here.

Read the case study on the Ad:Venture site here.

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