Thousands of loved ones reunited by south Leeds start-up FinderMonkey

FinderMonkey's John Arko and Ryan Shaw outside the firm's Oulton Institute offices. Picture by Nik Goulthorp.
FinderMonkey's John Arko and Ryan Shaw outside the firm's Oulton Institute offices. Picture by Nik Goulthorp.
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Thousands of long-lost friends and relatives have been reunited with their loved ones thanks to a pair of Leeds entrepreneurs.

Ryan Shaw and John Arko’s FinderMonkey people tracing company, based at the Oulton Institute, near Rothwell, has celebrated solving its 4,000th case in five years.

The firm, which its founders describe as halfway between an online search website and a private investigator, has so far reunited thousands of people who have struggled to find loved ones for years.

Office fitter John Cobb, who lives in Stourton, used FinderMonkey to successfully end a fruitless eight-year search for his birth father.

Within a week of contacting the firm, he was back in touch with his father Dave Andrews, who lives in Surrey, and two half siblings he never knew he had following 30 years without contact.

The 43-year-old told the YEP: “It was always in the back of my mind nagging at me, it can be quite frustrating when your going down dead ends.

“Now it feels like the family’s back together, including a side that we didn’t know about.”

John and his family have now been to visit, while his father and his new-found siblings have visited him in Leeds.

Cofounder and director Ryan Shaw, from Rothwell, claims the firm which started as a back-bedroom startup now has an 89 per cent success rate in locating lost loved ones and this year turned over £400,000.

“Searching for loved ones is a very emotive subject that is so important to people, so we want to make sure we can help people,” the 36-year-old said. “All these person-finding websites give you snippets of information – we have access to the same systems but we can access them over and over again.”

FinderMonkey offers a range of services, from ‘no find no fee’ packages to searches that can cost around £400 if successful.

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With one founder having a background in financial services, and the other in the building trade, person tracing was not the obvious choice.

Upon his return from working in Switzerland, John Arko joined up with childhood friend Ryan Shaw to set up their own business.

Having both worked for a Leeds-based person finding company during sixth form, the friends decided to return to the industry.

In 2008 the pair, who are both from the Rothwell area, made the decision to form FinderMonkey. A year later it became a limited company.

FinderMonkey now employs eight people and runs out of the Oulton Institute in Oulton.

In five years the company has blossomed, solving 4,000 cases which have seen over 7,000 people reunited.

27 October 2017.
The view from the top of Leeds Town Hall.
Leeds Civic Hall.

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