MarTechFast growthInterviewsNew marketsStar of the Week

A Leeds entrepreneur has revealed how launching his tech business helped him with a traumatic personal battle behind closed doors.

Manpreet Singh was given a terminal diagnosis of IgA nephropathy, also known as IgA disease or Berger’s disease – a kidney disease that causes inflammation and kidney damage – and ultimately suffered kidney failure as a result.

After multiple health complications, he founded Bobble Digital – a media-focused digital marketing agency – in 2017 at 27 years of age.

“The idea to start Bobble Digital came when I was forced to move to part-time hours at my job due to my symptoms progressing. I needed to earn the same level of income in a way that allowed me to work more flexibly,” he says.

“For 4-6 months leading up to my kidney failure, I experienced chronic fatigue, tiredness and lack of appetite. I had very little energy to get out of bed each morning.”

Kidney failure

Singh continues: “Things took a drastic turn for the worse when I caught pneumonia and what little function my kidneys had was killed off. 

“I spent New Year’s Day of 2017 seriously ill in hospital with pneumonia and kidney failure, and was told I would start dialysis within a week.

“It was completely devastating and took a long time to come to terms with. I was told dialysis treatment isn’t a permanent solution, as the body can only handle so much, and that I’d be lucky to live for another 15 years. 

“To hear this was a total shock: it took a huge toll on my mental health, I lost all sense of purpose, and felt the best years of my life and plans for the future were being robbed from me.”


Singh says going through dialysis was “exhausting and life-altering”. 

“I could no longer travel far, go on holiday, I couldn’t even drink much fluid, I struggled to walk long distances, sleep, dealt with many infections with my dialysis line, I was in hospital multiple times a week and had multiple surgeries,” he explains. 

“I had to take lots of medications every day, my life felt like it revolved around a box of pills. It didn’t feel like living anymore; it felt like a life of just surviving. 

“Setting up Bobble Digital gave me purpose again. It gave me something to be passionate about and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In the early days of the business, it was a way to help me survive.”

Failing forward – what defines a successful entrepreneur?

Positive mindset

He says building a pattern and control around his treatment shifted his mindset to “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”.

“I became focused on improving. I learned I needed a positive mindset to keep moving forward and that became a powerful tool I use in my daily life now – to keep fighting on even through the toughest of times,” he says.

“There’s been times when I thought running a business was too much: I had to account for six hours, three times a week, for dialysis. Fitting when I could work around this was hard. However, once settled into a routine and moving my treatment pattern into evenings meant, I could work whilst on dialysis.”

The initial economic impact of COVID also nearly ended the business. “Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward again. There are always good days and bad days, but the good days give you the energy and enthusiasm to continue,” he reflects.

Kidney transplant

When he was offered a kidney transplant at the height of the pandemic in spring 2020, he made the “scary decision” to go ahead.

“Although the odds of surviving a kidney transplant are high (around 99%) there was the risk of my body rejecting the kidney,” he says. 

“The biggest risk, however, was catching COVID, as this was during the worst of the pandemic when a lot was unknown – other than if I did catch it, there was a high risk it could be fatal.

“After a lot of thought about the risks, the extremely tough road to recovery and also the financial impact it would have on the business and support from amazing friends, family and doctors, I decided to go ahead. 

“Ultimately the doctor’s confidence gave me enough hope that it was worth the gamble, and I’m lucky to say it has changed my life. I will be forever grateful to all the doctors, surgeons and nurses and everyone else who has helped me through this journey.”

In order to make Bobble Digital a success, Manpreet also sold assets including his beloved American Mustang car so he could invest funds into the business. 

“Things like the Mustang are just materialistic, they hold no value in the grand scheme of things and I knew I had the skill set and expertise to rebuild everything I had, so it was an easy decision to make,” he says.

Manpreet Singh, founder, Bobble Digital

Singh 18 months after transplant; main image shows him post-transplant


The host of marketing advice podcast BobblePod – as #MrBobble – Singh guided the business to 300% growth in turnover from 2020 to 2021, supporting local, national and international brands with their digital marketing.

“Making the business a success has been what’s kept me going through these incredibly testing times,” he says. “However, the business wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have without our fantastic team and clients.” 

Singh still lives with the risk that the IgA nephropathy may come back and impact his transplant, while he takes daily steroid medication.

However he is working towards plans to open international offices in the near future.

Making a commercial success of a founder-led business

What is immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy?

IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, is a kidney disease that occurs when IgA deposits build up in the kidneys, causing inflammation that damages kidney tissues. IgA is an antibody and protein made by the immune system to protect the body from foreign substances such as bacteria or viruses.

Each person can have different signs and symptoms, but the most common are:

  • Hematuria: Having blood in your urine that can sometimes make it dark brown or cola coloured.

  • Proteinuria: Foamy urine due to large amounts of protein leaking into your urine.

Donating a live kidney can potentially save someone’s life. Find out more and register your interest to become a kidney donor here.