As a startup, it's vital that you have the skill of spotting an opportunity or opening - and of going for it with enthusiasm. One such business is our StartUp of the Week, Bore Off, a clothing label producing bold slogan t-shirts and more.
The catchphrase is used by everyone from Cheryl Fernandez-Versini to Michael Owen, and there's even a Radio 1 show that shares the same title; now this cheeky clothing brand is encouraging wearers to make a statement, but also to do good, with initiatives including "Bore Off Cancer" helping to make a real difference. We caught up with founder Lee over a cuppa.
1. Explain your business in the time it would take the kettle to boil.
We sell merchandise and products with the phrase Bore Off printed on them. What is Bore Off, you may ask? According to Urban Dictionary, it's "A command given to someone who is being boring or annoying,"
Favoured by the likes of Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Professor Green, Bore Off is most certainly the phrase of the moment, championed by the celebrity world and used 30,000 times per month on Twitter.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
I am based in Coventry, West Midlands. Being based in the Midlands means that I have the advantage of getting to client and supplier appointments efficiently. It's also nice to put my hometown Coventry on the map, a city that's brought us successful people such as music giant Pete Waterman, actor Clive Owen, and The Specials. I myself would like to be on that list some day!
3. How did you come up with the idea?
Whilst watching The Apprentice I always remembered hearing Lord Sugar saying that products were the way forward for entrepreneurs. I have been in the service-providing industry for the past twenty years, working as a chef and running my own catering business, and I kind of agreed with him. Having a product that everyone wants gives you that much more security. So in 2011 I set of on a crusade to find a product that the world would love.
One day whilst on Facebook I was so bored of seeing peoples repetitive and boring news feeds that I said out loud to myself "I wish there was a Bore Off button on here so that I could tell people to Bore Off!" Then something just resonated within me - I thought "That’s a cool phrase," and wondered if it had been trademarked. To my delight it hadn’t, and I have now got the trademark to Bore Off in over 56 countries!
4. What’s the business model?
We sell garments such as hoodies, sweaters, t-shirts, caps, beanies and rucksacks online.
5. Who are your competitors?
Bore Off doesn’t really have any competitors, but there are other brands out there that have turned a phrase into their brand, such as Stay Dench, a label owned by rapper Lethal Bizzle and his cousin, former Arsenal player Emmanuel Frimpong. I believe their success is to do with clever marketing and celebrity endorsements, as well as having a clean and strong brand identity - something that Bore Off now has too.
6. What’s unique about your business?
Bore Off is a phrase extremely popular with many famous faces, as well as the general consumer.
7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
As well as waiting to get all of the trademarks that I needed secured, I was also at the stage where I had spent a lot time researching the market. Making a few mistakes along the way was useful to me, as I am a quick learner and never make the same mistake twice. Without doing any marketing at all the phrase has become popular within its own right, so I believe it's the perfect time for us to launch.
8. How have you used it to grow your business?
Bore Off is now at the right stage to start selling. We've just done a rebrand on the advice of major agency Frank PR, who've given us excellent guidance on the brand identity. Frank is heading up the Bore Off campaign for me and will hopefully generate enough celebrity and media attention for us to expand rapidly.
9. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
My regional delivery partner was Business Enterprise Support, and my advisor was Martin How. Martin was such a lovely guy and very helpful to me in relation to putting together the information that I needed.
10. Biggest achievement so far?
Trademarking the phrase Bore Off, and we also won a contract to supply HMV nationwide. The head buyer told us he believed we were the next big brand! But unfortunately HMV went into administration shortly after that and no contract was upheld.
11. What’s next for your business?
Launch the Bore Off Cancer campaign October 2015, and see where that takes us!