The client who turned DOWN the BBC Dragon

Dragons' Den

Last Sunday (25 August 2013) saw my clients at Linkee, the world’s first crowd-sourced trivia game, turn down £50,000 of investment from veteran Dragon, Duncan Bannatyne, and walk away from BBC2’s Dragon’s Den empty-handed. Since filming, the game has attracted numerous nationwide stockists, including John Lewis, Hamleys, Beales, Lakeland and Firebox.com, and is set to be a top seller this Christmas.

“We like to think of Linkee as the ‘black sheep’ of quiz games,” comments co-inventor, Dean Tempest, “so in a way it’s not surprising that we walked away from the Dragon’s Den empty-handed – by choice. Duncan’s offer was generous but we weren’t prepared to hand over so much of our business in return for his help. As it happens, even though none of us is from the toy industry, we’re managing to make Linkee a massive success without the backing of a Dragon. Linkee now has pride of place on John Lewis shelves nationwide as well as being stocked by Hamleys, Lakeland, Beales, online giant Firebox.com and a wealth of independent toy stores across the UK.”

Just a year ago, Linkee was merely a prototype in an office drawer, dreaming of fame and superstardom. Brought to life by Dean (26), Tris (42) and Ben (40), who met at work, Linkee is a super-simple shouty-outy quiz game with a twist. The twist being you don’t win by answering the questions but by working out what the answers have in common. For example, if the answers were John, Paul, George and Ringo, the Linkee would be, The Beatles. Simple, huh?

Over a third of the questions are written by people who have actually played the game, so they’re topical, relevant and fun. Linkee creators are rewarded with ‘fame from their name in the game’ with their name and where they are from printed on their question card. So players can also put their heads together to create their own questions and visit www.playlinkee.com to submit them for the next edition, potentially winning themselves a treat in the process.

Team Linkee evolved the game through ‘Linkee parties’ with colleagues, friends and families, before taking it on tour to gift fairs across the UK, playing with and selling direct to consumers. People who played the game loved the game and Linkee was selling out at every show. Last December, in a quest to keep things as innovative as ever, Team Linkee launched the world’ first bike game delivery service in London – the Linkee Bikee Deliveree service – using ‘Boris Bikes’ to get Linkees to desks across the Capital in time for Christmas.

Then, in March this year, they entered the Dragon’s Den seeking investment to take things to the next level. Dean explains, “We thought investment from a BBC Dragon would be the perfect thing to help us grow Linkee and get it noticed by the big stores. But, although Duncan recognised Linkee’s potential, we thought his demand for 40% of the company was too much and so we decided to continue going it alone. We’d come this far, plus I’d already given up my full time job to see Linkee through to global superstardom, so why not?!”

Armed with fantastic customer feedback and a proven appetite for the game, Team Linkee then began approaching retailers. Six months after manufacturing their first game, Linkee entered John Lewis stores nationwide and is stocked by Hamleys, Lakeland, Beales and Firebox.com. “Linkee proves that you don’t necessarily need a Dragon to succeed when you have an outstanding game that’s destined to become a household name. In fact, you don’t even need a desk – Ben and Tris still have full time jobs so we’re effectively building the Linkee brand from a cafe near their office.”

Linkee, RRP £19.99 and suitable for ages 12+, is available to buy from John Lewis, Hamleys, Lakeland, Beales, Firebox.com, a number of independent high street retailers across the UK and direct from www.playlinkee.com.

LS Media’s lawyer & client scoops Mumpreneur Award

Suzanne Dibble

Dragons’ Den veteran Duncan Bannatyne was among the judges who voted business lawyer Suzanne Dibble’s venture Lawyers4Mumpreneurs a winner at the national Mumpreneur Awards ceremony on Sunday 25 September 2011.

The accolade recognises Suzanne’s growing practice for the outstanding support it provides to smaller, family-run businesses, since launching in 2010. The only law firm in the UK to do so, Lawyers4Mumpreneurs focuses solely on mumpreneurs’ needs in setting up and growing their businesses, offering friendly, cost effective, jargon-free business law advice. Suzanne spotted her opportunity in a market where many small businesses need legal help with protecting their business and growing it. Mumpreneur clients have kept her busy ever since, seeking and receiving high calibre advice and support on such matters as brand and data protection, advertising compliance, limitation of liability, franchising, licensing, contracts, distribution and investment agreements.

Commenting on the win, Suzanne says, “I’m delighted to be recognised at the Mumpreneur Awards, because the organisation really does stand for everything my clients are and hope to be, approaching business success in the same way as I do. With a high calibre and entrepreneurial judging panel including Duncan Bannatyne making the final decision, I feel it’s a tremendous accolade, which inspires me to do even more for the mumpreneur community and in support of my current and future clients.”

Lawyers4Mumpreneurs is unique in focusing specifically on mumpreneur businesses. Using primarily social media, Suzanne has established the practice’s reputation in the sector and grown her business from nothing to over 70 clients in less than two years, working part time around her now 14 month old baby and being available when it suits her clients. Growth this year has been largely fuelled by recommendations from scores of delighted clients. She has recently taken on two colleagues and plans to expand her staff to ten within five years, to meet the demand for flexible and user-friendly legal advice and services.

With 14 years of corporate law experience behind her, at DLA Piper LLP, Virgin, ITV Plc and on the main board of property firm Hamptons International, Suzanne’s professional excellence is assured. In her own practice she makes this expertise accessible to business mums, turning the potentially daunting experience of hiring a lawyer into an easy, pleasant and constructive one. She explains: “My clients love the fact that I am one of them, speak their language and explain things without legal jargon. I am passionate about helping their businesses grow and have structured what I do specifically to address their needs, offering a completely flexible service.”

Suzanne’s blend of experience means that she is a trusted advisor to her clients on both commercial and legal matters. Her input is so valued by some clients that they have asked her to join their boards of directors.

Sam Willoughby, multi-award-winning founder of parenting e-business What’s on 4 Limited, sums up the value of Lawyers4Mumpreneurs:  “Suzanne’s involvement in our franchising has made all the difference to us making it happen.  She took the time to understand the business and asked lots of questions to ensure we had considered every business and legal aspect of franchising.  She really understood the pressures of a small business and particularly the juggle of being a parent running a small business.  She delivered as promised, responded very quickly to emails, didn’t confuse us with legal jargon and was very fair and clear with the costs.  After four years and three other solicitors, I have finally found one I can recommend and that I will use again.”

For further information about the services provided by Suzanne Dibble, recent blog posts, testimonials, awards and accreditations, please visit www.lawyers4mumpreneurs.com.

 

James Caan praises LS Media’s client, Talk to the Press

Natasha Courtenay-Smith

My client, Natasha Courtenay-Smith, has been praised this week by former ‘Dragon’ James Caan. He comments, “To the lay person who has no idea how to get their story published, I can imagine finding Natasha would be a relief to a lot of people. I like the conscientiousness and due diligence here.”

Earlier this year, Talk to the Press director Natasha was selected to attend James Caan’s business academy, The EBA, in which she is guided by his team of business experts and mentors as Talk to the Press grows and develops.

The EBA’s managing director and serial entrepreneur Bev James adds: “Natasha is playing to her strengths, skills and passion and it’s evident she is set to become the leader in her niche. Reputation is everything in business and Natasha really knows this and is building a great brand through her people skills as much as her professional skills.”

Talk to the Press is an agency that helps individuals manage press attention in their lives, or to sell their story to national newspapers and magazines. The agency has helped nearly 1000 people since launch in 2008, and has represented individuals such as Ann Timson, who made national headlines when footage of her foiling a gang of robbers with her handbag went viral.

James and Bev aren’t the only well-respected names to comment on Talk to the Press. MP Esther McVey recently posted on Twitter, “If anyone is ever thrown into the media spotlight, check out @TalkToThePress.”

For more information, visit www.talktothepress.co.uk or contact Natasha Courtenay-Smith on Natasha@talktothepress.com

 

 

LS Media nominated for Best Business Support award

nominatedawardbadge

For the second year running, I’ve been nominated for a Mumpreneur Award in the Best Business Support category. The awards are run by MumpreneurUK, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at supporting and celebrating parents who juggle family life with running an enterprise. The judging panel, which this year includes BBC Dragon, Duncan Bannatyne, will be assessing all nominations after the closing date this Friday and a shortlist will be announced within the next couple of weeks.

I’m delighted to be nominated yet again, especially after such a key year in LS Media’s history. We celebrated our fifth birthday, have witnessed the runaway success of our brand new DIY PR Bundle, simplified our pricing policy to keep transparency are the forefront of the business and won a number of new and exciting clients, including projects for CampInMyGarden.com, Swarovski Optik and Copperdot Designs. We were also listed in a PR Hall of Fame at the beginning of 2011, further recognition for the hard work we put into our campaigns.

For further information about MumpreneurUK, the Mumpreneur Awards and the Mumpreneur Conference which takes place in September 2011, click here.

A flurry of new business

newclientsapril2011

Thanks to the crazy combo of school holidays, bank holidays, Easter holidays and Royal Wedding holidays, I knew April would be a hectic month, especially as a mum juggling business around two small children who’ve suddenly found themselves at home full time for the best part of a month! But even I couldn’t have predicted how busy things would become this month when suddenly I started to see the fruits of my new-business-sourcing labour…

I’m thrilled to be so busy and am taking this opportunity to welcome aboard an exciting and eclectic collection of new clients:

Copperdot Designs – creators of Scrabble-tile art pieces, I’m helping them secure inclusion in forthcoming Father’s Day gift guides

CampInMyGarden.com – providing PR expertise for the launch of this exciting new website aimed at matching people attending great leisure events in the UK with locals who can turn their back gardens into temporary campsites

The Nutrition Coach – working with renowned nutritionist, Kate Cook, to generate some trade press publicity around her food consultancy business

Serenity Retreat – helping generate awareness of the various solo-holidays available to relaxing retreats in Greece, Cyprus and the UK

Shh! Lose Weight in 20 Minutes – launching Alex Buckley’s ridiculously no-nonsense common-sense weight loss plan

The Best Man’s Guide to Organising Stag Weekends and Bachelor Parties – handling publicity for MX Publishing’s 2011 Kindle/iPad edition of this popular guide book

There are a couple of others I can’t talk about just yet but as soon as I can drop the cloak and dagger, I’ll post the news here. Suffice to say, I’m excited about the next few months and how the business definitely feels as though it’s shifting up a gear… Just in time for our fifth birthday in May!

PS – my magic trick for getting work done ‘around’ the kids during the school holidays? Jaffa Cake bribery. Feel free to share your own tips and tricks below…