The concept of Shoppalatte was born on a windy cold night in October 2011, feet up, watching television with a cup of hot chocolate when an advert came on television featuring a young lady walking around a clothes store looking at her smart phone. Brilliant, I thought, an app that uses your mobile to find exactly what you want in your local shop. However, as the advert ended I soon realised that the advert was actually about the latest motorola phone and nothing to do with shopping and eureka! Shopper Utopia was born. I know what you are thinking, stay with me here.
I was extremely fortunate to have some start up money behind me so I started to research and plan. I researched the high street situation and found that no one was doing anything remotely close and realised I had a real opportunity to make something special. After a year of research, skills re-positioning and planning and a further eight months of financial difficulties as my runway money had run out I brought in a business partner who shared my belief and passion for the business and we built the website and mobile app and prepared to launch. We received invaluable help from UKTI (United Kingdom Trade and Investment) in putting us in touch with Stephens and Scown Solicitors to help us with investigating our intellectual property. This was in October 2013 nearly two years to the day I came up with the concept.
We quickly discovered that an American company had placed a word mark on the name ‘Shoptopia’ here in the UK and as the name was very similar to Shopper Utopia we had three choices, firstly to approach the company and seek permission to use our name which would mean telling them what we did which was not a good idea as their idea was similar but not as advanced as us so we would be informing the competition, going ahead and risking litigation at a later date or completely changing the name. The hardest thing to deal with in this was not losing the name Shopper Utopia but the fact that they had only registered the word mark in May 2013, four months previous.
Stephens and Scown were extremely helpful in helping us investigate the new name Shoppalatte and then to process our logo and word mark after due diligence and we launched properly in January 2014. The rest of the story will come in a future blog post entitle ‘We have the answer to the high street problems, but no one will listen to us’.
Michael Thompson is a director of Shopper Utopia and creator of the Shoppalatte Shopping Social Network