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Disruptive behaviour

Managing Directors Dan Appleby of Drummond Central, Nick Salloway of Status Digital and Gavin Sewell, CEO of honcho, discuss how disruption can lead to growth with Alex Shiel, Head of Intellectual Property (IP) and IT at Ward Hadaway.

Dan Appleby, Nick Salloway and Gavin Sewell all have one thing in common; they like to disrupt the status quo. honcho upended the traditional insurance model with their ‘reverse auction’ platform, honcho. Drummond Central created the first ever advertisements that showed real-time live odds for gambling giant bet365, and Status Digital use customer insights to drive digital transformation. These leaders all employ innovative, leading-edge thinking to accelerate their business growth.

Seeing an opportunity and capitalising upon it plays a large part in disruptive innovation. Dan explains; “We disrupted the gambling industry by introducing live odds as part of our work with bet365 which transformed the industry. We broke ITV and Google along the way while we were testing the technology, but as they’re now the number one sports betting company in the world, it was worth it.

“Disruption can come in many forms. In our time we’ve convinced Newcastle City Council to use expletives in a campaign to get people to stop littering and it reduced offending behaviour by over 30%. And we encouraged Tyne and Wear Metro to adopt a brand-driven approach, using targeted TV and reminding the people of the north east why we’re all so lucky to have the Metro. The shift from product-driven tactical activity to an emotive, brand-driven strategy led to a return on investment of 296%.”

It’s not always easy to lead from the front. “We’ve had challenges,” admits Gavin, who this year secured a further £750,000 to launch honcho nationally. “Funding took longer than we’d planned, but we adapted, we remained resilient and we didn’t give up. Now our vision to create an App-first insurance platform has been realised. It’s live, we’ve got a range of insurers on board and we’re shaping industry change.”

Disruption and innovation go hand-in-hand, as Nick at Status Digital knows only too well. He said; “We’re focused on building innovation into our culture in a way that enables us to continuously enhance and improve our service offer. Q-Lab is our innovation strategy made real. We invite people to bring us their ideas and problems and we work together to solve them. Rather than charging for our time, we share intellectual property and occasionally work together to spin ideas out into new businesses.”

Protecting your innovations and your intellectual property should never be overlooked, because it can lead to pitfalls later down the line. Gavin continues; “If you’re going to break the mould, you want to protect that, whether it’s through IP, patent protection or a mix of terms that cover your back.”

Dan agrees; “There is huge value in creative work and the IP always stays with the creator. There’s often misunderstanding around this. I think clients sometimes genuinely don’t know who owns the rights to their creative work. It’s important to know your stuff and be upfront from the off, then there’s no need for difficult conversations later down the line.”

Nick adds; “For an agency business like ours that builds software, not being mindful of the need to protect our IP can have unintended consequences. For example, it might mean our IP is inadvertently transferred to the client or even a competitor – particularly if we’re engaged on the client’s Terms of Business or under a framework agreement. If this happens, it can potentially affect our capacity to reuse code we’ve written previously, impacting on our ability to commoditise our work and reduce fees and costs for new projects.”

The takeaways? If you believe there’s a better way to do things, if you’re a changemaker or an innovator, then go all in – it could lead to the growth and transformation of your business. But remember to protect your ideas from the word go, so they remain yours to exploit now and in the future.

So how do you go about protecting your game-changing idea? Alex Shiel explains some of the most common mistakes companies make when it comes to protecting their assets, and how to avoid them;

1. Know your legal rights 

When you’re a smaller company you may have a lack of awareness around IP, the opportunities to use it to add value to your business or how to protect yourself. In the digital sector, this can be particularly challenging as it moves so quickly. It’s hard to know where to start, so get some practical and sound advice from a firm with experience in this field.

2. Document your work

Try to electronically document or keep written records of work you have done. It can form important evidence in any argument around intellectual property in the future, so good record keeping is vital.

3. Understand who owns the IP

Take the time to talk with your solicitor and understand who owns your IP. For example, if a freelancer or digital developer has been involved in your project, there is a risk that they may own the IP and not you. Make sure it’s agreed and documented upfront.

4. Be upfront

Tell people you are the owner of the intellectual property through your marketing materials, contracts, trademarks, copyright and patents. Then there is absolutely no room for misunderstanding.

5. Make use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

NDAs can be used when working with third parties to ensure sensitive information is kept under wraps and disclosed only at a time and place of your choosing. Having them in place keeps you in control.

6. Move quickly

Once you have developed your innovation and have all the necessary legal elements in place, move as quickly as you can to capitalise on your originality, ensuring others don’t steel a march on your idea.

For an informal chat about how Alex can help your business, please get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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