Firstly, can you give me some background info on MyBrandEmail?
MyBrandEmail was first established in August 2012 after several years of planning and development. MyBrandEmail offers a unique and exciting ecommerce platform that enables brands to sell personalised email addresses to their fans. Such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fibranet Services Ltd is the company behind My Brand Email with over 15 years’ experience running Internet hosting and domain name registration businesses. Fibranet Services Ltd set up and ran two successful web hosting businesses in the early 2000s and sold both in 2002. Since then, Fibranet has concentrated on it’s software and domain name registrar businesses.
Currently we have over 400,000 domain names and millions of email accounts which we look after and manage for our customers.
Paul Lomax is the CEO and genius behind the MyBrandEmail idea. It made so much sense as we already look after millions of email addresses for customers. Dickie Armour and Patrick Adams are the driving force behind the sales growth of the business.
How many properties have you signed up to your email service now? What have been some of the most popular ones so far?
We now have 20 properties signed up with loads more progressing and soon to launch. Some of the popular ones are Star Trek, MTV, Elvis Presley, Garfield and we’ve just launched with Chelsea Football Club. And we will be announcing a deal with one of the biggest players in the licensing industry at Licensing Expo in Vegas.
What has the reaction from licensors been to MBE?
It’s been great. We love the licensing industry. The people are really nice and the reaction to our service has been incredible. Our model is slightly different to a typical licence deal in that we don’t pay MGs but we pay very generous royalty rates and because the fan has to renew it every year, the royalty potentially repeats every year. It’s so innovative and such a clever way for brands to connect with their fans it’s gone down really well.
How about consumers – has there been much feedback yet?
The fans love it. We have a team of support staff looking after the fans who buy the email address and the feedback has been great.
Which other properties do you now have your eye on to launch email services for?
The list seems to be never ending. We’re off to Vegas for Licensing Expo in June and we have over 30 meetings already booked. We would love to get into music brands. Elvis is awesome and it’s been going really well, but we’d love some of the mainstream music artists – it would be amazing for their fans and for the brands too. I think celebrities would be great too and we are focusing on charities as well.
So far, the brands in your portfolio are quite adult-focused – would you look at younger skewing properties, too?
Yes, absolutely. As it happens we’ve done a deal with Cartoon Network and will be launching Adventure Time any day now. We were really honoured to be awarded the kidSAFE Certified PLUS seal which means our system is COPPA compliant and safe for children to use.
Are there other avenues for business expansion that you are considering?
As mentioned, children’s brands is an obvious one and we think charities could offer emails to their supporters and fundraisers and it would be a unique way of extending their brand as people show their support via their email address. We’re also exhibiting in Vegas this year for the first time. We want to continually up our game and we feel having a presence at Licensing Expo will help us extend our reach with brands we perhaps haven’t yet considered. There are other expansion plans in the pipeline but our lips are sealed on those for now.
What are your aims for Licensing Expo? Will you also be exhibiting at BLE?
Licensing Expo plans are in place and we’re already engaged with many of the brands we’d love to do deals with. Oh yes, and we’ve bought Kellie Pickler’s album so we’ll be ready for the Opening Night Party for sure... We’ll be the guys ankle deep in the pool in front of the stage! Not sure if we’ll exhibit at BLE yet. It depends on our experience in Vegas but we’ll definitely be at BLE in one form or another.
What's been the biggest challenge you've faced over the past year in establishing the business?
The fact that our business model is slightly different. The industry is used to doing deals in a typical way and because we don’t pay MGs it’s made our progress slightly slower. But thankfully our product is innovative and exciting and we’re incredibly passionate about it; that’s really helped us.
What would you most like to have achieved by the end of 2014?
To have deals in place with some huge music artists and celebrities. We’re also really keen to win a licensing award. I know we’re biased, but we truly believe our product is such an innovation that it deserves to be recognised. Who knows, maybe this year at The Licensing Awards. Even to be nominated would be awesome.
And longer term, say in five years' time?
To have won a few licensing awards and to have deals in place with most of the well-known brands in the industry and to still be having truckloads of fun. The licensing industry is one of the best I’ve ever worked in; the people are so nice and we’ve been lucky to have already made some great friends and got some amazing partnerships in place. We’ll just be happy to still be here, helping brands connect with fans through personalised email and going to Vegas in 2020...