By Stuart Fuller
“You’re hired”. The words that signified the end of the 11th series of BBC’s The Apprentice. Lord Sugar had to choose between a business idea from the 21st century in terms of a dating app for smartphones and a traditional plumbing business idea. Despite his successful background in launching tech products, Joseph Valente’s PrimeTime Plumbers idea tweaked his interest, having started in his business career in the service industry.
Whilst his offline business is now £250,000 better off, his online presence may need a bit of work. Primetimeplumbers.co.uk was registered by Valente back in September, as too is the dotCom although his name appears to be spelt wrong. However, he neglected to pick up the very relevant primetime.plumbing domain which appeared to have been registered during the final on Sunday night by a chap in Nottingham. Quite a schoolboy error in the world where digital marketing is at the core of every successful business.
The runner up, Vana Koutsomiti appears to have thought of registering a domain name to reflect her business idea of “Date Play” at the last minute as well. She registered the domain name dateplay.co on the 8th December 2015, just a few days before she revealed her business idea in the penultimate episode of the series. Alternatives such as the domain name Dateplay.com has an expiry date of 22nd December although I’m sure the current owner will now be very reluctant to let the name expire now. The name dateplay.co.uk has been registered for a number of years and is not due to expire until 2017. At some point in 2016 Google will launch their dotApp TLD after paying over $25m at auction to run the registry and that could be more attractive than the dotCo domain name that Vana chose.
The domain name issues experienced by the two finalists are not the first time The Apprentice winner has been caught out by not acting before they engage their business plan. Last year’s winner, Mark Wright’s business, Climb Online was an Internet Marketing and SEO company.
As part of the process Sugar’s company Amsvest Ltd registered the domain name www.climb-online.co.uk back in June 2014, four months before the first episode of series ten was aired. For a SEO company you would have thought finding a name with an available domain name may be a key starting point. Unfortunately, the www.climbonline.co.uk domain had been registered since 2004 by a rock climbing company. Being an expert in the digital space surely meant an awareness of the factors that influence search? It appeared. The new gTLD dotMarketing would have been a good alternative domain name. It certainly seems coincidental that www.climbonline.marketing was registered less than 48 hours after Wright won the show by a third party, as too was www.Climbonline.agency It’s hard to beat Exact Domain Matches (EDM) when it comes to search ranking and keywords, but being the expert I’d expect Wright to already know this.
The cost of recovering a third party registration is multiple the times of an original registration, significantly more if the name such as the ones mentioned above which are high profile. Any business plan should consider what digital assets can be utilised immediately and what steps can be taken to recover those that are registered elsewhere.