Thursday, March 20, 2008

Buying a Brand, Then Building a Business

Here’s a new twist on startups: Buy a brand first – then start your company.

At, there are several for sale, like “We Do the Math” for aspiring accountants or “BloomService” for someone looking to get a foothold in the floral industry. Each brand already has a registered trademark, logo, registered domain names and a vanity toll-free number.

That’s a lot of hassle out of the way. All that’s left is to well, build the business.

This “plug-and-play” strategy is the brainchild of Susan Murphy and her husband William Pilipchuk, whose interior design and branding company iContact Designs Inc. is based in Pleasant Ridge, Mich. After helping clients come up with brand names and slogans for two decades, the pair decided to see what the market would bear for their inspirations.

“We’ve always had these ideas,” Ms. Murphy told me today. “We’d be in the shower and screaming for the other person to ‘get a piece of paper.’ We’re looking for a forward-looking company that wants to hit the ground running.”

Though they haven’t sold any packages yet, Ms. Murphy thinks their upfront legwork will run in the “six to seven-figure range.” But, she notes she’s open to negotiation and other payment possibilities, like an equity stake.

Other brands for sale: LaBeatOh! (Ms. Murphy is thinking a Latin food chain: “I could help design the interior”), Dr. ChewLittle’s (organic baby food?) and Pizzapotamus (pizza delivery with a hungry hippo logo).

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