Small Business: Brand partnerships – Unovent
One of the most powerful things angels can do for a venture is provide commercial introductions. In this terrific story by Caitlin Sykes, John Wadsworth of Unovent provides a terrific example of this…
John Wadsworth is the inventor of home ventilation system Unovent, which launched on the market last year. Unovent has a brand partnership with Showerdome – a company that produces a moisture reduction product for bathrooms.
How did you first connect with Showerdome to form a brand partnership?
In August last year I decided I needed to get some serious investors on board for Unovent, so I did a presentation to the Enterprise Angels angel investment group in Tauranga.
From that experience I ended up connecting with Maurice O’Reilly and Dan Keller – people who I thought could make a big difference to the business, not only as shareholders but in terms of contributing their skills and experience to the development of the company.
Maurice was already a shareholder and director of Showerdome, and he could see we were chasing the same customers, so he and Dan came on as shareholders of Unovent, and Maurice also came on as a director.
Because we had this common shareholder and director, and we had this market link with Showerdome, it just made a lot of sense for us to listen very carefully to what Maurice had to say about how they had developed the Showerdome business, and to look at their business plan.
Showerdome is in the business of moisture reduction in the bathroom to reduce mould and other nasties, and we’re in the business of reducing moisture in the other living spaces like bedrooms, lounges and dining areas so the complementary nature of what we were doing was obvious.
What kinds of things do you do to work together?
The first is that at the bottom of certain pages of our website we’ve got the Showerdome logo, commentary about putting in a Showerdome and a link to the Showerdome website that opens in a new window. They also do the same on their website, and we know from Google Analytics that around 8 per cent of the people who look at our website have come there from clicking that Unovent link on Showerdome’s website.
Also, throughout the country Showerdome has a network of resellers and in some parts of the country they’ll also have a master distributor who the resellers in that area draw from. From time to time we get asked by those people if they could also represent Unovent. We’ve only made a small start on following those leads, but that’s another way we’re picking up on their network and brand.
And thirdly, we both have a DLE promotional brochure for our product, and Showerdome will put one of ours in with their goods when they send them off and we do the same.
Given your company is young it must be a benefit to leverage off a more established brand?
Exactly. They’ve been around for 11 years or so and they’re a proven success story. A big part of their success is due to the way they’ve made advertising and marketing of the product the engine of the business, and today it’s pretty much a household brand name.
I don’t think it’s any secret that every Showerdome year has been a record year, and in the short time we’ve been operating every month for us has pretty much been the same. We’d definitely like to copy their record. Like any business they will have made some mistakes in their early years in terms of how they’ve promoted the business for growth, and by aligning ourselves with them we’re gaining huge benefit from their learning.
What are some future opportunities you’re looking to explore in terms of brand partnerships?
Throughout the year both companies have been running prize giveaways in various publications, and recently for the first time we completed the draw of a large prize comprising an Unovent system and a Showerdome. That’s a combined activity that we should develop further.
Also, for every house to be effectively made comfortable and healthy, there needs to be effective heating, effective insulation, and effective ventilation plus a Showerdome to get rid of moisture. If you take away any one of those three elements the overall result isn’t as effective. So there is potentially the opportunity for us to do a range of things with organisations that work in those other areas as well.