Female-led Scottish startup secures £1.2M to help businesses tackle counterfeits online

SnapDragon team Image credits: SnapDragon Monitoring

Many companies come up with something innovative but many times, their product is cloned/faked to be sold at a much cheaper price online. While that might sound like an issue for big organisations, the reality is that even SMEs face the same problem. Additionally, getting into the legality of taking down such fakes is another drawn-out issue in itself. Edinburgh-based startup SnapDragon Monitoring helps businesses takedown such fakes and counterfeits with ease, which would otherwise hurt their brand and revenues. 

New tech developments and new hires 

SnapDragon Monitoring has raised £1.2 million in its latest funding round from ACF Investors, Mercia, and Scottish Enterprise. The latest funds will be utilised by the startup to further extend their capabilities by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). The company will also scale up its infrastructure while continuing to add new talent to its team. 

In a conversation with UKTN, the company’s founder and CEO Rachel Jones reveals that they currently employ 30 people. Furthermore, the startup is on the lookout for fresh talent. 

Tim Mills, Managing Partner at ACF Investors, comments, “SnapDragon Monitoring is tackling a global counterfeit problem head on by safeguarding and protecting brands of all sizes from online threats and infringements, and we are delighted to support the company through its next phase of growth.”

Female-led startup tackles online fakes and counterfeits 

SnapDragon Monitoring is led by Rachel Jones and the latest funding for a female-led startup is an added positive. As per Crunchbase, only 2.3% of venture capital was used on female-led start-ups in 2020. However, stats show that female-led start-ups that get funded are more likely to be successful and deliver over twice as much revenue per dollar invested.

The startup offers a way for businesses to keep an eye on any fakes or counterfeits of their product online. The startups’ Swoop software and dedicated team of brand protection specialists monitor the web. 

“This includes the world’s busiest online marketplaces, social media sites, web domains and search-engine results for content that could threaten our clients’ brands. We identify and then subsequently remove from sale, intellectual property infringements, copycat products and counterfeits. We also investigate offenders and gather vital intelligence for further offline action,” Jones adds. 

 The startup works with some notable companies too such as IRN-BRU, Red Paddle, Orchard Toys, Harris Tweed, Johnstons of Elgin and Glencairn. 

The story behind SnapDragon Monitoring is also quite interesting. Jones fought the counterfeit of her product she invented around 16 years ago. “I didn’t have the money to use legal processes to fight the fakes online so went to China and learned what to do/how to use Totseat’s intellectual property to prove originality,” Jones reveals. Upon return, she helped multiple SMEs deal with similar issues and she decided to start a company that could do this more efficiently.

Saving consumers and businesses 

While we’ve mentioned that SnapDragon Monitoring takes down fake and counterfeit copies of a product, it actually does much more than just that. Jones explains that their startup tackles a diverse array of online content that can damage a brand’s value and put consumers at risk.

“We tackle counterfeit goods, trademark infringement, copyright theft and misuse, patent and design infringement, dangerous illegal goods, credit card cloning scams, parallel imports, social media impersonation and just about any other malicious or unauthorised online behaviour,” Jones adds.  The company uses four parallel processes in order to pull this off. 

An example of where the startups’ offering helped a company, Jones recalls the story of one of their clients, Glencairn Crystal. The company’s flagship product Glencairn Glass apparently made it big in the industry but a multitude of counterfeits and copycats emerged as well. 

“Glencairn had to take action to protect its international reputation, its revenues and its customers. SnapDragon was briefed to identify and remove infringing products from the online marketplaces and we were able to make an immediate and dramatic impact,” Jones notes.  “Hundreds of sellers were identified in the first few months, leading to the quick removal of hundreds of links across the online marketplaces. SnapDragon also worked with the firm to list its key products on the EUIPO Enforcement Database, proving critical in alerting border officials to the physical movement of infringing goods through Europe.”

“Blood, sweat and tears have taken this company from the initial Glencairn Glass, designed by my father, to become the global success it is now. Quality and innovation are key. Infringement is something we will not, and do not, tolerate – and this is where SnapDragon came in.” says Scott Davidson, MD, Glencairn Crystal.