Posted on June 24, 2016 by staff

Patents ‘can be expensive for a start-up business’


Technology is making it easier to start up a business, with thousands of ideas standing a better chance than ever of becoming viable ventures. We continue our look at 10 of the most promising UK start-ups with 3Rings.

As a serial tech entrepreneur, Steve Purdham has more experience than many other founders of start-ups – but it doesn’t mean that setting up a business is easy, with funding remaining one of the more significant difficulties.

His latest venture is 3rings, which links household appliances with internet-enabled devices to assure family members that an elderly relative is safe.

It does this through a plug which can be connected to a kettle or any other appliance, allowing users to see that their relative is up and well by them just making their morning cup of tea and was inspired by his mother, Iris.

Purdham, whose previous businesses include music streaming platform We7, internet security service SurfControl and email encryption company Indentum, says that securing the cash required isn’t easy – no matter what stage you’re at in your career.

“Funding is always an issue,” he says. Securing funding has been a bit of a rollercoaster for 3rings.

They’ve self-funded and won two smart innovation grants, and Purdham did take part in BBC series Dragons’ Den looking for £300,000 in return for a 10 per cent stake in the business, but he left empty-handed.

However, they managed to secure more than £20,000 through Kickstarter to move the project on which led to a trial with Tesco.

One of the reasons why the Dragons chose not to invest in 3rings was the lack of patent – and Purdham says the issue of IP rights is interesting.

“We applied for patents but the process is long-winded – it takes two to four years and is expensive for a start-up,” he says.

He wants to focus on building the business while protecting the rights, and if that’s not possible, just to focus on the business aspect.

Other than funding, Purdham says there’s been no unexpected challenges – “just things take longer and cost more,” he says.

“The biggest challenge is getting to a minimum, viable product that customers want to establish the market.”

But he’s confident of the future – and is aiming for ‘global domination’ and ultimately, revenues of more than £100m.