We read with interest an article in the Daily Mail relating to the 2014 Apprentice winner Mark Wright and how his business Climb Online, is – if you read the article – going from strength to strength. Looking at the details though and certain questions start to look odd. Things may not be so good at the mill as they say.
We don’t proclaim to be online specialists or SEO guru’s but we have some of the UK’s biggest domain names under our belts. In addition to QuickLoans.co.uk we own 250 domain names such as Reality.co.uk and Genesis.co.uk that help with business finance. We are competent, but by no mean experts in anything. What we have after 6 years in the loan business is the ability to spot things that don’t add up. Our customers lie to us day in and day out, it's our job to spot them.
Here is the article in the Daily Mail
The first things that stand out are the bizarre claims.
- Business is worth an estimated £7.5 million with a turnover of £1.5 million in its first year.
- Spends £1000 on a weekend getaway to Europe
- Wears a £5000 watch
- Spent £25,000 cash on a BMW (on impulse)
- Wants to run a buy to let empire by the time he is 30
- £3,000 to give a 30 minute speech – that’s £100 a minute
Point 1) Business is worth an estimated £7.5 million with a turnover of £1.5 million in its first year.
Really, that’s amazing. It is worth just short of 500% of its first year turnover – not profits. If you took those numbers in the Dragon’s Den, you would be one of the people laughed out of the room. That valuation is a complete joke; it just doesn’t tally with reality in anyway.
One major point for us, as people that understands branding and the internet is that he has a business where he doesn’t own the direct domain name. He doesn’t own ClimbOnline.co.uk, and for an internet branding agency called “Climb Online” this is unforgiveable. He should have either bought the domain name climbonline.co.uk or if that was not possible, changed the name of his business.
Point 2) Spends £1000 on a weekend getaway to Europe
People with money spend £1000 getting to the airport in the UK. Spending £1000 on flights and hotels for a weekend isn’t exactly Gordon Gecco material is it? We don’t know if Mark sanctioned this article but statements like that are embarrassing.
Point 3) He wears a £5000 watch
He’s got us there; we don’t know a thing about watches so can’t comment personally on those claims. Comments from the Daily Mail readers section seem to be laughing at him paying for an unknown brand and bragging about it. Certainly comments from there are not impressed at all.
Point 4) Spent £25,000 cash on a BMW (on impulse)
Brand new BMW’s start at £21,000 for the cheapest bottom of the range model. Either he has bought the bottom of the BMW range or he is driving around in a decent second hand car. Either way, it’s not indicating to us that things are going all that well for someone with a 50% stake in a £7.5m business.
Point 5) Wants to run a buy to let empire by the time he is 30
Why would he want to be doing property when SEO and PPC is paying so well? Unless of course it isn’t, in fact it probably isn’t when you break down and question this story in the same way we have.
In addition to that, the property / buy to let market in the UK is about to have its bubble popped again. This is the top end of the market, probably a few months past its peak and on its way down. Anyone with any sense is leaving, not planning on getting deeper in, or worse getting started in it.
Point 8) £3,000 to give a 30 minute speech – that’s £100 a minute
This is the most embarrassing claim in our opinion; from this point on he’s completely transformed into the character David Brent from The Office. When, in one episode David gets paid £300 for a 15 minute talk and extrapolates it up to £1200 an hour to make it sound better. The similarities are frighteningly uncanny.
This article isn’t to have a go at him, we don’t know how much of this is him or the journalist writing the story that is making the claims. Lord knows we know that it's a journalists job to turn something boring into an exciting article.
What we questioning is the health of the business when articles come out promoting things that don’t add on. We don’t often look at the detailed numbers (we haven’t in this case - there isn't any yet), we look at the haze surrounding claims to come to conclusions. On those grounds; If we were to have a guess, we would be forecasting that this is a business that is on its way under.
To us it is someone trying to talk up the value to potential buyers so they can eject out of the failing business. Either Lord Sugar has had enough, or Mark wants to break out on his own as he’s doing all the work.