How many six-month old companies can say they have landed a deal with one of the world’s most famous football clubs? Our guess is not many, but Finnish startup DoCover achieved just that in early 2017. The company struck a licensing agreement with the Spanish multi-billion-euro football club Real Madrid to use the club’s logo on its products: tempered glass screen protectors for mobile phones.
“It is quite a start. The company was officially founded in September and at the turn of the year we signed a contract with one of the biggest sports brands in the world,” enthuses Atso Toimela, CEO and founder of DoCover. “This will help us enter discussions with any brand, it is such a great reference. We are already negotiating with several other clubs in Europe.”
What convinced Real Madrid was DoCover’s unique offering. The startup is the only company in the world capable of producing screen protectors featuring a holographic image, in this case the Real Madrid logo. When you use the device, the image disappears. It is a subtle way to combine protection and branding.
“People look at their phones a few hundred times a day, so when there is a brand on the screen you see it thousands of times in a month,” explains Toimela. “We want to introduce brands people really like. It could be any sports club logo or a character, such as Bart Simpson.”
Big business and big brands
The early days of DoCover began far from big consumer brands. Toimela was helping an IT leasing company to expand the lifespan of its devices when he started to think about branded protective products.
DoCover was born when Toimela found a manufacturing partner in China and together the companies developed a technology for imprinting holographic images on tempered glass. Soon the startup had both a new product in its hands and the rights to a patent-pending technology.
And DoCover has accelerated ever since. It entered the Finnish market last year with a licensing deal for Finland’s beloved Moomin characters and now the company is building distribution channels in Spain, Portugal and the UK (which are covered by the Real Madrid licensing deal), while chasing new brands to add to its portfolio.
But the startup has not forgotten its B2B roots. DoCover also works with corporate customers and has produced branded screen protectors for companies such as champagne house Moët & Chandon. It has been a flying start, but DoCover’s three-member team knows it is continuous sales that make or break a business.
“Our idea is to build partner networks in different countries who can do sales for us [in both consumer and B2B],” says Toimela. “We already have our first partners in Spain and Sweden and are looking for more in other markets. We also have negotiations starting in Australia.”
From DoCover to DoAll
DoCover is also leaving a door open for expanding its product offering. Licensing is a huge business with big brands looking to make money on anything from pens to bed sheets, but it is a strict selection process to determine which manufacturers make the cut.
“Some brands want one company to license a whole category of products, which in our case could be mobile accessories such as covers, power banks, chargers,” Toimela explains. “While screen protectors are our main product, we have the capability to manufacture all of these through our Chinese partner.”
If ambition levels could be measured by clients, DoCover has already scored.