Mercia EIS Funds

New non-executive director for SnapDragon anti-counterfeiting service

SnapDragon, an online brand protection service for SMEs that is backed by Mercia Fund Management, has appointed Heleen Kist to its board of directors.

Heleen Kist, an expert in growth and commercialisation strategies for innovative companies, joins the board as SnapDragon’s first non-executive director.

Kist brings valuable experience to SnapDragon from her time as chair of Scottish Health Innovations Ltd, the intellectual property commercialisation company which works alongside NHS Scotland. A Stanford-educated former McKinsey consultant focused on creating successful SMEs, she has consulted to angel networks, VCs, private and public sector organisations throughout Europe and has designed and launched a number of high profile public sector venture capital funds.

SnapDragon provides an efficient and cost effective solution for SMEs fighting against counterfeiting. Launched by entrepreneur Rachel Jones and based in Edinburgh, the company uses intellectual property rights to defend brands on e-commerce platforms, social media and auction sites across the world and stop the sale of fake products. Clients include Harris Tweed, Glencairn Crystal and Morphsuits. The business was recently named as one of the Startups 100 for 2017.

Heleen Kist said: “Protecting intellectual property is a vital consideration for all businesses today, particularly those that sell their products globally via e-commerce platforms. SnapDragon has great potential not just in addressing the needs of SMEs, which cannot afford to be the victim of counterfeiting, but also for larger companies who want a cost effective, intelligent system to track their brands.

“It’s a really exciting time for SnapDragon and it’s been fantastic to see the company achieve so much already. I look forward to working with the team as we embark upon the next level of SnapDragon’s development.”

The rise in counterfeiting and other online IP infringement is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. The number of sectors targeted continues to grow and ranges from toy manufacturers to the pharmaceutical industry, presenting a real danger to consumers.

Rachel Jones added: “We are delighted Heleen is joining the board, bringing her considerable business experience to our growing team.

“Having beaten counterfeiting myself while running a previous business I fully understand how big a task it can be for SMEs. I had to defend my brand and its products without support and it was an uphill battle. I created SnapDragon using everything I learned so other small businesses would not have to go through the same thing I did.

“As the threat of illegal counterfeiting continues to grow, it is crucial that we help smaller businesses fight back and prevent fakes from reaching the consumers. We’re providing SMEs with the support they need to be able to do this, efficiently and at an affordable price.”

Counterfeit goods are often produced by workers suffering appalling work conditions, and their proceeds are frequently used to feed crime. These products often do not meet legal quality standards, and are a danger to both businesses and consumers.