WHO ARE

SOPOST

Whatever your particular taste, if you’ve ever bought a glossy magazine, you will doubtless have experienced the ‘magazine shake’. It’s the ritual that pretty much every reader carries out immediately after buying a magazine. You can do it too. Just take your newly purchased monthly, hold it by the spine and dangle it above the bin and watch as the publication loses half its weight as unwanted leaflets and samples fall from its pages. Big brands waste an absolute fortune in producing samples that will never be used. The biggest problem for them is reaching consumers who are likely to try the sample in the first place. Wouldn’t it be great if consumer brands could target likely purchasers rather than carpet bombing us via newsagents and the like? Apart from anything else, think of how much carbon that could save. SoPost uses social media to help major consumer brands drive powerful and effective product sampling online. Its algorithm ensures that the right samples get into the hands of the right consumers. Founded in 2012 by Jonathan Grubin from Gosforth, Newcastle, the company has offices in London and New York, and works for leading FMCG brands including L’Oréal, Cadbury’s, Red Bull, Estée Lauder, Liz Earle and Britvic.

SoPost, The Core,Science Central,Bath Lane,Newcastle upon Tyne,NE4 5TF www.sopost.com

“Ours is a human, fluid and responsive relationship”

What we did for them: Jonny is a very unusual character. Given that he founded and successfully exited a number of businesses before he was actually old enough to enter into a contract, this probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to those that know him. He is phenomenally intelligent but after a term at university, he felt he needed to do something more practical, created from his own observations. So uni was put on hold and SoPost was born. Unusually, we weren’t involved with SoPost from the start. This despite the fact that Matthew first met Jonny when Jonny was just 16. SoPost’s seed round was handled elsewhere, as were other key aspects of the business’s early needs. Jonny came to seek Matthew’s assistance when he realised that he needed to think very carefully about the legal terms he asked the consumers he engaged with to accept. The legalese that he had been given just didn’t seem to fit. So the first job we did with SoPost was a broad review of all its services with the production of plain English consumer terms and a privacy policy written in SoPost’s tone of voice. Working in tech and the creative sectors, we often hear the word ‘disruption’ used to describe products that create a splash. However, it’s unusual to come across a business model that is, in our experience, utterly unique. It’s a business that couldn’t have existed a decade or more ago. But it provides a framework that entirely changes one of the key ways in which big brands interact with prospective consumers - the distribution of samples. This has meant some very serious and heavy thinking has been done at our end on data protection issues. And of course, just when all seemed to be settled, along came the GDPR to upset the cart again. One of the issues we have had to deal with here is the framework agreements that SoPost has in place with some of the world’s most famous brands, all of whom jealously guard their customer data without necessarily understanding the impact of the transfer of that data across national boundaries or grasping the reliance of SoPost’s algorithm’s on as broad a dataset as possible. This has meant for some long and very carefully-considered trans-Atlantic Skype calls with Jonny explaining in detail what SoPost needed to make the relationship work and Matthew trying to find a way to put that into words that a US in-house lawyer would accept. This has proven to be some of the most challenging commercial work that we have done but thus far, every such agreement has proven to be a success. Although commercial and data protection work has been the backbone of the work we’ve done together, we have also created an EMI employee incentive scheme for SoPost. There’s also been IP issues to consider, including some brand protection work. And you can’t run a business of this scale and impact without running into the odd issue or two. Third party chancers who try to cash in on SoPost's work for their own purposes regularly need to be put back in their boxes. Even a business like SoPost can’t please all the people all the time, so the management of consumer gripes is also a priority in this very PR-sensitive marketplace. And, as with all scaleups, there are a succession of minor HR and employment issues to consider. Sometimes, relationships with clients prove to be a little awkward. Rather like a pair of shoes you love but which just don’t quite fit. The relationship we have with SoPost is as far the opposite of that as can be imagined. SoPost was one of our earliest retainer clients and every single engagement with Jonny and his ever-growing team is an utter delight. Certainly for Matthew and probably for the rest of the *particular team, it’s hard to call this stuff ‘work’...

MATTHEW

RIPPON



What they said about us: How are *particular different?Particular Legal are much more flexible than other firms we have used. We treat them as our general counsel. If we have quick questions they are quick to react. They also don’t use legalese, which has been particularly useful in the consumer-facing documents they have prepared for us e.g. Ts&Cs. The fact that these are written in English is appreciated by our consumers. What do you value most about *particular?They are very responsive, very flexible and dependable. They are like an extension of our team. How have *particular helped your business?The way we work on a day to day basis, means we really appreciate the level of responsiveness that Particular Legal offer. Having this fluid and responsive relationship helps the way we work. We always get Matthew and the team involved at the earliest stages. When we were working on Group agreements they worked through like a conversation; there was no waiting around for weeks as matters are reviewed and passed backwards and forwards. When we are actively working with Particular Legal, we sometimes need to contact them up to 3 times a day. Having this responsive ‘on a needs basis’ relationship helps. We also know what things will cost and don’t have to spend time organising quotes. Ours is a human, fluid and responsive relationship. *particular in (loosely) 4 Words?Communicative.Open/Transparent.Responsive.Work to a high standard.

*PARTICULAR PEOPLE