Stop Moaning about “Climb Online” from The Apprentice 2014

December 23, 2014

By Jack Stevens

So we all saw The Apprentice 2014 final on Sunday, where 25 year old Aussie Mark Wright scooped the £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar to open a new digital marketing agency, provisionally called “Climb Online.” Since this was announced the SEO industry has done what the SEO industry does best…moan and scream “them lot are rubbish, I can do it so much better.”

Having worked in SEO for a long time, I was personally pleased to see the SEO industry getting some great exposure on prime time television, and here are my thoughts on all the moans and whines that have dominated Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs over the past few days. / .com are both already websites related to climbing

The initial thought of everyone was to go and see if the and .com websites had been bought yet and if the website was live. To their dismay, a climbing website appeared.

Has anyone considered that perhaps this will not be the final name of the brand?

I invite you to revisit 2012 winner again, Leah Totton, who in her product launch pitch thought it was good to call her company “NIKS” (Skin backwards for those who missed it.) Lord Sugar, 50% owner and investor of all the money, obviously didn’t like that and promptly told her to rebrand…then out came “Dr Leah.”

It is quite feasible that Mark will rebrand his company. I think I read somewhere that it has been done as, however don’t quote me on that. Let’s just remember that this is effectively a TV show and what happens on it is not necessarily set in stone.

I have also just seen that Bianca, who’s original idea was to call it “True Skin” has now been rebranded as “Bianca Miller London.” She obviously didn’t see that was already taken by a Medispa, where is the ridicule for her name?


Climb Online did not show when you did a Google search for, well “climb online”

This is probably due to the politics of the show mixed with the point above. Firstly, we don’t even know if this is going to be what the company is called. Also, keeping the winner a secret is of paramount importance for the integrity of the show.

If there was a big “Climb Online” website, with Mark’s face all over it saying “2014 APPRENTICE WINNER” 3 weeks before the final then there would be uproar and it is obvious that this is not allowed in the terms of the show. It would have obviously been discovered and this would clearly have been a big no no moment.


Outsourcing & Salaries

Mark mentioned that he could potentially outsource some of the work or even hire people with some of the money. This seemed to rile a lot of people? You mean he might actually need people to work for him?! The scandal!

I think we need to keep site of what the service is he is offering. Is he going to be able to “do” all of the SEO work that he would need to do whilst trying to grow the business? Obviously not so having staff would almost be a necessity.

The high pressure situation they are in as well may mean that they may say things that are not exactly true, but when Lord Sugar is asking you “WHERE IS MY MONEY GOING” you have to try and give answers that will seem credible to a man who basically knows nothing about that specific industry.


The market is crowded

Mark has not come up with an original idea. Who remembers Ricky Martin (not the singer) who won in 2012 with his idea of a recruitment solutions company? Hardly revolutionary. Or Leah Totton (the 2013 series winner) and her Botox clinics?

Lord Sugar himself said to Roisin that the whole point of the process was to “prove to the nation you can start and run a successful business for £250,000” not to necessarily come up with the next big thing. It is about finding a candidate who has performed strongly throughout, is driven and has a business plan that has clear potential to drive a decent financial return. Even if we look at Bianca Miller’s idea, it was innovative in some ways, but then again in others it wasn’t.

Skin toned tights…tights. Tights? Has she invented the tight all of a sudden? No, it is more about taking a product that exists and trying to make it a little bit better but people were acting like it was the most original idea ever when in fact it wasn’t. I think it was a great idea if marketed right, but she clearly was slightly misled about the price point and scale of the operation to make it a short term success.

Give the guy a break; he is taking something that he thinks he knows how to do and making a go of it on his own. Good on you Mark, I say.


Offering an account manager is too expensive

Mark has not reinvented the wheel by coming up with the idea of opening a digital marketing agency, but as previously mentioned, neither did some of the other previous winners.

A lot of people jumped on the fact that offering an account manager to small businesses was too expensive if he was only charging the £400 per month. To think that they have finalised every tiny bit of the service offering of their business is a bit naive of people to think. Bianca had a great USP in her product offering, and so Mark needed to come up with something that was effectively his USP. He decided to go with an account manager personal approach. Fair enough I say. This is not something that has to become the heart and soul of his product offering, but he needed something to try and persuade effectively just a few people into giving him the money!

Previous winner Tom Pellereau didn’t actually win with his idea, but Lord Sugar appreciated that there was potentially something that could be developed into a sound business model. The same thing applies here and in my eyes, Mark was just doing what he had to do to secure the investment.



Good luck to Mark. He seems like an intelligent and driven individual as well as a nice enough chap and I think he knows he is entering a fiercely competitive space. People should wish hard-working individuals like this the best of luck instead of picking holes in a business plan which they don’t know much about apart from what they saw for 30 minutes on TV whilst probably mildly drunk over the Christmas period!

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