May
0

Jan Kadlec and AirBuddy

BY ROBERT BEAR

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I have an unnatural fear of scuba diving it’s and a real bummer since I live near the ocean. It stems from my thinking about running out of air and being trapped wearing all the gear especially those tanks…so confining. Jan Kadlec contacted us at InventionStories.com and shared with us some AirBuddy information that may help overcome my fear and allow me to experience the underwater world.

The following is taken from their campaign page and from their email…

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Why did you invent the AirBuddy?

Underwater life is fascinating, beautiful and makes you understand the meaning of living in harmony. You see things you couldn’t have imagined exist, amazingly beautiful colours, corals and the fish that swim alongside you will make you feel comfortable and at peace. You glide through the water, feeling completely weightless. Once you experience the stunning underwater world, you just want to dive more and more. But, all the hassle of the preparations and logistics that go along with SCUBA diving are no fun at all.

A simple 45 minute fun dive can easily take up more than half of your day when you include time spent searching for the closest dive center, calling, booking, picking up, and returning tanks. That’s time that could be spent having fun in the turquoise ocean or relaxing on the beach.

We created AirBuddy as a way to give you the freedom to dive whenever you want without the hassle or the restrictive bulk of diving gear. AirBuddy is a cross between SCUBA diving and snorkeling that doesn’t require air tanks, yet still offers 45 minutes of diving time at a depth of up to 12 meters (40 ft).

What gave you the idea?

We like diving, but not so much the logistics around it. When we realised that you not always need SCUBA (with the heavy tanks) to dive, we looked into the options. We came across surface-supplied diving, but didn’t find any product that would be practical for us to buy and use with respect to size, weight, costs and performance. So we decided to build the first prototype of AirBuddy.

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What made you act?

Having passion for diving and engineering, we decided to build first prototypes simply for us to dive with here in Sydney and on our travels (in Australia, Fiji, Borneo, …). When we realised that AirBuddy could be of interest for more people, we continued improving it and build 5 generations of prototypes, also improving its design for manufacturability.

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How was the prototype process?

We built 5 generations of prototypes. Our first prototype was hand-made from “Bunnings Warehouse” (hardware store) components. Now we use 3D printing (e.g. plastic parts), custom CNC-machining (e.g. metal parts), custom manufacturing (e.g. electronics), we also already engage some suppliers (e.g. float), and some components are still handmade (e.g. flag), the rest is standard components, sometimes with a modification. Then we assemble all components together by ourselves.

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How was the patent process?

We hired an experienced patent attorney in Sydney. He helped us to prepare and lodge the patent documentation and continues to work with us throughout the different patent stages.

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How have you marketed it and where can we buy it?

We are not selling the units online or in brick-and-mortar shops, yet. We are on Kickstarter looking for the support of backers to help us to move into the manufacturing stage. If the campaign is successful, we produce the first batch and distribute to our backers.

What are some obstacles and how did you overcome them?

Designing a new product is a complex and challenging task. We engaged skilled people, worked with subject-matter experts, suppliers, freelancers, divers and public who helped us to resolve the problems and provided valuable feedback.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

We would recommend anyone who has a great idea and the passion for it to give it a go. Just follow your heart. They key is to believe that your idea has a potential to make the world a better place (and if not the whole world, just to make a group of people happy :simple_smile:. You’ll figure out the business model later.

– With today’s technologies, it’s possible to build a prototype and test the idea early. There’s a plenty of free (or inexpensive) resources, such as software for 3D design, PCB design, website-builders, maker-spaces, on-demand services, start-up communities, etc etc. All it takes is good problem solving skills, communications skills and willingness to learn. It won’t be easy, but hey it’s doable.

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What has made the biggest difference?

Lots of passion and emotional attachment to keep us motivated, especially in difficult times. Also the support we received from family members, friends and sometimes even strangers.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter Campaign page.
For more information, please visit http://www.airbuddy.net/

May
0

Julian Hartline and Flickerstrip: the customizable home WI-FI LED light strip

By Robert Bear

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Sometimes while searching through crowdfunding campaigns I come across a product that seems to jump off the screen. Flickerstrip is fun…see the picture above. Now imagine coming home from a hard day of work, shutting the tv off and turning your Flickerstrip on. Whether you want to chill out or party up…Flickerstrip will enhance your mood.

I contacted Julian Harline, the inventor of Flickstrip and asked him to answer the following questions:

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What is Flickerstrip?

Flickerstrip is the decorative WiFi light strip that gives you full control over each individual pixel. Using the smartphone app, you can browse through animated patterns, or “lightworks,” that other people have uploaded or easily build your own using the intuitive graphical interface.

Until now, designing a piece of LED artwork required hours of programming and hardware tinkering, a prospect that’s daunting for even the most seasoned hobbyist. With Flickerstrip, you can skip to the fun part and idly doodle out a new pattern in moments or plan a complex choreography of dancing lights.

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How was the prototype process?

I’ve done all my prototyping myself. As a one man shop without much of a budget, I didn’t have a whole lot of choice. I’m a software engineer by trade and have picked up PCB design and CAD design in order to design the prototype of Flickerstrip. I’ve been lucky enough to have an electrical engineering friend of mine to help me in the process of designing the PCB. I’ll often go to him for a quick sanity check or with a random question about some aspect of the design.

The first few versions were designed to be bare PCBs. They were square or rectangular with no careful thought to their design/layout. The main thing was to get the components on the board and wired together correctly. Often these early designs would have crippling problems that I didn’t see before ordering them (through a service like DirtyPCBs). While assembling them by hand, I’d often have to implement multiple workarounds. In one of my early PCB versions I managed to reverse an entire side of the 16-pin wire ESP-12 and had to cleverly jumper wires from almost every pin on that side of the board.

Once I received each version of the board, I’d spend a day or two assembling it and making a list of the problems I discovered and designing the next version. I’d place the next order once I was pretty confident in the next version and then spend the time waiting for the new PCB working on the firmware programming as best I could with the previous version of the board.

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After a few versions, I started working on getting the PCB to fit into a case. The first round of this involved squeezing the parts together on the PCB as well as I could, creating an approximate board shape/size and importing that into a CAD program. I used that approximation to build out the 3D shape of the case. While doing this, I adjusted slightly the size and shape of the PCB in the CAD program and eventually imported it back into the PCB software.

After that initial exchange, it was fairly easy to propagate future changes in both the PCB and the case back and forth between my CAD program and my PCB design software. I found it extremely helpful to be able to see the exact sizes and shapes of the electrical components inside my case and all of the tolerances and clearances. Here’s some pictures of the 3D models on the outside: http://imgur.com/a/1VN2N Here’s a cross section: http://i.imgur.com/OEaZ5Pd.jpg

Once I had a design I was happy with for the case, I ordered it from Shapeways, a fantastic 3D printing service. They are able to turn around a new 3D model in about 2 weeks. This made it fast to iterate on the design. On each subsequent version of the PCB, I’d order a new set of cases and see how everything fit together.

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How was the patent process?

I’m personally somewhat morally opposed to patents. I find intellectual property law frustrating at best and horrifying the rest of the time. Instead, I decided to go the open source route. I’ve not completely posted all of the designs *yet* but I do plan on it once I launch. The truly valuable part of my company will hopefully be the trademark on the name and the reputation associated with it.

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How do you plan to market it?

Marketing is definitely not my strong suit. I’ve been preparing a few ad campaigns that will hopefully serve to get the word out about Flickerstrip. In addition, I’ve been personally reaching out to bloggers and journalists in the hope that they will find my project interesting. I’ve been frantically researching different options for hiring out marketing work as it’s definitely not my forte, but it has been very difficult for me to find good marketing solutions that are in my budget. (which is quite limited)

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

I’m currently hoping on using MacroFab, but I haven’t completely settled on a manufacturer yet. I did a bit of research and reached out to communities like Reddit’s r/hwstartups to get some advice. Previously I used Seeedstudio and was relatively happy with the results but had some issues with communication later. I briefly considered working with a new factory in China, but discovered MacroFab as a relatively affordable solution. I’m waiting to get final backer numbers before I can get quotes from these manufacturers at quantity before making any final decisions.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

Diversify! I’ve had to learn so many skills to get my project to where it is. I’ve been doing Facebook marketing and multiple kinds of design and PR outreach and website design. Sticking with my base skill set would never have been enough. I like Kickstarter because it lets you do everything with a very low budget. I’ve probably spent less than $500 on everything for this project so far. (excluding my time) That’s largely because instead of hiring it out, I’ve researched what I need to know and then did it myself. The other advice I have is to find a cofounder or friend that complements your skillset. Someone who’s also willing to learn new skills and is passionate about the project.

Other than that, just do it. Rush toward a minimum viable product and get it out there for people to see. If at first you don’t succeed, try try try again.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter Campaign page.
For more information, please visit www.flickerstrip.com

May
0

Sugru- The Future Needs Fixing Part 3

By Team Sugru

FEBRUARY 2014

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We wanted to do something new and exciting for our users, and some of our favourite fixes involved pairing Sugru with magnets. We tested out lots of amazing magnets, and chose just the right ones to enable you to make pretty much anything magnetic. This was to be our first kit. We launched it on sugru.com and were overwhelmed with the response – we got pre-orders for 3000 kits in the first week. People were excited – that’s what it’s all about!

APRIL 2014

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The awesome Science Gallery in Dublin asked me to help curate a show exploring failure. FAIL BETTER, named after Samual Beckett’s famous quote, asked 24 leaders in their fields to nominate inspiring stories of failure. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Sonia o Sullivan and Ken Robinson all contributed and along with the original Beckett manuscripts, made up a show that sparked lots of great conversations about the important role failure plays in creativity.

MAY 2014

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By now people were mainly using Sugru for pragmatic fixes around the home – fixing broken things that couldn’t otherwise be fixed and solving everyday problems. These are our favourite uses for Sugru – because they’re the most common and helpful to the most people. But then, once in a while, an ingenious solution comes along that just puts a smile on your face. Sugru-er Andreas in Germany discovered that LEGO hands are the perfect size to hold phone charging cables! He mounted his LEGO on the side of his desk with Sugru, and hey presto – the most viral use of Sugru all year was born!

JUNE 2014

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The most common request from our customers had always been for a longer shelf life. With a material like Sugru that transforms from one state to the next, just on exposure to the air – shelf-life is one of the most difficult things to achieve. When we started formulating Sugru, it was a miracle to get it to last 24 hours in the pack. With a lot of work when we launched Sugru lasted 6 months, then 7, then 10 and now after a huge amount of work by our tenacious R&D team, we were thrilled to bring it to 13 months in the pack. This was a huge milestone, because it makes a big difference to lots of users and it opened up new distribution channels. High five!

JULY 2014

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We set ourselves the challenge to make the most awesome waterpistol ever with Sugru. The video we made about it got 1.6 million views in a week!

AUGUST 2014

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Our expansion into retailers in the UK was going strong and we started expanding to stores in the US again. This time it was different, we had much more insight and experience now, and we were stronger as a team. Sugru-ers in the US were always asking to be able to buy Sugru in their local stores. Katie, our head of sales, and her team were happy to help!

OCTOBER 2014

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From an amazing shortlist, we won the London Living Wage Company of the Year award! As a Company with ambitious plans, we couldn’t do any of it without the commitment of our whole team in all areas of the business, including our factory, and one of the most important ways we can show appreciation is with the living wage. We were thrilled to accept our award from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson – and in return we gave him a pack of Sugru!

NOVEMBER 2014

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Sugru-ers love colour. For different reasons – some like to match colours and make their fixes blend in so they’re almost invisible, others like their fixes to stand out, loud and proud. Either way, they all agreed on one thing, we should make Sugru in more colours. We expanded our range from 5 to 10, and people got excited!

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The Fix of the Month came from Belinda. She wrote how her husband, who is blind, was not able to use the Microwave when she was out at work. She thought about this, and how frustrating it was. Then she used her Sugru to solve the problem, by making the buttons tactile. Sugru-ers all have one thing in common – they are passionately independent, and they love to help others be more independent too.

DECEMBER 2014

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To help more people find Sugru in-store, and make it more distinctive and enjoyable – we re-designed our branding and packaging. Full colours on the foil packs help people know exactly what colour is inside, the card wrapper gives more inspiration and FIX THAT THING tells you exactly what Sugru is for. Our retailers and Sugru-ers both love it!

JANUARY 2015

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Adding almost 1700 new stockists in one go, Sugru launches in Lowe’s Home Improvement across the USA! We love to see our stockist map filling up with these red pins…

APRIL 2015

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Our expansion into stores in the USA continues with Sugru launching in almost 2000 Target Stores across the country! This brings our total number of stockists from about 500 a year before to an amazing 5000. In our mission to help people everywhere start fixing things again, this is a HUGE step – in both the UK and the US now, a pack of Sugru is never far away!

For more info visit our website at www.sugru.com/about

May
0

Sugru- The Future Needs Fixing Part 2

By Team Sugru

OCTOBER 2012

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Fix of the Month goes to an awesome teacher Matt and his class, who sent a camera up into space using a helium balloon. They use Sugru to waterproof their camera and secure it in place for its interstellar adventure. The photos are beautiful and remind us of a world of potential.

NOVEMBER 2012

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Sugru has always been about so much more than itself. We felt strongly that we could help fuel a conversation about why a culture of fixing is important – so we made the Fixer’s Manifesto. It hit a nerve and was shared all around the internet. We printed lovely letterpress posters, and made them available through the sugru.com shop.

JANUARY 2013

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Sugru user Jamie, an expedition writer and all-round awesome person sent us an email to tell us about his epic journey across Mongolia. He’d packed Sugru ‘just in case’ and found that it came in really handy! Along the way he patched up his boots, repaired a rafting paddle and even fixed a favourite toy for a new friend.

MARCH 2013

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The dream from the start has been to be in everyone’s kitchen drawer, as useful as duct tape and super glue. To get there, we need to get it into the big stores. We’d been trying for while, and at last we make a huge leap by launching in over 300 B&Q stores across the UK and Ireland. Woop!

We get excited and hire a donkey for our launch video.

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As we expand, the team keeps growing too. We welcome our latest recruit, Buddy.

He’s not very experienced, but he brings lots of energy and enthusiasm.

MAY 2013

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I’d been getting a lot of invitations to share the story of Sugru at events and conferences. 99U at the Lincoln Centre in New York City was the biggest so far. 1500 people, all tops of their fields in the creative industries. Other speakers included Joe Gebbia from AirBnB and Michael Wolff from Wolff Olins. I was so nervous I did public speaking training for a few weeks beforehand. It paid off – for the first time ever, I enjoyed myself on stage. And when I finished my talk, the audience gave me the first standing ovation in the history of the conference. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

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With our expansion into retail getting off the ground in the UK, we set our sights on doing the same in thing in the US, where 50% of our users had been since day one. We had another great year at the Bay Area Maker Faire, and the enthusiasm from our US customers was infectious. Buoyed up, we pushed on with plans to build out a small team in the US, as well as continuing to build the team in London.

AUGUST 2013

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After 10 years together, James and I finally got married! If I hadn’t met him back when I was a naive and excitable design student, Sugru would likely have been just another interesting student project that never made it beyond the college walls. With his support, inspiration and unique enthusiasm and vision, we have built Sugru into an awesome product and brand that people love. Now finally, he’s my husband!

SEPTEMBER 2013

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While I was away, I’d had a nagging feeling – something wasn’t right back at work. And when I got back and met with the board, I was certain. Our costs and the team were growing too fast in relation to our sales and our management wasn’t strong enough yet. Together with Roger and the board, we had to make some really tough calls, and scale the team back by 30%. It was an incredibly stressful time on all the team, but we had to make sure we were building on strong foundations. Together, we needed to learn our own lesson again – Start small and make it good.

OCTOBER 2013

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Roger. He co-founded the Company with me back when I was just out of college 10 years back. We met for 20 minutes, we clicked and decided to start the business together. Ever since, he’d been the Executive Chairman, maintaining the vision through all those years while we worked in the lab. He’d helped build the team and raise the funding we needed, but now in this crisis was when Roger came into his own. James and I were tempted to scale back to e-commerce, without the costs that were needed to build our retail supply model. But it was Roger and the management team that kept the Company on the right path. Focus on getting the business right for growth, keep going with the vision.

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When I went to write the Community update that month, I found the stories they’d been sharing were more inspiring than ever. A Surgeon in Haiti had used Sugru to patch up his mosquito net so he was sleeping better and doing better work. A group in Nairobi who invented the BRCK to bring internet connectivity to remote areas of Africa, told us they’d built the first prototype with the help of Sugru. I felt a new connection with what Sugru could do.

NOVEMBER 2013

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Despite all the tough work going on behind the scenes, Sugru was still growing and I’d been shortlisted for the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Emerging category. We were getting stronger as a team, and this was something we could celebrate together.

DECEMBER 2013

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Sugru gets stocked in MoMA NYC!

For more info visit our website at www.sugru.com/about

May
0

Sugru- The Future Needs Fixing Part 1

By Team Sugru

FEBRUARY 2003

While studying for my MA in Product Design (read ‘playing and experimenting with materials’) at the RCA in London, I had a bit of an idea. “I don’t want to buy new stuff all the time. I want to hack the stuff I already have so it works better for me.” (I didn’t really say it out loud. I just thought it.)

If I’m honest, the first version of sugru was pretty horrible — made from smelly silicone caulk and waste wood dust from the wood workshop. But it helped me hack my kitchen sink plug bigger, and make a knife more comfortable.

APRIL 2003

The smelly silicone I’d made back in February wouldn’t leave me alone. I knew it could be amazing. I pictured it as kind of space-age rubber — super easy to shape, sticky, and durable. I knew it needed to feel gorgeous and that, if I cracked it, it’d have a million uses.

But it was only an idea. I mean, I gave up chemistry in school!

2004

As part of my Final Year project, I returned to the idea and got excited. This was bigger than just me. I got out my sketchbook and started imagining a world where this material existed.

I knew that, by tapping into people’s innate creativity, all kinds of products could be transformed and improved. I knew that we could adapt and improve almost anything mass produced.

SUMMER 2004

I refined my prototype material with pigments and finer powders and presented it at my final exhibition. When the most common questions were ‘how much is it?’ and ‘where can I get it?’, I got even more excited, and decided I had to make my concept real.

OCTOBER 2004 – MAY 2005


I started gathering a team of specialists to help me turn this material into a real thing. The first were my partner James and my business partner Roger, then two incredible scientists, Ian and Steve, who had just retired from top jobs in the silicone industry. Then David, an awesome and wise patent lawyer.

JUNE 2005

Nesta, the UK’s innovation think tank, awarded the Company a £35,000 Creative Pioneer grant to get off the ground.

We drank champagne on a street bench to celebrate.

AUGUST 2005


After paying a contract lab £5,000 to do 3 experiments, I realised the only way to develop this material was to do it myself.

With Steve’s help I set up a small laboratory, and learned the basics so I could start what was to be 2 long hard years of formulation work.

JULY 2006


We had our first sucessful results in our chemical formulations, and applied for some patents.

This was enough to bring in some investment funding to take the product development to the next level. Thanks to the great guys at Lacomp who believed in us so early on. That night we drank Champagne in a little vietnamese restaurant.

SEPTEMBER 2006

Everyone knows a small company can’t build a household brand. You need to build a partnership with a big Multi-National Corporation, right?

Jane and Roger started making friends with the nice people at some of the world’s leading glue Companies.

DECEMBER 2006


We started exploring potential industrial uses for our materials with some really interesting brands.

For example, we worked on a cold curing grippy material for garden tools. And we worked with a top pencil manufacturer on some concepts for a new super-grippy premium range.

SEPTEMBER 2007


We started to get consistently strong and stable materials, but making sure the material stuck to lots of other materials was still a big challenge.

JANUARY 2008


Our user trial group (mainly our friends) grew to over 100 people. Their feedback was feeding into our work. Basically everyone was saying “make it stick to more stuff”.

APRIL 2008

The pace of developments with the big Companies was very slow. My designer friends at Atto Partners had been nagging me for a while, and it began to sink in.

I started to feel that maybe we could build our own brand. Another friend told me “Start small and make it good”. The dream started coming back.

MAY 2008


Five years later, and I’d never found a good name. One day around now, riding downhill on my bike I thought of the word sugru, inspired by the irish word for ‘play’.

I fell in love with it.

JUNE 2008

Our funding was running low, and we were still a way off with our development. We started pitching for investment again, but it was different this time, the recession meant we pitched to almost 100 investors.

DECEMBER 2008


With the recession getting deeper, we were scraping by on our overdraft. With no great signs from investors, we hit a low point.

Tears were shed.

January 2009


I made a new years resolution.

Stop listening to other peoples advice. Go with my gut.

JUNE 2009

At last a private investor put up just enough funding for us to launch sugru ourselves.

We set ourselves a deadline of 6 months to make it happen. It was now or never.

SUMMER & AUTUMN 2009


We bought a small mixer and working with one of our engineer friends to design a packaging machine, we built it for £5,000 and it ran on an arduino.

We designed a brand to get ourselves excited. We made videos, designed packaging, and built a website.

NOVEMBER 2009


Having converted our lab into a little factory, we spent days and nights making and packing sugru. All of our friends and family helped.

It took an entire month of blood, sweat, tears and favours to make our first 1000 packs.

1ST DECEMBER 2009 (THE DAY OUR WORLD CHANGED.)


We’d sent Harry Wallop at the Daily Telegraph Technology blog a pack to try out. He gave it a 10/10 review. Wired and Boing Boing saw it and linked to our new site.

Things started to go crazy. New links came thick and fast. Our first 1000 sold out in 6 hours.

(This is me, on the floor, in shock.)

2ND DECEMBER 2009

We put another 2000 packs up for pre-order. We said that it’d take us months to ship the orders. They sold out in 10 hours.

Everything was different now. How could we make more?!

DECEMBER 2009 – APRIL 2010

All of a sudden, we had our pick of some pretty awesome investors.

This influx of money would help us build the factory we needed, and to start building our team. We did just that.

MARCH – MAY 2010

While we were getting our factory and supply chain up and running, we started getting out – meeting our customers. The Newcastle and Bay Area Maker Faires were highlights – we loved meeting all the awesome people we’d talked to online.

JUNE 2010

After a 6 month ramp-up, we re-launched sales properly with an updated website and a warehouse full of sugru.

In the first week, we shipped to more than 40 countries. A lot of good people had been incredibly patient, and it felt great to share our idea with the world.

JULY 2010

We started receiving hundreds of stories from new sugru users all over the world. So exciting. This is why I invented sugru in the first place.

We got an email from Rob, who had trekked to the North Pole with sugru grips on his ski poles. We realised we had customers in 6 of the 7 continents of the world. We asked the community if they had friends in Antarctica who would like some. They did.

SEPTEMBER 2010

Our first retailer, the London Design Museum, started stocking sugru.

NOVEMBER 2010


TIME Magazine listed sugru alongside the iPad as one of the top 50 inventions of 2010.

The iPad was number 34, sugru was number 22.

DECEMBER 2010

Team sugru had grown from 2 people to 6. We had our Christmas party in our new factory.

The sugru community was growing — it was now in over 60 countries! My favourite part of every month was digging through community’s contributions before writing the monthly email update.

JUNE 2011

Over half of our community is in North America, so we set up a company there to speed up shipping, and to supply US-based retailers.

Our community hit the 50,000 people mark. We drink pints in our local pub to celebrate.

AUGUST 2011

A little film inspired by a hack by a sugru user gets 50,000 views in a week.

It’s an amazing idea, and people are inspired.

SEPTEMBER 2011


Sugru is featured in the V&A’s amazing exhibition the Power of Making. Team sugru grows to more than 10 people.

All of the community’s feedback and photos are showing us what sugru is really good for, and who finds it really useful.

All of the feedback makes us very confident that it’s not just for fun — it’s a great technical solution.

While continuing to keep community creativity at the heart of what we do, we get focused on bringing sugru to the next level, where more people can find it when they need it. When their cables break, or the fridge door cracks, or their hiking boots leak.

OCTOBER 2011


Hack of the month from Rob in sussex shows how to make glow in the dark tent pegs with sugru.

NOVEMBER 2011

We evolve the sugru website to start sorting hacks, tips, information and inspiration by interest group. Lots more work continues behind the scenes.

Our network expands to lots of lovely resellers in the UK and the US, and we launch with our first large retail group, allowing customers in 50 UK towns and cities to buy sugru locally for the Christmas season.

DECEMBER 2011


The team reaches 15 people and we started to feel like…sardines in our space. For months we’d been trying to wrangle the empty unit next door… we finally get the keys! From the left: Roberto, Charlotte, Sal, Rodrigo, Nanette, Suki, Ben, James, Justyna, Me, Eva, Rafal, Madeleine, Tom. Missing = Roger, off doing his thing 🙂

JANUARY 2012


We get lots of snowy images of fixes from the slopes – fixes and mods to snowboards, ski poles, gloves, boots and helmets. It’s awesome to see sugru being trusted and performing well in extreme situations!

FEBRUARY 2012

We’re thrilled that sugru is one of the 50 winners of ‘Britain’s new Radicals’ – a list compiled by the Observer and NESTA showcasing “the inspiring people and businesses that are changing the UK for the better” Even the UK Prime Minister commented 🙂

MARCH 2012

Hack of the month goes to @Robiot6 on our community forum for her clever thinking – “My fridge is not very practical for our family usage, I was missing a silly 0.5cm to be able to stack our yogurts – sugru fixed it for me!” A simple and elegant solution that would be difficult to do without sugru – awesome!

APRIL 2012

In the time since we launched, we’d had hundreds of emails asking for different colours, and the ability to mix a wider range of colours. It wasn’t as easy as we hoped but after some great work in the labs, we finally cracked it… and as of april ’12, sugru comes in primary colours!

MAY 2012


Back in March, a super cool sugru user called Eimear sent us an image of a sugru repair she’d just done for one of her students, Foridha, whose wheelchair joy-stick controller kept breaking. It didn’t hold up unfortunately so around now she got back in touch to ask for help. James was taking the community emails that day, and he noticed the postcode – Foridha and Eimear were only down the road! So he and Ben jumped on their bikes to give them a hand.

JUNE 2012


Our user community expands to over 100,000 customers, and our confidence in sugru is growing 🙂 Our vision from the start has been to help get the world repairing and making again. This means appealing to not only fixers and DIYers, but people who don’t yet fix. We decide to bring our mission to the fore, and we evolve our brand and our packaging accordingly. We love our new motto – The future needs fixing.

JULY 2012

The fix of the month goes to Joanne who reminds us that sometimes a fix can make a big difference, not just a small one.

Her heart was set on competing in an epic canoe race up the yukon river – 700km long. But with no fingers on her left hand, it was looking impossible. A small modification to the paddle allows her not only to compete, but to finish the race – after 3 days and 3 nights straight paddling. She says she wouldn’t have been able to do it without the mod.

We’re blown away!

AUGUST 2012

Being based in London, we’ve been getting excited about the Olympics for quite a while. We’ve also been working on a secret project with Leon Paul London, a leading fencing equipment brand to develop a foil handle that athletes can personalise for themselves. So we were absolutely thrilled when we learned that James Davis, the youngest member of the British Olympic fencing team, was so happy with his personalised foil that he would be competing with it in the Olympics!

SEPTEMBER 2012

A strong interest in sugru has been building in Scandinavia. We agree a partnership with some like-minded fixer entrepreneurs from Norway, Halvard and Edvard, to promote and distribute sugru in the Nordic region. They love sugru, and are passionate about the same stuff we are. It’s fun already.

LATE SEPTEMBER 2012


The inaugural London Design Festival ‘Design Entrepreneur’ award goes to…

ME! Woohoo! After moving into the various worlds of science and business, it’s awesome to be recognised for our creative vision and achievements by a jury composed of some of the most radical and famous designers in the world including Thomas Heatherwick and Ron Arad.

Here’s me accepting the award at an exclusive ceremony in an amazing hall in the Foreign and Commonwealth buildings in Whitehall!

For more info visit our website at www.sugru.com/about

May
0

Leon Yohai and Kyon:The pet collar re-invented

By Robert Bear

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KYON is the first pet collar with embedded GPS technology and the only one with LED display that makes communication with your pet even easier. You no longer have to guess what your pet is feeling.

Leon Yohai, Co-founder of KYON, has a very busy schedule but also a very special bond with Charlie – his 9 year-old Maltese. He wanted to find a device that would track his dog wherever it was and also provide important information on its well being. Nothing in the current market satisfied Leon’s quest for Charlie’s comfort and security. Therefore an idea emerged to create something innovative that would embed technology inside of a collar without add-ons or risk of losing a tracking device.

I am a dog lover. I believe a home without a dog is just a house. I belive in this product and contacted Leon to find the answers to the following questions:

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How does it work?

KYON Basestation or your phone acts as a beacon between the collar and the outside world, through your home WiFi or cellular network.The KYON Collar works together with our user-friendly mobile application. It allows you to monitor, track, and receive information or alerts. This unique tracking device is available and fully functional in more than 160 countries world-wide.

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How was the prototype process?

It was harder than we thought. Murphy’s law at its best. Whatever could go wrong, it went wrong… We have eliminated all issues now.

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How was the patent process?

We have 3 patents for several methods. That was easy. We work with a patent attorney who help us a lot.

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How do you plan to market it?

We have made partnerships with large chains and online players.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

We have tested multiple manufacturers and we applied trial and error method…

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

Our advice is go ahead. Invent, disrupt and change the world. The market is ready always for a real invention.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter Campaign page.

For more information, please visit http://www.kyontracker.com

May
0

Alice Fu and Mooring: Rebooting Your Sleep Cycle

By Robert Bear

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Mooring is a smart sleep system that uses predictive learning technology to analyze and optimize your sleep. Simply put it under a sheet (it fits full, queen, regular and California king beds) and provide your better sleep experience by using advanced body & environment tracking technology. Mooring collects and analyzes the data related to your sleep experiences. By observing sleep patterns over time, you will get detailed insights about your physical condition and bedroom environment. You just have to fall asleep and let Mooring do the work.

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I have trouble sleeping at night and believe not alone. I have been waiting for a product like Mooring that will help me sleep better resulting in my feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. I look forward to seeing the difference a good nights sleep will bring. I contacted Alice Fu, CEO and co-founder of Mirahome, the maker of the Mooring and asked her the following questions:

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How was the prototype process?

We have finished the prototype, and do the Indiegogo crowdfunding for volume production.

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How was the patent process?

We own the technology patent which we used on Mooring.

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How do you plan to market it?

After we finish the Indiegogo crowdfunding, US and China are the mainly areas that Mooring will in. We will sell Mooring on our offical website and some online store later.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

We already have a list of reliable suppliers and manufacture factory whom we’ve build a solid relationship that help to produce Mooring, once we finish the crowdfunding, we will start it.

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The Mirahome team member all from the related filed which they do now for Mooring, and have strong experience for these filed.

Click here to visit the Indiegogo campaign page.

For more information, please visit http://www.mirahome.me/index-pc.html

Apr
0

Melodie McKenzie-Jones and Scentrel

By Deborah Fields, Communications at GWIIN
Contact: +44 7756 339702

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Invention sheds light on solution to mosquito spread diseases…

Images of men, women and children who are affected by outbreaks of different diseases such as Malaria or the Zika virus reach our television, mobile or computer screens on a regular basis. We are often shocked by how one disease can devastate so many people.

However, it is not often that we get up and try to find a solution to help. Melodie McKenzie-Jones took the unusual step of attempting to do something about the insidious malaria disease after seeing images of children suffering from the virus on a television documentary. She decided to look into the possibility of utilising the unexploited energy of a standard lightbulb to thermally release an insecticide that would render the mosquitoes, which carry the malaria virus, unable to bite humans to transmit the malaria virus.

As most of us are aware, Malaria is a life-threatening disease which has symptoms of fever, chills, vomiting and headache in an affected person. The first 24 hours are critical in preventing it developing into a serious illness with the possibility of death. But what many people are not aware of is that approximately 3.2 billion people in 2015 were at risk from the debilitating disease in regions such as Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

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Melodie says: “The driving force for developing the product was watching the terrible images on a television documentary of, specifically, babies falling ill and dying from malaria.”

Researching and developing an innovation were uncharted territory for Melodie whose background lies in importing/exporting and sales. She is not a scientist, medic or engineer but managed to develop the product Vapalight, renamed as Scentrel which thermally evaporated the organic insecticide pyrethrum.

“The concept came to me in a classic Heath Robinson way when pottering around in the shed!” Melodie explained. “With the broadcast about the flies bothering me I recognised that it may be possible to thermally evaporate an insecticide via the heat of the lightbulb to impact on the flies and, ultimately, mosquitoes.”

Melodie spent two years researching and developing a prototype, investing a considerable amount of her own money into the project and then took her concept through the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) accredited laboratory studies in the UK. She also navigated the regulatory steps with the UK’s Health & Safety Executive and European Union Registration Directives that ensure safe usage and patterns of use for insecticides. Melodie employed a patent attorney to ensure there were no other similar products patented and applied for a patent.

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The Scentrel product and insecticide pyrethrum have been worldwide independently verified to be safe to use around pregnant women, babies, children and adult humans. However, Scentrel’s product has a kill rate of 90% against the ades agypti mosquitoes and a 79% repellence against house flies.

With the support of the Welsh Development Agency, Melodie entered the British Female Inventor of the Year awards in 2009 run by the Global Women’s Inventors & Innovators Network (GWIIN) and became a finalist in the competition with the lightbulb model. GWIIN aims to support women across the world in developing their ideas and inventions to take them to market. The event helped kick-start her ambitions to get the product to the people she designed it for as it was then trialled by the United Nations.

However, Melodie is keen that the new SIRC candle product, which is more appropriate to second and third world settings than a light bulb because of power surges, be further developed. She wants it to be supported on a larger scale than she is individually capable of, by a socially conscious company or a charity.

Melodie has now fully developed and registered the Scentrel, SIRC candle model with the UK-HSE and EU Biocides Regulatory Directive and registered the design with her patent attorneys. With another mosquito borne disease, the Zika virus, which may be linked to microcephaly in babies and affecting so many people, Melodie feels that now is an appropriate time to step forward into the market with her new organic insecticide candle model which she hopes will give a boost to her original objective of making a difference to those affected by disease and, possibly, help to save lives.

As Melodie says: “If the product saves only one life then all the problems, time and effort will have been worth it.”

We at InventionStories.com thank Deborah Fields, Communications at GWIIN for sharing the story of Melodie McKenzie-Jones and Scentrel with us.

ABOUT GLOBAL WOMEN INVENTORS & INNOVATORS NETWORK
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The Global Women Inventors & Innovators Network (GWIIN) is an independent not-for-profit organisation dedicated to assisting and advancing women with bright inventions and innovations so that they can achieve success in the global marketplace.

Established in 1998, GWIIN and its team of experts has helped to shine the spotlight on the creativity of hundreds of women in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Working with governments, leading industry experts, voluntary organisations, educational establishments and the private sector, it has held awards events, roundtables and seminars and provided information and guidance to support the women on their journey to success.

GWIIN, founded by Bola Olabisi, was set up in recognition of the challenges that women face in bringing commercially viable products to market. The path to navigating success can be difficult and there are many pitfalls to avoid. GWIIN helps women recognise a clearer path and understand the steps they need to reach their goals.

Many women inventors have become well deserved recipients of Awards by GWIIN and have continued on their journey on to tremendous success.

The organisation also recognises the value in helping women promote their ideas so that other young women will be inspired to follow in their footsteps and consider careers associated with being inventive and innovative.

GWIIN continually spans the globe to find, reach and help more women on their paths to success.

For more information, please visit http://www.gwiin.com/

Apr
0

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Apr
0

The Convertible HDL

By Robert Bear

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I currently am not a jogger or runner. I like the idea of it but haven’t followed through. I would like to run a marathon sometime in my life and should that day come, would like to remember every moment.

The Convertible HDL is a comfortable, convenient, cost-effective and technologically advanced way for runners to capture runs. I found the Convertible HDL campaign on Kickstarter and thought abut why they developed it. The following was taken from the HDL campaign page.

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Those who run share a special connection with nature. Whether early in the morning, mid-day or in the evening, the act of running is experiential. From the feedback provided by our bodies to the sensory experience of being immersed in all that is around us, it is only natural to develop a device that takes in our environs and allows us to share it with the world.

What runners also share is a bond with one another. It is easy to strike up a conversation with someone who shares your passion for testing your limits and accumulating mileage. But what if you could go beyond the chit-chat and show them a clip of your start at Boston, or your trail run at Big Sur, or your surreal experience of getting in maintenance miles on the Great Wall of China?

Those are the experiences the Convertible HDL is designed to capture.

No more fumbling with the phone. No more breaking stride to capture a “once in a lifetime” scene. No more clunky get ups to try to retrofit the current cameras on the market to the unique needs of the running community.

The Convertible HDL offers three distinct features, each designed with the runner in mind:

Convertible: This is the lightweight, moisture wicking, fashionable headband that converts to a skull cap. Perfect for any climate, it is the Convertible that is the base of our new technology.

HD: The camera allows you to capture your run in FHD (1920×1280) or HD (1280×720) format with still photo capability. In addition to video, you can take photos using single shot, burst mode, or time-lapse mode. In addition, the camera carries a GPS, altimeter, and accelerometer to capture all the vital statistics from your run.

L: The headlamp shines at more than 400 lumens, ensuring your path is clearly lit, during even the darkest runs. This high-powered light also makes it possible to catch clean video during dawn, dusk and nighttime runs – something no wearable camera offers.
All of the tech features – including the video camera, still camera and high-powered light – feature voice activation/recognition and are controlled with an easy-to-use app on your smartphone. Full analysis of your run and real-time data is collected from the on-board GPS and altimeter.

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My father is a spinning instructor and I had always thought that riders should be watching videos of their latest ride while riding the stationary bike. I imagine people running on treadmills while watching a video of their favorite run. I contacted the Jean Haedrich of PRRacer and asked her to answer the following questions about the Convertible HDL:

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How was the prototype process?

The prototype process was a real dichotomy since we have two main pieces to our product; one part was a breeze and the other part was definitely a time-consuming, trial-and-error process. On the soft goods side, the process for designing our headband and skull cap was very straightforward. We had a bit of a rocky start with our initial designer, but then found a talented pattern maker who pulled in a fabulous activewear apparel designer. They worked in conjunction with us to create the product. With only a couple revisions, we had a great prototype complete and tech pack created for manufacturing.

On the hard goods side, which is the camera/headlamp module, we wasted valuable time and money working with a gentleman who couldn’t deliver as promised. We then found a skilled Industrial Designer who took on the project, worked with us to meet requirements, and created our first prototype. Even though there was a lot of back and forth on specifications, the process was smooth and we are very pleased with the end result.

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How was the patent process?

The patent process was straightforward. We worked with a patent attorney who filed both the design and utility patent paperwork for us prior to the campaign. Investing in someone with experience is worth it, in my opinion.

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How do you plan to market it?

Our plan to market the product is build a presence with on-line sales, add small brick-and-mortar running stores, and finally approach mass merchants including larger running stores, sporting good stores, etc.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

For cost purposes, we decided to go with overseas manufacturing, specifically China. We wanted to find a “boots on the ground” operation where there was someone representing us, performing quality inspections, and generally making sure our standards were being met. To date, we have secured the soft goods side of the manufacturing piece by working with a global apparel sourcing agent.

On the hard goods side, we are finalizing our decision; it is a similar arrangement to the soft goods. In addition,there are a few logistics to address with two different parts to our product. The soft goods will have to be shipped to the hard goods factory where the headband/skull cap will be married to the module, packaged and prepared for shipping to the US.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

My advice to inventors would be to get your costs nailed down to the penny, get all financing elements in place, and build a solid team of people to bolster your weaknesses with their expertise. If crowd-funding is the chosen platform, you must start at least 60 days prior to get the campaign in place with backers lined up for day one and then have a plan in place for the duration of the campaign.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter campaign page
For more information, please visit http://prracer.com