4c Design were exhibiting at the “Be Inspired to Innovate” event held today by the EDTC . It provided a refreshingly honest education into the realities of new product development. Innovators from companies such UWI Innovations, Funky Moves and GYMetrix provided an excellent, straight talking account of the type of grant support currently available in Scotland. It was apparent that there are many £5k feasibility/research grants available but it is universities that receive the funds, not the innovator. The message was clear; make sure you choose your academic partner wisely as the experience showed the universities operate on different timescales in comparison to working with a commercial organisation.
Another theme that emerged was the length of time the product development cycle takes. Most of the entrepreneurs had hoped to be in the market within a year of starting out. The reality is it has taken them 3-5 years before their products are customer-ready. This is something we can echo from our experience of working with entrepreneurs at 4c Design, just dipping your toe into new product development isn’t really an option. Make sure you’re prepared for the long haul.
Simon Grey of AWS had a great piece of advice for inventors/entrepreneurs: “Start with a problem, not an invention”. A simple piece of advice but very important for us all to remember.
Ralf Klinnert of Funky Moves also reflected on his experience getting his company off the ground, including his time on Dragons Den and the rather shock statistic that of the 22 people that received investments on the show last year, only 1 actually received the investment after the due diligence process. Leading to the conclusion that while the show is a great PR exercise, it should not be seen as a source of investment to ‘budding entrepreneurs’.
Ross Dickinson from KIBOSH was excellent. A plumber by trade he has developed a fantastic product that provides a temporary solution to burst pipes. He understands his market and like a true inventor has built test rigs to develop and test his prototypes. I was amazed that Ross has developed his product without using any rapid prototypes, he’s a man on a mission so he went straight to an injection moulding company and started cutting tool steel. He’s got there in the end (with some expensive alterations) which is what matters! I explained the benefits of de-risking and testing a design using SLS or SLA rapid prototypes and hopefully this will be of help when he comes to expanding his product range. Check out the Kibosh, he deserves to do well with this product.