Nimble has flow the nest

It’s official. The first batch of Nimbles were posted out a few days ago to people all over the UK and even to the US and Australia!

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As a product based business, and coming from a product design background myself, shipping out physical products to people that have put up their hand and said they want one is a truly amazing feeling.

Just knowing that an idea I had has been realised as a physical product and is now making peoples’ lives better makes all the hard work and ups and downs worth braving a thousand times over.

Here’s hoping Geco Hub manufacturing finishes soon and we can get them sent out too!

Nimble and the Inclusive Technology Prize

You may or may not know that Nimble, my one finger opener product, is currently taking part in a challenge prize run by Nesta with a pot of £50,000 funding up for grabs for the winner. Exciting stuff or what!?

Well the latest stage of this challenge prize required each of the 10 finalists to publish an update on our progress.

Here’s my guest post on Nimble’s progress over the last few weeks. Happy reading!

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1 in 10

A few weeks ago I got some very exciting news… Version 22’s second product Nimble, a one-finger package opener, made the finals of the Nesta Inclusive Technology Challenge prize!

This was after initially entering as one of 200 and then competing in the second stage with £2,000 as one of 25 semi-finalists. Now as 1 of 10 finalists I have from until February next year, along with £10,000 of prize money, to make as much progress with Nimble as possible.

My plan? Start product testing with over 150 volunteers in 1 month, develop accessible product packaging with a professor at a nearby University in parallel with that, go to another international trade show in Germany in October (read about my last one over here on the Version 22 blog), shoot a promotional video and begin full blown production.

So in other words… lots to keep me busy.

I think the format of challenge prizes is brilliant; giving funding in incremental stages and expecting contestants to reach a certain number of milestones. After all deadlines (and money) make things happen don’t they?

Cushions Galore

A few weeks back I was asked to be on a Q&A panel on funding at a homewares event in London. Not one to turn down an opportunity like that I said yes right away and booked my train.

The event was a full day and based out of Microsoft’s Cardinal Place offices in Victoria London – the sort of impressive steel and glass sculpture you’d expect from a multinational like the Windows guys.

Throughout the day I got to listen to some very interesting people tell very exciting stories about their experiences in the homewares industry, both good and bad, and managed to take loads of useful notes too.

After my panel I also managed to grab two key buyers from a large UK department store chain for a quick chat and to get their feedback on my product ideas.

And…?

They loved them! They had nothing but kinds words to say about both products which, coming from experts in the homewares market, gave me a real confidence boost! Needless to say I’m now connected with both of them on LinkedIn and will be in touch soon…

This just goes to show you never know who you might meet and when. Granted this was at a homewares event down the street from the department store’s headquarters but that doesn’t lessen the importance of the encounter!

Now if there were only other events like this I could go to…

 

Mentorrific News

A few weeks ago an exciting thing happened… I got my first official business mentor!

Many business owners I know are constantly telling me how important having a mentor is so I’m glad I’ve finally found the right match for me and my business.

I can’t say who they are for confidentiality reasons but I can say they run a multi-national branding agency so they really know their stuff. I’m looking forward to having someone with experience who I can bounce ideas off, get advice from and ultimately someone who can help me make Version 22 the best business it can possibly be.

I know mentor-mentee business relationships are supposed to go both ways so I’m determined to offer as much value in return as I can in some way or another. How I’ll do this if something I’ve yet to figure out though.

So what’s happened so far? It’s early days so not much but even after our first meeting I am feeling more motivated and inspired than ever!

  • Have you got a mentor?
  • If you have how do they help you and your business?
  • If you haven’t should you get one?

Questions definitely worth asking yourself.

 

My first time

Last week was my first time as an exhibitor at a trade show!

The trade show in question was Naidex, a huge disability show at the NEC in Birmingham. I was there field testing and soft launching my new product Nimble, a one-finger inclusive package opener. (See more over on my business blog here).

The reason I had a space there was thanks to be friend Duncan from Equipable Ltd. who kindly offered to share his stand with me! We drove to Birmingham last Monday afternoon to get everything set up for the following day and on Tuesday it all kicked-off…

It’s safe to say the next three days at the show were both exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure. How? Well I spoke to hundreds of people over the course of the show and had on average one person sign up to either be a tester or get email updates every 6 minutes!

The highlights for me? There were so many but here are my top 5.

  1. The sheer volume of people that were as excited as me about the product (200+)
  2. The number of people that asked to buy one then and there… despite the products shown being prototypes!
  3. The 100+ people that volunteered to be product testers on the spot
  4. Several healthcare professionals telling me Nimble was the best thing at the show
  5. Meeting Baroness and Paralypic champion Tanny Grey-Thompson
  6. Being asked to feature in a national magazine this summer.

What a blast! I can’t wait to exhibit at my next trade-show and thankfully it’s looking like this will be happening soon!

Want to find out more about Nimble? Read my in-depth post over on the Version 22 website here.

I Won!

Here’s an exciting announcement I’ve been waiting weeks to make… I won the Irwin Mitchell Design For Life competition!

So what’s this? Let me explain:

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell are a big law firm based in the UK. They help businesses with all manor of legal issues and processes such as contract law, negotiations, employment and IP etc.

Design For Life

Design For Life is a competition Irwin Mitchell launched in partnership with Disability Rights UK and Nesta to find the next big idea that uses inclusive design to increase the independence of people living with disabilities and ultimately improve their quality of life. Of over 100 entries submitted by people from across the UK my idea was selected as the overall winner!

The prize?… £10,000 worth of legal support and R&D, this will go a long way in helping me get this idea to market.

The Winning Idea

My idea is a device that allows people with hand-related disabilities to open awkward food and drink packaging easily and safely.

How? Well I can’t share the specifics of it with you just yet but all will be revealed over the coming months…