D2M’s Managing Director, Phil Staunton (31), from Prestbury, describes the concept as one of the most exciting new innovations he has been involved with during an eight year career of bringing new ideas to life.
“As a dad myself, I could immediately appreciate the potential of this new project and we couldn’t wait to get started on designing and prototyping the concept.” adds Phil.
Markus and Samantha Warwick and their two sons, Joe (then aged seven, and Ben, 30 months old) had come up with the concept for the pushchair having travelled to Cardiff for the day without Ben’s stroller.
"Ben soon tired of walking, laid down on the floor and went to sleep," said Samantha, "as with no stroller to hand, Markus struggled to carry Ben back to the car."
Unable to locate a stroller light enough on the market to carry as a backpack, in true entrepreneurial spirit the couple decided instead to set up their own company 'Innovation Makers Ltd' in May 2013 in a bid to develop their own stroller.
"As my career to date has been about teaching product design and information technology, I was able to write a detailed design brief and product specification and also develop the Company's website, while Markus, who has experience in managing outsourced suppliers, found product designers in Cheltenham and has developed the extensive business plan that has allowed us to go for crowd funding.” Explained 45 year old teacher Samantha.
D2M Innovation developed the first prototype last December. This involved rigorously testing some innovative wheels normally used in robotics, bolted onto an old stroller chassis, which proved highly successful. In June this year D2M developed a mark 2 prototype to prove that the stroller is able to be carried like a backpack when walking or cycling; be small enough for cabin luggage on flights; takes up minimal storage space and is robust enough for children up to 5 years old.
Staverton based accountancy firm, Hazlewoods, are on board to provide tax credit advice for R&D development and to handle patent box tax relief when the product is launched.
Cheltenham based firm, Wynne-Jones IP, were tasked with protecting the concept and filed a patent in June to protect the new product. Further intellectual property protection is planned in the near future, which is why the innovative wheels are disguised on the current images and prototypes, and the brand name is yet to be revealed. Once the patent was filed, Samantha and Markus’s aim to bring their invention to life has been boosted by various business start-up support networks and grant funding.
The branding and marketing campaign has been undertaken by Malvern-based Brand Refinery to ensure that the buggy has a strong brand image when it hits the shelves.
Little Rider (the working title for the buggy) was launched on Crowdcube just two weeks ago and has already attracting equity investors to a total of nearly £47,000. The Company’s crowdfunding pitch can be viewed here: http://www.crowdcube.com/investment/innovation-makers-16677.
“Additional commercial lending” Markus said “will complete the commercialisation process to bring Little Rider (retailing at £299) to market in summer 2015.”
Samantha is frustrated that she can’t find UK based companies to manufacture their product competitively and so this will be done overseas by D2M Innovation’s trusted nursery product manufacturer initially. Her vision is to eventually bring the manufacturing back home to the UK.
Providing further insight into their business model Samantha said: “Ben was the inspiration for the product and Joe dreamt up the working title ‘little rider’. Both boys are actively involved in giving feedback at each stage of the design process so we really are a family business.”
Phil Staunton summarises his feelings about the project by expressing his hope that several investors will take a stake in this superb project to ensure that it can become a commercial reality next year. “We are pleased to be involved with fantastic local companies all providing their expertise to ensure that this product is a huge success.”