Sunday, August 18, 2019

Aberdeen entrepreneurs gain the upper hand with innovative product

Helen Robbins and Graham Osler
Helen Robbins and Graham Osler

There are many things we would like to change in our everyday life to make things easier, whether it be at home or work.

For most of us the factor simply remains something to moan about – but for Aberdeen-based entrepreneurs Helen Robbins and Graham Osler, it inspired them to invent a handy kitchen gadget.

Fed-up of having wet rubber gloves lying about their kitchen, the duo identified a gap in the market for a tool capable of drying household items without taking up a lot of space.

Helen, a healthcare professional, explained: “We were living in a small property at the time and didn’t really have room to dry our rubber gloves, so Graham set to work to create something that would be compact yet effective and the Glove Poppit was born.

“We had a problem, developed a solution and thought others would like to be able to buy it. We also liked the idea of the challenge of taking it to market.”

The innovative BPA-free worktop gadget was designed to dry out a range of household goods including rubber gloves for the kitchen, alongside sports and gardening gloves, drinking bottles and storage bags.

The universal drying stand’s two-pronged design, together with its unique add-on drying plate, can also air dry anything from food storage bags and swim caps, to wooden spoons and paint brushes.

“By reusing storage bags and drinking bottles with the aid of Glove Poppit, you can help reduce the amount of plastic waste at home.

“Glove Poppit allows us to be more mindful of the environment by making it easier to wash and dry our reusable plastic products,” Helen added.

The original Glove Poppit concept was made using wood, but when a major retailer ordered a large quantity of the product the design was changed to plastic with the help of a designer.

“It’s been a huge learning curve for us and our designer has been fantastic, helping with some general business sense at the beginning,” Helen explained. “He also assisted us with finding a manufacture, coming with us and helping us to craft our questions and learn about the processes.”

While many entrepreneurs give up their day job to concentrate on their business venture, Helen and Graham still work for the NHS; Helen as a senior nurse and Graham in support services.

“It’s been exciting learning new things about product design, manufacturing and selling. It’s also been interesting transferring our skills from other experiences to help us run our business.”

In a short space of time, Helen and Graham’s hard work to promote the product has paid off. Since its launch in 2016, Glove Poppit is listed on Amazon as a best seller and was a finalist in the Kitchen Innovation Awards in 2017.

“It’s been an interesting journey to date, and we have met some really interesting people along the way,” Helen said. “A friend of a friend acted as a mentor for a while and this helped us enormously.

“We go to as many free business networking and development events and trade fairs as possible where we have met a lot of likeminded entrepreneurs.

“Our ultimate aim is to be selling to retailers across the globe and would love to sell a product range ourselves.”

Helen added that it’s essential for aspiring entrepreneurs to be as hands on as possible and listen to advice from others.

“Business Gateway has been wonderful with advice from the advisors, funding for grants and knowledge gained via workshops.

“Another invaluable source of help is a network of other small business owners whom we meet up with occasionally and share approaches, apps and contacts.

She concluded: “Most importantly, it is vital to believe in your product and yourself. No isn’t always the end of the conversation; you may be able to go back another time, with another product, in different circumstances and people will snap it up.”

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