Having absolutely no idea of how to set about creating a prototype, raising funds or setting up a business, I had a look at the University of Brighton’s website to see if there was any help for recent Alumni. I found that they did in fact have a whole department there called BeePurple, which helped graduates with business ideas. It is run by the very talented Clare Griffiths.
Clare and her colleague Sam were the first people to get excited about my idea, and encouraged me to apply for the upcoming Santander/University of Brighton Innovative Product award in their Enterprise competition.
So I set to work very quickly and began sketching out the map, writing the cards and designing the mask. It was a pretty intense period.
In May 2014, I was over the moon to find out that my Walk-in-Book prototype had won the Brighton University/Santander ‘Most Innovative Product award’.
Winning the award was not just a fantastic validation of my idea, but it also enabled me to have access to a small group of experts who helped advise me on things like Intellectual property and Trade marks.
I set about registering two Trade Marks, and began looking for additional funding in order to finish creating a workable prototype and begin some product testing with user groups.
It was at that point that I applied for a small SEED grant from the University of the Arts, London and was successfully awarded enough money to continue developing my idea, and making the very first Walk-in-Books.
In the autumn of 2014 I was very proud to win a Creative Enterprise Award from the University of the Arts, London - as most enterprising individual. It was a real honour to be chosen.
In order to properly test the market, it was suggested by a number of people, that I might like to launch using a crowdfunding platform. That way, I could see if there was a wider appetite for what I was making, and I could get additional funds to produce and sell more copies of the books.
In April 2015 I ran my first successful Kickstarter campaign. We were a Kickstarter staff pick within 6 hours of going live, and then within a week, our campaign was featured in The Guardian, who gave it a very glowing review:
We not only reached, but we beat our target on Kickstarter by over £1,000! The process was very intense, and I had such a lot of help from the brilliant and very enthusiastic team at http://www.arts.ac.uk/alumni-and-friends/
It really was very exciting to be able to start sending out the first Walk-in-Books around the world!
Overall the feedback from the initial product was very positive, however there were a few things that needed tweaking. So, following the campaign, I spent some more time refining the design, re-drawing the map (making it twice the size!) and adding in more colour and more illustrations – based on the feedback from my customers.
It has been a long journey to get the product where it is today. And yet, this is just the beginning of our story.
I hope you will join us in supporting our children’s creative development, by spreading the word about our books, and by using your Walk-in-Book with your child. It really is enormous fun!
Bye for now,