The entrepreneurs, however, did not know how to make a business out of it. A visit to Incub, the innovation department at Sheffield based innovative manufacturer Gripple Limited – renowned for turning dreams into reality – followed and its attested help was forthcoming.
The ‘light bulb moment’ happened to builder Dave Bostock when watching an electrician struggling to feed wires through the outside wall of a house. The concept was simple enough: to design a drill with an extruded plastic sleeve that would enable someone to drill through a cavity wall, leave the extrusion in place and make it easy to pass numerous cables, pipes or wires through it – thereby saving time and money!
After taking their early prototype into Incub, Dave and engineer Paul Smith, received help with funding, patent applications, CAD drawings, rapid prototyping, marketing and logistics to ensure that their idea would turn into a real business – Conxa – with an actual packaged product which was recently launched. Dave and Paul said: ‘We wouldn’t have had a business if it wasn’t for Incub at Gripple.’
The Thru-in-1 was the result. As the masonry drill passes through a cavity or solid wall it carries a rigid plastic sleeve, then leaves it behind, firmly fixed inside the cavity or solid wall.
Gordon Macrae, Gripple’s special projects manager, commented: ‘With our support Dave and Paul have a better product, a more robust business plan and they have brought it to market much quicker.
‘Incub is a flexible incubator; we do different things for different people, depending on their requirements. We’re seeing a company or an individual every week, with a preference for ideas in construction, green energy, food production and logistics.’
The market opportunity for Conxa is huge. The roll-out of the smart metering scheme will involve the installation of 30 million meters into residential and commercial properties. ‘Gas fitters, electricians, CCTV installers, Sky installers, BT Openreach installers – they are all potential customers,’ says Bostock.
Anyone wanting more information about the Thru-in-1 can call Dave Bostock or Paul Smith on 0114 275 2150.