On the up · 5 December 2017

The Orb: Cycling near misses inspired entrepreneur to get creative

The Orb cycle light
The humble water bottle is being redesigned to help with safety
After close calls on the bike saw Andrew Phillips grit his teeth every time a car came near, the budding entrepreneur designed The Orb to solve a big urban cycling issue side collisions.

The urban cycling market has witnessed an explosion of innovation in the last few years, with the likes of Blaze, BeeLine and HipLok all setting up shop. One of the latest entrants, The Orb, takes the form of an illuminated water bottle that aims to make side lighting as important as that in the front and rear within ten years.

Having set up a crowdfunding campaign on rewards-based platform Kickstarter, Phillips sat down with Business Advice to explain his inspiration, what protection he’s putting place for the idea and The Orb approach to manufacturing.

Please tell us a little about your business?

Andrew Philips The OrbI set up Blockhaus cycles as a vehicle to develop and fund The Orb. We are named after the Blockhaus climb in Italy, where Eddy Mercxx came from nowhere to win in 1967. He never looked back and became one of cycling’s all time greats. He did it through a mix of hard work and flair, and that’s what I want Blockhaus Cycles to be about.

How have you funded its development to date?

I recently left my job as a civil servant to concentrate on the business. All of my wages were funnelled straight into The Orb.

What kind of protection do you have for your idea?

I have a patent pending, which willcover the way the light is diffused through the bottle.

Has protection process been simple? Is it expensive?

The patent process has actually been cheaper and simpler than I expected. It has also been interesting realising that the process is not black and white. Intellectual property is always open to debate and interpretation as the recent battles between Apple, Google, and Samsung illustrate.

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Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 16.19.48

 

Cycling hardware supported by Andy Murray and a legion of early crowdfunding backers

Navigation device BeeLine had already closed a successful Kickstarter round and turned to equity crowdfundingbefore even shipping a product.

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Why have you now turned to crowdfunding and how will you make this a success?

The Orb cyclingI have turned to crowdfunding as a way to raise enough money to tool the moulds ahead of manufacture. The Orb requires quite a lot of both injection and blow moulding, and making these moulds is not cheap.

As far as making it a success goes, Im using a combination of traditional and modern techniques. This involves using social media to spread the word as far as possible but also some old fashioned getting out and about round London, chatting to cyclists in person. So far, face-to-face interaction has been my most successful technique social media will never be as good as a proper conversation.

What is your approach to manufacturing the product will it be overseas?


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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