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Pioneer of the Week: Guy Cowdry & Richard Comber at Elemental Product Design

New and Networking

Pioneer of the Week: Guy Cowdry & Richard Comber at Elemental Product Design

Meet Guy Cowdry and Richard Comber owners of Elemental Product Design and our Pioneers of the Week. Here they share their experience and advice on running a sustainable business and why for startups, persistance is key!



1. Tell us 3 important things we should know about you.



  1. We are problem solvers. As design engineers we love to innovate and develop new products and technologies.

  2. At 16 Guy designed, supplied and sold school-branded hoodies creating revenues of £10,000 in just one term! Showing that entrepreneurial spirit from a young age!

  3. We are non-stop. 9-5 is never enough and we have to always be working or playing!


2. Tell us about Elemental Product Design and KIS Bags.


Elemental Product Design is part of the Elemental Design Group, which we set up together. We met at university and have been best friends ever since. Within the group is Elemental Website Design, which has been operating since 2012. But this year we created Elemental Product Design and launched the KIS Bag as our first product.


The KIS Bag started as an idea during our time at university. We found the crime of dipping from bags was very common and decided to design a solution for it. We filed a patent for the KIS Bag then and have been developing it since.




3. What do you love most about running your own business?


It’s not just work. It’s joy. You can’t even compare it to a 9-5 day job. We love doing it as much as we do windsurfing, surfing or photography. Of course there are long hours, stressful and manic days like any other job. But you're not working for that end of the month paycheck, it’s for your company’s future. And it’s that, which makes it so enjoyable.



4. Tell us about a challenging experience you’ve faced in the process of starting up your business and how you overcame it.


We thought the patent process for The KIS Bag would be the biggest challenge but it was actually finding a good manufacturer. We didn’t just want to create a cheap everyday tote bag with a gimmicky extra feature. We wanted to create a quality product that was functional and fashionable.


So being a startup our supplier had us by the short ones! We needed production samples to test and with no history as a company, they were reluctant to supply them. But many emails and phone calls of literal begging meant we got through enough iterations to pass our rigorous product tests.



5. You’ve mentioned that KIS is a sustainable product why is this important to you and how have you managed to incorporate sustainability into your startup?


Sustainability is core to our design ethos. To us, it comes in the form of product quality and robustness. We design all our products to last and stand the test of time so not to encourage the throw-away-nation we are unfortunately a part of.


The KIS Bag could be made out of nearly any material; we actually have some in leather made by M&S. But we wanted to try and encourage the use of tote bags by designing a higher quality and more functional product to reduce the use of plastic bags.



6. What advice would you give to other startups about being more sustainable?


We believe being more sustainable is purely about becoming leaner. It saves you money and time. We always try to do more with less. Fewer parts, lighter components, better material choices and clever design not only ultimately reduce your costs but also significantly shrink your carbon footprint.



7. Can you share an experience that really helped you take your business forward?


We were both in full time jobs and thought, why are we doing this for someone else when we can do it for ourselves? Guy was busy inventing million dollar future technologies for Dyson! Why not do it for us? Obviously at Elemental we have nowhere near the resources or might of Dyson. But the same principles can be applied to whatever problem you are trying to design a solution for.


So we formed Elemental Product Design to create simple, cool and innovative products both in-house and for our clients.



8. Many people start their businesses at home, where do you work? What do you love about it?


Bristol & Poole


We both still work from home! Rich works in Poole and Guy in Bristol. We travel to each other whenever possible so we can work together. But we are currently working out the logistics so we can be in the same space permanently. It’s a professional bromance in reality!!


Our desks are usually covered in an array of prototypes! So a desk photo would give away our latest secret projects! But we thought we would show a picture of the views we both get to appreciate.



9. What are three things you know now, that you wish someone had told you when you first started?



  1. Don’t get over excited! We did this with the KIS Bag! We knew we had a great product, so we launched without sufficient pre-promotion. It was ready to go and we just wanted to get it out there but only had a limited pool of people to send it to!

  2. Understand the links, connections and friendships you already have around you. Its amazing if you look through your phone the breadth of industries and contacts you have already!

  3. Starting a business is hard, but until you do it yourself and succeed you never realise just how rewarding and satisfying it is!


10. Is there anything specific you’d like to ask or share with the Virgin Media Pioneers community?


Please check out our current Kickstarter campaign for the KIS Bag. We are currently just about on track to our goal but still need your support whether it is advice, sharing, liking, tweeting, shouting about or pledging.


We are also looking to our future and other products we need investment in. So please get in touch if you would like to be part of them!



11. Finish the sentence: To be an entrepreneur…


...is a dream come true.

Connect with Elemental Product Design


Comments
New and Networking
Great design! So simple and very smart.