Today marks exactly a year since Lucy Bostock took her son, then aged five, to Legoland, where the distressing experience of being separated from him among the hordes ultimately proved the inspiration for setting up More-2-Explore.
The business is to next month launch its first product known as the Adventure Belt, which connects a parent or other carer to a child via a hands-free “belt to belt system” that can be clipped and unclipped depending on the proximity of a danger such as water, a crowd or traffic.
We’ll be international and we’ll be based in ScotlandLucy Bostock
Bostock came up with the invention after pondering how to avoid a repeat of the incident at the theme park, which she calls “really terrifying. I was left quite traumatised by the whole experience.
“I realised that there was nothing on the market that I could use to keep him and me closely connected. A typical boy, he didn’t like holding hands, and he was too old for a toddler harness.”
Wrist straps were also not ideal, she says, but then came a “bit of a lightbulb moment”, and she wondered if there was a gap in the market. This thought was backed up by research she carried out online and with focus groups, and she secured a place with Entrepreneurial Spark in August.
The business accelerator “pushed me to validate my product”, she explains, a process that included interviewing more than 100 families, putting together “numerous” prototypes, evolving the product and speaking to experts.
It also came as she was facing redundancy as an account-manager for Think Postgrad, a postgraduate application management tool for students. “Everything [there] was getting moved down into England, and I felt that my stars aligned — I’d had the product idea, I’d validated it, and I’d got the place on Entrepreneurial Spark.” Combined with the prospect of redundancy, it felt like “the right time to do it”.
The business, based on the outskirts of Edinburgh, was funded privately but “keeping everything lean”, and Bostock used her own savings plus grant funding from Scottish Enterprise and her local council.
While mothers are a growing proportion of the entrepreneur community, a study published last month found that many in Scotland drastically over-estimated how much capital was required to do so.
APS Financial, a digital UK challenger to banks, found that about a fifth of those who’d held back thought an investment of £10,000 to £50,000 was required, but in reality, half who had gone it alone had invested up to £1,000.
A pivotal moment for Bostock came earlier this year when she exhibited at Harrogate International Nursery Fair, where the Adventure Belt won an innovation prize, leading to meetings with distributors.
More-2-Explore is now working with Bébélephant, an independent distributor in the UK nursery sector. Bostock adds: “We’re in discussions with some major retailers, but currently we’re confirmed as being stocked in [outdoor specialist] Tiso, and Maddie & Mark’s, which is a children’s shop in Edinburgh. Also we’ll be on Amazon.”
Further endorsing her efforts was the distress of her son when she cut up one prototype to make “next-generation” products. That was “kind of proof that kids really bought into this,” she laughs.
Bostock is running the business herself, looking to build a team of up to six within three years, and the initial plan is to focus on UK distribution, and says the relevant market is estimated to be worth more than £3 million a year. This will be followed by a move into Europe, “realistically” in 2018.
The aim is to then extend its horizons further, and all in all she would like to achieve sales of £100,000 in its first financial year.
Additionally, having self-funded, investment will be a key consideration, with Scottish-based syndicates looking to be the most likely option.
She expects sales to be split 50:50 between retailers and online, including Amazon in the latter, and one target area is impulse buys at visitor attractions. “I have lots of potential revenue streams,” Bostock adds.
Looking a few years down the line, expanding the product range is also on the cards. “What we’d like to be doing is bringing innovative products to market that help parents in their day-to-day living – removing the stress from parenting.
“We’ll be international and we’ll be based in Scotland.”
Born: Edinburgh, 1975
Education: St Margaret’s School, Edinburgh; Newcastle University
First job: Tesco graduate trainee
Ambition while at school: To be an aeronautical engineer
What car do you drive? Mitsubishi PHEV
Favourite mode of transport: Train
Kindle or book? Kindle
Reading material: Thrillers
Can’t live without: My iPhone
What makes you angry? Injustice
What inspires you? Collaboration
Favourite place: Anywhere by the sea
Best thing about your job: Making my idea into reality and having parents react positively to what I do
Business icon: Julie Wilson and Amy Livingston from Cheeky Chompers
Best business advice you’ve ever been given: When you’re in the right lane you’ll avoid the traffic!