The business that began with a brainwave in a dark lane late at night
"The project stalled, but then one day my wife Caroline said to me, 'come on, you'd better do something about it or one day you'll see it on Dragons' Den and somebody else will cash in.'"
An inventor who had a bright idea late one night in a dark Warwickshire lane has turned his brainwave into a business.
Mark Habberley was walking his dog near his home in Kineton when his phone rang. The process of answering it while holding a torch and keeping the dog-lead in handproved most troublesome - and made him think "there must be a better way." Mark did not want to wear a head-torch as they are uncomfortable.
He duly came up with a better way and it is now a blossoming small business - Twistii - after Mark's expertise and persistence was helped to become a start-up by business support from Warwickshire County Council.
Twistii, a torch worn on the wrist which allows both hands to be kept free, is now in the market place and receiving excellent feedback. It recently featured, and won, an episode of BBC TV's The Customer Is Always Right on which it received the seal of approval from the public judges on the programme.
It is now available to the wider public via the website: twistii.com, but it's path into production from the moment of conception that night in the wood was far from straightforward.
"When I had the idea in 2011, I strongly felt that it was a good idea," said Mark, whose business is based at Churchlands Business Park in Harbury, "but bringing it together as a product turned out to be very difficult.
"Working with my co-founder Darrell Butler, we got the first product together and then developed other prototypes, but finding a manufacturing was a problem. It was too small for UK manufacturers to consider.
"The project stalled, but then one day my wife Caroline said to me, 'come on, you'd better do something about it or one day you'll see it on Dragons' Den and somebody else will cash in.'
"That sparked it off again and the project really turned the corner when I approached Warwickshire County Council for help. Their business support team has been the catalyst for getting Twistii manufactured and then to market."
The council's Economy & Skills team helped Mark and Darrell obtain a Proof of Concept grant from Coventry University Enterprises and further funding from the Coventry & Warwickshire Innovation Programme towards the costs of soft-tooling and electronics.
"The grants were a huge help but we also received a lot of great advice from the council's business support advisor Jagdish Soor on how to market and package the product," said Mark.
"We know the product and felt sure that we had a great idea but just needed that extra business advice on how to make the most of its potential. That's exactly what we received from the council team."
The episode of The Customer is Always Right featuring Twistii (Episode 12) will be available on BBC Iplayer until June 5th.