- Thursday, 25 October 2012
Liz and Alan Colleran had their new product idea when they bought a caravan back in 2003 to go on holiday with their three children. Liz had always had trouble sleeping in the caravan bed, as she had a bad back and found it very uncomfortable, which really spoiled their holidays, as she was always sleep deprived.
At the time Alan was running a business developing memory foam mattresses so they began to investigate whether a suitable "mattress topper" could be developed to alleviate their back pains and to have a good night’s sleep in a caravan. Something they had not had so far!
Numerous materials, thicknesses and styles were tried, tested and discarded until the prototype product was perfected.
“The first topper cost £60 and that’s all we started the business with!” says Liz “We had to think before we even bought a paper clip, as we were on such a limited budget.”
They took their product to a motor home show in York and had a great response to their demonstrations. Liz put this down to the fact that visitors were able to see it and straight away discover the real benefits of comfort it offered caravan and motorhome owners.
It was at that show that they were approached and asked if they wanted to take their product into the Dragons’ Den and this is when the business really took off.
With the help of entrepreneur Hilary Devey and her expert team they raised the profile of the company and the awareness of the brand overnight.
“We couldn’t fault Hilary and her team who have always been on hand to offer expert advice and guidance.” says Liz. “Although, as you can imagine, she is always an extremely busy woman Hilary has always been there for us and willing to take our calls at any time.”
What advice would Liz give older people wanting to start their own business?
- Think long and hard before going into business and make sure your decision is not influenced by emotion.
- Take each step of the journey with caution and assess all the risks and issues you may encounter.
- Carefully control your costs and make sure you have a good cashflow at each stage of development.
- It’s no good asking friends and family for their opinions on the service or product you want to offer to market.
- Make sure you have a business plan and for the next five years and that you are clear about the direction you want to go in.
- Find all the free help, advice and guidance available to you by government organisations servicing small businesses.
“Older people have a lot to offer the business world as they have so much experience, a multitude of life skills and are often excellent negotiators, ” said Liz “but they also have to consider the impact on their future by entering into the risky business of starting their own company.”
Duvalay - memory foam sleeping bag review - 17 September 2012