We love taking the time to catch up with our past clients, to see how they are getting on in the industry, and selling the product that was once just an idea on paper.
We got back in touch with Declan McDonnell, founder of Xpanda Bra, when we heard that they won the BizzieBaby Gold Award for their great product. Bizziebaby is a website for mums and dads looking for the best products and in-depth product reviews for practically any product parent related you can imagine. They won their gold award (after previously winning a bronze and two silvers in previous years) exclusively from the honest and detailed reviews of new mums who tried and tested their product.
The Xpanda Bra is an all-in-one maternity nursing bra with adjustable cup sizes that adapts to fluctuations in breast size, and going by the reviews I’ve read in my first five minutes of research, people absolutely love it.
Declan came to Innovate with the initial idea of the bra, we then got straight to work with a worldwide patent search, the essential research into what was out there already. The designers then worked with Declan to explore and develop the design and create various prototypes to work with and test. The last thing to help with was his first filing patent application.
I caught up with Declan last week to see what his experience has been like since we worked with him.
Sam: We worked with the design of Xpanda Bra a few years ago, what were the steps you took after you finished working with Innovate?
Declan: We worked with a patent attorney to secure more IP, and sourced a manufacturer for our product and packaging. We also worked with a graphic designer to design our logo and packaging along with setting up our own website.
Sam: How long would you say it took from making the prototype, to selling the finished product?Declan: Between 12- 18 months
Sam: That’s a great timescale! Did you find the resources Innovate produced helpful in the process?
Declan: Yes Innovate was fantastic for us as it brought my idea to reality via sketches and a prototype. Without their help, knowledge and advice I would not have come as far. They were always there to help and just a phone call away. I also found them very friendly and competitively priced.
Sam: So tell me about the Bizzie baby award! How does something like this come about?
Declan: We were first approached by Bizziebaby a few years ago to advertise with them. They then mentioned that they held yearly awards for mum and baby products. We entered a few times getting bronze and silver but this was our first year to be awarded gold which we are over the moon about.
All products are trailed and tested by independent mums, and their reviews are published on the Bizziebaby website along with the scores for whatever they are testing or trailing. It’s great to have independent testers as no one has influence over their views or scores.
With reviews like this, we’d be over the moon too!:
‘I will definitely recommend it to friends and family. I have no negatives to report’,
‘A very clever design, it really does work and made a huge difference. It is always my first choice now when putting on a nursing bra.’
‘This bra has been perfect for me.’
‘The design is great, cannot fault this product’
‘Just adored this bra.’
Sam: How have you found the experience of having a product out on the market?
Declan: Having a product and our own brand name has been difficult as we are competing against the big brands. We have to build the confidence of our customers to choose our brand over well known brand names.
Sam: Well judging from the reviews and awards, it seems like you are well on your way to being a household name. Have there been any other achievements or highlights?
Declan: The biggest achievement was appearing on a Sky TV programme called “Make me a Millionaire Inventor”. It was a Dragons Den-type program where you got the chance to pitch your product in front of investors. I got investment on the show but turned it down later, as I was offered a better deal by a private investment company who I still work with to this day.
Sam: Do you have any advice for other inventors wanting to achieve what you have?
Declan: My first advice is go straight to Innovate for advice; they will put you in the right direction and give you advice and help that could save you a lot of money.
Research your market place well and get prototypes made, show these to your potential customers to get their view and if they would be interested in stocking or buying them. If yes, source a good manufacture with low quantity orders. If you do not want to go down this road (as it can cost a lot to buy stock etc.) then think about licencing your idea to some of the big brands, its less investment and quick returns if successful.
Above all be patient, and remember it’s not a 9-5 job. It will be a 24/7 until you’re well established, business can take a good 3-5 years before you see real gains.
Sam: That’s some fantastic advice, thank you Declan. Finally, where can we buy Xpanda Bra?
Declan: Xpanda Bra is sold online via our website: www.xpandabra.com, Etsy, Amazon and in some independent retailers. We have sold to customers in the USA, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Ireland and many other countries.
To keep up to date with Xpanda Bra, take a look at their social media pages here:
If you would like some help with your new product idea, or to see what route to market would be best for you, click here for a Free Confidential Review.