Case Study: Buddies toothbrush
Client: Sian Ellingworth
Product Twitter name: twitter.com/buddiesforteeth
Buddies toothbrush is a children’s re-chargeable electric toothbrush that dispenses exactly the right amount of paste directly to the bristles of the brush
Sian had her “light bulb” moment when surfing the net trying to find a flavour of toothpaste that would appeal to her eldest son. Convinced, she could not be the only mother to struggle to get their child to brush their teeth properly, she decided to take action. Her product needed to solve three problems:
- Create a new toothpaste for children that dislike existing flavour
- Dispense the right amount of paste on their brush
- Create new fun characters and new system to help children engage with brushing and helping them develop healthy habits at an early age
After finding Innovate and conducting a worldwide patent search, Sian and the Innovate team were able to create, design and CAD models her idea. This resulted in photo-realistic images that showed what the final product would look like and how it would work. An international patent was filed very early in the process.
After finishing the process with Innovate Product Design, Sian started work developing the product with a manufacturer in China, employing someone who speaks Chinese, with global NPD (New Product Development) experience to help lead the project.
Sian decided to self-manufacture and had to take several steps to get her product off the production line:
- Established interest from a high street retailer (Boots). The buyer she’ d developed a relationship with changed just before they planned to launch. However, it later turned out to be a positive thing as the product wouldn’t have been ready for that original launch date. They have continued to support the concept & she still hopes to launch with them
- Secured further funding (bank loan)
- Sought expert development advice
- Visited China to establish direct relationship
- Ensured appropriate accreditation in place
Sian’s tips to anyone else about to embark on developing their idea are:
- “Ensure you have a really robust business plan & be prepared for it to change as things progress. Exploit all the contacts you have who may be able to offer free or cheap expertise. It’s all about how you do it – most people are really keen to help if they can.
- Funding is critical. Explore all the different options open to you, especially crowd funding. I have continued to work part time to fund my living expenses to avoid being a drain on my business funds
- Before you start, really make sure you have the passion and belief in your product to see yourself through the difficult times. “ Sian Ellingworth
Sian successfully appeared on Dragon’s den and received backing from two of the Dragons! Sian has developed a full range and has is working with charities and dentists to globally improve oral health.
“It was a huge relief to meet a company that was able to translate my ideas into reality, in a practical and cost-effective way. The process felt quite low risk, I gained some sound business advice and it was great to have our initial meeting surrounded by examples of their previous clients successes” Sian Ellingworth
For more information on the self manufacturing process click here