Sticky putty Sugru crowdfunds in bid to rival Sellotape and Blu-Tack worldwide

One created tactile buttons for a radio so a blind man could listen to music and tune the radio; another created wall hooks in his kitchen, which act like a bracket for his iPad so that he can follow recipes while cooking, without getting the screen greasy.

Some of the products that have been fixed with Sugru

"The crowd has been integral to our success to date," says ni Dhulchaointigh "Facebook and Twitter have helped us grow the brand without spending lots of money.

"People get their own ideas once they see it in action. They just need a little stimulation then imagination lights up. That's people power."

Ni Dhulchaointigh recently tapped into the crowd to fund the next stage of Sugru's expansion.

In June, she launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £1m as part of a larger £2m round.

The campaign on the Crowdcube platform broke two world records: it featured the first ever £1m crowdfunding single investment, and boasted the widest reach, with investors from 68 countries.

Some 2,700 investors pledged £3,548,820, overfunding the campaign by 355pc. Ni Dhulchaointigh said she was "humbled" by the support Sugru received.

The business has raised £4.5m over the past 10 years to develop its easy-to-use putty, which hardens into an indestructible material.

Venture capitalist Robin Klein was an early backer. He tweeted that "the quality of companies that are crowd funding keeps rising" last week, showing his support for Sugru.

The crowdfunding campaign is running alongside Sugru's "rise of the domestic ninja" campaign, which is hoping to raise the profile of the company by showcasing the best fixes and hacks to date.

A father in Germany made Sugru bumpers on his camera so that he could let his three year-old embrace her curiosity for photography

"Sugru has been successful because of timing," says ni Dhulchaointigh. "When I started the company in 2004, I would talk to people about fixing things and they would look at me like I was mad. By 2009, they were saying, 'Oh that's cool'.

"The recession made people think about whether they really needed that extra pair of trainers or if they could fix the ones they had. We also spend so much time in front of computers that we want something to show for our day. We bake cakes, make meals from scratch, garden, and fix things."

Sugru is a brand new product; the brand is unknown to most consumers and most don't even know that such a material exists. To solve this problem, ni Dhulchaointigh is investing heavily in in-store demonstrations.

"You have to touch it and see it in action to see its potential," she says. "That means we have to spend a lot of time showing staff in stores what it can do and doing merchandising, which is expensive but essential."

Sugru has been sold through DIY chain BQ in the UK for a couple of years, and online through the company's e-commerce website.

According to ni Dhulchaointigh, the additional marketing, alongside continued investment in Sugru's manufacturing capacity - the material is produced in a factory in Hackney by Sugru's 50 staff - will help the company to double revenues this year.

Some 50pc of Sugru's £2.3m turnover is now generated from the US, which will remains a key market for the business.

Sugru is already available in Home Improvement stores but has now signed a new deal with US retail giant Target.

"That's our first general store," says ni Dhulchaointigh. "It's not just DIY-ers that go there."

She is keen to expand into new territories and is also looking to sign deals with industrial partners. "Sugru is really great for mounting things in cars, for example, or fixing cables, and there are companies that specialise in these markets."

A new version of Sugru, which is totally kid safe, is also currently in production. "We are looking to get into the toy space," says ni Dhulchaointigh.

The inventor wants Sugru to become ubiquitous and create generations of people that choose to fix their possessions rather than buy new.

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"This is just the beginning," she says. "We want to be just as normal as duct tape or superglue, so that when you have any problem, people will say 'Sugru it'. That's' what we're shooting for."

BGL Group announces new executive chairman and CEO

March 26, 2013

by Brian Turner

Story link: BGL Group announces new executive chairman and CEO

Now that it is so easy to obtain online quotes for all types of insurance, there really is no reason to renew a policy before doing an online check of the prices offered by other companies. Last year I purchased my home and contents insurance after getting a selection of quotes from a price comparison website. A few days ago I received a phone call from that insurance company telling me that the renewal was due and that the price had only risen by a couple of £'s. When I said that I wanted to check prices from their competitors online before taking out a renewal, the guy on the phone managed to find a price about 20% cheaper than his original one. Not to be outdone, I visited my favourite insurance price comparison site and proceeded to obtain precisely the same cover for a further 20% less than his cheapest quote. I've said it so many times and I'll say it again...NEVER Never never renew any insurance before checking other insurers online. All insurance companies come up with their lowest prices to first-time customers, so take advantage and switch insurers whenever you can get a better price for equivalent or better cover. Unless you've had a very good experience with your current insurer then don't worry about showing disloyalty to them, I bet that they won't show any loyalty to you if you're unfortunate to have to make a claim!. The following link has information on Compare Travel Insurance Prices.

The BGL Group today announced that Peter Winslow is to become Executive Chairman of the BGL Group, and Matthew Donaldson will take the role of Chief Executive Officer. The changes will be effective as of July 1.

Peter Winslow has been Chief Executive of the Group since 1995, and has led the Group through an ongoing period of significant growth. He oversaw the company's transition from underwriting to become an intermediary back in 1997, and led BGL's expansion into new areas from claims management and insurance partnerships, to aggregation and international markets.

Matthew Donaldson joined the Group in 1999 following the acquisition of a high street broker chain. He led the development and execution of the Group's e-commerce entry strategy, resulting in the exponential growth of the existing intermediary businesses and the creation of He became Group Director in 2005 and Group Chief Operating Officer in 2010.

Peter Winslow said: "I have been in this post for just over 18 years, and have presided over and enjoyed being part of massive change in our Group from its days as a direct motor insurer to the business you see today. It has been challenging and it's also been a lot of fun, and I look back and think how fortunate I was to join the Group.

"The time is now right for me to take a more strategic role and become less involved in the day-to-day running of the Group. Matthew has demonstrated exceptional leadership ability as COO. I have total confidence in his drive, commercialism, intellect and passion for the business. He will make a first class CEO."

DVLA car hire codes now valid for 21 days

Last month's abolition of the paper part of the UK driving licence meant that British holidaymakers were required to prove their eligibility to drive by presenting car-hire firms with an online code that was valid for only 72 hours. Following sustained negative feedback, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has announced the process British travellers must undergo when hiring cars is to be modified.

As a response, the DVLA has now extended the code's validity period from 72 hours to 21 days, which should also alleviate pressure of the DVLA website during peak holiday periods. It crashed when the new system launched on June 8 and there were concerns that it would again collapse when school summer holidays began and during other peak holiday periods.

Though the change has been welcomed, some confusion over the new system remains. While the paper counterpart to driving licences now has no legal status in Britain or abroad, there was concern during the crossover period that some foreign car-hire firms might not be fully briefed on the changes and would still request to see the document. Speaking last month, president of the AA Edmund King said: "It is possible that hirers overseas, who have been used to checking a British driver's paper record in the past, may not know of the change and still ask to see the counterpart.

"Although the paper counterpart has now been rendered invalid, we are advising our members not to tear up their counterparts just yet, but to take them abroad as a 'belt and braces' measure if they intend to hire a vehicle."

This countered official DVLA advice on the issue, with its website stating that paper counterparts to driving licences should be destroyed from June 8. Most recently updated today, the section of the DVLA website that addresses driving licence changes recommends that holidaymakers contact their intended car-hire company to establish what information the company requires before they make a vehicle available for hire. Drivers are also reminded that they will need to provide their National Insurance number when entering the verification information needed to obtain their online code.

Our TV screens are overwhelmed by solicitors pleading with us to claim for any little mishap, it seems that there is no such thing as an accident in this day and age. Somebody is to blame and they must be made to pay!. Bearing this in mind, it would be an extremely brave (or perhaps foolish) owner of any business, be it big or small who made the decision that they didn't need public liability insurance. Clicking on the following link will answer your questions on

Climate change protesters cause Heathrow delays


By Jonathan Davies

Planes were grounded at Heathrow in the early hours of Monday morning after climate change protestors managed to get onto the runway.

Thirteen members of the Plane Stupid group, which opposes plans for a third runway to be built at Heathrow, cut the fence and chained themselves together on the northern runway at around 3:30 BST.

The runway was closed for around three hours, resulting in 13 cancellations and numerous delays. Heathrow has advised passengers to check with their airline before travelling.

Six of the protestors have been arrested on suspicion of Aviation Act offences, police said. But some protestors are still at the runway, with police remaining in the area until they have been removed.

"We are working closely with the police who are dealing with the incident," Heathrow said in a statement.

"Both runways are open although there will still be delays - we are sorry for the disruption to passengers.

"Our priority remains to ensure the safe running of the airport."

In a video posted online, a police officer is seen talking to the protests. He said: "As a consequence of you being here, you are causing severe disruption and it will be in the millions of pounds because it will take us a while to remove you.

"The cost will be in the couple of millions. The airport will attempt to make a civil recovery."

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Ella Gilbert, one of the activists on the runway, said: "We want to say sorry to anyone whose day we've ruined, and we're not saying that everybody who wants to fly is a bad person.

"It's those who fly frequently and unnecessarily who are driving the need for expansion, and we cannot keep ignoring the terrifying consequences of flying like there's no tomorrow."


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Vatman finally defeated by Snugglebundl after two-year battle

The row centred over whether the company's flagship product, the Snugglebundl (pictured left), was a blanket or babywear. Under British tax rules, consumers pay no VAT on "essential" products but must pay 20pc tax on "luxury" items.

Children's clothes are classified as essential products, subject to the zero-rate of VAT but blankets fall outside the scope of the zero-rate, so output tax must be charged at the standard rate.

In April 2013, Mr Edwards submitted a tax return for the business and was informed by the VAT office that the start-up business was required to pay VAT.

"We were shocked," said Mr Edwards. "A blanket is only used at nighttime and lays over the baby. A shawl wraps around and is worn during the day. Ours is even more like a garment because it has a hood and ties at the front."

Mr Edwards received conflicting advice from different HMRC departments: one adviser agreed that the product should be exempt from VAT. "I recorded the conversation, typed it up and sent it to the VAT Office but they wouldn't agree," he said.

Snugglebundl was forced to assume the VAT cost without raising prices because contracts had already been signed with distributors. "The price was already at the top end and we didn't want to raise it further," said Mr Edwards. "We stopped trying to grow the business because the £7,000 to £8,000 bills from the VAT Office every couple of months were having a massive impact."

Snugglebundl appealed against the initial VAT Office decision and lost, then went to Alternative Dispute Resolution and was unable to get the case heard because it was a matter of law, rather than a dispute. Finally, the case was taken to a tribunal.

"It was like a war of attrition," said Mr Edwards. "It's only because I have an interest in law and wanted justice that I kept pushing."

An HMRC spokesperson said: "HMRC always seeks to work with businesses to resolve VAT issues and provide long-term certainty. In this case, the tribunal ruled the product should be zero rated and we have repaid the VAT."

The Snugglebundl was invented by Dave Solomons 20 years ago after his wife gave birth by caesarean section and struggled to pick up their baby.

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It was easier to pick up the newborn using a blanket, so he created a shawl with handles, which supports the baby's head when it is lifted.

The Snugglebundl founders claim that the design can help post-birth recovery, and the product has been endorsed by a number of independent midwives. Mr Solomans approached Mr Edwards, a fellow inventor, whose wife Heidi was a nursery nurse for 25 years, to perfect the design and bring the Snugglebundl to market. All four founders are still in the business.

Turnover at the company is set to more than double now that the VAT legal battle has been resolved, rising from £120,000 to £250,000 this year.

"In the past two months, we've introduced new products and new packaging," said Mr Edwards. "We've also just got our trademarks in China and Canada. The birth rate in the UK is just 14.4pc so the biggest growth for us will be in exports.

"We've been waiting two years to get on with all this. I'm glad we can move forward now."

Snugglebundl is the latest in a series of companies that have fought for VAT exemption. In 2009, Innocent, the smoothie company, argued that its products were "liquefied fruit salads" not beverages, in an attempt to secure a VAT exemption. The company claimed it was unfair to charge VAT on 100pc fruit juice smoothies when a bowl of the raw ingredients would not be subject to VAT.

Mr Edwards has called on the Government to review the appeals process and appoint an arbitrator in cases such as these. "At no point were we able to sit down with the VAT office and have our questions answered," he claimed.

"That was the biggest obstacle to recolving the issue."

Dein Leben. Dein Business. 

Die Idee

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Wir lieben, was wir tun. Diese Passion leben wir jeden Tag.