Monday, 31 May 2010

I Decided To Enter A Competition!.......(and a little about my Town)


"We deserve to win because we have developed a much-improved product which can benefit millions of householders at a modest cost.
It's superior performance includes elimination of draughts, and saves heat loss
Acceptance of larger postal packets
Obviates damage to postpersons's/newspaper person's fingers (dogs bites/cats scratches)
Never jams (no springs or hinges)
and is easily DIY fitted without the complete replacement of door furniture."

Let me introduce us.
My husband Richard and I live in Reading due West of London. I feel privileged to live in a town that lies on the banks of the River Thames.

Since I came to live here from Horsham, I've noticed considerable change. I remember when I could park my car in Reading, ANYWHERE I liked!
The 3 Bs - Bulbs, Biscuits and Beer were still going strong, and the quaint roads and terraces that held memories of many years still upheld their character.

Gosh how Reading has changed in not too many years. The heritage and custom having all been left behind, making way for a different age all together. It's hard for me to remember how it used to me. Alas the 3 Bs have now disappeared, with the more recent brewery Courages (as opposed to the original Simonds Brewery) finally closing it's doors early this year.

Minor residential roads with those pretty terraces now mass evicted from the face of the earth and mighty express ways, roaring noisy traffic trying to show us all this is the age of progress. never again would I be able to drive down Broad Street finding a lucky parking spot just whilst I pop into Marks.

No, Reading is covered in "No parking" "No waiting" "Yellow lines" "Permits only" and so on. Multi storey car parks are the only thing now.

Broad Street (the main shoppng street) is now pedestrianised, the old character buildings in Reading have made way for high rise and 21st century architecture. The old Station premises refurbished once, and now a gigantic leap into a second refurbishment forthcoming.

Reading is becoming cosmopolitan - bars - outside eating areas, good history and arts facilities, and we can't exclude the very famous "Reading Festival" hosting thousands of visitors from all over the world. The Hexagon Theatre, not long ago the new pride of Reading, is possibly in store for complete renovation or rebuild.

We have a fine Museum and Art Gallery, thankfully restored, maintaining it's Victorian architecture. A new Library and Archives department once part of these premises, now occupies a site near the the old Abbey Ruins. The old Abbey ruins where King Henry 1 is said to be buried. Many celebrations, concerts and gatherings take place here, but sadly now closed due to extensive damage, and extensive funding needed to restore and become open to the public once again. "The Abbey is of "Sumer is ICumin in" fame where legend has it that it was written here by a monk.

A campaign for the restoration of an Edwardian Open Air Ladies Swimming Bath is in progress, of which I'm part of (see my video above)- one of my biggest interests being "Lost Lidos" I'm intending to completely reconstruct this site but it'll take me months!

The Riverside itself hosts many carnivals and festivals, all for family enjoyment and entertainment.

The old Battle Hospital (from the work house days) has gone, and a Tesco's built on it's site. I used to nurse here in the Coronary Care Unit. The hospital is now amalgamated into the Royal Berkshire Hospital which once laid in it's own picturesque grounds, including "Greenlands" the old Manor House that became the private wing where war flying ace - Douglas Bader - was nursed after losing his legs. All the green has gone and is now a complex of Departments - the original hospital building surrounded by a mass of new architecture where sometimes interior transport is required to get from one area to another.

Facade of shops are changing, some have been restored, and many fashionable choices are found within the indoor shopping "town" The Oracle. This centre replaces the old car parks and warehouses that once aligned the River Kennet, which now has become a facility for hustle and bustle, with cinema, wining, dining, bistros, bars and has a touristy holiday feel of night life. The only lack of change are the narrow boats, barges and small cruisers sedately weaving their way through!

Reading indeed is becoming a tourist centre for all, and certainly a place on the map, especially to host football fans crowding the Madjeski Football Stadium, home to the Reading Royals, now moved from Elm Park to the other side of Reading.

Quite apart from football, there are many leisure and sports facilities, and a special place in my heart is the Central Swimming Pool where I started coaching the competitive sport of Diving, (Springboard and Highboard) through from ground level to International Level. The now "Albatross Diving Club" that I founded from the days I formed a diving section within Reading Swimming Club, is still going strong with many talented divers on the National Training Programme.

Reading still holds the tradition of a Girls Grammar School, and a Boys Grammar School, also Private schooling, in amongst many Comprehensives dotted around. Many pupils graduate onto university and making Oxbridge, plus the few celebrities we have treading the boards over our broadcasting waves, in comedy, film and presentation. All boast coming from Reading! Now affectionately???known as "Little London"

A little about me
I grew up and went to school, and trained for the nursing profession in the Midlands - I'm a "black country lass" However I've been living in the South of England for more than half my life.

As well as holding various positions within the Nursing profession including management, I married, have a son and two daughters, and now three lovely grandchildren. I managed to keep my involvement going in my sport, havng been a National diver myself - highboard and springboard diving. The Albatross Diving Club in which I trained many diving squads, included my two daughters Marianne and Juliet who performed well at National Standard, and Marianne reached Senior International Level, winning many awards and gaining achievements along the way. I was a member of the GB Panel of Diving Coaches of which there was 8 and I was the only female! The circle at present is recycled in both my son and daughter as coaches, plus my grandaughters, diving to turn the same circle again! A Ce Ce diving video is on my Facebook page.

The Business
The second chapter of my life has included a husband with a very fertile, inventive mind as well as being a genius in electronic design. He owned and still owns patents.

We've been in business for just over a year bringing our first product - Ecoflap - onto the market. I took the opportunity to venture away from my desk from marketing, tweaking websites, accounting, catching up with dispatching Ecoflap, in order to catch up on the local newspapers.

I came across a Barclays article in a local newspaper mentioning an opportunity to enter a competition for business's with new original ideas, either at total start up stage or a young business looking for expansion and.... the prize money was £50,000! I hasten to add, to use as a business bonus and to help start or expand a business. No trips around the world!

The Competition
I thought why not have a go. There was so much waiting to come off the drawing board with other products still at prototype stage. If we should be so lucky then this would allow expansion so much sooner, plus the prestige of having achieved this.

I immediately went online and read how to to enter the Barclays Take One Small Step Business Competition, read the rules and conditions of entry, how to browse other entries and finally how to submit an entry.
So... I decided to register Jessel Innovations - ecoflap
calling it "Blowing Away Draughts and "Rattling" Heating Costs

I printed off the forms from the website and practised writing out the various sections that necessitated completion of entry.

The public were only allowed to see a 50 word summary, but the in-depth business details were for the judges eyes only.

These sections were a 500 word background history, plus how the money would be spent if we were to win. Projection finance forecasts and how the products would benefit the community and market. And what singled us out from the rest of the competition.
There was also the option to make and upload a 2 min video. The whole process, and with the care. detail and attention needed, was not an easy process, but eventually I was satisfied and I submitted my entry 22 days later.
The video making and editing was extremely fraught, the first attempt being of 10 minutes long, and having to reduce it to 2 mins and getting the message across!
Our entry was submitted into the South West Region, being one of the 10 regions.

It was interesting to note the views, comments and backing support during the 1st round, .and...being of competitive nature had my eyes on the other entries too.

I have to say that the quality and ratio of our support, views and comments of our entry were very pleasing. You have to work very hard marketing and preparing your business colleagues, suppliers and clients to help you in the competition, plus of course all our family, friends and relations.See our entry here -
Please add your support if you think we deserve it!

The Lead Up
When I left the nursing profession I decided to take one of Richard's patents and see if I could do something with it - without my husbands knowledge. The product was at prototype stage.

It was a completely new concept in letter plate design - a first since the Penny Post 1840! and the difference being.....a letter box that never blew open and yet didn't have any springs or catches. The precise engineering helped acquire a fine balance. plus it adapted to the size of the delivery, lightweight with no components to break. It looked simple, but the simple things are the hardest to invent and achieve!

Today is the day of energy efficiency, green and eco, and I thought this product would fit into this emphasis of todays climate, and because it was so radically different from the normal letter box, decided it would be good to develop it within the criteria of the patent as an interior letter plate to replace brushes and gravity flaps used to help keep out the draught. It would not necessitate complete exchange of door furniture - it would work well and retro fit a letter box aperture from 6" up to over standard size replacing existing brushes and gravity flaps. Even accepts small packages saving second deliveries, unnecessary emissions, and most of all saving the most valuable resource... time.

It had proven it's draught cutting quality. In the early stages of development it had been on the roof of a car and blasted with a vacuum cleaner never blew open!!! So after 3 months of research and a 5000 leaflet distribution to get the feel of letter boxes, I arranged its first exhibition in January 2008 and booked a stand at the National Housing Federation Exhibition at Olympia, London, taking the prototype along.

There was one snag however, I desperately needed technical expertise and I had to reveal everything to my husband Richard - he came as my ASSISTANT!!!! he was flabbergasted.
The "ingenious" product went down well with the delegates. Also architects were present. Of course at that stage, these were words of encouragement and they wouldn't realise how it would pan out and develop if indeed it would. We were relying on our own private funding. We hadn't applied for investment.

A similar exhibition at the Ecobuild Exhition at Earls Court followed the next month - showing off the prototype. It was exciting, exilerhating and very busy. This time Richard was labelled his correct title of Designer/Inventor! There followed other Exhibitions during the year.

Although Richard continued in full time employment developing a "no touch" panel for bathroonTVs within the corporate industry. being installed at the Sofitel near Termnal 5, the inside letter flap was developed into "Ecoflap" with the help of technical drawing engineers expertise, and "Parts" engineering in UK for testing and developing.

For our first year, ultimate manufacture was too expensive therefore the Ecoflap was manufactured in Hangzhou China. We had developed an excellent rapport with our manufacturers, via email, skpe and telephone, and the experience of our technical drawing engineers' experience of liaising with China. We were determined to launch the Ecoflap onto the market at the Ecobuild Exhibition 2009. And we did!

Despite the recession being at its worst, we'd acquired a bank loan to enable manufacture and we received them just in time for the Exhibition!

Although very hard work, the year continued to go from strength to strength, requiring further consignments. and there was committment for further development even with Ecoflap itself! We had it tested at Wintech Engineering Ltd Telford at 114 mph (1700 pascals of air pressure - and it didn't blow open). Why doesn't it blow open letting in the draught
You don't have to be DIY qualified to fit Ecoflap! Fitting is so simple.

We've been inundated with enquiries for cat flaps with the same attributes. Little did these people know that prototypes of cat flaps were already in existance adorning the work benches. These flaps "petways" will also act as fire escape for pets. Just as Ecoflap uses the wind to blow it shut and keep it shut, eliminating smoke penetration, but not stopping your pet. They will be able to fit into walls or doors.

Blown up to human size, it was trialled at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Although built of fire door material it was as light as a feather to operate. It was installed at the entrance of the gymnasium at RBH (not as an interior door as it had not been fire tested due to expense at the time) and helped tumultuous traffic of patients in wheelchairs, with walking aids, porters with stretchers, and arms laden staff... for 5 years.

With my steering, and to keep the inventor on a steady course, the aim is to develop and market these products, plus produce the complete letter box draught proof system as an intergral part of door manufacture. I'd like to see the letter box system on every door and become the standard. Other patents are pending.

There have been ups and downs during the year, but against all odds, with determination, focus and... courage, we've developed products that serve and will serve the consumer in an immediately beneficial, effective way in true keeping with the energy efficient climate of today. There are online resellers resulting in National promotions, also abroad.

If we were to WIN the Barclay's Competition we would be able to bring these products to market quicker especially as Richard is now spending full time in the business. I'm passionate about bringing these unique well designed products to market. I really want "it".

I'm overjoyed for Jessel Innovations to be placed in the TOP 3 Finalists - selected from 371 business's representing the South West. The public vote starts 7th June - 4th July.

I'll be doing my utmost to market our success, and to convince people that we're the one's to vote for. We won't let YOU down. Our main focus is our Customer Care and to help in all areas we can at any time. Please look out for us and be part of our success.

Reading has a very good University with some very innovative research ideas.
Innovation also happens outside universities and specialist establishments, and we know how hard it can be, and we would like to help and share our experience with other struggling innovative people and try to reduce the number of good innovative ideas that are wasted or high jacked and therefore not encouraging further individual innovation.

I will keep you up to date on our next "moves" and thank you all for all your support in the first round.

Please ask your friends to visit my blog. Lets put the Great into Great Britain for Invention!

All for now, and thanks for reading!
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