Passion, innovation and creativity are essential for any business start-up, Rob Law, designer of the Trunki child’s ride-on suitcase, told the audience at the keynote session at today’s Business Show Swindon.
The Bristol-based entrepreneur took delegates on his journey from student designer to Dragon’s Den reject to highly-successful and award-winning business owner.
Rob, pictured, also spoke about leadership and re-shoring – bringing production back from China to the UK the benefits it has brought.
His Magmatic business – which manufacturers Trunki and a suite of other products in the UK – is worth £12m. But, he said, the road to that success had been a bumpy one.
The Trunki story started when Rob, then a student at the University of Northumberland, entered a competition run by plastics group BASF to design new luggage. He hit upon the idea of a child’s ride-on suitcase – and won first prize and was urged to licence the design.
But prospective business partners were confused about whether it was a toy or luggage and declined to back it.
After pursuing a career as a designer, Rob went back to the idea and received a Princes’ Trust grant of £500 and a loan of £4,000 which he used to find a manufacturer who took Trunki into the Middle East.
But the ride did not get any smoother when the firm, behind Fulla – the Middle East version of Barbie – failed to expand into other markets after three years. Rob quit his job and devoted his time fully to Trunki.
Another setback hit the firm when the Chinese factory contracted to make the first batch of 1,000 Trunkis went bust and the tooling was seized. As a result the firm missed the vital Easter selling period.
More on this story follows . . .