I started Concentrate in 2004 after a year long research project to investigate how the design of school buildings affects the delivery of education. The research highlighted that quite often money was spent on new school buildings and facilities, but often some of the more fundamental issues with the way lessons are delivered had been overlooked. I came to the conclusion that the most direct way of raising standards of education is to ensure that kids are able to concentrate and in the best state to learn. At the end of the year of research, I produced a report (which you can download here) and a number of concept products.
I also produced a condensed version of the report, as a storybook called Concentrate, which could be shared with all the pupils that had participated in the project. I gave each school I worked with a copy. You can read it by clicking on the image below.
I thoroughly enjoyed the project, and had devised one or two products that I felt had potential. In the Spring of 2004 I applied for seed funding from an organisation called NESTA, and received a £35’000 grant to get me started. Using the money I launched the Concentrate Website, complete with online shop, and developed my first four products, a lunchbox, bottle cooler, coolerbag and school rucksack.
My next task was to get a retailer onboard. Whilst I set up manufacturing, and a supply chain, I pestered the buyers at John Lewis. In total it took about 18 months to refine the products and win the buyers confidence. They then agreed to try the products in their Oxford Street Store. Most of the initial stock they put into the Oxford Street branch, ended up being bought by my family and friends, but John Lewis saw that the products were selling and wanted to know what marketing support I would be able to provide if the products were rolled out to all stores. That’s when I applied to go on Dragons Den.
In the summer of 2007, I pitched the business and managed to win the backing of Peter Jones. You can watch a roundup of how it went, and Peter’s thoughts on the pitch below. Since the pitch I have designed and launched over a dozen new concentrate products, and you can see some of these on this website under “Concentrate” in the Products section.