TECH CASE: BARE CONDUCTIVE
Above: Bare Conductive see many uses for its invention of a non-toxic material that conducts electricity.
Bare Conductive's main product, Bare Paint, is a non-toxic material - like a paint - that can be applied to all types of material. When dry it becomes electrically conductive so it can perform tasks such as trigger a switch or make an information request on a computer.
From their workshop in London's Spitalfields, the four founders of Bare Conductive have turned a student project into a successful company.
They spent the summer of 2010 trying to develop materials and work out what they needed to do to set up a viable business.
"We started asking ourselves what we were doing," said Bibi Nelson, one of the co-fuonders. Then Isabel Lizardi, another founder, discovered the Innovate 10 Launchpad competition. The Technology Strategy Board set it up to support small technologies with disruptive technologies. Winners were awarded up to £100,000 to progress their ideas. Bare Conductive won the digital strand of the competition.
"The funding was important: it gave us £100,000 to develop the business. But it was more than that. We were all at that stage where we needed reminding what we were doing."
Around 40 per cent of sales come from the US. In the UK, makers are a bigger part of the mix. Bare Conductive sells through its own website, BareConductive.com, and through a network of 80 online resellers. It is also readying its products for a push into the retail marketplace. In February 2013 US retail giant Radio Shack ordered 14,000 pens.
One product Bare Conductive won't be selling is Bare Skin, a conductive paint designed for the skin.
"We decided to shift our focus away from skin. We want to develop our own circuit boards. We're doing research and development in that area," confirmed Bibi.
Its products include Bare Paint, the Bare Paint Pen and a variety of kits designed to help people engage with electronics and technology. Bare Conductive's customers are teachers, students and "makers", hobbyists who like to make things.
Bare Conductive employs six people full time and two people part time. Matt Johnson, Isabel Lizardi, Bibi Nelson and Becky Pilditch founded Bare Conductive in 2009. In 2010 Bare Conductive applied for, and won, a Technology Strategy Board Innovate10 Launchpad competition designed to foster disruptive solutions among start-up companies.
For more information, read the full version of this case study on the Knowledge Transfer Network website.