It’s no holiday when burst pipes flood your holiday home, caravan or motor home, which is exactly what happened to static caravan owner and full time entrepreneur Jason Paul. After a disastrous flooding incident in his own caravan in 2008, Jason wanted to create an easy, inexpensive way to drain down his own caravan and prevent the same thing happening again at minimal cost.
Having spent 15 years in management consultancy Jason was ready for a change and seized the opportunity to bring his idea to life. Talking the National Caravan Council and other caravan owners, he confirmed that a DIY draining system would be of real benefit to many within the holiday home market – ‘providing peace of mind that’s easy on the pocket’.
Jason took his idea to Invest Northern Ireland and was successful in securing the necessary funding to patent his product. After carrying out consumer testing, market research and prototyping, the initial product Floë was introduced to the market in February 2011. Within the first year the product Floë won the coveted Practical Caravan Award for – Caravan Accessory of the Year 2012 and achieved over £105,000 in sales, demonstrating a strong market potential.
Originally designed to remove water from pipes to avoid freezing in winter, the Floë system also removes stale and stagnant water, freshening the system without the use of sterilising products. This is of particular use to touring caravans and motorhomes, who cannot get rid of trapped water easily, and therefore have to resort to alternative methods.
With the export potential his product Jason was awarded a place on the Propel programme in March 2011 and was assigned a mentor who knew the industry, the market and the right contacts.
“I believed I had a great idea with a vast international market potential, but I had no experience of international business. Therefore I welcomed support from a seasoned professional in manufacturing, exporting and international trade. In fact without the support of Propel I do not believe that I would have made it into the European market.”
With Invest NI’s support Jason is now focusing on breaking into the American market with a Floë product adapted for holiday homes and garden sprinkler systems.
“Propel becomes part of your life. The classroom support network has been fantastic and invaluable. It ties everyone together and is one of the things that I will miss most about being part of the programme. Through the programme there is continual pressure to be better and that can only be a good thing!”