Meet the MD Making a Big Impact on The CRL Community

In the words of Toby Kress, our new Managing Director, “CRL provides the best hardware focussed co-working space and programmes for technology start-ups in the UK”. The CRL team agree wholeheartedly and we’re pleased to say that our reputation and unbeatable historic credentials as a site for innovation were just two of the factors that attracted him to join our ranks, as CRL MD and Director of Programmes for Plus X – our new parent company which is expanding the CRL model across the UK.
Toby knows what he’s talking about with over 10 years’ experience working with start-ups. He got started by co-founding his own tech start-up – Groop Gifts – which he describes as ‘a glorious failure’ which allowed him to build an amazing network, learns a lot of valuable lessons and where he thrived on the energy of creating something new.
He’s since gained an MBA, with a focus on entrepreneurship, from the London Business School, and put the theory and experience to work on more successful ventures. He’s also run business incubators and joins us from Accelerator London, a tech software incubator in Shoreditch, owned by London Metropolitan University. While there he worked with over 50 start-ups who collectively raised £35m in investment, made £50m in revenue and created 250+ new jobs during the past 3 years. He also worked with graduates launching new businesses, academic staff on commercialising their intellectual property and corporations on innovation programmes.

                          What excites him about CRL and Plus X?

As always, we like to know what attracts people to CRL. For Toby, it was the great history behind the space and our reputation as ‘probably the best hardware-focussed space in the UK’. Although his experience was mainly in software, he has a huge respect for hardware businesses and appreciates the challenges they face. As he says, “There’s an added level of complexity, in terms of delivering physical products, that isn’t there for software. There’s a more complex supply chain, especially when manufacturing at scale, and the lead times and product development cycles are much longer.
“I like that tech hardware attracts a particular type of entrepreneur. They’ve got great engineering skills, deep technical knowledge and brilliant minds for problem-solving. Our role at CRL is to bring all of that together and help them turn it into commercial success. That’s where I hope my background can be particularly useful – adding both the practical experience, and the theory, of supporting start-ups through structured accelerator programmes and co-working spaces.”.
In the last year, he’s also been running corporate accelerator programmes and he’s really excited about developing the idea for the CRL and Plus X portfolio. He explains, “Corporations are great at many things, but speed of innovation isn’t at the top of their list. They can struggle to keep up with the rapid changes happening in their industries and are in danger of being left behind. Start-ups are different, they can be agile and disruptive in a way that corporates can’t. The idea of corporate programmes is to offer great opportunities for collaboration, between big companies and start-ups, that can develop into powerful partnership. Start-ups get access to finance, networks and the resources to help them grow, and corporates get to tap into innovation that keeps them competitive and agile.”.
He added, “Another thing that’s super exciting for me is the bigger vision of Plus X in rolling out CRL’s successful formula across the UK. Our new co-working space in Brighton is due to open in January and there are plans in the pipeline for 5 sites in the next 5 years. I’ll be working with all of those sites and I’m looking forward to developing partnerships and programmes across them all. There’s huge potential for where Plus X and CRL can go and I’m excited to be part of making it happen.”.

      What makes the CRL Accelerator programme stand out?

The Accelerator programme at CRL is the original hardware focused programme in the UK and has an incredible track record of helping entrepreneurs bring innovative products to market. The current programme kicked off last week with six new start-ups ready and waiting to turn their ideas into reality, and they’ll benefit from a programme that builds on the firm foundations and solid success of previous cohorts.
According to Toby, “One of the things that really makes CRL stand out is the support offered on the product development side. Most accelerator programmes focus on software and are around 12 weeks because things move more quickly in software. The CRL programme is 6 months to cover the complexities of the product development cycle.”.
He adds, “Start-ups on this programme have engineering skills and know-how on their teams but they are also supported by a dedicated product development team of 4 people at CRL who help train them in new areas and provide hands on support around rapid prototyping and product testing. Plus, all our companies have ambitions to scale as businesses so we make sure design for manufacture is built into the product development process as part of the programme. We also have great connections to supply chains in the UK, Europe and China and the trip to Shenzen is a unique, and much-loved, part of the programme.”.
Toby finished by saying, “Working with start-ups is so rewarding. Starting a company is one of the hardest things you can do with your life and it’s great when you hear from entrepreneurs about the impact that places like this can have in supporting them on their journeys – it’s a real privilege to have the opportunity to be a small part of their success”.
 
If you’re looking for inspiring co-working space, make§r space, world-class prototype facilities, or looking to join a structured start-up support programme, why not pop in and take a look at what lies at the heart of the CRL community? Contact Katia Padilha katia@centralresearchlaboratory.com

Our New  Workshop Manager brings F1 Engineering Expertise to CRL

The CRL community has access to two exceptional growth programmes for tech hardware start-ups and a co-working space in the original home of invention and innovation, formerly known as the EMI research laboratories.
 
At the beating heart of our space, we offer world class prototyping facilities, open 24 hours a day, attracting the UK’s top hardware inventors, entrepreneurs and established scaleups. Just part of the reason that inspired our new Workshop Manager, Simon Hayden to join us.
 
After studying motorsports engineering, while also working on classic cars, Simon was lucky enough to go straight into a job in Formula 1, as a race mechanic for the Mercedes F1 team.
 
He spent an intense 5 years working on the development team and was involved in everything from rapid prototyping to running race cars. After the rarefied atmosphere of F1, Simon took a 6 month travel break.  By the time he returned, he was ready for an exciting new career challenge.
 

                                      What attracted you to CRL?

SH: I like what CRL is doing – it’s a great environment for innovation and it’s new and fresh. The workshops have some impressive machining and fabrication equipment, including two CNC mills and a full suite of CAD software, which makes them better equipped than probably any other tech co-working space in London. For me this is a great opportunity to work with real tech innovators at the various points in their journeys.
 
Our members come a long way to use the facilities here and it’s my job to make sure that everything runs smoothly so that they can do what they need to do to make their products a reality. In terms of the work that’s going on, and the kind of products that people are developing, there’s a lot of variety – everyone’s doing something exciting and different, and they all need different things from the workshops.
The start-ups are supported by the CRL product development team, which includes project managers, experienced business mentors and interns, and with my background in prototyping I can help them find solutions. For me, I like the variety and the challenges that come with that.

                                     So, what are the challenges?

SH: Instead of being a technician, with a narrow focus, I’m managing a whole range of facilities. Of course, an important part of that is making sure that everyone is competent to work safely in a shared space. It’s about finding the best way to run the workshops, and manage the users, with the necessary health and safety considerations, without stifling creativity. One of the biggest challenges will be implementing solid structures and processes to keep them working for everybody.
I can be dealing with a mix of users on any given day. The control measures are in place and I have to make sure that everyone has the right level of training before they can work safely on the equipment.

                                      What’s new in the pipeline?

SH: In just over a year, we will have an exciting new, bigger and more co-working site and extensive facility workshops at The Powerhouse – being built now and just a minutes’ walk away. It’s not often you get to design your own workshops but I’ve been involved in planning them with the architects and interior designers. I’ve taken inspiration from bespoke kitchen designers for the most efficient layouts for workflow, and I’ve really enjoyed working out how it’s all going to function. The new workshops are going to be amazing!
 
On the day-to-day, Simon is more involved with the co-working space and making sure the workshops function at their ultimate best. He says he’s already seen some great products in the making and met some of the CRL community. In his words, some of the innovations coming through the workshops would give a motor racing team, with all the finances behind it, a run for their money and he’s looking forward to working with the tech entrepreneurs.
 
If you are looking for inspiring co-working space, maker space, world class prototype facilities or you’re on your tech start-up journey, why not pop in and take a look at what lies at the heart of the CRL community? Contact Katia Padilha katia@centralresearchlaboratory.com.

Those Co-Founders Get Joto to the Finishing Line

At the last count: 7 trucks, 100 pallets, 600 boxes… and 2400 Jotos were finally on the move to their new homes. It’s the moment that their customers and supporters have all be waiting for – a chance to have a Joto in their hot little hands – and adorning their walls with its ever-changing artistic display.
 
Joto, the robotic whiteboard that everyone’s talking about, started life as an idea from Those, a small design studio focussed on connecting the physical and digital worlds. Co-founders Jim Rhodes and Barney Mason had already designed a drawing machine, called Woodpecker, which was being used in shop windows and exhibition displays. So, the natural progression was to design something similar, but even more exciting, for the consumer market.
 
The team were initially drawn to CRL’s Accelerator programme because of the product development expertise on offer, the ready access to co-working space and the prototyping workshops, and investor advice. They joined the first Accelerator cohort and soon discovered the additional benefits of being part of a changemaking community with ideas to share.
 
Jim explained “The Accelerator team helped us come up with a design for a more customer-focussed version of our previous product and a more scalable plan for development. They helped us set up the crowdfunding, through Kickstarter, and it took us a year to prepare.”
 
The Kickstarter campaign went so well that they ended up with a pre-order of 2000 units, and it’s taken them 18 months to get to where they are now – shipping out the finished product.
 
Jim says, “It was a hard slog and there were a few issues on the way. Our first manufacturer dropped us because they decided we were too small for them. That put us back 6 months but being part of the programme, and the CRL community, meant that we had a great network and could find another one quickly.
 
“Another problem that we had to overcome was the fact that Chinese manufacturers were generally geared up for electronic and screen-based devices. For them that meant integrated circuits… and a box to put them in. We turned things on their heads a bit, with Joto, because the manufacturing process covered a lot of different disciplines and components including mechanics, electronics, IoT, and pen and ink… We had to work hard to get manufacturers to understand the device itself, plus there was the added complication of sourcing and supplying the consumables.”
 
He added, “The Accelerator programme helped us to define what we wanted to do and showed us that our product had the potential for scaling up. We learned a lot about manufacturing and what was involved. Our trip to Shenzhen was good for contacts and we probably couldn’t have done it without the amazing manufacturing networks. We were able to get stuff done and prototyped quickly – there’s an impressive level of knowledge out there. The programme helped us think about things in a more business-like way.”
 
Now, after more than 2 years, they are proud to be shipping Jotos out to the many customers who supported their start-up through crowdfunding.
 
In the next few months they plan to launch ‘365 Days of Art’, which will treat subscribing Joto owners to daily artwork, from top illustrators, delivered straight to their walls. In the meantime, they’re finalising the accompanying app, and they’re looking for a major retailer to work with as they scale up. With Joto on its way, the team are looking forward to the next stage – seeing the fun things that people do with it.
 
Applications for the sixth CRL Accelerator programme is now closed but interested start-ups can still contact katia@centralresearchlaboratory.com, at any time, to find out more and express an interest in the programme.
Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the programme supports the next generation of product-focused entrepreneurs by helping them to develop crucial areas of their business, to help ‘accelerate’ growth, and take products to market.

If you’re not sure where your next investment is coming from… read on…

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business, one of the biggest issues that any entrepreneur will have to deal with, at some stage, is where the serious money will come from to scale things up. As some tech start-ups have found, it’s not always easy finding investors who get what you’re doing with a hardware innovation and are willing to put their hard-earned cash behind it.
 
Arnold Du Toit, our very own Investor-in-Residence, is an entrepreneur with first-hand experience of creating technology-led products, from creation to conception, whilst also finding the right investment for the different stages in his business. He’s learned, the hard way, how to navigate the funding circus and attract the right investors and, as we heard at the last Demo Day, he’s happy to share.
 
These days, he’s an investor himself, so now he can really appreciate the process from both sides. We asked him for some of his insights on what entrepreneurs, budding or otherwise, should be thinking about when looking for business investors.
 

What do start-ups have to do to qualify for investment?

ADuT: The easy answer would be ‘get your product to market’, but it needs to be at the right time with the right impact. I launched my product way too early, and too many times, which was great for the experience, learning and development, but it was stressful. My advice to start ups is to take time to prove the concept, and do the testing and development, in a space where it won’t be detrimental if things don’t go to plan. When approaching investors, showing a working prototype can be just as valuable as showing a fully finished product – especially if you can show you’ve also thought about the figures and the logistics.
 
Every start-up wants investment, but it can be very difficult for them to understand at what stage their business might need it, and at what level. Just having a better understanding of that might mean less time, money and nervous energy, wasted in pursuit of funding at the wrong time. That’s something that we work on as part of the CRL Accelerator and BOOST programmes.
 

Where’s the best place to start looking?

ADuT: I’d recommend choosing your funding platform wisely. It should be easier for a start-up to reach more potential investors, with an interest in their product, if their core audience is on the same platform as they are.
 
For example, you’re more likely to find a tech-savvy audience on Kickstarter, if you’re a technology-based start-up, because that’s where they hang out. However, if you’re selling a new fertiliser concept, you might have to work harder, and invest more money into marketing and promotion, as your target audience might not naturally frequent online funding platforms.
 

How much budget should you invest in finding an investor?

ADuT: Your marketing budget should be determined by what you’re trying to raise money for and how much you anticipate it will cost to reach the right audience to get your investment. For example, you shouldn’t need as much money to reach potential investors if they’re already in the same crowdfunding space as you.
 
Online and offline marketing will need to be considered, but you may not need both. If you’re a wearable fitness tracker, for example, your audience is predominantly online, but for education services say, or something targeted at a less tech-savvy audience, you’ll need to look at offline options as well, and that may need a bigger budget. Whatever platforms and channels you decide on, you’ll need to adjust your marketing budget accordingly to make sure you get the right balance when spending to attract investment.
 

What’s it like from the other side?

ADuT: From an investor’s perspective, it’s as difficult for investors to find like-minded start-ups that match their interests and values. It helps if both have the same ambitions and mindset. The selection process can take a long time but it’s worth it to ensure the right fit. At the end of the day, investors need to see a return (they are, after all, trying to grow too), but they also want to ensure that their input is at the right level for the growth phase of the start-ups.

Demo Days Give Graduating Cohort a Final Boost

Our fifth Accelerator cohort graduated from the programme, with a final pitch, at our recent Demo Day. Now the dust has settled from the excitement of the evening, they’ve had a chance to take a step back and are probably focusing on ‘where next?’.
Those of us who were there on the night saw a range of very different hardware tech on display. Products included a bio-burner that creates biochar for organic fertiliser, a beautifully crafted pencil sharpener, a product that breaks the itch-scratch cycle for eczema sufferers, a device that encourages people to take quick stress-free moments, shoes with adjustable heel heights, high-tech body armour for extreme sports, and a pressure-sensing smart insole that monitors running gait.
However different the product ideas, one thing most of them had in common was that their initial driver, to design, came from a place of social responsibility and often a personal experience or need. As a mountain biker, Dorota Grabkowska, of Hero Skin, knows the risks and has developed body armour that is both comfortable and highly protective. Lauren Bell, of Cosi Care, told us how her experiences as an eczema sufferer had prompted her to find a solution to stop the most frustrating and damaging problems caused by the itch-scratch cycle. While personal experience of the damaging effects of stress prompted Charlie Cadbury and Alex Strang, of Moment Pebble, to develop a product that encourages people to take quick meditative moments during their busy day.
The event had started with useful advice from two people who had experienced the highs and lows of start-ups after going through it themselves. In an entertaining discussion, Rob Nicoll, co-founder of Chip[s] Board, and CRL’s new Investor-in-Residence, Arnold du Toit, agreed that one of the most important things for start-ups, like those in our cohort, was to get the right people around them.

They stressed the need to find like-minded supporters who shared their ethical and social values and, for our graduating cohort, this must have been something that resonated given the stories they told.

When sharing their wish lists they asked for investors and partners, and connections to media, retailers and the influencers that would get them to the next level, but you got the impression that it was on their terms.
Some were already on their way and it was great to be the first to hear about a new partnership that Noah Bier, and the team at Brahman Designs, had just secured. As creators of beautiful drawing tools for creative people, their signature product the Høvel pencil sharpener has been taken up by US retailer, Pencils.com and pencil makers, Blackwing, who have placed a large order in their brand colour. We’ll be excited to hear how their next product, the Iris – an expandable stencil, develops.
As a final thought the panel reminded the entrepreneurs that, as well as having the right people, it was just as important to be in the right business space, and that’s where spaces like CRL co-working space comes into its own. It’s not just about the programmes but the wider benefits of being part of a like-minded community of people, who are supportive and get what you do, and who are there to bounce ideas off.
It must have been with mixed feelings that the fifth cohort ended the evening but the CRL team are looking forward to hearing how things go for them all…
…and now they are gearing up to welcome the sixth cohort.
Applications for the sixth CRL Accelerator programme is now closed but interested start-ups can still contact Toby Kress, toby@centralresearchlaboratory.com, to find out more, and express an interest in the programme, at any time.
Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the programme supports the next generation of product-focused entrepreneurs by helping them to develop crucial areas of their business, to help ‘accelerate’ growth, and take products to market.

A Successful Demo Day For Our Fifth Cohort

We had a great turnout for our Demo Day on 14th March, where the fifth Accelerator cohort got to pitch their products. They stepped up, in a room full of friends, family and potential investors, to show us what they’ve achieved in the last six months…. And they’ve achieved a lot! This was their last chance, as part of the programme, to pitch for support on the next stage of their journey.
 

 
After a welcome drink and a chance to see the fantastic range of products on display, everyone settled down to hear more. Mat Hunter, CEO of CRL, and Marcus Shepherd, CFO for U+I, started things off by setting the scene and thanking the programme’s many supporters. Marcus reminded us of CRL’s outstanding pedigree. Formerly, as the Central Research Laboratory of EMI, it had always been a site for innovation and a place for brilliant young minds to grow, and U+I was keen to keep it that way.
Mat continued by leading a lively, and fascinating, discussion with two people who had ‘been there and done that’, when it came to tech start-ups. Rob Nicoll, co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Chip[s] Board, and CRL’s new Investor-in-Residence, Arnold du Toit, have both been through the process. Rob’s company makes biomaterial from potato waste and his team was on the Accelerator programme last year. Arnold, was founder and CEO of Drive Daddy where he spent over a decade developing smart tech in personal transport, and developed the world’s first hop-on golf trolley. Between them they had a lot of valuable advice to pass on to the newly graduating cohort.
When asked “what’s next after Demo Day?” both agreed that the important thing was to get the right people around you – not just in terms of potential staff, but also investors. Arnold admitted that he’d learned the hard way from hiring the wrong people – simply because they were available – and advised everyone to be guided instead by who they would hire if money was no object. As a ‘junior’ investor himself he’s come to realise that, in many ways, investors are on a very similar journey to entrepreneurs and they are aiming for growth too. Rob said that when Chip[s] Board started out they didn’t have a product, but they did have a great idea and a story that investors could get behind. He felt that helped them to get likeminded investors who shared their sustainability values and, especially when it came to staff, the right fit was more important to them.
 

in many ways investors are on a very similar journey to entrepreneurs and they are aiming for growth too

 
It was great to hear their experiences first hand and, in keeping with the CRL community ethos, they both had lots of tips which they happily shared in a packed 15 minutes. They summed up by saying that leaving the Accelerator was just the beginning and it was important for the start-ups to keep the momentum going, and to choose carefully when deciding where to move to and who they would take on their journey.
 

 
The next part of the evening was led by Alice Johnson, CRL Programmes Manager, who introduced the 7 cohort members making their final 5-minute pitches:
Lauren Bell, of Cosi Care, is on a mission to help eczema sufferers, particularly children, break the damaging itch-scratch cycle with her solution which provides instant cooling relief. A staggering number of people, in the UK, suffer with the condition and her innovative product has already won her accolades including the Santander/Brunel University prize for emerging entrepreneur of the year.
Conor Lascelles and Lottie Hawkins, of Agile Planet, have developed a bio-burner which produces carbon-negative, organic fertiliser in the form of biochar, from waste wood, and is attracting the interest of serious gardeners with an eye on more organic and environmentally friendly practices.
Alecia Esson, of NxSteps, has designed a smart insole that uses pressure-sensing technology and an app, to provide biomechanical data, which will lead to better movement and less injury for the wearer.
Alex Strang and Charlie Cadbury, of Moment Pebble, have developed a solution to stress, in the form of a touchstone with a built in 30-second meditation, that brings mindful moments to busy people, without the need for apps and mobile phones.
Yaagni Patel, of Y-Heels, has developed innovative multi-height shoes, with an adaptable twist, that dispenses with the need to carry spare shoes. At the click of a button, the heel heights of her shoes can be interchanged to avoid the inconvenience of commuting in high heels.
Dorota Grabkowska, of Hero Skin, has developed next generation body armour for extreme supports that gets the right balance between maximum comfort and optimum protection. As a mountain biker herself, she knows that there are 2 types of mountain bikers… “those who have crashed and those who will”. Injuries are unavoidable and the impressive product reveal was met with enthusiastic applause.
Noah Bier, of Brahman Design, and his co-founders are in the business of creating beautifully designed products for creative people. Their signature product, the Hovel, is the first in their creative tool range which has led to a new partnership with US pencil makers, Blackwing. They are now planning for their next product, the Iris.
All of the start-ups presented their plans for the next stage, and they were very clear about what they needed for the next stage of growth from potential partners. To find out more about them, click on the links.
 

“We’re really proud to see how far they’ve all come and the CRL team are looking forward to hearing more as they continue to make history”

 
Alice summed up by saying “We’re really proud to see how far they’ve all come and the CRL team are looking forward to hearing more as they continue to make history. Some will stay with us – moving to the next stage with our BOOST programme. Some will join us in one of our co-working spaces, around the country, but we hope all will keep in touch and pop in to see us occasionally.”
Applications for the sixth CRL Accelerator programme is now closed but interested start-ups can still contact alice@centralresearchlaboratory.com to find out more, and express an interest in the programme, at any time.
Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the programme supports the next generation of product-focused entrepreneurs by helping them to develop crucial areas of their business, to help ‘accelerate’ growth, and take products to market.

CRL's International Women's Day starts at Global Academy

CRL’s International Women’s Day celebrations started early, with a female member of our team and two of the incredible female members of our Accelerator cohort heading over to Global Academy on 5 March to give a talk as part of their careers week. CRL’s Genevieve and the wonderful Yaagni Patel of Y-Heels and Alecia Esson of NxSteps headed over to the media-focused college to discuss all things entrepreneurship. Global Academy student, Aiden, had been tasked with hosting the event and writing the questions for it, which extended the event’s underlying theme of female empowerment! We were so pleased to both showcase the incredible female talent within CRL, but also hopefully inspire a future generation of female entrepreneurs.
 

We were so pleased to both showcase the incredible female talent within CRL, but also hopefully inspire a future generation of female entrepreneurs

 
Aiden’s initial questions focused on both Alecia and Yaagni’s products – a high heeled shoe with a detachable heel and a smart insole for runners – and how they decided they were the ideas they wanted to progress with. Their answers centred around the need to validate their products, and also that the ‘lightbulb moment’ doesn’t really exist, in that hard work is needed to make any product a reality. 
Discussion moved onto how things can be different for you as a women in the tech / hardware industry. Alecia was very open and expressed that she’s occasionally had people explain her product back to her, despite coming up with it! There was discussion around the need to stick up for yourself, and not make yourself ‘quiet and small’ and take up the space you deserve, even if people don’t like it. 
 

After the event, both Yaagni and Alecia filmed video interviews with Global Academy students. Yaagni offered perhaps the most poignant advice in her interview:
 

“It’s not about how many times you fall, but how you handle picking yourself up”

 
CRL’s Accelerator is open for applications and we would like to a strong presence of female entrepreneurs amongst our next cohort.
Please remember you can catch Alecia and Yaagni at our demo day on 14 March.

Sign up for CRL's innovative hardware Accelerator – applications close 16 March

Press release, February 2019
 
The Central Research Laboratory (CRL) is once again open for applications to its specialist, hardware Accelerator. Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the 6 month, London-based programme supports the next generation of product-focused entrepreneurs, helping them to develop crucial areas of their business to help ‘accelerate’ growth and production. 
For more information, and to apply please visit: https://www.centralresearchlaboratory.com/accelerator/
Businesses previously selected for the programme are some of the most exciting and diverse product-focused start-ups in the UK. They come from many sectors including ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Wearables’, to educational and leisure products, robotics and ‘cleantech’ (environmental technologies). As part of their involvement in the programme, successful entrepreneurs will receive a start-up grant, access to our specialist prototyping facilities, support from our in-house product development team, dedicated sessions with a large range of industry experts, direct connections with manufacturers and support to raise seed funding.
‘We are proud to support the aspirations of successful entrepreneurs who are eager to develop their designs into into world class businesses. The UK is home to world-class design and engineering talent but it can be challenging to access the knowledge and resources required to get ideas into production. We meet an important need.’ Mat Hunter, CEO.
Businesses that have found success through previous rounds of the CRL Accelerator programme include Aceleron, JOTO and Mimica Labs. These companies have gone on to raise substantial investment, and their founders have been recognised through entrepreneurial awards.
The start-ups currently on the programme are working on a highly diverse range of products, from mindfulness aids to shoes with adaptable heels, a toy that also eases the irritation of eczema to beautiful stationery built to last a lifetime. See more on the start-ups that make up cohort 5 here.
We’ve recently welcomed additionally support to further enhance our programme offering, including Arnold du Toit joining as our Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Jim Reeves as Investor-in-Residence.
 
Applications to the Accelerator will remain open until 16 March – please sign up via our F6S page – prior to this it will be possible to experience what those on the programme achieve first-hand, by attending our ‘Demo Day’ on 14 March where the start-ups will be pitching to investors.
 
Please share this update with any start-ups that you think might find it of interest. If possible, please share on your website and social media.
 
Startups, join CRL to #MakeHistory! 
 
-END-
 
Notes for Editors
The Central Research Laboratory, located at the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, West London is an accelerator, incubator and co-working space. CRL was founded by regeneration specialists U+I in collaboration with Brunel University London and is supported by HEFCE and ERDF. The team work with innovative start-ups to create high-tech jobs and economic growth.
More information about CRL and the team can be found here https://www.centralresearchlaboratory.com/about/.
The CRL project is receiving up to £800,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit httpss://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

Entrepreneur-in-Residence joins to support CRL start-ups

As well as product development workshops and business seminars, the Accelerator programme (applications open now!) includes one-to-one mentoring sessions with entrepreneurs in the relevant field. To up the levels of support, we’ve added an Entrepreneur-in-Residence to our growing team of ‘experts-in-residence’. Jim Reeves is already well-known, by the CRL community, as one of our programme mentors and he joined us as Entrepreneur-in-Residence, towards the end of last year.
Jim is a product design consultant and co-founder of the phenomenally successful GravityLight. He explains, “GravityLight was designed for off-grid families living in energy poverty, who would otherwise be relying on dangerous and expensive kerosene for their home lighting. I co-founded GravityLight as a social venture, to deliver innovative solutions to off-grid, low income homes.”
 

He’s keen to share what he’s learnt on the journey so far and to keep learning from those around him.

 
As Technical Director, for GravityLight, he led the venture from first concept, through international field trials, to global product launch. (You can read more about Jim’s inspirational journey on his website.) He’s keen to share what he’s learnt on the journey so far and to keep learning from those around him. With a career spanning consultancy, social entrepreneurship and teaching, he brings a lot of experience, and passion, to the Accelerator programme and the CRL community.
Jim plans to be around at least one day a week and is looking forward to working closely with cohort members, on a more regular basis, to help them with their individual challenges. Part of the challenge, he says, is in helping product innovators to see the world in enterprise terms. He adds, “The cohort members all have the potential to be disruptors in their chosen markets, and it’s interesting to support them through the process… to recognise the nature of their particular challenge and to be supportive in their journey”.
According to Jim, “Product designers play a significant part in shaping the world around them – socially, environmentally, economically and culturally. Some products simply ought to exist. They ‘deserve’ to exist. These are the products that interest me.” We like to think that, at CRL, he’s in the perfect place to find the kind of innovative and changemaking talent he likes to support.
httpss://www.jimreeves.info/
 
We are incredibly pleased to have welcomed Jim as our Entrepreneur-in-Residence, as know how valuable our current Accelerator cohort find his support, which will also extend to our next cohort. Please remember, applications for our next Accelerator programme are now open, apply via our F6S page.

New Investor-in-Residence to Support CRL Startups

PRESS RELEASE
7 February 2019
There are many ways for startups to get funding, including grants, crowdfunding and investor networks. As with everything, some are better than others. Just working out what’s needed, when, and who from, can be a full-time job in itself… before they even get to the ‘how’.
With that in mind, the Central Research Laboratory (CRL) is pleased to announce that Arnold du Toit, founder and CEO for Drive Daddy and RolleyGolf Ltd, has joined the team, as Investor-in-Residence to lend expertise.
Arnold has spent over a decade developing smarter technologies in personal transport, for future landscapes. The technology’s most recent use is in a World’s first powered golf trolley that can be ridden and stored in a small car boot. Since starting Drive Daddy in 2008, at the age of 21, while still at university, he has won accolades including PC World’s Britain’s Best Young Entrepreneur and, at the end of 2018, his business was on target to turnover around £5 million.
Having led design and operational teams at RolleyGolf, he’s now applying his personal IP to many other sectors. He already acts as brand ambassador, advisor and investor for several startups, ed-tech businesses and hardware accelerators, and he’ll be a welcome addition to the CRL community.
Based in Hayes, west London, CRL is the UK’s first accelerator dedicated to tech hardware, and a co-working space. It was founded by regeneration specialists U+I, in collaboration with Brunel University London, and is supported by HEFCE and the European Regional Development Fund. The CRL programme team works with innovative start-ups to create high-tech jobs and economic growth.
Arnold joins the growing team of resident experts, including Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Jim Reeves, that supports the Accelerator and BOOST programmes for tech hardware start-ups at CRL. His role will be to help start-ups navigate the investment minefield, with a focus on hardware funding, at whatever stage they’re at in their journey.
 
Investment for early-stage startups
When startups get together, investment is a topic that comes up time and again. To help demystify the process, CRL will be running an event, Investment for early-stage start-ups, on 13 February, 17.00-21.00, at The Shipping Building, 252-254 Blyth Road. Arnold will be one of the speakers offering their insights on topics including: the best routes to market; getting noticed by investors; getting the story right; demonstrating growth potential; and how to become an investor. He’ll be joined by Rowan Minkley and Rob Nicoll of Chip[s] Board, who were on the Accelerator programme in 2018.
Attendees will have the chance to chat with Arnold, and the other speakers, over beers and pizza, after the event. For more information, and to sign up for the event click through to the following web page, or contact Genevieve Oller, genevieve@centralresearchlaboratory.com.
 
Notes for Editors
The Central Research Laboratory, located at the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, West London, is an accelerator, incubator and co-working space. CRL was founded by regeneration specialists U+I, in collaboration with Brunel University London, and is supported by HEFCE and ERDF. The team work with innovative start-ups to create high-tech jobs and economic
growth.
More information about CRL and the team can be found here: https://www.centralresearchlaboratory.com/about/
The CRL project is receiving up to £800,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for
European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit httpss://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
 

Shenzhen – where hardware product ideas become reality

Another of our articles providing a deep dive into what the Accelerator programme offers. The latest in the series offers a closer look at what the start-ups get out of the trip to Shenzhen. Applications for our next Accelerator programme are now open, apply via our F6S page.
 
The Chinese city of Shenzhen is the HQ for many well-known international high-tech companies. As a leading global technology hub it’s been labelled, by those in the know, as the Silicon Valley of Hardware. Shenzhen is also a major manufacturing centre in China and it’s proving to be fertile ground for hardware start-ups. Those are just some of the reasons why the CRL Accelerator includes a funded trip to the city as part of each programme.
Something else that Shenzhen is famous for is its disruptive innovators. On our most recent trip, our very own disruptive entrepreneurs met the best in Shenzhen manufacturing to see what they could learn.
 

Shenzhen is famous for is its disruptive innovators

 
The latest Accelerator cohort cover products including high-end stationery, protective clothing, wearable health-tech, and a toy to help relieve eczema itching. Between them, they were on a mission to find out more about their own particular manufacturing needs and looking for manufacturers and suppliers they could work with. We had a chat with them, while they were out there, to find out what they thought.
Odin Ardagh, from Brahman Design, makes beautifully designed luxury stationery. He said, “The trip’s highlighted the value of working with a manufacturing partner, and considering the process, early on in new product design, to make sure the finished product can be mass manufactured”. For him, and his team back in the UK, he wanted to get a better understanding of Chinese manufacturing and hoped to develop a personal relationship with their new manufacturing partner. “All-in-all,” he said, “we’re very pleased with the trip and what we’ve achieved.”
 

The trip’s highlighted the value of working with a manufacturing partner, and considering the process, early on in new product design”

 
Yaagni Patel, whose product idea – Y-Heels – is an easily adaptable heel for shoes, said she found the trip a great experience. She’s in the early stages of product development, so for her it was interesting to see how shoes were actually made in a factory, and what she needed to pull together before approaching manufacturers. As part of her trip she spent a whole day with one of her contacts just visiting shoe factories. She said, “At one factory they showed me an adaptable heel that they were developing and how the mechanism connected to the shank that supports the shoe. That helped me develop my idea, and it solved the issue of support in the shoe and integrating the mechanism into it.”
 
                                      

   

Charlie Cadbury, from Moment Pebble – a mindfulness aid, went out to find a manufacturing partner. He said, “We think we’ve found that, along with a working knowledge of how to navigate the Chinese supply chain, we’re more confident with it now. I think we’re in a good shape to build any products we want to create”. He added that peer bonding on the trip was great too.
 

 

“We think we’ve found that, along with a working knowledge of how to navigate the Chinese supply chain, we’re more confident with it now”

 
Dorota Grabkowska’s product idea is for high-tech sports body protection. She was looking for a foam factory that could provide the right materials and manufacturing processes for her protective vest. She said, “It was so great to be taken on a trip to Shenzhen. It’s a really good idea to do this – especially with businesses that have never been or made anything in China”. She added, “I need to spend more time on product development now and make sure the design is manufacturable”.
Lauren Bell, of Cosi Care, is developing a toy, which includes electronic cooling, to help children cope with the scratching caused by eczema. She said, “product-wise, I now understand why you need to keep things as simple as possible. And, it’s so important to prioritise functions and components because it can add a lot to your cost and logistics of making the product a success”. For her, the one big thing that she got out of the trip, was finding that the technology that she would need for the electronic cooling already existed. For her it was great to find out that, instead of making life difficult for herself by reinventing the wheel, she could incorporate the existing technology into her design.
 
                                  
 

“product-wise, I now understand why you need to keep things as simple as possible”

 
Apart from an unmissable opportunity to visit China’s biggest hardware technology hub, one of the key things that most of the cohort members said they got out of the trip, was the chance to put their own design and product development, in context, and make sure that they would be suitable for manufacture. They all thought that the trip highlighted the importance of using agents, to bridge the culture and language gaps, when sourcing in China, and it was a great to meet the key people face-to-face.
Some returned with new manufacturing partners, or better relationships with existing ones that they’d previously only met remotely. Others valued the trip but were left wondering if China would be the best place to manufacture their products. At least one of the cohort came back with more than they bargained for (KTV microphone anyone..?!).
Now that they are back home, and a new year begins, we can look forward to hearing how things progress for them all.

Hardware start-ups at CRL are beating the trend

Applications for our next Accelerator programme are now open; this article marks the first in our series on our programme and the benefits it brings to entrepreneurs that join.
 
Hardware start-ups at CRL are beating the trend
In an environment where 9 out of 10 new businesses typically fail to get off the ground, never mind reaching break even, hardware start-ups need all the support they can get. Accelerator programmes are the way to go.
 

Over the 4 years that the CRL Accelerator programme has been running it’s seen an impressive survival rate of more than 80%

 
Over the 4 years that the CRL Accelerator programme has been running it’s seen an impressive survival rate of more than 80% amongst its cohort members. In that time, it’s helped 29 companies to grow and start-ups programmes advisor, Inty Grønneberg, partly puts the success down to a highly curated programme, tailored to the particular needs of each new intake.
 
What’s so different about the Accelerator programme?
What makes the CRL Accelerator programme different from the others, is the point at which it takes product-focused start-ups on, and the specialist nature of what’s on offer. Plus, the added support of CRL’s new team of likeminded entrepreneurs is a bonus.
 

Accelerator cohort members are given the tools to help them think like entrepreneurs

 
The Accelerator programme specialises in helping hardware start-ups – in the early stages of product development – to get from concept to reality in an intensive 6 months. Of course, not every cohort member will be ready for that, but, at the very least, they can expect to finish the programme with a better understanding of their customers, proof of concept, and a prototype to take to manufacture. Those that want to take it to the next level can move to CRL’s BOOST programme, which supports start-ups that are looking to scale, and is available independently of the Accelerator.
Accelerator cohort members are given the tools to help them think like entrepreneurs, find hardware-specific funding, and grow sustainable, profitable businesses. If they make the most of the exceptional networking opportunities on offer, they’ll also have an enviable ‘black book’ of contacts for mentors, suppliers and fellow entrepreneurs on various stages of the same journey.
 
A new entrepreneurial team
The Accelerator programme has a new entrepreneurial support team, now supported by Inty, who joined CRL in July. As a serial entrepreneur he knows, first-hand, what start-ups have to go through and how difficult it can be to navigate the funding landscape. He works in conjunction with Alice Johnson, CRL programmes lead, who has a great deal of experience in technology business hubs and works collaboratively with Inty to curate the programme.
 

“just being part of the ‘ecosystem’ is good for start-ups. Being part of the vibe, meeting other start-ups going through similar things”

 
As Inty puts it, “it’s not just about the challenges of starting and running a hardware business… just being part of the ‘ecosystem’ is good for start-ups. Being part of the vibe, meeting other start-ups going through similar things, and learning from each other, is great for any entrepreneur.”
Also new to the team is Jim Reeves, product design consultant and founder of GravityLight, who recently joined as entrepreneur-in-residence.
 
It’s much more than just money
CRL is quite often the first investor for many of its cohort members but the value of the programme goes way beyond the cash injection. It’s also about the expertise, exposure, mentoring and networks, which are as difficult to access as funding is for those new to their industry.
The programme takes an option of 3 percent equity that is typically exercised during a participating venture’s first seed invest round.
 
Supporting diversity in tech
CRL prides itself on attracting and supporting start-ups from a range of sectors. The latest cohort for the Accelerator programme is a diverse group of 8 start-ups with product concepts ranging from consumer wellbeing tech to sustainability-related tech. Unusually for many accelerator programmes, this cohort has a 50:50 split of male and female business owners who bring their own special mix of experience and skills.
Together, they are about to embark on an accelerated journey which will hopefully see them following in the funded-footsteps of cohort members before them.
 
It is possible to apply for our programme via our F6S page, see here. If you have any questions, please email: Alice@centralresearchlaboratory.com.

Postcards from Shenzhen

As part of our Accelerator programme (applications for next year open now!) we provide a curated trip to Shenzhen for the entrepreneurs, this includes tours of factories relevant to their products and meetings with other manufacturing specialists.
There is a massive variation in the products being developed by this cohort, which has been reflected in the varied array of places visited this time round. Each day they’ve been doing something completely different, see below for some of their highlights!
 
Yaagni Patel of Y-Heels’ Monday in Shenzhen:

 
We arrived at Shenzhen railway station at 10am to get the train to Humen and then a taxi to Guangdong province. The first factory we visited was Dingfeng, it was in a small place surrounded by construction works and bamboo scaffolding. As we entered there were many different types of shoes being manufactured from knock off Alexander McQueen trainers to studded leather boots. At this factory they specialise in custom designs and small batches as the factory did not have many workers and a only one production line but it was incredibly insightful to see how the pattern of the material is cut and stitched together.
 
 
                                          . 
 
We then stopped off at McDonald’s for a quick bite to eat before being picked up by Kai Chuang shoe company. Here they make shoes designed for our favourite high street brands including river island, topshop and newlook. On the production line they were making red converse looking trainers and simple black leather smart mens shoes. Here we saw how a fast production line works from cutting the pattern to placing it around the last (foot mold) and applying the sole and uppers of the shoe. At this factory they do everything from the design to the packing of the final product.

 

My views on manufacturing in China has completely changed and it definitely has given me the confidence on the next steps

 
The last factory called Aimeicheng had a great selection of shoes to show us and are also in the process of manufacturing another type of adaptable heel designed for women to fold the heel in to drive more easily. They even showed us their mechanism and how they dealt with the movement in the sole of the shoe (which I don’t think they were allowed to do) but unfortunately we didn’t get to see their production line.
 
The whole day was very insightful and has definitely supported the design development of the product. My views on manufacturing in China has completely changed and it definitely has given me the confidence on the next steps.

 

 

Alex Strang of Moment Pebble’s diary from Wednesday in Shenzhen – 
 
Dear CRL Diary,

Wednesday started off on shaky ground with the Moment Pebble team feeling the effects of a night out with Victor – that guy can party. Wow!
 
Despite a slightly later start, we managed to have an incredibly productive day. The day was split into 3 main sections:
 
1) Victor meeting: Fantastic meeting where he helped to solve a couple of key development unknowns we had. MomentPebble-Alex suffered some navigation issues using google maps (it lies to you) and saw a large part of Shezhen suburbia on foot.
 
 

Fantastic meeting where he helped to solve a couple of key development unknowns we had.

 
Victors office & lost Alex: 
 
 
2) Moment Pebble board meeting: 116 floors up on the highest viewing platform in the world.
 
                
 
 
Just before the meeting Charlie scalded his internals with a spicy eating challenge. Who does that in China?! 
 
 
3) Shopping! We finished the day off with a masterclass in negotiation from Charlie at a mega shopping mall in Luohu.
 
After a fair amount of back and forth, it tends to end something like this “Ok ok, give me your best best, best best, best price…”
 
                               
 
A good day had by all.
 
Moment Pebble Team
 
 
Wednesday also saw CRL’s Alex Peet and Dorota Grabkowska of Fanatic House spend the day at a phone packaging factory.
 
Thursday –
The wonderful Nadiya Siddique of Stealthy headed to jewellery factories outside of the city centre on Wednesday. Incase you don’t follow her, you can do so at @stealthywoman, where she’s been posting a detailed breakdown of her day-to-day activity – we’re rooting for her to have her own YouTube channel!


                                              
 

CRL's Hardware for / by Women – 'democratizing hardware'

There’s a rising tide of female talent in the hardware sector and the CRL event, Hardware by/for Women event (29 Nov), provided a great platform to celebrate it. The event showcased some of the inspirational hardware entrepreneurs leading the way with innovative products by, or for, women. An enthusiastic audience of fellow entrepreneurs and designers gathered to hear from the five top quality speakers.
CRL’s Marketing Manager, Genevieve Oller, opened by saying that the event was spawned off the back of seeing firsthand how diverse perspectives can influence or even prompt complete pivots in product development.
Mat Hunter, managing director at CRL, was in the audience and he said, “CRL is passionate about providing a platform for female entrepreneurs and for those designing for female customers. Our vision is of a diverse community of innovators creating products for a wide range of customers – and this event certainly delivered on that.”.
The speakers certainly shared the CRL vision, along with a strong desire to use technology to tackle important issues.
 

“CRL is passionate about providing a platform for female entrepreneurs and for those designing for female customers”

 
Tech makes education fun
First up, was Sadhbh Doherty, product manager for Tech Will Save Us (TWSU). She shared the TWSU vision for accessible educational technology, and their latest products, and gave us a quick insight into how products are developed. She explained that, the TWSU idea was that tech must be presented as simple and fun, and should be engaging for the parents as well as the children. Their early educational kits had involved soldering and other enthusiast-level activities. Having spent time with their customers, the kits have evolved to include conductive thread and easy to make conductive electro dough. She finished up by saying that the commercial success of the latest kits suggested that they were getting the formula right.

 

An elegant solution to UV monitoring
Next, Sadhbh introduced Nadiya Siddique, who has developed the first modular UV-sensor-enabled jewellery to raise awareness of vitamin D deficiencies in the wearer. We heard how, in 2015, Nadiya broke both ankles, while hiking, and later discovered that a critical vitamin D deficiency was the probable cause. That galvanised her to develop an innovative product to help women tackle vitamin D deficiency and the serious health risks associated with it. She said that the problem was particularly acute for women with darker skin and those who covered their hair or face. Her solution – UNA – which is still in the early stages of development, is a piece of wearable tech in the form of jewellery and an associated app. It provides an elegant way to monitor UV exposure and encourage action to build vitamin D levels safely.
 

 
Smart security for vulnerable employees
Chakshu Saharan, spoke next and presented Ignius, a safety alert system for female employees in unsafe environments. She explained that 97% of women in Delhi felt unsafe, and 90 million women had left the workforce because they feared for their safety, on a daily basis. This had prompted her to create Ignius.
 

Chakshu shared that she felt CRL had democratized hardware for her

 
Like Nadiya, she started by imagining it as jewellery, but soon realised that employer-backing was the key and therefore it needed to be more practical and robust in design. With the help of the CRL Accelerator programme, Ignius evolved into a smart security pass, which would provide reliable, discrete protection and be more appealing to security service providers. Chakshu relayed that getting that first pilot programme would continue to be hard while female safety was not being taken as seriously, by employers, as it should be.
During the panel discussion proceeding the presentations, Chakshu shared that she felt CRL had democratized hardware for her – an insight the panel and audience seemingly agreed with, and certainly one of the CRL team’s favourite of the event!
 

 
From banana skin to food spoilage indicator
Next, we heard from Solveiga Pakštaitė, of Mimica. She told us about her mission to reduce food waste – an increasingly global issue – and how it led her to develop a biologically accurate food spoilage indicator. Her product journey started with an old banana! She realised that the skin was a natural indicator of deterioration and she wondered if food packaging could be made to behave in the same way. She worked with food chemists, and product designers, to develop the Mimica Touch label system which deteriorates as the food goes off.
 

 
Solveiga was part of CRL’s very first Accelerator cohort, and relayed that being a part of the programme was one of the first steps towards becoming an established business – holding meetings in an office space is always going to make you seem more professional than holding them at home! 
 
A smart bracelet to cool the system
Finally, Peter Astbury spoke about his journey developing Grace, which helps women cope with hot flushes. He explained that, from speaking directly to women, he learned that they wanted a product that automatically dealt with the effects. His ‘a-ha moment’ came when he heard that cold water on the wrists helped. As a result, he’s developed a smart bracelet which detects the hot flush, and cools the wrist to counteract its effects, before the wearer knows it’s happening.
When sharing the challenge of his journey so far, it was fascinating to learn that, when working face-to-face with women, on the subject of the menopause, he received great support for focusing on tackling women’s health issues. In contrast, when sharing his mission on social media, he was surprised to meet with the verbal hostility from some people – he also mentioned he’d encountered pushback from a number men who couldn’t quite get their heads around it!
 

 
All in all, Hardware by/for Women was a great event. The panel of speakers showed that, while there are some exciting entrepreneurs tackling important issues, female founders in a male-dominated sector, and male founders working to improve female health issues, can still face prejudice, ignorance and hostility.
 

the importance of listening to your customer rang through again and again

 
Genevieve concluded by saying that the event should have been called ‘what women want’ – on account of how many times the phrase was said throughout the course of the event – and how open and intimate the event had felt. More the anything, the importance of listening to your customer – whether you’re creating tech toys for children, a wearable for women experiencing menopausal symptoms or safety devices for women in India – rang through again and again, and that can only happen when you seek these people out, and not resting on your laurels.
 
The event wrapped up with networking drinks and the chance for further chat with the speakers.
 
Applications for the next Accelerator programme are open from NOW, please apply via our programme page, to express interest or to ask any questions email: alice@centralresearchlaboratory.com.

CRL is hiring! – Membership Assistant

We are looking to recruit a Membership Assistant responsible for members’ experience and all contributing factors at our flexible work space. It will be you who ensures the smooth running of the work space, manage social media and members communication leading to members satisfaction scores at 100%.
 
Under guidance from the management you will grow our community and enable connections between members. We are looking for someone who understands people, is warm, friendly and wants to work with a truly forward-thinking company that is building for success. This is a fantastic opportunity to join a passionate team, and to be integral to our growth plans with new locations in near future across the UK.
 
We want you to start as soon as possible.
 
This role will be based in Hayes (12 min from Paddington on train, facility is located 5 min walk from train station) with occasional travel to other locations and work out of office hours covering social events.
 
This role could suit an ambitious graduate providing you can evidence relevant skills.
 
About you:

  • Hospitality background with a passion and focus on providing first class service
  • Strong written communication, enjoy copy-writing
  • Organised and quick to react self-starter
  • Have a ‘can-do’ positive attitude to get things done
  • Enjoy a fast-paced working environment
  • Educated to a degree level or equivalent work experience
  • Innovative, creative with an initiative
  • Experienced in successfully using social media and creating digital content
  • Ideally experienced in working in co-working spaces or a serviced office environment
  • Sales experience desirable
  • Graphic design skills desirable

 
Activities:
 

  • Managing communication to members and creating social media content
  • Working closely with the team striving to improve members experience
  • Responsible for members’ satisfaction scores
  • Managing memberships via CRM system
  • Managing incoming sales leads and sign ups
  • Conducting workspace tours and onboarding new members
  • Curating and organising social events
  • Fostering Slack channel and other community activities
  • Engaging with members and making sure they are satisfied with all services
  • Dealing with any arising issues quickly with members experience at heart
  • Managing meeting rooms internal and external hires
  • Ensuring the space is maintained, clean and tidy
  • Any other reasonable duties supporting the smooth running of the operation

 
 
Please email your CV to olga@centralresearchlaboratory.com with a short note detailing your most relevant skills.
 

Animaro's Kickstarter success

We love to keep up-to-date with the developments and successes of the CRL Accelerator alumni, and last week was an especially good week for that given the impressive performance of Animaro’s Kickstarter. The campaign was fully funded within 3 days and backers are continuing to pledge, see here for their Kickstarter page.
See video on the stunning final product here:
httpss://vimeo.com/300468231

Animaro, founded by Matt Gilbert, was a part of cohort 4 of our Accelerator programme and arrived at CRL with a non-working prototype of his Solstice clock. The Solstice clock turns passing hours into moving art; it gradually changes shape throughout the day to inspire a more relaxed view of time.
 
 

The CRL product development team came up with the suggestion for a sliding component which worked brilliantly and made the clock easier to manufacture

 
It was fantastic to see how the clock, and more specifically the mechanism that facilitates the movement, developed at CRL. The CRL product development team came up with the suggestion for a sliding component which worked brilliantly and made the clock easier to manufacture. It is made from solid frictionless plastic as opposed to a series of radial bearings. This also reduced the part count and made the clock much easier to maintain. This is the part that you see at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and connects the wooden mechanism to the stainless steel rails.
 
The team also supported Mat with how to design metal components, having previously specialised in wood. Solstice is predominantly a metal product so this understanding was critical in order to develop the product.
 
His Kickstarter campaign has already been featured by Core77, Colossal, on a large number of Instagram influencer accounts and impressively on Star Trek actor George Takei’s facebook (which has 10 million followers!).
 
It’s incredible to watch his success story play out. Take a look at his campaign page, continue to support it and follow him on social media for further updates.