Harbury inventor’s bright idea leads to ‘hands free’ Twistii torch
Mark Habberley was walking his dog near his home when his phone rang.
The process of answering it while holding a torch and keeping the dog-lead in hand, proved troublesome - and made him think ‘there must be a better way’.
Mark says he did not want to wear a head-torch as they are uncomfortable and can blind anyone walking towards you.
So that ‘better way’ has become Twistii, a torch worn on the wrist which allows both hands to be kept free.
It recently featured and won episode 12 of the BBC show The Customer Is Always Right - which is available on the BBC iPlayer until June 5 - receiving the seal of approval of the public judges on the programme.
The torches are now available via the website www.twistii.com, but the path to production from the moment of conception was far from straightforward.
Mark, whose business is based at Churchlands Business Park in Harbury, said: “When I had the idea in 2011, I strongly felt that it was a good concept.
“But bringing it together as a product turned out to be very difficult.
“Working with my co-founder Darrell Butler, we made our first prototype together quite quickly. We wanted a rechargeable torch that gave good light and yet remained compact and comfortable to wear.
“This involved another six versions before finalising the design.
“The project stalled for a year, but then one day my wife said to me, ‘come on, you’d better do something about it or one day you’ll see it on Dragons’ Den and somebody else will cash in’.
“That sparked it off again.
“It was too small for UK manufacturers to consider but after a couple of years we were lucky to find a great production partner overseas.”
Warwickshire County Council’s Economy and Skills team helped Mark and Darrell obtain a proof of concept grant from Coventry University Enterprises and further funding from the Coventry and Warwickshire Innovation Programme towards the costs of soft-tooling and electronics.
Mark said: “This really validated our idea and has helped us get the first production run completed so we can test the market and look for retail and distribution partners.”