We decided that it was about time we practised what we preached and last year, took the plunge and launched Flexyfoot, a totally new approach to walking aids. Flexyfoot is designed to fit onto crutches, sticks walking frames and stools and is designed to replace the basic rubber ferrule. It provides 50% more grip, shock absorbency and rotation and has been welcomed by users, professionals and the trade.
It took 18 months from initial ides to launch and that included, the business plan, raising the finance, development, user trials, testing, tooling, optimisation, CE marking, patents, trademarks, marketing materials, PR, branding and launch. This has given Goodwin a terrific insight into the issues that clients face when developing and launching new products, so we are uniquely positioned to help turn your plans into profitable reality.
The springboard was the realisation that a blow moulded plastic bellows that we had developed to inject fluids into high pressure systems, with modifications to its size and material specification, could also be turned into a 360 degree adjustable suspension system so that the base is always in full contact with the ground. At the same time, the sealed bellows absorbs shock and impact, isolating these from the body. Cross fertilising ideas, technologies and materials from one industry sector to another often leads to solutions that change the game and give clients a very significant market advantage.
Early prototypes were used for initial user trials and the results were fed back into the design and then the tooling was built. A six month trial was run by the Runnymede BMI Hospital and the patient feedback was excellent: 100% of patients felt safer, more secure and had less pain. In parallel, in our workshop, we built a rig to simulate the walking action, to test the potential life of the product. A load of 50Kg is applied at each step and samples have walked over 500,000 steps or 300 miles. The design exploits the toughness and unique hinging properties of polypropylene to achieve its excellent functionality.
Ferrules are notoriously difficult to change and part of the Flexyfoot marketing approach is based on 'the disposable razor principal'; The bellows with its integral rubber tread foot, simply unscrews from the collar so when the tread is worn, the user only has to replace the foot. This provides Flexyfoot with an on going income stream and forms a key part of the business case.
New insights to bring the product to market
We decided to bring a new approach to the marketing of mobility products, creating a witty and consumer orientated brand rather than the industry standard institutional look. It stirred up a lot of interest in the market and major distribution deals have been signed for the UK, ROI, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark and negotiations for Germany, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Holland are well advanced.
Feedback from customers who say that Flexyfoot has changed their lives, makes it all worthwhile!