Case Study: The Bike Blanket
Client: Caroline Mcfarlane
Product Protection: Currently patent pending in the UK, Registered Design
Caroline Mcfarlane is a successful and incredibly hard working inventor, business woman and Innovate client. Her product started out like many we see at Innovate, an idea in her head to fix a problem. Caroline’s idea came to her when she was In West Sussex loading motorbikes on to an articulated lorry. She saw expensive motorbikes covered in blankets, bubble wrap and duvets to protect the machines. Covering them with various materials was time consuming and did not really protect the areas on the bikes that needed protecting. She was also no stranger to the cost of the repairs to motorbikes damaged in transit belonging to her. That is when she thought of the Bike Blanket, to prevent damage to motorbikes in transit.
The Bike Blanket was to have three main elements. It should be waterproof, protective and the motorbike should be able to be maneuvered with the product on the machine. Caroline wanted to bring three elements together creating a new, useful product with personal design choices. Innovate carried out patent research and drafting for Caroline, as well as exploring the design and creating a prototype. The Bike Blanket took off. Caroline describes the process as “amazing but lengthy”. In a nutshell, Caroline describes the process after Innovate: “We went looking for manufacturers, continued to review the design process, met with the suppliers, advertising the product, attended trade stands, took the BB to the NEC (National Exhibition Centre).
We listened to possible customers, what they wanted, their choices. I contacted companies that may have an interest in the product, created promotions, made full use of all customer feedback.” Caroline was adamant that The Bike Blanket needed to attract the motorcycle industry, European track eventing is massive, the industry is stylish and to have the ultimate track bike that is performing at its best and looks amazing was essential. During the process, Caroline met with a company in Somerset and took the prototype with her. They loved it. Although they had never seen anything like it they were keen to produce it. “Seeing the first order in black and red for a Ducati was just amazing.” They still have regular meetings to discuss the BB, looking at the quality, cost, improvements what the customer wants. Her husband Chris, a devoted track and road rider, also has been involved from the beginning lending his knowledge of motorbikes and technical support. He invented the side stand option, allowing the side stand to be accessible with the Bike Blanket in place.
What is happening now?
The Bike Blanket is used in the UK. Some people purchase them for protection to a motorbike in storage as well. The Bike Blanket is also included in the Design Europa Awards this year. Caroline is always looking to improve and grow with her company: “I would like other manufacturing resources nearer to home. I want to move with the motorbike industry, motorbikes are prize processions, the owner wants the best and if their bike colours are black and red l want to be able to offer their colour choices with a personal touch.” Caroline has made some quality business connections over this time. Especially with Circuit Moto, a European Track Day organiser. Caroline explains how the owner, Nigel Jacks promotes her product at all the European load ups and includes it in his Facebook, she is consistently supplying to Nick. PCR Performance also support the product. This company build, tune and refine track bikes to get the ultimate performance out of them, their services include the presentation of the bike, this is where the Bike Blanket comes in. PCR Performance advertise the Bike Blanket and have purchased their own, this is a great connection. They have a Bike Blanket on display at their premises, so when the customer comes to collect a bike he has spent a great deal of money on, the product is perfect for them. BBS Eurotracks Ultimate European Track Days also support. The Bike Blanket is displayed at all load ups and available to sell.
Biggest success to date
“Providing two top of the range Bike Blankets to PBM Racing for the Ducati motorbikes in use at present in the BSB Championships. I have attended trade stands at the BSB Championships and had the pleasure of meeting Mr John McGuinness who will be taking delivery of his third Bike Blanket in a couple of days. This Blanket was designed by me, approved by John and is to protect the new V4 Norton at the TT. I am very proud of the Bike Blanket. The funny side is when customers find out it was invented by a woman they assume it was the idea of a man.” Caroline’s advice for new inventors is: “If you really think you have got something don’t give up, share your idea with people that can help you develop it.” For more information on taking an invention to market request the Free Info Pack- Inventing for Profit