In 2011, Edinburgh couple Hugh Robertson and Lynne McLeod developed a concept that would revolutionise travel eyewear. While struggling to rest their eyes in the strong sunlight on a Greek beach, they looked around and noticed that their fellow holiday makers were using any means at their disposal to block out the light. “The most popular was the ‘towel over the head’ method,” said Lynne. “At that moment, we knew there had to be a better way.”
They developed an innovative 21st Century travel sleepmask. With a wraparound, bridgeless design they fit seamlessly over eyelids blocking out light completely. A flexible, contoured neckband stays out of the way.
"Disruptive products always challenge the status quo, therefore how your product presents to your consumer is highly important."
Having developed the product and taken care of the intellectual property, the couple were convinced that they had a strong product. What they didn’t have was the evidence of tangible benefits for potential investors and customers. They also needed help in developing their marketing strategy and to identify key markets.
With extensive expertise of marketing and business development, Abertay was able to move the project to the next stage. Using funding secured through the Scottish Government’s Innovation Voucher the University was able to provide the consultancy needed to propel the project from concept to marketplace.
“We enjoyed the opportunity to work with Dr Mullholland at Abertay University a few years back,” said Lynne. “This work highlighted the demographic profile of our potential customers which in turn helped define our media and marketing material.”
"We enjoyed the opportunity to work with Dr Mullholland at Abertay University. This work highlighted the demographic profile of our potential customers which in turn helped define our media and marketing material."
Abertay’s expertise of managing focus groups proved key to the successful collaboration. “Focus group findings provide companies with real feedback on how an innovative product such as Occles will be received by consumers,” said Lynne. “Disruptive products always challenge the status quo, therefore how your product presents to your consumer is highly important.”
“There is a common perception that Universities simply come up with new inventions and then leave it for businesses to take these to market,” said Professor Gavin Reid, Head of Dundee Business School. "The project with Occles demonstrates how universities can work with businesses in developing and refining their marketing and business strategies. As a modern, business-facing university, we are always interested in working with businesses at all stages in their development.”
Occles was launched worldwide through a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2015. In March 2016 the product was featured by CNN as one of the 'hottest new accessories for travellers'. The company is currently expanding their export business in the USA.
Abertay University works with businesses in fields ranging from the oil and gas industry to the food and drink sector, providing expertise in areas including: