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No ‘small change’ for motoring innovation

A Walkington investor has tapped into support from the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) to launch a new product that will prevent you losing your change, keys and bank cards under your car seats.

Handy gadget: The Cabung sits snugly between the front seat and the centre console

John England came up with the “car seat gap filler” at 5am one morning after thinking of all the lost minutes he has spent recovering items following a journey and set about designing a simple device that consists of an inflatable tube connected to a hand pump.

“Cabung”, as it is now branded, is easy to fit and remove and has been developed so that it can be personalised to improve the look of the interior. 

He turned to MGP for support with R&D around the packaging to make sure the product stood out whilst also being instructional, whilst the second element of support was around creative artwork and a Point of Sale unit that was used for the first time at The London Motor Show in May.

The landmark event proved extremely useful for the company, with significant opportunities discussed with a number of leading car manufacturers and an impromptu endorsement from Car SOS stars Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend. 

John England (right) with Tiff Needell (left) and John Hunter

“In my previous job, I averaged 40,000 miles on the road every year and often joked about someone inventing something to stop me dropping my phone, credit cards, money and food down the side of my seat,” explained John.

“Then one morning I woke up with an idea to do it myself and went straight into my office and sketched the first ever Cabung, before approaching a company to help shape my idea into something that could be manufactured.”

He continued: “There was no strict brief…I just wanted something that would fit most cars, is easy to fit and remove and would be aesthetically pleasing. It would also improve driver safety as it would prevent motorists taking their eyes off the road whilst trying to locate the dropped items.

“It’s never easy bringing something new to market, so it was great to receive support from the Manufacturing Growth Programme’s James Smith, who identified where the challenges existed and brought in design specialist Lee Taylor to work with us on making the brand packaging stand out and also provide a couple of early-stage samples for presentations.

“I also received external advice on pricing, market share and routes to market, not to mention how we can reduce the manufacturing cost to provide even better value for money for consumers.”

Cabung, which is located at the Hull Microfirm Centre, is on course to sell over 1000 units this year and is looking at how it can ramp up orders in the long-term. 

The company has already received the backing of former racing driver Tiff Needell and model Jodie Kidd and is hoping this support will help it attract longer-term deals with car dealerships, national retails chains (Halfords, Argus, Sainsbury’s for example), petrol stations and e-commerce retail websites.

“This is a great example of how an issue that has plagued thousands of motorists can be solved with good design and innovation,” explained James Smith, Manufacturing Growth Manager at MGP.

Walkington man’s invention is a real hit with motorists

“John England used his own personal experience to come up with Cabung and, thanks to lots of external advice and specialist design support, has come up with a product that is about to take off.

“Sales are starting to pick up and the entrepreneur has ambitious plans to offer personalisation and customisation of the product and we will be working with him to look at ways in which he can secure capital equipment funding to make this happen.”

* The Manufacturing Growth Programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS), is filling the void left by the Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) by providing access to specialist assistance to help manufacturers to grow and improve.

This is being achieved through a 19-strong network of experienced manufacturing growth managers, access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for an improvement grant, minimum value £1000.

Support can be used for improvement projects, such as leadership and management, R&D, lean manufacturing, productivity and capacity, quality systems and supply chain development.

* More detail on Cabung can be found at www.cabung.com or @cabunguk on twitter