Damien McGrane: QVC was successful for us; we moved £55,000 of product
READERS might recognise 47-year-old Damien McGrane from 'Dragons' Den', where he first showcased his idea to the public in 2009.
Originally from The Wirrall in England, he moved to Carrickfergus in Co Antrim several years ago to be with his fiancee and has built up his business there. Flagship product Takker allows users to easily and cleanly drill holes in all sorts of walls. Five years later on he is launching a second product and is in serious growth mode. He spoke to Sarah McCabe:
"OUR first product, the original Takker, was a big success. A hand-held device, it allows people to drill nails into wall with a small attached hook, easily with no mess and as little damage to the wall as possible.
You don't have to mess around with hammers and nails or worry about tearing chunks out of paintwork.
Securing €50,000 worth of investment from Dragon Gavin Duffy in 2009 really helped, but I later bought his 40pc equity stake back as the business grew.
But there was still room for improvement. Customers wanted something that could drill into harder walls, even outdoors, which our original product just couldn't do.
So we spent nearly two years building our latest lunacy, Hardwall Takker.
There's nothing like it in the world; for €29.99 you get a handheld device and a set of hooks that can be used on any surface whatsoever, even brick and concrete.
The hole it drills is just 3mm wide and anyone can use it.
It took a long time and was quite complicated to design; it uses a floating base to provide leverage.
We've had particularly good feedback from women, who make up more than 50pc of our buyers, in that it makes a traditionally physical job, drilling holes in hard walls, easy and straightforward. It takes 30 seconds and even has a dust collector built into it.
Our original product is still available too and is particularly usefully for people living in rented accommodations or apartments with plasterboard walls, and the hole it makes is slightly smaller.
Both are manufactured in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Takker is on sale in Woodies, television shopping channel QVC in the UK and on our own website.
We've just secured a distributor in Colombia and are in talks with some of the biggest distributors in the US.
QVC has been particularly successful for us; we moved £55,000 worth of product from our first broadcast, selling out. I'm back on again this Easter Sunday.
Keeping costs down has probably been the biggest challenge.
I built the prototype for the second Takker product using a 3D printer, which is standard practice these days, provided by a local design company.
But every minor change I made to the design – and I made about 50 changes – cost hundreds."