My Big Idea: Holiday burglary got my alarm bells ringing for family protection
Mechanical engineer David Dempsey (42), gave up his job last year to design a portable lock and alarm system after he was burgled. He has already sold 1,000 units of MADDIE Alert
'AFTER an intruder entered my children's room through a locked patio door while on holidays 15 months ago, I decided there and then this would never happen to me again.
I packed in my job and spent over 3,000 hours designing and building a device that locks and alarms windows and doors without the need for tools. I'm a mechanical engineer and used to do a lot of work with the construction industry during the boom.
My product MADDIE Alert – which stands for Make A Difference, Deter Intruder Entry – is the first of its kind in the world.
I was also in Portugal shortly after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and helped with the search for her. Kate McCann has said that in spite of everything it is good to see positive things been developed that can help stop what happened to them.
MADDIE Alert was launched three weeks ago and costs €34.99. I have already sold 1,000 units via my website and have just teamed up with distributors TNS, who also distribute Beats head phones. I had the product mass produced in China. So far 7,000 have been made. I have funded it all through loans from friends – as they say in Wexford, 'I've bet the farm'. It has cost nearly €100,000 to get the first shipment to Ireland.
I had originally intended to market it to frequent travellers who need a transportable security system, but have been pleasantly surprised with demand from Irish customers looking to secure their homes.
Only 18pc of Irish and British homes have any sort of home security system – because the current offerings are just too expensive.
The patent process has been a challenge. The locking element of the product is patent pending in Ireland, which costs relatively little to achieve – around €2,000 – and this gives it worldwide intellectual property protection for a year.
Once this expires I will have to apply for a patent in each individual country I want it protected in, an expensive and time-consuming task.
But the biggest challenge has been getting the product into retail outlets. Sixty percent of my customers ask where they can buy it in person, as they do not like shopping online. My dream is to see it in retail stores like Dunnes Stores, Tesco and Mother Care.
My next big step is going international – first the UK and then the US."