The Big Idea: this is a guest blog from RSA Catalyst award winner Ross Kemp FRSA who has created a powered quick launch, first response water craft to help lifeguards reach people quicker during beach rescue.
Speed in water rescue is everything. After just 90 seconds of inhaling water brain damage can begin to set in. After studying product design at Loughborough University and training with the lifesaving club there, I started looking into rescue equipment.
I found jet skis and small boats are great once in the water, but slow to launch. So I set about designing a quick launch powered rescue craft, which one lifeguard can pick up and throw in the water, and would provide propulsion to push through the surf and reach people in trouble quicker.
When I graduated in 2011, Loughborough University offered to take Asap water crafts under its wing as part of their newly formed commercialisation hub, The Studio. At the same time I also worked as a Design Engineer for the vacuum cleaner brand Vax.
During my evenings and weekends working with The Studio, I developed the Asap water craft product and business to a stage where I could leave behind my vacuum cleaner days. What’s great about The Studio is that in return for their incredible support, my business will pay back a royalty, which goes straight back into supporting more graduate businesses. A brilliant setup more Universities should adopt!
It was during one of these evening sessions that I spontaneously applied for a BBC TV show called Be Your Own Boss. Not expecting to get through the first stages I made it through to the finals. For six weeks the BBC cameras followed me intensively develop the product and business. During this time I pitched the idea to Richard Reed, Co-founder of Innocent smoothies and even had a surprise meeting with Virgin boss Richard Branson! He suggested Bondi beach is the place to test the product, with some of the best lifeguards in the world.
After winning the Lloyd Enterprise Best UK Start Up award last year, I put a team together and we developed the product to a pre-production level. I packed my bags and flew out to Australia with the backing and sponsorship of Virgin.
I hired a camper van and drove from beach to beach along the east coast of Australia, testing our rescue water craft with as many lifeguards as I could - as well as filming with the lifeguards on Bondi Rescue. Surely some of the best market research possible!
We are now busy making the final few tweaks to the product and planning production at the end of this year, to sell to the huge global interest we’ve had. We are currently in the process of finding the right investment to setup this UK production.
We are really keen to get our rescue product on beaches for next summer, saving lives - Catalyst’s support is helping us reach this goal.
The grant from RSA Catalyst will be fantastic in helping make those final design tweaks and test our product with lifeguards locally. We are really keen to get our rescue product on beaches for next summer, saving lives - Catalyst’s support will help us reach this goal. We are also keen to offer our products subsidised to lifeguards globally, with brand sponsorship - we hope Catalyst's support and network will help with finding potential sponsors.
We would love to hear from Fellows who have contacts in rescue or lifesaving, who might be interested in testing our water crafts with us. We are also in the process of speaking with investors for our production stage and would love to hear from anybody interested in helping us get to the next stage of production and scaling up.
Ross Kemp FRSA
Follow him @asapwatercrafts
Like Asap water crafts on Facebook
To get help from RSA Catalyst for your social venture through grants, expertise and crowdfunding visit our Catalyst webpage