We spoke to Jeff Woolf OBE, whose innovative helmet design has just received investment from tennis player Sir Andy Murray, as part of the latest Seedrs fundraising campaign.
Many cities around the world have subscribed to bike share schemes contributing to the rise of commuter cycling to over 200 million people worldwide. Nonetheless, 83 percent of cyclists still see the traditional helmet as a cumbersome piece of equipment and don’t wear it risking their safety on the road.
Invented by CEO Jeff Woolf after surviving a bicycle crash, the collapsible helmet has come a long way passing safety tests in the US and Europe, acquiring patents in major countries and selling more than 4,000 products worldwide.
Now in the latest round of fundraising on the Seedrs crowdfunding platform, the company has smashed its initial target with over 400 investors including tennis player Sir Andy Murray and has reached nearly GBP 830,000.
The successful fundraising campaign will help the company increase production capacity to meet worldwide demand and step into its next business phase, which will see the development of a new range of safety helmets for snow sports, motor sports and the security industry.
The journey has not been an easy one for the start-up business, which had to face several problems with materials, long waiting times for patents and release of safety certifications (CE EN:1078 and CPSC). The helmet is made of 121 different parts, which includes a special hinge mechanism that had to be moulded into the collapsible frame whilst retaining resistance.
Working hundreds of unpaid hours and with the solo help of his uncle, Jeff Woolf had to spend long periods away from his family, missing out precious moments with his young daughter, in order to follow extensive product tests (drop, pull, heating, freezing to name a few), and manufacturing in China. In terms of unforeseen challenges, the company had to face production delays due to a fire in the Chinese factory and problems with shareholders. However, his determination, tenacity and the desire to make a difference in his lifetime, have helped Jeff persist on the project and ensure the company’s progress to-date.
Jeff also emphasizes the importance of social media and the big role customer reviews play in pushing sales compared to paid advertising.
Jeff is not new to the world of invention having be in the innovation scene since the 1980s’. He has received an OBE for innovation and has twice been awarded British Inventor of the Year. Similarly, the Morpher Helmet has won prestigious awards including iF D+I Award ’16, Edison Gold Award and Time Magazine and Popular Science Invention of the year.
The Morpher team is still quite small and operating from virtual offices, however it has a wide network of sub-contractors working in the chain, and hopes to grow even bigger and move into an office once the crowdfunding campaign ends.
From the initial idea of a folding helmet for urban bikes, the company is now looking forward to expand into unexplored markets whilst hoping to continue changing the habit of cyclists and reduce the number of fatalities on the road.
You can find out more about Morpher’s fundraising campaign here.
19th May 2017