Start-up MadeWithGlove says contacts key to grow business
Technology is making it easier to start up a business, with thousands of ideas standing a better chance than ever of becoming viable ventures. We continue our look at 10 of the most promising UK start-ups with MadeWithGlove.
Former lawyer Michelle Hua founded wearable technology company MadeWithGlove, which designs fashionable heated gloves for women.
She was inspired after her hands became numb during a six-hour walking tour in a snowy Prague in temperatures of minus 21 degrees.
She had disposable hand warmers on but because she was wearing gloves she couldn’t feel them.
In sheer desperation she put her hand warmers inside her gloves and felt immediate relief.
When she returned to the UK she started researching fashionable heated gloves for women but could only find big bulky gloves for motorcyclists and skiers.
After resigning her job as an Australian solicitor she has won a wearable technology hackathon at Manchester Science Park and is currently developing a prototype.
Funding is an ongoing issue for Hua. “The difficulty in applying for grants from the UK government is fitting into their criteria,” she says.
Despite this, she has secured some grants, and will be looking to receive angel investment within the next six to 12 months.
Her background in the legal sector puts her in good stead for facing some of the other challenges that may arise.
“Legal implications are always at the forefront of my mind,” she says. These include IP rights, trademarks, copyright and contracts with suppliers and employees, but Hua’s knowledge of the sector means she’s able to find the right specialist for each area which she says she’s very grateful for.
A less expected issue was finding office space. Although she started out in co-working spaces, the company has reached the stage where an office is required for confidentially reasons.
But being based in one of the UK’s biggest cities has drawbacks.
“The cost of an office in Manchester is very high for a start-up,” she says, citing variable monthly costs such as utilities and service changes as a difficulty for budgeting.
She’s currently negotiating a deal with a landlord that suits both parties.
WATCH: Michelle reveals frustration at lack of support from universities
As Hua works on developing her product, international exposure is a vital aspect of her business plan and she’s keen to work as an ambassador for the company.
She’s attended conferences on wearable tech in Silicon Valley to make new contacts, speaks at events to raise her profile, and is active on social media.
Growing your contacts is her key message to others looking to follow in her footsteps.
“My advice would be to remember to take time out and build your networks,” she says.
Her ultimate aim is to create a technology platform that can be applied across multiple sectors, while encouraging the next generation to become involved in the STEM industry.