North Shields duo launch children's tableware business

North Shields firm jinjabiscuit, which makes silicone-based products for children, is seeking investment through crowdfunding

Graeme Blyth and Maria Poblet of jinjabiscuit
Graeme Blyth and Maria Poblet of jinjabiscuit

Parents from North Shields are looking to bring the first silicone children’s tableware to market with help from North Tyneside Council’s Business Factory.

Graeme Blyth and Maria Poblet, parents of two small children, were frustrated by the lack of safe and practical tableware on the market and began exploring alternative options.

They have now set up jinjabiscuit, producing child-friendly products based on silicone, a durable, heat-proof and safe material that has been used in bake ware for a number of years.

Now the duo, who have received Intellectual Property and patent advice from The Business Factory’s Ideas to Market specialist advice team, are embarking on a crowdfunding campaign to secure the necessary finance to take the product to market.

The Business Factory, which is funded by North Tyneside Council and ERDF, offers free advice and professional support to anyone planning to start a business in North Tyneside.

Using the platform Kickstarter, which in the US has helped to bring a number of successful products to market, Blyth and Poblet are raising capital from people who would be interested in using the product.

Far from attracting typical investors, parents and grandparents of small children have been pledging as little as £10 in return for products.

Blyth said: “It is astounding really that so little safe and child-friendly options exist for children’s tableware.

“Ceramic breaks, melamine scratches and plastic is known to contain a number of harmful chemicals which can be released when heated that as concerned parents we knew there must be a safer option.

“We did a lot of research in to the market and now have a full colourful and quirky product range designed and manufacturers in place so all we need now is the initial funding to bring the first round of product to market.”

Crowdfunding is currently a major phenomenon in the US but is still a relatively new way to get business ideas off the ground in the UK.

According to the innovation foundation Nesta, however, the total number of crowdfunding platforms grew from 53 to 80 last year, and a further seven have been launched since the beginning of 2014.

Nesta predicts that £1.4bn will be raised through crowdfunding this year, making it a real alternative to traditional funding routes.

Blyth added: “There has been great interest in both our product range and our non-traditional route to market.

“We have nearly reached our target but are still seeking pledges from people who would like to use our product range and it would be great if a few more of these could come from people in our local area.”

Cllr Frank Lott, North Tyneside Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for business support, said: “We are committed to supporting and encouraging enterprise across the borough and recognise that no two businesses are the same and each new business requires individual support which is why we offer a range of specialist advice services through The Business Factory in areas such as intellectual property, taking products to market, lease negotiations and sales and marketing.

“It is important that we can help start-ups to tackle difficult issues such as patent law and intellectual property to ensure that the foundations of their business are rock solid from the outset.”

Jinjabiscuit will be previewing its range to parents and children at Marine Park First School’s summer fair on Saturday, July 5.

The Business Factory was established in 2010 as part of the Raising Enterprise North Tyneside Project.

Its team of business advisors have helped more than 3,000 people to consider starting their own business, resulting in over 700 new businesses, by giving practical support on the real issues facing start-ups such as marketing, sales techniques and ideas development.

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