A Smartphone accessory invented by a Chester couple is now selling in more than 10 countries around the world.
The rubber holster, known as MyBunjee, is the brainchild of Emma Jones and her partner Mark Ferguson, whose experience while skiing in the French Alps proved the old adage: necessity is the mother of invention.
Mark, 56, who lives in Chester city centre, recalled: “We were skiing and the phone went when we were on the ski lift, didn’t want to get the phone out because you know what’s going to happen, you’re going to drop that phone and lose it, so we came home, went to Carphone Warehouse to get something and they didn’t have anything so Emma has since then developed the Bunjee as a business.”
MyBunjee, which retails for £6.95, comprises a silicone loop which grips the phone, joined to a coiled cord, which attaches to a handbag or belt and acts like a bungee, saving your phone from hitting the floor if you drop it and you don’t need to unclip anything to use the phone.
Emma, 46, from Boughton, has a great pedigree in innovation as her late grandfather Glynne Jones, a farmer, invented the hay baling machine although this was not in her own background.
She continued: “I trained as a PA in London and I used to work with some fairly high profile people, Sir Jackie Stewart, the ex-racing driver, Susannah and Trinny, the fashion girls, so my background is very much organisation and making people’s lives simpler so I try and do that with my business now.”
The couple featured on Dragons’ Den in 2012, winning over businessman Peter Jones whose £70,000 offer for a 35% stake was accepted. And both recall the excruciatingly embarrassing moment when Emma accidentally dropped her phone in front of the Dragons.
“My phone went off on stage and they were horrified and then I dropped it,” said Emma. “I said ‘I’m so sorry, my phone was ringing, God, I’m so embarrassed’.”
Mark, a silent partner in the business, says Dragons’ Den provided great exposure for the company but stresses its growth is down to Emma and her assistant Buffy Swinnerton from Tarvin.
“Although Peter Jones did invest, MyBunjee has grown because Emma and Buffy have done all the hard work,” he commented.
Available in the UK, MyBunjee is also now retailing in countries including America, Germany, France, Japan, South Africa, Slovenia and Australia.
The range is expanding into holders for cash cards, passports, keys and iPads. And MyBunjee is selling branded products featuring corporate and charity logos as well as working with six police forces who give the holsters away to young clubbers as a crime prevention initiative. Will it make their fortune?
“We hope so!” said Mark. “But we have to sell an awful lot,” added Emma, explaining that the low margins mean volume is the key, which is why interest from India and China is so exciting. Emma has presented on shopping channel QVC, through which she has sold about 70,000 units.
Tesco has agreed to sell them at Christmas. And there is a possible a tie-up with Crocs to include Jibbitz decorations, which appeal to kids – if the deal comes off the customised product could be sold in Crocs outlets around the globe.