By @SimonCocking. Great interview with Robert Aldous founder of  KITBRIX providing innovation in design of kit & equipment for cyclists, swimmers, runners & outdoor adventurers. No fuss, just organised kit.

Your background briefly

I tried the standard route into Risk management in London for the promise and the dream of big wages and corporate life, but it wasn’t quite ticking all the boxes. At the same time, I was parachuted in to replace a colleague in the Armetis Quadrathlon in Scotland. Unfit, under prepared and dis-organised I completed the challenge which I highly recommend doing but having arrived without cycling shoes, kit all over the place for a multisport event, I was less than impressed by my efforts. I then realized how popular triathlons, duathlons, OCR, outdoor swimming and general outside adventure had become or was becoming for everyday people. I began to sketch out on the train on the way home, an idea for simple kit organisation that would have helped me and others that week in training, getting prepared and ultimately competing on the day PLUS the often big logistical issue of ‘unpacking’ in timely organised fashion so you are ready at a moments notice to get back out the next day. At the end of the train journey I had a design in concept, the name and what sports we could initially approach. I love being outside and tired through exhausting (almost) myself but I hate disorganized kit.

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Aiming to prove my draft mockup I decided to time myself for 30 days rooting through one big bag for various items of kit and equipment. Endlessly moving sports kit from that one big bag to smaller bags to go training. 7 hours 13 minutes I spent in those 30 days moving kit around from bag to bag, place to place. This represents a whole day of training wasted each month. I wanted to design this sports organiser bag in a particular way understanding that sports people are impatient, demanding, but whom appreciate quality and simplicity in design as long as it adds value to their training or competition. I wanted a hard-wearing, tough, robust bag that I can throw around and abuse when needed or when I am short on time. I wanted a hardwearing base, water resistant body and I wanted a bag that stands up in front of me so I can see everything that I have inside it. I spent a great amount of time really trying to understand the weak areas of current sports bags and made subtle changes to my design based on the feedback from our market research. Protective base corners that usually tear on normal bags, big zips that I can use with cold wet hands, white inner to aid visibility… the small details are key and I wanted quality performance constituents down to the finest detail… thread quality, zipper quality, clean-ability and ease of carry.

Tell us about Kitbrix the 1 min pitch

The whole aim of KitBrix is to support people, family and teams in being prepared for to take advantage of any sporting opportunity. Our whole concept if based upon military-like efficiency and we design innovative kit bags and supporting equipment for all forms of extreme sport and exercise including triathlon, swimming, running, obstacle racing and cycling. Our aim is to keep you ready and prepared at all times, in order to take advantage of every training and race day opportunity. Much of our inspiration is taken from military kit design principles – hard wearing, practical and everything we do, say, design or create MUST add value to you, the athlete. No fuss, just organised kit.

How have the last 12 months gone? 

KitBrix is expanding in to a number of markets due to its versatility and now supplies the Triathlon, Swimming, running, cycling and Obstacle Race community. We are seeing sailors and even medical teams using our bags and equipment. The whole idea was to make our products highly durable and simple to use allowing people to us in their own way. We are concentrating on the UK and USA market places and this is working although the two markets are very different! We are delighted with all of our product consumer reviews and we try to keep very close to our customers so we can understand how to improve, change and develop future solutions.

Is there anything you’d have done differently?

Have a longer term plan! My eyes were wide shut when stepping in to business and it is very easy to look back and say what I should have had in place but having an 18 month budget, understanding it, working towards it would have been a great think to have by my side! I didn’t really understand the value of working to a budget until this year. It sounds like an obvious thing to have as your no.1 tool but it was all a bit of a whirlwind. This alongside a strong and easy to use sales pipeline will give any startup 2 key documents to progress, assess and stay agile.

What tips would you give to other people thinking of starting their own company?

Concentrate on your one differentiator and one product and push it. Don’t get distracted with other ideas and especially other businesses! You will get to a point where you have to drive home your initial plan and this can be hard work. It is very easy to get side tracked with the ‘buzz’ of the new idea and initial startup phase which is always exciting.

What are your plans for the next 12 – 18 months for KB?

Solidify growth and really assess the impact of any overhead spend. Kitbrix is an expensive product to make and we cut no corners. This means we don’t have the margin of the companies in certain areas and therefore need to be as efficient as we can. The current product range is good for some time and my job now is to provide awareness, measure and make us as efficient as possible in growth.

What tech makes your life easier?

The mobile setup of Macbook Air, cable pitch (with power adapters) and Mac Mouse allows me to be anywhere at any time. I use the standard mac headphones as they are light and easy to store. Along with my cousin I do all our imagery and video so we use a backdown mini iPhone tripod and mic who allows us to take advantage of any media moment or opportunity.

How do you market your idea / business / what’s been most successful for in terms of promoting the product?

Competitions online always provide good opportunity and the club network is always good exposure but I think a mix of video short clips and consistent social promotion and content that matters.

Is there anything else you’d like to add /we should have asked you?

Would I do this again if I had the chance? Yes but I would probably try and do it with someone else. Its a lonely game and to run a business with someone else I am sure has its low points but finding the right persons with similar energy could really help as it would level out the bad times and keep your feet on the ground in the good times! That being said, ensure you have the majority share!


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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