LEADERBALL TAKES THE LEAD IN DOG TOY MARKET
A Kent man who dreamed up an ingenious attachment for dog leads has seen his product rolled out nationwide by top retailer Pets at Home.
Rochester resident Brett Cattlin’s invention Leaderball clips on to a standard dog lead and transforms “fetch” by enabling the pet owner to hurl a ball up to 200 feet. As well as hitting the shelves in the UK, his product was recently shown at Interzoo 2008 in Germany, the world’s largest pet supplies exhibition, where it received a great response from buyers. As a result, Leaderball has also received serious interest from a large retailer in the USA.
Brett had his Eureka moment while out walking his energetic chocolate Labrador Barney in 2006 when, having forgotten the tennis racket he normally used to launch balls for his dog to chase, he experimented with using the dog’s lead as a slingshot and was surprised by how far it travelled.
Realising he could be onto something, but unsure how best to develop his idea further, he arranged a meeting with Business Link Innovation Adviser Simon Warran-Smith, who suggested getting a proper prototype built and gave him details of three specialist engineers. Brett chose Tom Harper, at Imagineering Product Design & Prototyping Services, whose expertise and input proved crucial in turning Leaderball into a commercial product.
Explaining the appeal of his invention, Brett Cattlin said: “Throwing a ball for your dog to fetch puts a lot of strain on your arm which is why people tend to use a tennis racket or plastic chucker for extra leverage. But that means having to carry something else for the duration of the walk whereas Leaderball is lightweight and either fits into your pocket or sits conveniently on the lead while walking the dog as normal. An added benefit is you no longer have to touch the balls which can be muddy or wet.”
Brett has secured full UK patent protection, with patents pending in the US and Europe. A professional tiler by trade, this has been Brett’s first experience in bringing a product to market.
“It’s been a heck of a roller coaster ride,” he said. “Seeing Leaderball there on the shelf in my local Pets at Home was fantastic – a moment I had been waiting to see since I had my initial idea two years ago.”
During that time Brett, originally from Solihull, said he had found Business Link to be an invaluable resource to draw on, particularly the ongoing support from Simon Warran-Smith throughout the many stages of development.
He continued: “I emailed Simon questions on all manner of topics including manufacturing, licensing and whether I should extend the patent to Europe and America. He was brilliant and always came back to me with feedback.
“I found Business Link to be a really good sounding board. One of the first things they suggested and I acted upon, was to develop a business plan, and all the information a budding entrepreneur requires can be found on their website.”
Simon Warran-Smith, Innovation Adviser at Business Link South East, added: “Like a lot of successful inventions, the beauty of Leaderball lies in its simplicity. Brett deserves great credit for seeing it through from an idea with potential to a product on the shelf.”
To find out more about Leaderball and to see it in action, visit www.leaderball.com
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