Catalyst tenants welcome back 2014 graduate RocPro!

This week we had the pleasure of welcoming back 2014 graduate and founder of RocPro Gareth Bristow to talk to our current tenants about life after graduation!

Gareth started by telling us the background to his company and what position RocPro was in when he first entered the Catalyst Centre in 2013. An early passion for drawing and designing signalled the beginning of his career in mechanical engineering, architecture and graphical design which has spanned thirty years. Gareth’s abiding passion for form and function, together with an ever-enquiring mind has seen him turn a cycle security problem into a successful business.

With several friends that are keen cyclists, Gareth was aware that expensive parts are often stolen from their bikes and he set out to design a security device that would help guard against this. Gareth came to his Catalyst Centre pitch with 3D printed versions of his invention the RocNut (essentially a locking wheel nut for a cycle, that also incorporates an online security system), and he was hoping to branch out further and focus his attention on the development of new mechanical technologies and products.

Although it was clear on pitching day that Gareth had great potential, it was only during his time at the Catalyst Centre that the judges realised just how entrepreneurial he is! It wasn’t long before they witnessed further developments to the RocNut with Gareth using his expertise to create stunning designs that are not only unique but look visually pleasing, to create numerous other ideas and designs such as his proposed RocPump! 

Since then, RocPro has received prestigious design awards as well as being named ‘The One to Watch’ at The Pitch in 2013. Gareth’s core design skills continue to be in demand and he has recently designed a complete exhibit for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. In addition, he has developed designs for securing quick release cycle wheels, made dramatic improvements to the core technology within the rotary cycle pump, attracted further investment into his company and is developing an exciting spin-off product that came out of his time at the Catalyst Centre. Gareth has also been approached by a TV pitching show and is carefully considering which of the products would be appropriate for the show.

To round off his inspirational talk, Gareth gave current Catalyst Centre tenants some advice on funding, specifically crowdfunding avenues such as Kickstarter and Crowdcube. He recommended carefully selecting the best avenue based on the type of businesses that each site attracts and therefore which your product would best fit. For example, Indiegogo tends to work better for more ‘arty’ products. His other key piece of advice was to remember to ask for enough money to actually deliver against your promises; in other words, to deliver to your backers what you are offering them. It might sound obvious but being realistic at the outset is an important factor in getting your business off to a flying start. If you are thinking of using crowdfunding, check out our previous blog on the topic for tips and advice!