Revoco Talks…Overcoming challenges and lessons learnt with Matt Dyson
For this instalment of Revoco Talks, Harry caught up with South-West based entrepreneur Matt Dyson.
Here Matt shares insights on his journey as an entrepreneur, including founding his business ‘Rockit’ as well as challenges, failures and lessons he’s learnt along the way.
Have a read below…
Thanks so much for joining us Matt! Could you give us a brief Introduction to yourself?
No problem! I’m Matt, the CEO and co-founder of Rockit. Before founding Rockit I spent a number to years teaching Product Design in schools and colleges and prior to that I was an Art Director at Ogilvy London.
📣📣Calling all worn out mums and dads. Do you know someone who needs a Rockit baby rocker? If so please spread the word and RT, It’s one giant sleep for babykind! https://t.co/dJ94G9dmD4
— Rockit (@wearerockit) January 30, 2018
What’s the story behind Rockit?
Rockit was founded by myself and 2 other dads on mission to help babies and young children to sleep.
We design and manufacture innovative products, our first being the Rockit portable baby rocker that fits to any pram or stroller and rocks it for you.
My brother-in-law Nick Webb invented it when his three-month-old daughter Abby refused to sleep in the pushchair at the supermarket checkout. He noticed this problem affected other weary parents and one evening had a lightbulb moment. He took an old printer apart, salvaged the motor and soldered together a bunch of components. The resulting prototype worked and the very next day Abby remained asleep even when the pushchair stopped moving. Nick knew that I had a background in product design and to and over the next 6 months we turned his prototype into a marketable product – the Rockit, a rocket shaped portable baby rocker.
We launched Rockit to market late in 2017 and have gone on to produce over 130,000 units selling into nearly 50 countries. We are listed in John Lewis and Argos and have picked up over 30 awards including the prestigious Design Council Spark Award.
The south-west is growing in popularity for founders, why do you think this is? What is it you like about being based there?
Bristol has always been a hub for innovation dating back to Brunel and beyond. The fact that it is small but vibrant city with 2 excellent Universities feeding the talent pool is a big factor in its popularity within the start-up eco-system. We love being based here because there is such a supportive network of founders who are very happy to share experience, advice and contacts.
Could you tell us a little more about your new product, Zed?
We launched Zed during lockdown and have been delighted with the reaction it has had from our customers. It continues the space theme and is an astronaut shaped sleep soother which is designed to soothe babies and older children to sleep in their cots or beds. The inspiration for the product came from the fact that babies tend to fall asleep in cars, but often struggle to drift off in their cots.
Zed has been the result of 18 months of research and development and incorporates patent pending technology to reproduce a car-like experience in the safety of the home. Zed uses special motors that generate both the low frequency rumbles of the car suspension and the revving of the engine. You simply place Zed on the mattress near your baby’s feet and the finely tuned vibrations ripple gently through the mattress, comforting them and encouraging a deep sleep. It even works with adults!
What were some of the lessons learnt from launching Rockit that have helped with launching Zed?
One of the key lessons from launching Rockit was the importance of social media, in particular Instagram. With minimal marketing budget we have made use of micro-influencers rather than paying large sums on Google, Facebook and Instagram ads. Because we launched during lockdown we were unable to do a launch event in person, so we did an Instagram takeover. This involved shipping Zeds to nearly 100 micro influencers and getting them to post unique photos of the product in use and reviews at exactly the same time as each other using the hashtag #ZedTime. This created a real buzz and our website experienced over 3000% more hits than an average day. This has also created plenty of content to repost on our own page since then.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome when first starting out?
The biggest challenge personally was taking the leap of faith and giving up the security of my job as a teacher to throw myself into Rockit full time without a salary. It was a financially a big risk, but I had confidence in the business idea and knew that it was an opportunity that I had to take. Another massive challenge was that we had no experience of manufacture and bringing a product to market. We have had to learn quickly and have had a fantastic group of mentors, particularly from the Design Council, who have pointed us in the right direction when needed.
Is there one particular failure that comes to mind that has helped you become more successful?
In the early days when we were meeting international distributors at trade shows we would focus on the bigger players thinking that they would have a larger reach within their territories. This sometimes backfired as we were a tiny part of their overall product portfolio and they would not put the time and marketing resources into pushing our brand. We have found that nurturing relationships with smaller distributors has been much more successful and we are able to work together to drive sales much more effectively.
What’s one piece of advice would you offer other Founders?
If you have a new product idea, don’t be afraid to show people, but only after you have protected it. Once your IP is protected show as many potential customers as possible and get honest feedback, even if it is hard to hear. After all, there is no point launching a new product that you’ve kept under wraps if nobody wants to buy it.
Finally, where can people find you and Rockit?
Rockit can be found at www.rockitrocker.com and on our social media channels
Want to find out how we’re supporting start-up growth? Click here