Converge is Scotland’s leading entrepreneurial programme for the Higher Education sector. Converge helps academic entrepreneurs like Marwa Ebrahim and Vicky Hamilton to turn their business ideas into business reality by providing bespoke business training, tailored support and game-changing cash prizes to springboard their ventures. Here, they share their stories with Susie Daniels…
Having a skin allergy might not sound like the worst affliction you can suffer – until you are introduced to the traditional and inconvenient world of cosmetics. Founder of Atypical Cosmetics, Marwa Ebrahim, struggled for many years to find products that would work for her. Eventually that frustration led to a decision: to make these products for herself.
Since January 2018, Marwa has been developing an online customer skincare customisation service that allows customers to customise their skincare based on factors such as lifestyle, skin goals, skin type, pollution levels where they live, climate and allergies, if they have them. But creating bespoke skincare products made for every individual is a tall order. Her answer has been to develop algorithms and devices to help automate production. Every bottle is made specifically for every person that orders it.
This is done using a customisation platform that records customer factors and then uses an algorithm to identify the best ingredients for that customer before making their bespoke product. Her biggest motivation is being able to create positive change among those suffering from skin allergies. The US, UK and Europe, are Marwa’s main target markets for further growth, while the company will also explore IP licensing to other firms.
Vicky Hamilton’s joiner father challenged her to solve his arthritis problem at work – and she responded by forming an award-winning company specialising in impact absorbing kneepads that help tradespeople carry out their job in comfort.
Recoil Kneepads began life in 2012 when Vicky was a product design student with a cardboard prototype and two business start-up competition victories under her belt. The sheer amount of positive feedback she received gave Vicky faith in the viability of her idea – so much so that she has spent the last six years building a team of three, embracing the challenges of running a business and securing sufficient private investor backing to expand. It’s been hard, says Vicky, to sell into the retail market and negotiate with big players on contracts or logistics.
But that learning curve has paid off with Recoil moving into the US market, and plans are also afoot for the introduction of three new products. The biggest source of pride, however, has been the knowledge that customers have been able to continue making a living in the trades they love, thanks to Vicky’s product.