SME Magazine catches up with Paul and Rachel Bagwell who set up their cordless vacuum cleaner company Halo in 2020
Tell us about Halo, Paul. What do you do and what was the motivation behind it?
After many years developing products in the industry I spent some time away working in other areas. Looking at the category from a distance it was clear that the motor and battery technology would allow better cordless vacuums, but the offerings in the market too often had disappointing performance, were heavy or had small dirt capacity. By now, with a young family of our own, many of these issues were increasingly frustrating and we really felt the current cordless market wasn’t meeting customer needs. So, with a bit of prototyping in the garage, the first Halo Capsule was born: a new innovative cordless vacuum, made with carbon fibre and offering big performance, big capacity and ultra-lightweight.
What were the main challenges of setting up your company in the early days?
There were too many to count but small scale budgets, obtaining credibility in the market, and fierce competitors were among the most challenging we incurred. The great thing is we started with a lot of optimism and a sizeable quantity of naivety. That turned out to be our superpower. Rather than get bogged down by the magnitude of the undertaking, we simply tackled one problem at a time. Most importantly, we maintained our unshaken belief in our product and the unmet needs it was serving. Before we knew it we had launched an award-winning product and we were growing sales.
You recently secured a new distribution deal. Tell us about that.
We knew that the competitors we were winning against in the UK were also the same that we were facing in international markets. That gave us confidence that we could succeed overseas, but our rapid growth at home meant we were 100% focused here. Fortunately the opportunities found us, both with mainland Europe and the USA we were approached by interested parties who believe Halo could succeed in their markets. Those approaches have led to the distribution partners we have today.
You’re married to each other and also work together. How is that?
We’ve certainly learned more about each other since starting the business together! We are both optimists and ready for a challenge. We also happen to have what we see as complimentary skills. My passion within the business, is very much around innovation, technology and making our product the best it can be, while Rachel’s passion is focused on the brand and the customer and how Halo can best meet their needs in a relevant and meaningful way so we continue to stand out from the competition.
What are your plans for expansion? Where do you hope the company will be in, say, five or ten years’ time?
Halo have had significant growth since we started yet we still have plenty of headroom in what is a $5.3Bn global market. We have a five-year plan to expand our markets and product range, targeting 1,000% growth over that period. That should allow us become a multinational, multi-product company. Having bootstrapped our way to date, in partnership with CrowdCube, we are taking on external investment for the first time to supercharge this expansion.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of setting up their own company?
Be sure to do your research. If the evidence tells you that your proposition and price can take share from the market incumbents then you have every reason to take the leap. The road to success will always have its challenges, but if you know there is a real need for your product or service this should inspire you to keep going until you succeed.