For 25 years, David Goodwin had been designing products for many international brands. In 2008 he decided to take a giant step from designer to entrepreneur by launching his own product – Flexyfoot.
David’s inspiration came from his sister and sister-in-law who both have multiple Sclerosis. His sister had talked about the difficulties and discomfort of using walking sticks, walking aids and crutches. David had the idea to put a moulded suspension system on the bottom of a stick or a crutch, which would provide comfort, grip and more safety.
And so Flexyfoot was born. It is an innovative ferrule that goes on the bottom of any walking stick or crutch providing grip. It automatically adjusts to the terrain, so that whether you’re in snow or ice it has far better grip due to the four tread contact with the ground. Secondly, it absorbs the shock and so reduces stress on the arms. Thirdly it rotates, so that the twist and turn that you normally do when you’re walking is not transferred up your arm, as the motion is absorbed by the ferrule itself.
Translating the idea to a manufactured product required several months of consumer testing and the requirement to raise external finance. Joseph Miller, a corporate solicitor with Keystone Law, assisted with the shareholder agreements.
As a designer, David had noticed that many of the healthy-living aids were presented in a rather uninspiring manner, looking rather “institutionalised”. David wanted to take a more modern and stylish approach to packaging and selling Flexyfoot and designed his own exhibition stand in 2010, when they launched the product in 2010 at a major exhibition for rehabilitation products at the NEC.
This exhibition paid for itself with sales and orders, and so David took Flexyfoot to a larger international show in German where it was equally well received.
With orders coming in and agents wishing to sell Flexyfoot in other countries, David needed strong distribution agreements, which were provided by Lyndsay Gough, a commercial lawyer with Keystone. Within a couple of years, Flexyfoot is now selling in 15 countries.
“Flexyfoot has become my life,” says David, “I have spent the past three years developing, designing, testing making sure that it is safe, doing patient trials, and the feedback from users has been so positive. One of the greatest pleasures of being a designer is improving peoples’ lives. It makes what I do absolutely worth it.”
Following on from this success, and in the heightened awareness during the Paralympics of what disability aids can help people to do, David is now looking to apply his creative design talents to other mobility aids.
The Paralympics highlighted the number of young energetic high-achievers who need mobility products, temporarily or permanently, and David sees no reason that these aids should not be as attractive as any activity-equipment or sportswear.
Commenting on the legal advice which David received from the Keystone Law team, David said “Lyndsay Gough has been totally brilliant with her advice and help in bringing Flexyfoot to the market. As were other members of the team, including Joseph Miller who did the shareholder agreements and Andrea Nichols. Everyone was equally supportive and pragmatic, providing a commercial attitude with great advice, good service and at a sensible price”.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.