In September 09 SpineStrength Ltd launched in the UK. The exercise equipment
company set up by Doug Higgins, a recent Imperial engineering graduate, is already
creating a stir with its first product The Beast. The first machine of its kind to
strengthen the neck, back and legs simultaneously. It’s unique action means that it is
set to be vital in reducing spinal injury in a variety of sports especially high impact
activities and is already on the Christmas list of many of the UK’s top rugby teams.
SPINE STRENGTH’S THE BEAST:
• BASED ON AN UNDERGRADUATE DESIGN PROJECT
• BACKED BY DON GATHERER PREVIOUSLY HEAD PHYSIO TO THE ENGLAND RFU AND THE
BRITISH OLYMPIC TEAM – CURRENTLY RUNS TUDOR HOUSE, A CERVICAL SPINE
REHABILITATION AND STRENGTH TRAINING CLINIC WITH CLIENTS INCLUDING PROFESSIONAL
RUGBY PLAYERS AND FORMULA 1 RACING DRIVERS
• BACKED BY PENNY CLARKE – LEADING PHARMACEUTICAL PR PROFESSIONAL
• BACKED BY MATT HAMPSON – EX ENGLAND AND LEICESTER TIGERS - A PERCENTAGE OF ALL
PROFITS GO TO THE MATT HAMPSON TRUST (www.matthampson.co.uk)
• BEING TESTED BY EXPERIENCED PROFFESIONALS SUCH AS GRAHAM ROWNTREE (ENGLAND RFU
SCRUM COACH) AT LEICESTER GRAMMAR SCHOOL
Whilst reading Mechanical Engineering at Imperial, Doug saw a problem. Being an avid
gym goer and rugby fanatic it became clear that there was no definitive exercise
equipment to develop the neck and lower back strength useful during scrummaging.
After injuring his back during a rugby game he also came to notice that there was
nothing that he could do in the gym to help him in the rehabilitation process.
SpineStrength was started as an undergraduate design project. Doug began to put pen
to paper and came up with some rudimentary sketches. Landing on a great idea he
began the patent application process to grant him the exclusive rights to develop
resistance-training machines that strengthen the neck and back in one motion, using a
system that matches the body’s neck movement by rotating about the C7-T1 vertebrae.
After investing £15,000 of his student loan into securing the UK patents and undergoing
initial product development he went on to write a business plan and win £2,500 as
finalist at the Imperial College Business Challenge. Doug then met with James King of
Find Invest Grow (FIG) to see how he could move forward.Doug needed £70,000 and some good resources to get the patents secured and see the
SpineStrength was put through the FIG viability tests, based largely on London Business
School Professor John Mullins’ excellent Seven Domains model, and showed significant
potential as a viable business.
Since then, FIG has helped Doug clarify his plans (including expansion into additional
sports such as American Football and rowing) and help create a precise product road
map. Doug was then put in touch with FIG strategic partners 2020 accountants and IP21
to create reliable financial forecasts and complete the patent protection process.
Having raised the finance, SpineStrength has had the patent granted in the UK and
entered the national phases of the PCT. FIG also worked with FIG Strategic Partner
Clock to negotiate a debt for equity deal that has seen tremendous results in marketing
and design for the company and freed up cash flow.
With further help SpineStrength went on to negotiate a similar debt for equity deal
with the main suppliers, Rob and Andy from LeisureLines who have added significant
value to the company with their years of experience.
The final piece of the puzzle was then put in place when FIG brought on board physio
Don Gatherer to lend his experience and detailed knowledge of the neck and spine to
the final stages of product development. With a panel of Non-Execs including two
FIGureheads with experience in manufacturing and medical PR, and the list of
customers queuing up to purchase the equipment daily SpineStrength and FIG are set to
make a significant impact.
• Dynamic variable resistance training techniques
used to strengthen the spinal musculature,
structures and supporting tissues.
• Cervical unit targets the cervical extensor
muscles understood to provide protection
against the most serious spinal injuries
(hyperflexion of the cervical spine resulting in
fracture dislocation and paralysis).
• Also develops leg muscle strength to provide an
all-in-one functional exercise to prepare
athletes for the demands of their chosen sport.
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