Launch Space resident Annie Lywood facing the camera

Launch Space resident story – Annie Lywood

Annie Lywood graduated from UWE Bristol with an MA in Design – and a budding business idea. She’s now founder of Bonnie Binary Ltd, and is using Launch Space to support her start-up.

“I’ve always loved making things. Mixing the craft of making with electronics, and then having it all work together, is difficult but brilliant. Luckily, my prototypes were well received. I knew I was on to something and wanted to build on that enthusiasm. That’s when I founded my company. My ultimate goal for Bonnie Binary is to make a living providing functional products that are a joy to use and live with.

“My typical day involves meetings with clients, reporting on feedback and project reports, meetings with makers and designers, testing products with potential product audiences, project management, administration and budgets. All that needs support. While confident in my creative abilities, I was less sure about the business side of things. Launch Space has provided invaluable help in these areas.

“I’ve been given hot-desk space, so I can meet and mix with my peer group and invite visitors here. I also receive mentoring, and support with funding applications. Once finance is secured, I’ll be looking to take on staff, including an electrical engineer or creative technologist, plus administrative support.

“My business is all about interdisciplinary design, so collaboration is key. I need the right connections to draw in that expertise. At Launch Space, I’m learning how to link with all sorts of people who don’t usually connect up; in electronics, textiles and digital making. This can only be done in a university environment where you have research facilities and experts across many disciplines, all under one roof.

“As an entrepreneur in an emerging market using new technologies, I know there’s still a lot to learn. But these are exciting times. I feel we’re on the cusp of a wave, and I’m determined to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people in place, when this truly takes off.”

Annie’s start-up

Bonnie Binary Ltd produces elegantly designed, e-textile home and lifestyle products for the assisted living sector. Sensory textile touch controls are embedded in everyday items such as cushions and soft furnishings. They are reliable and simple to operate, and connect to technology in the home helping people to control their immediate environment and stay independent for longer.

The company also offers consultancy and prototyping services for e-textiles and wearable technology products, and aims to become the UK’s go-to experts in this emerging industry.

Annie’s top tips for a successful start-up

  1. Try to get some funding upfront at the beginning to help take the financial pressure off.
  2. Build a broad network of contacts and listen and learn from the people around you.
  3. Never be frightened to ask for help.

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