Ikee: A start-up with a smart solution

As a serial entrepreneur in Newcastle, Brian Elgey has already established a number of brands dominating the UK’s nightlife and is now breaking into the technology industry. He told BQ of his story with Ikee so far.

Brian started his entrepreneurial journey in August 2008 when he launched the IAMVIP brand with business partners Ian Moore & Jack Nunn, which now has over 200 locations across the country. Since its inception, the brand now has over 1 million followers online and is looking to expand into Europe as well as developing a new social network under the brand.

After expanding across the UK, Brian launched another brand in Newcastle to coincide with IAMVIP, named Koosday. Since launching in 2010, Koosday has looked after over half a million clubbers, at over 700 parties in 26 cities across the UK.

As Brian looked to branch out into other industries, he delved into the technology industry to launch Ikee. Speaking to BQ, Brian said: “Ikee provides an all-in-one solution for phone and tablet accessories.”

“It allows users to charge, transfer and stream from the Ikee device which can be attached to your keys.” The company has two products, the Ikee mini and the Ikee play.

“The products are mobile keyring attachments that allow the user to charge, stream, play, track, control and store via the Ikee to their mobile, computer and TV.”

On switching from nightlife to technology, he told us: “I was inspired to start Ikee as there was no readily available solution for a problem we all face, in my other businesses I was always on the road and suffering from having to carry so many products, cables as well as facing the problems of internet and low battery issues.”

Having self-funded most of the project himself, Brian managed to receive additional support from other outlets to launch the brand.

 “Ikee has thus far been self-funded. We have also accessed some local grants from RTC North. Ikee is one of a few new projects I have been working on (Ikee, Selflash and Knky) as well as running the two other businesses.”

When asked where he received advice and support, he added: “I am the type of person that learns by doing so as well as sourcing the suppliers, engineers and developers. I also had a lot support from my board, Sam Morton, Gary Hunter, Darren Williams and Sharon Boyd, all well known in the business world, as well as in house support from my team Lisa Dunbar, Ben Griffin and Keith Charlton.

“Not to mention my suppliers including Jamie Hurst and the guys at Superkrush, as well as our suppliers in Europe. Luckily for me, I design the sites, products and layouts, so it really helps make the dream a reality a lot quicker when working with my suppliers.”

Outsourcing work is always a major issue for any company, ensuring their ambitions match yours and that the product is as close as possible to what you expected.

Brian said: “One of the biggest challenges was getting all the technology into such a small device, but thanks to my mechanical/electrical team, we managed to achieve this.”

“Another challenge was also finding reliable suppliers. It really is a mine field, so we were very lucky to have picked the right people to work with.”

Looking forward, Brian is expecting Ikee to hit the ground running as soon as the product goes to market after securing key brand ambassadors to drive sales.

After raising over £120,000 on Crowdcube in only 2 weeks thanks to help from Craig McKenna & his team, he added: “Our next big target is to get the production samples underway for our celebrity endorsers and press, allowing us to start taking pre-orders. We plan on running a 60 day pre-order campaign via our website and Indiegogo to allow early adopters to save up to 50% and in doing so, hope to raise another £1,000,000 in sales to help us to then go to selling the product to retailers.”

When asked what the best thing about being a start-up business is, Brian said: “The best thing I would say for me is turning an idea into a reality, that moment you get the first tangible prototype in your hands and you see it come to life! Another great thing is when people cover it in social media and press, to see people share your vision.”

 “The worse I would say is the sourcing, as this can make a huge difference and it’s a scary notion if you select the wrong people.”

As with any business plan, Brian had to ensure that the idea stood out and had a unique selling point to make it a success.

In order to achieve this, he said: “There isn’t currently a readily available solution to the issues we have solved, and it was by far not an easy one.”

“I feel with having 2 Ikee products in the range, we not only come in at the right price point to suit ABC1 markets but have the scalability for professionals and corporate branded products alike.”

“Ikee is a very flexible product and we have a lot of other ideas for it, starting at just £25, when it becomes available.”

He continued: “We have already been working on future versions and our ideal scenario would be to further develop the Ikee range with other smart products. Not only that, but we want to build on other new products.”

To finish off the interview, we asked Brian who his dream customer would be, to which he replied: “As this is so fitting for many consumers, our ideal customer would be in the retail field selling our products such as Apple, Currys/PC World, Carphone Warehouse to mass scale with department chains and superstores like Tesco and Asda. To see Ikee benefiting the masses globally is the dream as it’s not just the business, it’s solving a real issue.”

BQ will continue to follow Brian’s journey as an entrepreneur and the success of the Ikee brand.

 

In partnership with: Startup Britain