Northern Ireland start-up Jumpack poised to ramp up distribution globally

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  • It’s been a big year for Jumpack.

    Led by inventor Phil McIntosh, the Downpatrick-based start-up was named overall Invent Awards winner in 2016 before going on to win a place in Pitch at the Palace.

    The company is currently testing samples in China and, if all goes well, they’re planning to produce 2,000 units before Christmas.

    “In a year, we've gone from nobody knowing that we exist to the point where we’re now preparing for distribution to 80 countries,” says Phil.

    Phil, along with partners Mike Crowe and Matt Gairns, believe they now have “a product that's going to cause a huge impact - we're really excited”.

    The Jumpack is a portable ramp that can be used by skaters, and BMX, scooter and mountain bike riders, as well as snowboarders. It can be set up within seconds and folds away “Transformer-style” into a backpack for easy transport. The company says the Jumpack enables users to “get air anywhere”.

    For Phil, the Invent Awards proved to be a catalyst for their changing fortunes.

    “Before Invent we were essentially two guys in the shed trying to develop a product nobody knew existed. Then after the competition, it has gone crazy for us,” he says.

    “We were part of the final 12 invited to the Palace and we had the opportunity to meet with The Queen and tell her a little bit about the project.”

    After pitching to 300 guests St James's Palace, Mike and Phil were off to San Francisco and San Diego in January this year as part of the NI Tech Mission.  

    The pair came home with a global distribution deal from Turnstyle Brands with Greenover Sports handling distribution into the UK AND EUROPE.

    “That two weeks in the States changed the future of our business completely,” he says.

    The Jumpack Pro will retail for $299 in the US and at £199 in the UK. A mini version aimed at young enthusiasts - which can be upgraded as their skill improves - will also be available for £129.

    The firm has received money from Invest NI and E-Synergy but it has also been funded personally by Phil and Mike “so we've had to make personal sacrifices over the past number years to make sure we can keep moving forward”.

    “We've managed to get it across the line without having to sell an equity stake in the company,” says Phil.

    “A lot of people thought that this was the only way forward for us, but we were confident that we could get there without getting rid of a big stake. We’re delighted the company is still owned by its founders.”

    The product marries up Phil’s passion for engineering and his pedigree in extreme sports. He became a BMX champion back in 1982 then moved on to motocross and mountain biking where he was twice Northern Ireland downhill champion and an All-Ireland champion.

    “I grew up watching Evel Knievel, The Dukes of Hazzard and Eddie Kidd. It didn't matter if you were on roller-skates or a scooter or a Grifter - you were building ramps, that's all I had an interest in when I was growing up,” he says.

    “I understand the mindset of the extreme sports athlete - the daredevil that gets his adrenaline rush not from the PlayStation but from putting himself in just a little bit of danger,” he says.

    Reflecting on his experiences of the Invent Awards, Phil says the competition benefits all participants, and not just the winners. 

    “For anyone out there who has a product the prototype or an idea make an appointment and go and see somebody Connect and they will help,” he says.

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