Our big ideas for the Den

For the third year running, the JC, together with the London Jewish Cultural Centre, has invited aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas for a Dragons’ Den-style event. We profile the finalists who have been chosen to face the Dragons.

By Candice Krieger, June 24, 2010

Alison Raphael and Sophie King Snoozechair
A reclining, moving baby chair

Mums Alison Raphael and Sophie King believe they have the answer to baby sleep problems. The duo have created Snoozechair - a reclining baby chair which mimics the motions of a car in order to pacify babies and help them settle. Mrs King, a cranial osteopath, and Mrs Raphael, a hypnotherapist specialising in sleep deprivation, came up with the concept after working with mums and their babies who were struggling to sleep.

Mrs King says: "When I asked parents how they managed to get their baby to sleep, so many said that they would take the baby for a drive in the car in the middle of the night."

She teamed up with Mrs Raphael - the women work together at a practice in Bushey, Herts - and they worked with engineers at Imperial College, London, and car manufacturer Land Rover, to establish a mechanism that produced movement similar to that experienced by a baby travelling in a car.

They are now ready to take their prototype to the market. Mother-of-two Mrs Raphael, 45, says: "We want to take it to the next level and get it manufactured and into the shops. Any exposure we can get would be phenomenal."

The women were finalists in the Baby Products Association new product competition.


Michael Korn KwickScreen
A retractable, portable partition

Medical inventor Michael Korn has developed a product which he hopes will help hospitals to run more efficiently. His KwickScreen invention is a versatile, retractable screen that creates temporary partitions between hospital beds.

The 29-year-old, who studied at Cambridge University, Imperial College and the Royal College of Art, says: "My sister worked in hospitals and explained the practical problems of hospital-acquired infections - such as blood from syringes getting spattered from one bed to another. Plus I visited a few hospitals and saw there was a huge waste of space. I thought: 'why can't they just divide up the space in a clever way?'

"They can be used as physical barriers between beds, still giving staff visibility of the patient, or as privacy and dignity screens and can help accommodate modest Orthodox Jewish patients."

Mr Korn has invested his own money into the venture, which has been endorsed by the NHS. The KwickScreen launched less than two years ago and has already proved a hit with the medical world, winning several awards and becoming part of the NHS Innovation Centre programme to combat Healthcare-Associated Infections (HCAIs). It is also part of the Design Council and NHS National Innovation Centre's programme Design Bugs Out, and Wolverhampton Hospital has bought the first batch. "We are starting to sell now and are looking for further exposure. We have a good product and need someone to help us spread the word across the NHS."

Although designed for the healthcare environment, the screens, which can be transparent, translucent or opaque, have other applications. "They could be used in schools for dividing up classrooms, as mechitzot in shuls and for segregated dance-floors at simchahs."

Produced in Corby, the screens open out to 4m
by 2m.


Jackie Gilmore
Doggie Macs - waterproof dog coats

Tired of cleaning up after her mucky pup, dog lover Jackie Gilmore has come up with a novel yet practical doggy accessory. Her initiative, Doggie Macs, creates made-to-measure waterproof dog coats for, as she puts it, any dog, anywhere in the world.

Launched six months ago at the Discover Dogs exhibition, the product has

already been endorsed by Crufts, and Ms Gilmore is preparing to release a selection of new lines in September.

She would welcome any support or advice from the Dragons.

Hertfordshire-based Ms Gilmore says: "I have two dogs and could never find a waterproof coat that fitted them properly. I saw a huge gap in the market. Doggie Macs' coats cover all four legs and the undercarriage of the dog - the part that gets the dirtiest. It's not dog fashion, it's a practical coat.

"I wanted to find a way so people could spend less time washing their dogs - and home -- after they had taken their dogs for walks."

The macs are priced from £39 to £60, and Ms Gilmore has invested a considerable amount of her own money into the business. The former life coach came up with the idea around two years ago.

"I am totally committed to this and getting to the Dragons' Den final is great. I've got a real passion for this and know there is the demand. My kids have both left home so I now have the time to devote to it."

She has received around 100 orders so far, including one from the US.


The judges who will choose a winner:

● Bernie Myers
Former managing director of N M Rothschild Sons Ltd

● Patsy Bloom
Founder of Pet Plan

● Jonathan Kestenbaum
Chief executive of Nesta, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts

● Lisa Ronson
Commercial director of Heron International

● Michael Ziff
Shoe salesman and chief executive, Barratts Priceless Ltd

● Candice Krieger
JC Business editor

The finalists will present their business ideas on July 8 at 7.30pm at the London Jewish Cultural Centre.

Tickets and info are available from 0208 457 5000 or www.ljcc.org.uk

Last updated: 10:28am, July 6 2010