“We sit here and we’re surrounded by millionaires,” says a young Tom Cruise in the movie, Cocktail, as he basks outside a Jamaican bar with a love-struck Elisabeth Shue. He raises a toothpick, she inspects an ashtray. He admires a cocktail umbrella, lifts his sneaker then points to the small plastic ends of the laces. Shue tells him that they probably have some weird name, like a fluglebinder. All of these items, says a forlorn Cruise, have made their makers fortunes. Shue tells him not to worry, he’ll find his fluglebinder someday. He didn’t. They found love instead.
Many have day-dreamed of inventing that very something that people don’t even realise that they need until it’s right there in front of them, but few manage to turn those dreams into reality. Hamish Dobbie is one of those few. His ingenious culinary item, YOLKR®, is an attractive, functional hand-held pump that with one simple squeeze seamlessly separates the egg yolk from the white. It is destined to grace kitchens around the globe but, incredibly, when the 30-year-old Kiwi first pitched the idea to major homeware companies he was turned away.
“I made some phone calls, but no-one was interested,” says Dobbie. “They didn’t really grasp the idea. If something doesn’t exist, then it’s hard to sell.”
Unperturbed, Dobbie persevered and the resulting product is so easy to use that his elderly grandfather nailed it at first attempt. No more cracked egg shells in your baking mix, no more split yolks – it’s guaranteed to work first time, every time. The YOLKR® is constructed using food-safe materials and is dishwasher safe, too.
Funds were raised through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website that provides a platform for artists and inventors to advertise their creations to potential investors.
“It’s a very honest platform,” says Dobbie. “They take a small clipping from funds raised and deposit the rest into your bank account. The relationship is really between ourselves and the Kickstarters – our backers – who have, in good faith, put down their money in advance.”
Erring on the side of caution, Dobbie set an initial target of £15,000, which they reached in just five days. The final amount totalled over £43,000, with over 2,000 backers pledging their support. Dobbie tells me that he was overwhelmed by the response.
“The platform was a worthwhile gamble,” he says. “There’s a huge audience and you get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ pretty quickly. People all around the world want to distribute or retail it and companies that turned me away at first have now shown an interest not realising that I’m the same who person who approached them before. It’s been very satisfying.”
Dobbie loves creating and derives great pleasure from getting instant results. He describes the project as a learning curve and looks forward to honing his entrepreneurial skills. YOLKR® isn’t Hamish’s first foray into the world of business, having set up MedSailors™ (www.medsailors.com) with two old university friends a couple of years ago. Based in the UK, the company offers skippered yachts for a week’s worth of cruising, snorkelling and exploring the islands of Greece, Croatia and Turkey.
“A group of us chartered some yachts in Greece and had an absolute blast, so we decided to take it to the market,” he says. “We’ve now got it to a stage where we’re relatively established with a place in that market. It keeps us all busy.”
As for the YOLKR® its success has been so instant, and on such a scale, that Hamish isn’t yet exactly sure where it will take him.
“Our first step is to supply it to those who have put up the funds, and a close second will be to get on to the shop shelves,” he says. “I’m still deciding how to manage it. There’s a great opportunity to create a brand and I’m keeping an open mind. It’s exciting to have so many options with contact from distributors and manufacturers around the globe. We’ve been really fortunate.”
It’s not all down to good fortune. Like the old saying goes, we make our own luck, and of course the YOLKR’s® of this world don’t invent themselves. Good on him.