We believe that what you are about to see is a genuinely unique, multi-market product with potential mass appeal to the entire age range from toddlers to pensioners.
This video covers the evolution of the prototype from unlikely beginnings to where it is today, ready for final production design and launch at the end of the year.
December 2012, this was the o-shit moment when PlayBase was born, not something even remotely on the radar at the time, this had just thing turned up and the burning question was what to do with it.
What you are looking at was an ebay surprise Christmas present that was somewhat bigger and more substantial than anticipated.
For those that don’t know, it’s a human gyroscope as used by astronauts, fighter pilots and dodgy science fiction films and most often seen at festival and fairgrounds where this one had obviously started life.
Up until seeing it in the flesh there were naive ideas of drilling a few fixing holes in the patio and erecting the gyroscope as and when needed and other than that storing it by the shed.
No chance of that.
It quickly became apparent that it needed to be fixed in position somewhere in the garden, and unfortunately this was exactly where the kids climbing frame was going to go.
Oops, this was not popular.
So, anyway after cutting it off the trailer, getting a suitable below ground frame constructed and much digging and mixing of concrete it finally got installed just in time for Christmas.
At this point a fair amount of money and goodwill had been expended, specifically, where were we now going to put the kids climbing frame?
The obvious solution if the rings could be fixed horizontally would be to attach a base and some sides and then it could double as both a raised kids play house and a gyroscope.
So after the aquisition of some scaffold poles and suitable clamps a bit of experimentation started to see what could be done with it.
It very quickly became apparent that the answer was quite a lot.
It proved remarkably easy to fix the rings in any position and suddenly there was a very cool climbing frame for when the kids got a bit older. Great.
Not only that but there was potential to allow one of the rings to rotate, and at any angle, which led to thinking about roundabouts and a host of other play things that could be added.
With the addition of some decking a raised circular platform was constructed, perfect for the kids playhouse and maybe a stage when they got a bit older.
On and off over the next year much thought went into what else could be done with this thing now that it was in the garden and here to stay.
There was clearly lots more potential for the gyroscope frame other than just spinning around or supporting a kids playhouse.
The next aha moment came with the acquisition of some heavy duty elastic straps to fix the rings together.
What this allowed was limited sprung motion that opened a whole new avenue of thinking and potential applications.
Experimenting with suspending an old office chair to the inner ring fixed with the elastic straps to the other rings almost straight away produced a remarkably comfortable seat, perfect for lounging in the sun and reading book.
It was simple to adjust the elasticity between the rings simply by changing the position of the straps relative to the bearing points. This gave huge opportunity to create more or less any bouncy sensation desired.
The concept progressed into the bouncy house that the kids completely love and are still using regularly today.
The other avenue of thinking involved powering the rings either using simple cylinders or potentially stepper motors. There didn’t seem to be anything technically challenging in building in a racing car seat or perhaps even a fighter jet cockpit that could be interfaced with a playstation controller and made to move with the controls.
How great would that be.
Unexpectedly, this thing, whatever it was, was starting to look like a proper business opportunity. The range of potential applications had mushroomed from the initial gyroscope and a raised platform to 30 + and still adding. They covered play, sport, relaxation, exercise, gaming, and work or study and had potential appeal to children and adults alike.
The next steps involve detailed engineering design of the first set of modules using the prototype as a starting point and setting up the supply chain.
A well respected automotive design consultancy has been engaged for this purpose, partly because of previous experience working with them and party because they have exactly the required skills needed such as 3D modeling capabilities, experience with rotating equipment and a good appreciation of product safety.
The production version will have none of the ugly flanges seen on the prototype, the rings being manufactured in one piece.
The clamps and scaffolding will be rounded and have suitable rubber impact protectors.
Where possible everything will be sourced in the UK and high quality materials will be used throughout.
All the kits will be designed to be interchanged within minutes, a key USP.
The target market, aside from having sufficient garden space and suitable disposable finances covers a significant chunk of the UK population.
Parents looking for something exciting for their kids in the garden that will be continuously adaptable as they grow older will be hard pressed to find a better alternative.
Anyone into fitness should appreciate the basic gyroscope as great cardiovascular exercise as well as the jogging wheel as a more interesting alternative to a treadmill.
Anyone seriously into video gaming cannot fail to see the attraction in the immersive 3 dimensional experience.
Anyone that liked building things out of lego or mechano when they were a child and has carried a latent frustration to do something similar into adulthood will appreciate the experimental self build potential PlayBase provides.
Some of this group is expected to invent their own module kits that might well be adopted into the product range.
For people that just want something relaxing to sunbath on, the Inner Ring Sun Deck is a very similar experience to lying on a lilo in pool.
The home office market, the Jacuzzi market and the trampoline market all provide excellent opportunities.
Because the basic structural support for the kits is the PlayBase the majority of applications are cheaper as an individual additional purchase than their sole function equivalents of comparable quality.
We strongly believe there will be lots of people that will see something they like in the PlayBase range either for themselves or their family.
Unfortunately it has proved near impossible to calculate what the demand will actually be given its unique characteristics.
There don’t seem to be any analogues that will help figure this out so this exercise of raising seed funding will provide a great litmus test and also help shape the size of required supply chain.
The projected numbers in the business case financials reflect the most conservative estimates mainly because the most likely case is going to look like silly numbers.
Hopefully it is not too difficult to see beyond the obvious shortcomings of the prototype shown in this video and you are able to visualise the full potential of PlayBase and most importantly invest in the opportunity.