Simon Says Nimble
I’m fascinated by and grateful to technology that makes our day-to-day lives work better. Almost everyone I know faces circumstances that could be made better by having the right tool at hand. New tools help us cope with challenges.
Simon Lyons, a prize-winning English innovator, has made Nimble, the number 1 Wonder Tool. Nimble is a simple but hugely helpful tool. It helps you cut things: surly bacon packages, open CD wrapping (frustrating beyond all belief), make photo collages, tape, and fix things, and more — all without cutting your fingers!
I found it on Kickstarter.com. If you haven’t been to Kickstarter’s web site, check it out. I’ve been looking at their site for a long time. Their mission is to bring creative projects to life. They have brought over 105,704 to life through crowd-funding.
Nimble is the first product I’ve backed. I wasn’t alone in backing it. With 17 hours to go at the time I am writing this, over 1700 people backed Nimble.
Initially, I backed 3 Nimbles: One for my office, one for the car, and one for my best friend. Then, I thought about it, and bought 20! Friends and family, you know what will be your gifts in December.
I wrote to Simon Lyons and Version 22 via Kickstarter. He was very kind and took time to answer my questions below. In addition to being creating and helpful, he is a rigorous product tester and researcher.
1. How did you come to create the Nimble?
I was entering a competition run by Bath University where they had people upload videos describing problems they had around the home. Those who entered the competition had to watch the videos, pick and problem and solve it with a product idea. I watched all 100+ videos and realized the problem that came up the most was opening plastic packaging in the kitchen. So that was the problem I solved by designing Nimble. Nimble ended up winning this competition and going on to win a few others too, which was great!
2. What pain point did it solve for you?
Opening plastic food packaging in the kitchen and taped up parcels I get in the post.
3. Your site name is version 22. Is the Nimble on Kickstarter version 22?
4. How has the Nimble changed your life?
It has put me in touch with hundreds of wonderful people around the world who benefit from using Nimble and has inspired me to keep creating new products that solve different daily problems.
5. What would you like people to know about you?
I graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in Product Design Engineering. I’ve always been a keen inventor and builder. I got my first proper tool kit aged 6 and used it to build my own bedroom furniture in the shed at the bottom of the garden.
6. I’m assuming you are in England?
7. Have you invented other products?
I did more research and was even more impressed. I asked even more questions.
What drew you to inventing and making?
I have always been a fan of inventing and making things. My favourite toys when I was a kid were K’NEX and LEGO: two toys you build things with. My parents got me my first proper tool kit when I was about 6 years old which I used to build furniture and other things in the shed at the bottom of the garden.
Growing up my interest in inventing and building got stronger and stronger, with my favourite subject at secondary school being Design and Technology and the degree I ended up studying for at university being Product Design Engineering.
What is your dream project?
That’s a hard one. I don’t have one yet but I think it’s a case of “I know it when I think of it”!
Optional: What plans do you have for future projects? (if you feel like sharing)
I have a few ideas of future products in the works but unfortunately I can’t say more than that at this time.
Education and Career
Who or what has inspired you as a product designer?
James Dyson has always been someone that inspires me. Coming up with a groundbreaking idea like his cyclone technology (which he started prototyping in the garage at home) and fighting hard to make it a reality against all the odds stacked against him is something that I have a lot of respect for. His autobiography is a great account of his struggles and triumphs.
How important was your education at Loughborough?
Very important indeed. Although my passion for problem solving and creating things was there before university, I didn’t have the necessary knowledge to turn any of my ideas in to viable products that could actually be manufactured and sold. This is something I’m still — and always will be — learning, but my degree at Loughborough University definitely set me off on the right track!
I notice Loughborough has a large material science department. You used ceramic zirconia for the blade in this project. What other materials interest you?
This is a hard question to answer. All materials that can be made into some sort of man-made product or structure interest me. Particularly though, new and innovative materials with incredible properties interest me the most: such as special plastic rubber that hardens on impact, transparent wood, solid materials almost as light as air, polystyrene-like packaging material “grown” from mushrooms and sheets of material just an atom thick.
Loughborough is a different concept than most schools in the US: most of us get booted out at graduation and have no access to school facilities afterwards. We in the San Francisco bay area have the tech shop. (http://www.techshop.ws/)
The Studio, the graduate commercialisation space I’m in at the moment on campus here at Loughborough, is unique in the way it’s run and is a very exciting place to be! My hope is that more universities both in the UK and overseas set up similar spaces on their campuses in the near future!
Have you participated in anything like US’s Maker’s Faire or Burning Man?
I haven’t no. But both interest me greatly!
How do feel about promoting yourself?
(You do a great job of it!)
Promoting myself and my ideas is something that I never used to be comfortable with. I hated public speaking in secondary school and was always a shy kid growing up, but having to put myself and my ideas out there to give the my business a chance of taking off is something that I get more and more used to every day. I actually enjoy sharing my story and ideas now surprisingly!
You’ve exceeded your financial requirements on Kickstarter. In your opinion, what part of your success is the product itself, previous products, and your promotional efforts?
Again this is a hard one to answer. I think you can’t really have one without the other. If you don’t have a product people want then no matter how much promotion you throw at it not much is going to happen. Equally though you could have the best product in the world but if you don’t tell anyone about it then you’re not going to get anywhere either.
I think what’s worked best for the Nimble campaign is the work we put in prior to launch ensuring the product functioned as well as intended and looked great, and growing an audience of people interested in the Nimble. Having a lot of interest and hype at launch helped our campaign build momentum, which, thankfully, we’ve been able to keep going throughout the campaign!
Who are you working with? (You can say Friend 1 and Friend 2 if they don’t want their names used)
Lee Barguss has been working with my as part of my company Version 22 and has be instrumental in the successful launch and promotion of our Kickstarter campaign among many other things.
How has collaboration worked for you?
Collaboration has been great for Nimble and the Version 22 business as a whole, both with me and Lee working together inside the company, and collaborating with bloggers, Facebook pages and fellow Kickstarter backers and creators to help promote the Nimble campaign.
Simon Makes Great!
Tonight is the last few hours of the Kickstarter. Right now, Nimble is 643% funded. While I guessed the Nimble would be a great success, the response was more than I thought it would be. Everybody wants one or more.
It’s exciting to back the Nimble process. I want mine now, although I understand they won’t be massed produced until December. I’m can’t wait to see what Simon does next.