SOCIAL ENTERPRISE NEWS
By The Guardian
A social enterprise that aims to restore dignity – and a touch of glamour – to people who have to use ostomy pouches has won a prestigious Dragon’s Den style competition in Edinburgh.
Glitter Beach, which was founded by Victoria Lee, was one of five Scottish Start-ups to compete in the Scottish regional round of The Pitch 2010.
“Two years ago I was given a month to live.” said Lee at the start of her three minute pitch. “I was told I wasn’t going to survive radical surgery for Crones. To my astonishment I came out the other side.”
She decided to focus on what would make her feel happy again – which, she says, was the idea of going back to Barbados on holiday. But then she started to look for swimwear that she could use with an ostomy pouch – commonly known as a colostomy bag.
“To my horror I discovered that what was out there was absolutely horrendous, it was unfashionable, and with the greatest of respect my own grandmother would not have worn it. “
She decided to design her own range of colourful beachwear. She has also designed and filed for patent on a clip and belt device, which allows the bag to be concealed, and also means that the swimwear can be used by anyone else.
Other pitch competitors included three Edinburgh based start-up companies, all with hi-tech digital ideas – Bloop, which allows people at conferences and meetings to find out what skills, expertise and knowledge other delegates have; Flexpansion, which was developed out of Edinburgh University research, and has developed software to convert short mobile text into normal text, and Peekabu, which uses bar-code type digital stickers to allow people to control games and programs on their laptops using hand gestures.
But of the five projects pitching today, Glitter Beach was the only social enterprise. Lee said that the profits from the venture would be used to create a respite holiday centre for ostomy users, an online support community, and that they are working with the Scottish Government to set up a buddy system for patients.
Some of the panel of judges expressed their concern about the less profit orientated approach of the pitch – “I like money as well as making a difference” said panelist Karen Darby of Call Britannia, a sentiment echoed by Sukhi Ghuman.
But the strength of Lee’s story, and the potentially huge market of the swimwear helped Glitter Beach to win the competition. Lee pointed out that there are 100,000 ostomy patients in the UK, and panelist Nick Price pointed out that a quick google search had showed him that the market for ostomy devices alone is worth £200 million a year. Ghuman thought that the there would be an enormous market in the United States, with it’s high levels of obesity.
Glitter Beach will now advance to the national final of The Pitch 2010, which takes place in London in November. The winner will receive the title “Best New British Business” and receive £50,000 worth of business support prizes.
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