It’s hard not to get infected by the passion oozing out of founder, Ben Ridding, as he tells his story of how Ulu Ocean Xplorer Dry Bags came into existence. An ex RNLI Senior beach lifeguard, adventure centre owner and lover of any activity on water, he professes to have “had a close affinity with water all of my life.”
What struck me when we spoke was how each element of his product and brand is intertwined with his passions, something that makes the proposition of this young startup, compelling for consumers and dangerous for the established market leaders.
1. Functionality – Essentially a floating waterproof bag to carry one’s clothes and effects when out in open water, the product was an answer to a problem for Ben and his friends, when wanting to freely explore the beauty of the flat water beaches on the South Coast of Cornwall, but being limited to the areas they could access by what they could carry with them.
2. Safety – Having started life as a lifeguard for RNLI and conscious of the dangers of open water swimmers exploring areas that could be quite remote, all Ulu OX products have a safety element ingrained. It helped their tow bags to quickly gain traction amongst open swimmers, kayakers and paramedics, as the buoyancy, bright colours and reflective strips (approved officially by the US Coastguard) make it a fantastic safety companion.
3. Sustainability – Scarred by a particular trip to the islands of Sumatra, where the idyllic beauty was dashed by how instinctively the locals threw their rubbish overboard, Ben is obsessed with making his bags as increasingly environmentally friendly as possible. He even visited a number of suppliers across Asia, many of whom claimed but failed to meet high sustainability standards, in order to arrive at the best, ocean bound plastic materials he could possibly find.
It’s Ben’s passion for the open water that drives his obsession with making the world’s greatest dry bags and his startup position that gives him the nimbleness to act and evolve at speed, thus putting him in a fantastic position to disrupt the market. So, if you’re at the start of your business journey, or are considering a pivot, follow Ben’s advice and follow your passions.
If you’d like to explore the Ulu OX range, visit www.uludrybags.com
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