A NORTH Yorkshire inventor who designed ski gear to help children get into the sport has taken his cool-weather product into the fiery furnace of Dragons’ Den.
Snowmule, invented by Kevin Stevens, is a rucksack that carries children’s skis and poles, which also has a towing mechanism to pull children on flat areas of the piste.
Kevin, who works as an airline pilot, applied for £90,000 of investment on the BBC 2 show, and although none of the Dragons invested, Peter Jones and Theo Pathitis, who ski with children said they would buy one.
Kevin, who lives in Tholthorpe, came up with the idea after taking his own children skiing. He has skied for nearly 30 years and was excited to introduce his children to his favourite sport.
But by the end of the first day he was so frustrated at pulling, pushing and carrying them and their kit around that he sat down and designed the first draft of the Snowmule.
The website snowmule.com was registered that night from a chalet in France.
Many prototypes, patents and trademarks later enabled the Snowmule backpacks to go into production in 2011. Retailers in the UK, Europe and even Hong Kong now stock the products.
Kevin had hoped the investment would enable him to launch the business worldwide and increase the range of products.
He said that after demonstrating the product, by towing his sons, George and Henry, across the stage on skis fixed to rollers, Snowmule has had interest from new customers wanting to buy, and shops wanting to stock the products, he said.
Kevin said he was pleased with the Dragons’ positive reaction to the product, despite their not investing because they felt the market was too small for them. He said: “The market is anywhere in the world where people ski with children. I wanted the money to expand worldwide and do marketing in those countries.
“It would have brought the business forward a few years, but I’m not concerned at not having it. I will still carry on and I’m already talking to people in Canada and America. it will just take longer.”