It has almost been an entire year since Amber Probyn and Hazel McShane, the co-founders of PEEQUAL, won the New Enterprise Competition (NEC) – Growth Stage. We were keen to catch-up with them, to hear all about their success since winning £15,000 in last year’s NEC competition.
Can you summarise what PEEQUAL is?
PEEQUAL is the UK’s first free-standing women’s urinal, making it quick, safe, and sustainable for women to pee at events.
Why did you choose to apply for the NEC last year?
We applied for 3 stages of the NEC and had been supported by the smaller grants given. We saw the impact the grants had on our development so we wanted to apply for the largest grant which we knew could be a catalyst for our business.
What did applying to the NEC do for your start-up?
Winning the NEC meant we were able to invest in building a working prototype which we could test at festivals and events. This was huge as we were able to get feedback from users and customers, gain credibility and traction which helped us go onto raising investment for manufacturing. The exposure of the NEC award also made a big PR splash and we had 3-4 weeks of constant PR which drove customers to us from all over the world.
We have built the working prototype, tested at 5 events over the 2021 summer and iterated the design as we went. We raised £250,000 of equity investment, have started manufacturing the product, employed 4 members of staff not including the founders and have customers lined up to rent to in our first year of trading.
What does the future look like for PEEQUAL?
We intend to scale up internationally in 2023 as we have global demand for PEEQUAL. As well as this, we are thinking of adapting the design to be appropriate in more markets such as fixed sites e.g. shopping centres or to be helpful in the humanitarian relief sector e.g. refugee camps.
If you want to take your start-up business to the next level, you too can win up to £20,000 of funding and pro-bon support by applying for the New Enterprise Competition – Growth Stage. The competition is open to final year students and recent graduates. Applications are open now and close on Monday 30 May.