Warwickshire is a small county but, in terms of business reach, innovation and expertise, it has long punched far above its weight – and that continues to be the case thanks to companies like Nuneaton-based Eskuta Ltd.
Many factors must combine to make a successful business. But a good way to start is to spot a gap in a growing, evolving market and to design a product to fill that gap. That’s what Eskuta, based at Warwickshire County Council-run Bermuda Innovation Centre in Nuneaton, have done with a range of Electrically-Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPCs) which have just gone to market after two years in development.
In Warwickshire’s sustained role as a significant player on the local, national and global business stages, Nuneaton more than plays its part. And Eskuta’s story is very much a Nuneaton one with the business based there, the product designed there and managing director Ian O’Connor proud to live there.
These are exciting times for Ian and his company as they set about translating the considerable interest in their product into hard orders.
“It is exciting,” said Ian. “Challenging, but very exciting. We have spotted a bit of a gap in the market and since the product went to market this summer there has been a lot of interest. Basically, we have created a product that looks and performs like a petrol-driven moped but is pedal-powered and electrically-assisted.
“There are strict guidelines, which we have to follow. Up to six kilometres per hour the cycle can be powered electrically then from that point up to 25 kph it must be pedal powered, albeit electrically-assisted.
“Our cycles looks like mopeds and perform like mopeds, but do not require a licence, tax or insurance. They can be ridden in cycle-lanes as well as on the road and there are no emissions so it is a very green product.
“It is appealing to a lot of markets: Young people gaining mobility for the first time; older people who enjoy cycling but find it a little bit harder than they used to; people with minor health problems; commuters just wanting to save time and money.
“When we exhibited at the National Cycle Show at the NEC we had excellent feedback. So then we went to the Motorhome & Caravan Show and though that was a market we had not originally envisaged, we had a lot of success there too.”
Eskuta is a lean company, employing just four people, with fat potential. Talks are ongoing with businesses in one of the biggest growth areas around – fast-food delivery – while the export market is also being investigated.
Eskuta has a lot going for it – including, Ian admits, a perfect base at the Bermuda Innovation Centre. “It couldn’t be better,” he said. “I have known about the Centre for a long time so when we got to the end of the development stage and needed a base, I looked online and the Bermuda Centre looked just right. I contacted Lisa Smullen, who runs it, and she was ever so pleasant and helpful. We were soon in here.
“We are expanding rapidly and not only sell directly to consumers but are now developing a national network of Eskuta dealers stocking our range, so Nuneaton’s central location is brilliant. “In fact, all round, our base at the Bermuda Centre is as perfect as you could get.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council and board member of the Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Warwickshire County Council is committed to helping new firms start-up, develop and grow. Eskuta is an excellent example of the type of exciting, creative company that is doing so well in our county. We hope many more people will be inspired to turn a good idea into a flourishing business.”
Cllr Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added: “The Business Centres provide an excellent base from which growing firms can thrive. Warwickshire has a proud tradition of being home to business innovation and the council is doing everything we can to support this heritage.”
Warwickshire County Council has three managed business centres and a further five stand alone leased units. Council managed business centres: Centenary Business Centre; Sir Frank Whittle Business Centre and Eliot Park Innovation centre.
Stand alone leased units: Bermuda Innovation Centre; Church Lawford Business Centre; Hammond Business Centre; Pool Road Business Centre and Smallbrook Business Centre.
For more information about the Business Centres: http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/businesscentres