An Adelaide entrepreneur has struck a deal with a major global distributor for his agility training invention, which he developed while suffering a long-term illness.
Gerard Ramsay-Matthews came up with the idea for Speed Striker while bed-ridden with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome four years ago.
After developing a prototype, he has secured a licence deal with US business Sklz.
Sklz, which specialises in selling equipment that aids hand-eye co-ordination, has since placed the product in major US retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Amazon and Price Authority.
The company is now embarking upon a strategy of rolling out Speed Striker around the world, starting with Japan, South Africa and several European countries.
Under the licence, Ramsay-Matthews will get a minimum of $25,000 this year, rising in increments to $75,000 a year. He’ll then earn a 5% royalty share on sales on top of this.
The deal caps a remarkable entrepreneurial journey undertaken by Ramsay-Matthews, a 33-year-old graphic designer, who has come through the SA Young Entrepreneurship Scheme, which is administered by Business SA.
While laid low by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, he came up with the idea for Speed Striker in order to keep himself active.
The device is similar to the large balls that boxers hit during training. However, Speed Striker is tennis ball-sized and returns to the user at unpredictable angles after hit, helping improve coordination.
The invention has an elasticated chord and self-standing base, allowing it to be set up anywhere for training.
“It took a long time to do, as I had to fund it all myself,” says Ramsay-Matthews. “I couldn’t really afford a patent, but the IP lawyers allowed me to do some graphic design work for them in return for getting some initial protection for my idea.”
“I know from working for the patent attorney that it’s rare to get a product internationally protected, so the odds were against me.”
Ramsay-Matthews hired an industrial designer to make a prototype before partnering with an agent to introduce it to distributors. He also convinced Adelaide Crows AFL coach Mark Bickley to trial the product.
“The product has got great feedback in the US, although the next 12 months will be the most significant as it’s still early days,” says Ramsay-Matthews.
“It started as a passion and now it’s a business. It’s great to be earning a royalty cheque for this and for my product to be around the world.”