113: How Sugru’s Inventor Knew Her Lifehacking Moldable Glue Would Stick

Sep 22, 2016
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I’m sure most techies listening to this show have heard of Sugru. For those who haven’t, it’s an extraordinary new moldable glue designed for fixing, making and improving stuff. It’s described as the only glue on the planet that sticks to almost anything, molds like play dough and cures overnight into a durable silicon rubber. Once it’s cured, Sugru has some pretty amazing properties making it the perfect use everywhere.

It’s used in creative ways from engineers and international space programs to Himalayan explorers to techies looking to fix cables or hook hard drives on the back of TV’s. I advise you to go to www.sugru.com just to visualize it while you’re listening to the show. I invited the inventor and CEO of Sugru onto the show to tell us all about it but most importantly her story.

Can you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Jane ni Dhulchaointigh, and I’m the inventor and CEO of Sugru. For anyone who hasn’t heard of Sugru, it is a new type of material. It’s moldable glue which sounds boring but is interesting because it’s designed to stimulate people’s imagination and get people fixing again and modifying and improving it to make it work better for them.

The way it works is it comes out of the packet like play dough, and you can mold it into any shape. The magic bit is it sticks really well to a whole range of different materials from plastics to glass which basically means you can hack and improve everything. Overnight it turns into a really nice durable silicon rubber.

Jane ni Dhulchaointigh,

Where did this idea come from?

It was a little bit of an accidental discovery. I’m not an inventor or a scientist. I was studying product design quite a few years ago, and I really wanted to use my creativity to be useful and make functional things. I had a dilemma about being part of a system that is just creating more new things all the time. The world is full of enough stuff. A few different things I was playing around with came together, and I started thinking about how we could all have a more thoughtful relationship with the stuff that we own.

You see human ingenuity every day. In our consumer culture, there’s a diminished role for a lot of us presuming that we just want to be consumers when a lot of us want to get hands on and be part of the creation of our stuff and our environment. That sort of thought process came together with some material experiments I was working on that basically resulted in the first prototype.

How did you get it onto the shelves? Was it crowd funding?

The idea itself was pre-social media and that kind of world. In 2003 I had the first idea, and I had the instinct we could make this so cool, but I had no background in business, marketing, branding or anything like that. We decided to create the material and team up with big adhesive companies to learn how to do this.

There were several years of developing the science and protecting it. Companies were giving us a lot of time, they loved hearing our ideas. In 2008 it ended up, we had run out of funding, and there was no money on the table from any of these big companies. Some friends of mine who were designers who encouraged us to start small. In 2009 we had our website built, and we made 1,000 packs in the lab and put them on the internet. We got some good blog coverage from Harry Wallop at the Daily Telegraph who gave it ten out of ten. From there people got excited about it, and we sold those 1,000 packs in about six hours.

How much does this cost and where can you buy it from?

The rebel tech kit will cost 10 pounds which I think is going to be 15 U.S dollars. You can buy it from either www.sugru.com. We have a U.S site and a U.K site with distribution globally. We ship all over the world. It will be on Amazon U.S and Amazon U.S as well.

If they run out of the Sugru moldable glue from the tech pack, do you sell it separately outside of the rebel tech kit?

We sell it in all the normal packs, and it comes in ten colors. You can get black or white depending on if you’re a PC or Mac person if you want to blend in. Or you can choose pink, brown, green, gray or orange. You can choose your colors and pack size. The kit is a great first purchase because it will really get you going. Then from there, you can get better value packs. You can get those from sugru.com or Amazon, or if you’re in the U.S, you can get it from Target nationwide and here in the U.K from Macland, King Q and lots of retailers.

Do you have a YouTube channel, Twitter feed or website listeners can check out for more information?

www.sugru.com has a hub with lots of information and videos and how to’s and community submitted projects.

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