My Startup: Motionlab
Motionlab creates backpacks for runners, cyclists and anyone else who wants the weight taken off their shoulders.
After starting on Kickstarter, they've since featured at the London Bike Show and the founder even wore a Motionlab bag (containing a laptop, clothes, shoes and other daily essentials) to run the London Marathon, managing an impressive time of three hours 52 minutes.
The company has completely redesigned the commuter backpack buy taking all the weight off the user's shoulders and redistributing the weight to the hips - where the body is designed to hold weight.
Founder: Rob Moncrieff
We spoke to Rob to find out more about his startup...
Why did you start Motionlab?
It started when I tried running home from work one day and discovered that even the small weight of a pair of shoes made running with a backpack incredibly uncomfortable. Playing around with the straps, I pulled them across my chest so they wrapped around my chest and immediately noticed an improvement.
That piqued my curiosity and I started investigating why bags were uncomfortable and how they could be better designed to work with the human body, rather than against it.
Tell us more about the products?
Motionlab bags are a complete rethink of backpack design, born from the ethos that a bag should mirror the human body, being strong where the human body is strong and flexible where the human body is flexible, and moving the way the human body moves.
As a result, our bags place the load on the hips, where the human body is designed to carry weight, incorporate a flexible spine to copy the human body’s own spine, stabilise on the human body’s skeletal structure, and avoid all the moving parts of the body.
Where’s the business at right now?
Right now is a really exciting time for us as we have just produced our first production bags and are selling for the first time.
After years spent designing, prototyping, showcasing and testing, culminating in a Kickstarter (crowdfunding) launch last summer to fund our first production run, we are finally a commercial business.
That feeling of handing over a bag to a paying customer was a breakthrough moment for me.
What are your aims for the next year?
This year is all about consolidating our position with the Active Commuter bag and expanding the Motionlab product range. Now we have a finished product available we are able to really showcase our bags through marketing events and from people actively using the bag, and also have more meaningful discussions on the retail and distribution side.
We’re planning a second, bigger production run later this year and I’m also excited to start working on a 30-litre day-hike pack and 70-litre trekking bag to complement our 20-litre Active Commuter bag.
All this means growing the team as well, which will bring its own positive moments and challenges. Within the year, I hope to see Motionlab firmly established as a profitable business with a growing product range.
What’s been the hardest thing about getting Motionlab off the ground?
In the development stages, the hardest thing was pushing forward through the uncertainty of not knowing whether the effort you’re putting in will actually yield results or whether it’s a design dead-end. Using the knowledge gained from every failure is a great way to develop a product but it requires strong self-belief.
Now that we’ve pushed through that phase and are receiving positive customer feedback, the new challenge is to keep on top of the many different items that all need to be managed in a nascent business.
Product development, commercial relationships, customer service, logistics, tax, finances, accounting, and admin all need to be managed and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s where pulling together a great team is so important.
Why should more people be using Motionlab bags?
This is the first bag in the world that takes ALL the weight completely off your shoulders and is unlike any bag you’ve ever tried before.
The freedom of movement and comfort of a Motionlab bag has to be experienced to be believed and we’re also helping to prevent back and shoulder pain and providing solutions for people looking to fit in their regular exercise without giving up their precious time.
How much will it cost customers and why is it worth it?
The bag retails for £189 with the accessories. That’s a hefty price tag but no other bag in the world has our revolutionary technology that can give you the feeling of having literally no weight on your shoulders.
For anyone struggling to fit regular exercise into their busy schedules, our bags let you swap that unhealthy, stressful commute for arriving at the office energised and having already done your daily exercise. That’s more than just saving on your gym membership, that's the gift of long-term health, without giving up a single minute of your precious time.
Meanwhile, savvy customers are recognising that to avoid chronic back pain and potentially thousands of pounds in chiropractor bills and incalculable cost in terms of quality of life, Motionlab bags are a great investment to help prevent long term back problems.