The Epoch Times recently interviewed Paul Griffin, entrepreneur and inventor of a new Irish product: the ZBand. We spoke to him about his experience of turning an idea for a new product into a reality.
The Epoch Times: Mr Griffin, please tell us about the ZBand silent alarm? How is it different from conventional alarms?
Paul Griffin: The ZBand is a silent alarm wristband, and it’s simple and user-friendly. Basically, you download an app to your Android smartphone or device, and with that you can program the ZBand wristband. You can program different alarms, multiple alarms, snooze functions, vibration strengths depending on what kind of sleeper you are, light or heavy. It’s totally different to a conventional alarm—with the ZBand, the band vibrates to wake you gently without disturbing anyone else in the room, be that a partner, a young child or baby. Another great use is for people that are hard of hearing—audio alarms have to be very loud for them to hear, but the ZBand gives them a quick vibration that wakes them. And some people just don’t like waking up to loud alarms in the morning! When it does vibrate, you press the button once to snooze, or hold it down for three seconds to turn it off. A 30-minute charge lasts over 10 days, and the charging cable is included.
The Epoch Times: How much will the product cost?
Paul Griffin: It’ll cost €39.99, and the app is free, you just download it.
The Epoch Times: Where did the idea for Zband come from?
Paul Griffin: It was just something that got stuck in my head, and looking for something like it, I couldn’t find it. So I just thought “Why was there never something like this before?” But I suppose it’s only technology that has allowed it, with apps and all that, you couldn’t have done it before now. We wanted something that was simple, comfortable to wear in bed, as small and light as possible, and portable. If you look at any of the watches that vibrate, they’re chunky, they’re big, they’re not comfortable to wear in bed. And they’re twice as expensive.
The Epoch Times: What stage is your business at? How are you proposing to fund the project??
Paul Griffin: The project will be self-funded, and we’re also looking for funding on Indiegogo.
The Epoch Times: What does that involve? Can you tell us about the Indiegogo campaign?
Paul Griffin: Right now we have a campaign on Indiegogo.com, which is an international crowd-funding website, to get the ZBand into mass production and get the word out there about it, see what people think, get feedback and so on. You can pre-order on the website too.
A lot of the feedback coming back is…you see, it was designed for couples, for people who don’t like waking their partner in the morning, or for people with kids. But another big thing coming back is people who are hard of hearing. There’s a friend of mine with a good job, working in IT, but he lost the hearing in his right ear after an operation, and as soon as he heard about it, he wrote to say what a great idea it would be for him. At the moment, he sets his alarm, and if he sleeps on his left ear, he doesn’t hear the alarm…so if he has a meeting in the morning, he often doesn’t sleep that night, worrying that he won’t wake up in time.
The Epoch Times: So the feedback so far has been positive?
Paul Griffin: Yeah, a good few people have come back, have sent messages on Indiegogo, saying this is great for them. It’s been good that way. I don’t know if we’ll make the goal [fundraising target – ed.] or not on Indiegogo, but it wasn’t just for the money we went on it anyway. Obviously, it’d be nice if we did get it! The money is coming in, but it’s in the last week that you get the big push.
We’ve had some great reviews, for example on the dudeiwantthat website. They even sent us an e-mail to say that it’s great to see private enterprise, entrepreneurs chasing a product like the ZBand, rather than doing it and just selling it to a bigger company. But all the whole time you’re thinking, “What’ll people think of it?” I think it’s a great idea, I gave it to ten different people and they all like it, but still you’re wondering “What will people think?”
You do need plenty of drive, and you do need to believe in the product. But there is help out there…
But the reaction from people—say if you mention it to someone single, they say “Yeah, that’s a grand idea”. But then if you talk to someone that’s been waking up his wife every morning for years, he goes, “That’s brilliant! Where can I get one?” So different people you say it to, you get different reactions.
The Epoch Times: What is your advice to those Irish people who have a business idea?
Paul Griffin: You do need plenty of drive, and you do need to believe in the product. But then there is help—I did get help from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Enterprise Board. There’s a lady there that acts as a mentor to me, Clodagh O’Brien, and she was very good. Just put me in the right direction, things to do, which was very important. Having run my own business before helped a bit, gave me a bit of belief, just for the business side of things and dealing with stuff. So it wasn’t all new to me.
The Epoch Times: What qualities are essential for an entrepreneur? And what do you need around you to make your dream a reality?
Paul Griffin: There’s a lot. Drive covers a lot of it, though, doesn’t it?!! But an entrepreneur needs people around them as well, people to support them, even say family and friends supporting. Then meeting other start-ups, and learning from each other. Networking is important as well.
The Epoch Times: There is a lot of doom and gloom in Ireland at the moment. How do you look at the current situation in Ireland?
Paul Griffin: It is tough. There are some sectors like IT and pharmaceuticals that are doing ok, but a lot of it is fairly tough. Even the pub scene—things are changing because of the recession. You’d hope things are bottoming out, but in construction things are still very bad. But then, talking to other start-ups, there is a lot of positivity as well. People say, “Listen, you have to go for it.” There’s no point in just sitting around. The way Ireland is at the moment, why not do it? We didn’t have a big marketing or research budget, so you kind of have to go with your gut. People say “Why did you do it?” I don’t really know why I did it! But we’ll chance it anyway!
The Epoch Times: If you were 21 again in the Ireland of today, would you stay or emigrate??
Paul Griffin: I did live abroad for a while, in the States, in Boston, Chicago and mainly San Francisco. If I was 21 again? I don’t know—Ireland is still a great country, but it is tough right now. Fighting spirit, that’s the main thing!
The Epoch Times: On that note, Paul Griffin, thank you very much.
Paul Griffin: Thank you.
For more information on the ZBand or the Indiegogo funding campaign, visit www.zband.biz/
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.