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Bringing a unique spice mill to market

Bringing a unique spice mill to market

Product designer Nathan Bestwick of Rotherham is riding high after winning the 2010 Sheffield Hallam University’s Enterprise Challenge with his ‘Millme’ spice mill designed for people who have limited strength or dexterity in their hands.

Nathan, 24, grew up in Rotherham and studied industrial design at Sheffield   Hallam University. His business dream began while he was still a student when he designed his spice mill that works by being rolled in the hands without any need to grip or twist. This makes the spice mill ideal for people who suffer from arthritis and other conditions that restrict the movement of the hands.

His designs have been inspired both by his own love of cooking and his memories of how his late grandmother struggled with severe arthritis. 

As he developed the equipment, he devised some unconventional experiments to develop new ways of processing foodstuffs, including rolling pebbles together and even smashing herbs between a pair of old Army boots.

The support of the Entrepreneur Exchange at Business & Education South Yorkshire helped him along the difficult journey of protecting and promoting his unique design.

Staff at Sheffield Hallam University’s Enterprise Centre referred Nathan to Jim Lawson of the Entrepreneur Exchange. After chatting about Nathan’s business ideas, Jim invited him to a free workshop hosted by the Entrepreneur Exchange, at which local business expert Richard Campos explained how to bring a new product to the market. 

Nathan says: “The workshop was really relevant to me because it was all about licensing, which is the legal agreement under which you sell the rights to your design to a manufacturing company in return for royalties. It was something I was just starting to research at the time, but which is absolutely central to the kind of business I was setting up.”

Richard is a member of the Entrepreneur Exchange’s network who volunteer to advise start-up owners. Following Nathan’s request for more assistance, he was assigned as Nathan’s business mentor.

Nathan adds: “I met Richard for further advice, which led to me investing in employing a firm of solicitors to draw up a detailed agreement on behalf of my business. I know that this has been a really vital contribution to secure the future of my company.”

After graduating, Nathan set up a product and graphic design consultancy in Sheffield called If Works. The business has recently taken on its first two members of staff with the possibility of creating more local jobs in the near future.

Nathan’s designs have captured the interest of one of the world’s largest kitchenware producers, Ideas Denmark, as well as a UK manufacturer. Nathan is currently working on a complete range of kitchen products that can be used by people with limited dexterity, but which will appeal to all types of consumer. He aims to create a processor for fresh herbs, a nut-cracker and a garlic press.

Jim Lawson adds: “It’s fantastic to see someone who has only recently graduated from university already creating new employment in Sheffield and I am proud that the Entrepreneur Exchange was able to play a vital part in that process. This new company is a great achievement for Nathan and also demonstrates the importance of the Entrepreneur Exchange’s contribution to boosting the economy of the Sheffield city region.”