Picture: The Centre for Entrepreneurship team at Otago University (left to right): Professor Brendan Gray, Dr Jodyanne Kirkwood, Mrs Ruth Matika and Dr Victoria Jameson.
What do you get when you blend 30 years of engineering experience and a University of Otago Master of Entrepreneurship degree? In the case of Pat Maguire you successfully develop and commercialise a novel way of carrying luggage on mountain bikes.
Pat Maguire is the founder of Freeload, a Dunedin- based design company, which has sold thousands of radically new bike carriers around the globe since the company was launched in 2009.
Pat first got the idea for a new type of carrier when visiting the world’s largest bicycle trade show, Eurobike, in 2006. He realised that the new types of bicycle required a completely new style of load carrier to the traditional bent wire models which had not changed markedly in a hundred years. What was needed was a versatile rack that would adjust and attach to the 150mm clear sections on the front forks and rear stays.
Because every fork and stay is so different in size, shape and angle, the challenge was to develop a universal attachment that would allow strong friction-grip fastening directly to painted tubular surfaces.
The result is a patented quick release bracket that tensions webbing strap neatly and without marking the bike, but provides a universal attachment point that can receive a carrier to the front or rear of all bikes regardless of shape or size.
Pat says he would not have been able to commercialise his idea if it were not for the business skills that he gained while doing a Master of Entrepreneurship degree at Otago University in 2004.
“This enabled me to leverage my engineering and design skills to successfully commercialise an innovative technical solution”, he says.
Pat would recommend that anyone with strong technical skills who would like to develop their own new venture to get the necessary entrepreneurial business skills first. The University of Otago Masters degree has the advantage of teaching the necessary steps to creating a new venture in three-day modules that are taught every six weeks.
“This allows you to work on your business idea while learning,” says Pat.
The next intakes for the Master of Business degree are in Queenstown in July and Dunedin in February.
Partnerships are also important to the successful commercialisation of innovations. In the case of Freeload, this has led to Pat Maguire teaming up with designers Gary Gibson and Tim Armstrong who bring complementary skills and experiences to the mix.
As well as being a trained engineer, Pat Maguire also worked as an educator for more than 20 years. Prior to leaving Otago Polytechnic to set up his own company, he helped establish the Product Development Centre, which kick-started a number of design and innovation projects within industry. Constantly looking for that next project, Pat was always keen to develop his own products and start his own company.
Freeload designs all of its products, packaging and brand marketing collateral in Dunedin, with much of the production done in Taiwan. Every year the team go to Taipei Cycle in Taiwan, Interbike in Las Vegas, and Eurobike in Germany, to gain new ideas and keep in touch with overseas markets. Over the next 12 months Freeload will focus on developing a bigger range. The company will also venture into soft goods such as dry bags and panniers.