SERIAL inventor Thomas Gostelow, who is based at Cheethams Mill in Stalybridge, has overcome adversity to launch a new product – the Glowstone Flashlight.
It is a triumph for Thomas after he was savaged earlier this year in the ITV programme Give It A Year when he was mentored for 12 months by Baroness Karren Brady.
Thomas said: “I was a poster boy for the programme, but we were cannon fodder for it.
“Karren Brady embarrassed me and killed Glowstone for a time after effectively telling me to give up and we were deluded.
“She was exasperated about the amount of debt incurred to release the Smart Mug, but it is expensive to develop and release a product.
“I have had to rebuild Glowstone as investors and customers lost confidence in the business.
“It has been an incredibly difficult time as her advice was to have more affordable products – the torch costs £20 when purchased on Crowdfunding.”
At the time Thomas was being mentored he had produced the Glowstone Mug that retailed at £129. It contains electronics that prevent tea and coffee from going cold.
Baroness Brady thought they ought to look to sell 50,000 mugs each year when in reality it was about 2,000.
“It is still a huge achievement but it takes time to create a new market,” said Thomas.
“Look at Henry Ford when he produced an automobile in 1903 and was told the horse was here to stay and it was nothing but a novelty, a fad.”
The Glowstone Flashlight, which Thomas describes as the Swiss army knife of flashlights, is military grade, 900 lumens, has a rechargeable battery with a life of 30 hours.
It is virtually indestructible, yet smaller than a credit card.
It was Kickstarter funded and the target of £10,000 was reached in two days and in total raised more than £16,000.
Thomas explained the Glowstone Flashlight, which is patented, took two-and-a-half years from the initial idea to coming off the production line.
He said: “I took all the components from a flashlight and improved them and reduced them in size to produce a light that is versatile and aims light where you want it.
“You can stick it, clip it, stand it or clamp it to almost anything, even on to your mobile phone.
“There is no longer the need to hold a torch in your mouth when working in the dark or dimly-lit places doing things like unscrewing the back of a computer or fuse box.
“It is unique in the market and has received excellent reviews.
“About one in four visits to the website results in a sale, which is a rate that is unheard of.”
Thomas, whose Glowstone company employs five people, had 377 backers through the Kickstarter crowdfunding and there were 500 sales in the opening week.
About 90 per cent of sales went to the international market, mainly to the United States.
Thomas explained many of the original backers for the smart mug have supported the flashlight.
Looking ahead, Thomas says he has lots more inventions in the pipeline.
He explained: “I am living my dream as I have always wanted to invent and release products to the world.
“It was incredible watching the Kickstarter pledges coming in and it makes me feel it is worth the struggle.”
Iranian-born Thomas, who is the fourth generation of inventors in his family, has six patents – two for Glowstone products and four medical inventions.
There was a time when Thomas, his father Ben and grandfather Gerald were all employed by Stoves Ltd.
Thomas worked in the drawing office and laboratories, Ben was engineering director and Gerald a consultant.
And Thomas’ great-grandfather Frank worked on the wiring on railway carriages at Wolverton as they changed from gas to electric.
“Other family members have been a massive inspiration for me to follow in their footsteps,” he said.