The sight of a gloved caretaker struggling to remove discarded gum gave Duval Middleton an idea – why not produce packaging with an integrated gum bin?
An architecture and construction student from Hackney, East London, Duval began designing what would become Gumipod, a pocket-sized unit made from recyclable, food-grade plastic, with compartments for fresh and used gum.
Duval believes it’s the answer to a problem that blights 64% of all British pavements and roads according to Keep Britain Tidy, and costs local councils £60million a year in clean-up costs.
He says: “It wasn’t until I saw a janitor trying to get gum out of a urinal that I thought about the problem. Chewing gum is everywhere and I realised its packaging could be the solution. Gumipod is ethical, environmentally friendly and has the potential to impact what is actually a global problem.”
Duval, 28, left his job in architecture to concentrate on developing Gumipod full-time, but when his wife fell pregnant with their first child, the financial implications meant he had to return to a staff job once again.
Now a proud dad-of-two, Duval is as a smart energy engineer for British Gas and works on Gumipod in his spare time, funding the operation by himself with help from friends and family.
The dedication has paid off – Gumipod won ‘Best New Idea’ at the National Convenience Show last year. The firm doesn’t only produce unique packaging, but also three flavours of chewing gum, namely peppermint, bubblemint and menthol.
Duval says: “We do most of our manufacturing in China and will shortly take delivery of 6,000 units. I’m in confidential talks with two of the largest confectionary brands in the world. They know there is a gum problem and they know Gumipod is the future, so I’m hopeful they’ll come on board.”
Duval has now entered Gumipod in VOOM 2018, the UK and Ireland’s most exciting pitch competition. New partners joining organisers Virgin Media Business this year include Crowdcube, G by Grant Thornton, PayPal, PwC and Virgin Money. Entrants can win a share of the £1m prize pot for their firms, and finalists will pitch to Virgin boss Richard Branson and a panel of business superstars on 23 May.
Duval says: “This is a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of Gumipod and perhaps even attract the attention of Richard Branson. I’ve got a really innovative idea and now companies can even choose to have their logo printed on the packaging. This means Gumipod becomes a novel way to advertise, providing users with 12 pieces of gum as well as a handy means of disposal. After a lot of hard work we’re in a position to develop the core of the business and drive sales, and hopefully Voom will help too.”
Entries to VOOM can be made until 8 May, and voting for your favourite pitch is now open.
If you’d like to enter your firm in Voom Pitch, register now at www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/voom.