Freeload founder Pat Maguire says the city has proven to be
a great place to start and continue growing a design-based
business. Photo by Jane Dawber.
''You've got to put yourself out there and aim for the
top'' - that's the mantra of Dunedin designer Pat Maguire.
Mr Maguire is the founder of Freeload, a design innovation
company he set up to design and commercialise his invention
of a fully adjustable, self-securing bicycle carrier rack.
Earlier this year, Freeload signed an intellectual property
(IP) deal with global brand Thule, alongside a contract to
design further load-carrying products for bikes.
Now Mr Maguire and his board have established a new, yet to
be named, design innovation company that will become the
parent company to several design-based products and IP
He was particularly excited about that latest development,
which allowed the team to continue consulting and providing
products to the likes of Thule, but also gave them the
creative freedom to develop their own designs or products for
commercialising themselves or with other companies.
Already, the company has plans to reinvest a third of its
2013 revenues on new products and IP, targeting high-profile
international clients with global markets.
Mr Maguire, who grew up in Dunedin, started his working life
at Farra Engineering. Following a stint living and working in
Nelson, he returned to Dunedin and worked at Otago
Polytechnic, where he founded the industrial design degree
and the Evolver production innovation model.
He completed his master of entrepreneurship degree at the
University of Otago's Business School in 2004.
It was when Mr Maguire finished his master's that he decided
he wanted to set up his own business, having identified an
opportunity to develop a global product.
He had always wanted to develop a product and sell it
globally, focusing on that international market straight
away. That was something he learned when developing design
and innovation programmes at the polytechnic.
''You've got to put yourself out there and aim for the top,''
By the mid-2000s, virtually every part of the bicycle had
been redeveloped and the only part he could see that was
still under-developed was the way it carried loads, he said.
While carriers had mostly been taken off modern bikes,he saw
an opportunity to createa carrier that could fit withthe
Ironically, one of the companies he was inspired by, from a
design point of view, was Thule, a brand that was established
in Sweden in 1942 and sold a wide range of accessories to
simplify the transportation of gear and equipment. He saw an
opportunity to do for bikes what Thule did for cars. He had
always felt very confident about the product, saying that he
knew he was ''on to something''.
Mr Maguire initially approached Thule in 2007 to try to sell
it the idea of the Freeload racks but he admitted it was ''a
Two years later, the company saw it at a trade show and the
chief executive rang Mr Maguire at home.
Building on the success of the IP deal with Thule, the
Freeload team has since won two awards for it at the Eurobike
Awards in Germany in August this year, one for a breakthrough
handlebar rack and the other for a pannier attachment system.
For Freeload, and now the new direction, Dunedin had proven
to be a great place to start and continue growing a
design-based business, with a very supportive business and
education community, Mr Maguire said.
The team of four full-time designers, including Mr Maguire,
were all shareholders in Freeload. With the increase in
design and development work, an increase in staff numbers was
possible next year.
While ''everyone'' was focusing on high-tech and developing
applications at the moment, a lot of the work the companywas
doing was low-tech and customer-driven. It was about creating
a product that enhanced the experience of a person. In their
case, it was about outdoor lifestyle, leisure and recreation,
A major key to the company's success had been working in an
area that not many others were working in - timing the
development and opportunity ''when no-one's in the space''.
And knowing what he could achieve was why Mr Maguire kept
''To me, this is only the start. I can't think of anything
I'd rather be doing,'' he said.