“One of the most important things I got from SETsquared was knowledge, and having someone that I could ask questions. I wasn’t a business person, I was a student civil engineer, and at the start I didn’t have the first clue of how to run a business.”
 
Jacob Marsh, CEO, ModMyPi
 
 

Fast facts 

  • Start date: 2012
  • Website: www.modmypi.com
  • Market sector: IT
  • Location: Exeter
  • Investment raised: self-funded
  • Number of employees: 4
  • Company turnover: £950,000
 

SETsquared Support

  • Mentoring
  • grants
  • introductions
  • premises 
 

Company overview

ModMyPi designs, manufactures and sells cases and other accessories for the Raspberry Pi ultra low-cost computer. Developed in the UK, the Raspberry Pi aims to promote the study of computer science and programming at a school level.
 
 

What was the vision for the company and what problem were you aiming to solve? 

“When the Raspberry Pi was released, I was one of those people who was up at 5.30am to order one. I realised it was going to be massively popular, and since I’d talked about 3D printing with friends and done 3D modelling on my degree course, I thought why not make a case.”
 
 

Company successes

  • August 2012: shipped first case
  • November 2012: started shipping Raspberry Pi computers
  • June 2013: won SETsquared Student Enterprise Award
 

SETsquared support

“My original plan was to buy a 3D printer to make the cases, and I expected to get around 20 orders. Then, when I put the cases up for sale we got more than 300 orders in the first few days. That would have been two or three months of manufacturing, so I had to rethink our approach.”
 
“At that point, I didn’t know what to do, so I went to SETsquared at the Innovation Centre at Exeter and asked for their advice. They put me in touch with the Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM) at the University of Exeter. CALM said I’d be better off using injection moulding not 3D printing, and they introduced me to several suppliers.”
 
“Joe Pearce at SETsquared has been the main person who’s helped me. I would be able to have an informal conversation with Joe, or whoever else was available, to get advice – it was only a 20 second walk to Joe’s office.”
 
“Joe has been pro-active and would suggest ideas, which was useful when I had a million other things to do. He is approachable, helpful and willing to drop everything to come and advise.”
 
“In April 2012, SETsquared set me up an office in the Innovation Centre – before, I was running the company out of my bedroom. Just having a place where I could go and think was invaluable, and the Innovation Centre’s postal facilities enabled us to send out packages efficiently.”
 
“It was also good to have other students starting up business around in the Innovation Centre, so there were other people nearby to bounce ideas off.”
 
“We’re now working on a mark 2 case that includes integrated electronics, and SETsquared has given me £4,000 funding to help develop this. If we hadn’t had this grant, we wouldn’t have been able to pay a product development company to design the mark 2 case. I would have probably had done the design myself and it would have got delayed, and possibly nothing would have got done.”
 
“The mark 2 case is important for us: it’s one thing distributing products, but the real value lies in creating those products yourself. We’re also now selling other products as well as cases, and our average order value has grown from less than £10 to nearer £50 or £100.”
 
“Without SETsquared’s support a lot would have been different, and I don’t know if I’d even have got the business of the ground. SETsquared is a catalyst: not being directly involved, but being in the background and helping, supporting and influencing.”
 
“In terms of getting the product manufactured, I’m not sure I’d have found CALM and the injection moulding company as quickly as I did without SETsquared. Getting the product to market quickly was crucial to its success – we only had a window of three to four weeks to get to market after the Raspberry Pi came out.”
 
“I’d rate SETsquared’s support as 10 out of 10. It’s been invaluable, and I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now without that support.”
 
 

Future plans

“While we’re already shipping products globally, my aim is to do more internationally. We’re talking to several logistics companies to help us ship products everywhere. We’re on track to grow our turnover to £1.2 million this year, and I’m hoping the new products we’re developing will help us to beat that figure.”