New Innovator: Frogjaw
Rory O’Loughlin with the Frogjaw silicone clasp: “It may look simple but it had to tick a lot of boxes.”
A perennial problem when cooking is what to do with the spoon that has just stirred the sauce or the spatula that has flipped the fried eggs?
Product designer Rory O’Loughlin, founder of Loughlion Design, has come up with the answer: Frogjaw, a silicone clasp that grips and travels with your utensils, keeping surfaces clean and preventing utensils from falling into the cooking pot.
O’Loughlin has been designing products for the last seven years and, having toyed with various possibilities, put his effort behind the development of Frogjaw. He started the process of refining prototypes and looking for patent and design protection four years ago. Having sourced a suitable manufacturer in the UK, he launched Frogjaw at the A Taste of Donegal food festival last August. Since then he has sold more than 6,000 units, mainly at food fairs. The product retails at €5.
O’Loughlin, who lectures in design at South West College in Omagh, Co Tyrone, has developed two versions of Frogjaw, one for use with food and the other for the arts and crafts sector aimed at those using brushes and other tools.
O’Loughlin has also discovered, through contact with customers, that people have found unique ways of making the most of the device.
“Customers have been using it to keep bread fresh when they lose the tag off the package and sitting it under bottles to stop them rolling around in the fridge and even using it to sit eggs on when boiling them, to stop them overcooking. The most novel use we got in on Facebook was someone using it as place to rest a banana,” he said.
O’Loughlin received some support from Invest Northern Ireland to conduct patent searches and undertake initial marketing, but he estimates bringing the product to launch has cost him more than €25,000, with the same needed now to move things forward.
“Getting development funding has been difficult, mainly, I think, because it’s not an app or something in the cloud, so it’s not sexy enough,” he said.
“It may look simple but it had to tick a lot of boxes, such as meeting food hygiene requirements, fitting on to a range of utensils, being light and easy to use and being capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 250° Celsius.
“There is a lot of ‘complex simplicity’ going on within the product and it is the material properties that are registered and trademarked. Sure, it would be possible for someone to copy it if they really wanted to but we have first mover advantage and Frogjaw is only the starting point. There is a range of other products in the pipeline. The challenge now is to get the product into specialist food/cookware related retailers and to start ramping up the distribution.”