The founder and CEO of Blaze, Emily Brooke, has been crowned winner of the everywoman Iris Award 2014.
Now in its 12th year, the NatWest everywoman Awards, features the Iris Award category – sponsored by IBM – which aims to shine a light on a female who runs a business that sees technology in an innovative and disruptive way.
Brooke decided to tackle the dangers of left turning vehicles for cyclists, by creating Laserlight. The detachable front light (required by law) projects a laser beam image of a bike on the road ahead, alerting vehicles and pedestrians to the presence of a cyclist and increasing the cyclist’s road footprint.
She worked for six months researching the problems, collaborating with a driving psychologist, a major bus company, dozens of cyclists and using statistics on accidents and fatalities.
After running a Kickstarter project she managed to raise £55,000 to put her product design into production. She launched the product in November 2013 and has since sold out every pre-order batch, shipping the product to 45 countries. Laserlight was the first in a range of products for urban cyclists designed by Blaze.
Brooke gave up studying Physics at Oxford University, to take Product Design in Brighton instead. She went on to attend the Design school in Milan.
She got her inspiration for the idea during a final year project, which was a 1,000 mile charity bike ride (raising £60k in the process).
Maxine Benson, everywoman co-founder, said: “It takes a bold and gutsy individual to start a business and today’s winners are all women with vision and determination, qualities that have contributed to their success. Some have businesses that are household names; others will achieve that recognition in the future.
“All are joined by a common goal to succeed and to inspire. Today we celebrate their achievements and acknowledge the challenges overcome and sacrifices made on the path to their success. They not only fly the flag for British business, but are role models for future generations of entrepreneurs.”
Anne McPherson, managing director of enterprise at NatWest said: “NatWest are delighted to have supported the everywoman awards for the 12th year running, and are pleased to see several of our customers amongst this year’s winners.
“These awards have created some amazing role models who inspire other women to take their first steps in realising their business ideas, and we would like to congratulate all of the outstanding entrepreneurs who have been recognised.”
The combined annual turnover of the business owned by the women who attended the everywoman Awards was estimated to exceed £3 billion.