Inventor Jane ni Dhulchaointigh recounts the roller coaster journey from having a crazy idea about being able to hack everyday objects to the creation and launch of Sugru, an incredible self-setting rubber. Or, as Jane puts it: the six-year process of going from “hmm” to “yay” via “eureka” and “wow.” Her takeaway? It’s not about focusing on the end goal or product, it’s about enjoying the beauty and the magic that happens in the process of creation.
Jane ni Dhulchaointigh is the Irish inventor of Sugru (inspired by the Irish word for play), an innovative product that has been described as “21st Century Duct Tape” byForbes.com and was named alongside the iPad by TIME magazine as one of the top 50 Inventions of 2010.
Jane was studying product design at the Royal College of Art in London in 2003, when she had a big idea. What if, instead of having to buy new things all the time, people could fix and improve the things they already had to work better for them?
From that initial spark of an idea, she led a long and dedicated scientific development process involving a small team of material scientists, designers and business people to develop an entirely new material that could make the idea a reality. The result after 6 years of R&D was Sugru — a brand new silicone that’s like play-doh or modeling clay that the user can form into whatever shape they like before it air cures into a tough, flexible, colorful silicone rubber. Used in this way, it can make all kinds of products more comfortable, safer or simply better.
Jane is passionate about promoting a culture of fixing, creativity and resourcefulness, and sees it as an antidote to the throwaway mindset. Her passion is hitting a chord with the growing number of people looking to live more sustainably and three years after launch there’s already a vibrant 100,000-strong world-wide community building around the product.