Hobnobbing with Surlender Pendress, co-founder of Write Size

posted by 3 years ago in Hobnobbing

How did the idea for the business come about?

My business partner Ross was watching his young child, aged 4 years old, doing his first homework holding a regular pencil and noticed how much he was struggling to grip and control the pencil  – he realized it was simply too long and thin for his small hand as there was no balance which caused a stressful experience. I had the same issues with my children who often were stressed that their hand hurt whilst writing causing them not to want to write.

Myself and Ross discussed this problem and how young children were being put off writing and education as they simply found the writing tools we were giving them to be long and thin for their small hands.  Write Size was born from desire to help children learn to write easier and faster.

When was the company first established?

We created our first samples in Jan 2015 once we had carried out a lot of research on how we could improve a child’s learning experience.

How is the business doing?

After attending a London exhibition in April 2015 to see if there was a market for writing implements made to scale for children, we saw a great interest in our concept though there were some reservations from people as we were introducing a new writing concept that had been acceptable for the last 200 years.

Since our first exhibition in April 2015 we have established there is a need for children to have the correct sized writing implements and recent studies proved that up to 97% of children who used Write Size pencils had improved writing with many writing faster and more words per minute.

We have exported to Dubai, New Zealand, Asia and China in the last 12 months as well as securing a license agreement for the USA Market.  These markets have embraced how important learning to write is for children and also our systems help them learn English in a simple format too.

We have won 3 awards this year for Best Exports and New Business. Two were by Black Country Chamber of Commerce and one was from Birmingham Post awards.

Since the company began, what has been the biggest challenge?

The main challenge has been for some people to see there is a need to change and help the way children learn to write. For over 200 years children have been asked to write with pencils/pens that are sized for an adult’s hands yet we size everything else for children- think sports equipment or musical instruments for children. Would you expect a 4 year old to learn to play football with full size football or wear adult size shoes to learn to walk in? Using this logic we expect children to learn to write with pencils that are simply to long for their hands often causing their hands to hurt as they have no control or grip over the tool.  Give a child a writing implement that they can control and grip correctly then you will see great results from the start.

The challenge is convincing the UK market that all children deserve the best start to education and Write Size pencils and books are the best possible advantage we could give to a child right from the start.

We pitched the business on Dragons’ Den last year. We didn’t get an investment as we had only been trading 3 months and it was too early for us as we did not have the proof we have now. Richard Osman interviewed me for Dragons’ sister show Pitches to Riches.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

We have designed the world’s first appropriate pencils and complete with our writing books, we have created the perfect writing systems that can help parents to teach their children to learn to write before they even get to school.  If a child has learnt to write before school age then they will be at a great advantage for the rest of their education.

What’s been your best business decision?

My best decision was to go with my gut instinct of not just taking another office job and taking a risk to create something that actually made a difference to children and second best decision was to ask the help of the Department of International trade who has helped us identify and establish links in the international market.

What is next for Write Size?

We’re launching our new range of products all dedicated to make learning to write easier and faster for children as well as more enjoyable. The new range includes erasable colour pencils, wipe boards and writing systems. We will be exhibiting our products at Paperworld 2018 in Frankfurt where we will see international buyers.

If you could help one business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?

To become a part of the 1% of entrepreneurs in this world you must be prepared to do what 99% of the population don’t. Don’t be scared to take a risk and believe in yourself and your products.

Finally, what is your favourite biscuit?

Shortbread!