Co Down man developing watch range inspired by Giant's Causeway
A Co Down man is raising cash through crowd-funding to develop a range of watches inspired by Northern Ireland's most famous tourist attraction.
Richard Dunlop (30), who is originally from Bangor, has spent the last year developing his Giant's Causeway-inspired Finn watches - not only named after the giant of the same name, but also his three-year-old son.
"My daytime job is in IT sales and customer relationship management, but I always wanted to start a business," he said.
"I've always loved watches. I work all day in IT, then until the early hours in watches."
Richard is trying to raise £22,500 through a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, and he is already more than halfway to his target.
"The idea is, I will have to place a minimum order (for the watches,) just to build up that capital," he explained. "Hopefully, I'll build that revenue and buy more stock.
"There has been a healthy investment from myself, but there is no way I could bring this to market alone."
Richard designed and developed two styles of Finn watches, with two face colours and three types of strap.
The watches are assembled in Asia, but the actual watch components are Swiss-made by Ronda in the same factory as other brands such as Bulova.
"(The market) is quite saturated, and there are lots of micro-brands doing the same thing," the businessman said.
"I knew if I was going to create something, it wouldn't just be a 'copy and paste'.
"A year ago, I came up with using the Northern Ireland background and the Causeway stones as the shape. It was also heavily influenced by my son, who's called Finn."
Mr Dunlop now lives in Helen's Bay, along with his wife Rosie, son Finn (3) and daughter Cara, who is almost one.
"A year ago I started sketching, using the hexagon in the design," he said. "We have been working with a professional design company.
"We were just trying to do something with the hexagons that wasn't gimmicky. Irish memorabilia can be a bit gimmicky. I am dealing with a partner in Hong Kong, a Canadian guy, who used to source for big fashion brands."
Those investing in the project on Kickstarter can get the watches at a reduced cost."The recommended retail price is going to be about £170-£180," the businessman explained.
"(We have) different targets. Young professionals, young people in their 20s and 30s who are seeing it as a fashion brand.
"And the target is the US - that high-end tourist. That's the approach.
"I've always been influenced by watches, and my 21st birthday present was a Tag Heuer. But any watch I wear now will have Finn on it."
A number of Northern Ireland businesses have got their start in life using Kickstarter, or using similar crowd-funding platforms.
Belfast-based Brewbot, for example, took advantage of the concept. Combining modern smartphone technology with the ancient skill of brewing, it raised more than £114,000 in just one month.
Newtownards bike light firm See.Sense also kicked off its business using the online funding platform.