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Working Lunch: 'I knew that the cube would be attractive even if the concept is blurred'


Cillian McMinn and Joris Minne

Cillian McMinn and Joris Minne

© Press Eye

Cillian McMinn and Joris Minne

Cillian McMinn is either the exception that proves the rule or proof that educational qualifications don't matter. He left school at 16 without completing his A-levels, stayed in bed for a couple of years (causing his mother some anxiety) then popped up last month after raising more than £90,000 from crowd funding for a business idea straight from the fantasy laboratories of nutty professors in Unicornia. And he's only 18.

Cillian's big idea is the Element Cube.

A small block of metal made from 62 elements, the 1.5" cube is the world's largest alloy and sells for £55.

Jewellery items, including a bracelet and a necklace, go for £25.

He's a busy lad, as he's trying to beat the Royal Mail overseas parcels delivery deadlines to ensure the guaranteed arrival of 1,600 cubes, 1,500 necklaces and 1,200 bracelets.

One man has offered him £1,000 to name the alloy after his daughter Temima (they're Californian) and Cillian has agreed to name it temimsium.

His crowd funding campaign kicked off in September and by mid-November he had doubled his target. He had toyed with various ideas which revolved around the human desire to touch everything we see.

"In fact, 62 elements in one cube lets you touch just about everything in the world, as most of the planet is made of these," he says.

He analyses it out loud for a while. Collecting elements is "a thing" a progression of that collecting bug, he muses. We all have a subconscious interest in our world.

Then he shrugs and says: "It was a hunch or just an instinctive thing. I knew the cube would be attractive even if the concept was a bit blurred."

Whatever it is that lies in our deepest sub-consciousness, Cillian is tapping into it. Demand is steady following the launch via geeky websites and news portals aimed at science lovers.

The elementcube.co.uk website is currently churning over a tidy £500 each day in sales and the distribution logistics appear to be working well.

He hit a glitch when he ordered the wrong size of cube, ending up with hundreds of two cubic inch blocks rather than 1.5 cubic inches and had to completely recalibrate postage and packaging costs and logistics and find the extra cash for the additional raw materials. But apart from this, element cubes are flying out.

There are expansion plans and lecture opportunities.

Cillian speaks as fast as he thinks and you can tell the energy needs an outlet.

He has plans for a new product but makes me promise not to tell. Expect to see it in toy departments as early as next year. But first he has to appoint a business development person. And then he corrects himself; first he needs to make sure his girlfriend (she manages a pet hotel near Cultra) doesn't open the post to find her Christmas present there.

  • In next week's Working Lunch, Margaret Canning meets Dillon Bass sales manager Liam McBride

Cast & Crew, Belfast

Joris had:

Chowder £5.00

Minute steak with bearnaise £13.50

Red wine £4.25

Chamomile tea £2.30

Cillian had:

Chowder £5.00

Coffee £2.20

Titanic burger £12.50

White wine £5.50

Total: £50.25