#3 – Winning Challenge North East – 5 things we learned

In February of 2021 DABS were accepted into the Challenge North East competition. Run by the North East LEP, the goal was to create solutions for business effected by Covid in the In-home care industry. We worked hard and put a lot of hours into putting DABS forward as a solution, and were rewarded as a competition winner with additional funding to bring DABS to market.


Not only was the competition a boost to our resources and validation of our mission, but it also taught us many things about the state of industry right now, and how we would have the best opportunity of succeeding. Here’s what we learnt:

  1. We still need to be cautious when out and about

Hand washing is still the number one priority when it comes to sanitization, and we all hope that the vigilence with which society has started doing this will remain. But when we are far from somewhere to wash our hands we need other protective solutions to manage the risk of transmission. Business recognize this, and want help.

DABS got the best reception during the Challenge where businesses are sending their staff into homes or away from the office. Here the gloves can help reduce the risk of transmission, and help build overall resilience.

2. Sustainability is a key concern

It can easy to be cynical when a company professes its commitment to sustainability and reducing waste, and we’re not so naive to suggest that ‘green washing’ is not a thing.

However it was very clear from our conversations industry that there is a genuine concern about the massive increase in plastic pollution during the pandemic. Not just from decision makers, but from staff too. When asked, 100% of staff trialing our gloves said sustainability was extremely important to them. 

Large organisations are certainly more prone to negligence in this area, but we as individuals recognize the problem, and are looking for solutions.

3. Building resilience can be a marketing tool

When we initially thought of the importance of keeping the risk of transmission low and building resilience, we thought it as a concern only for that business – I need to keep my staff safe so I can keep the doors open.

What became clear during conversations with industry was that it was also seen as a key marketing tool. For any kind of business that needs to bid for work, they now need to show this clients that they are resilient and are going to be able to continue to deliver against targets, even if infection rates increase. Therefor a measure like outfitting staff with DABS can become a selling point.

dabsofficial photo banner

4. Customers will tell you what they want

It was incredible to us how open businesses would be about what would be useful to them. Once we made our mission clear to them – sustainable, design-aware protective wear – the ideas came flowing. Our mindset was key of course, as we wanted to know and were open to new ideas. From this one of our key goals is now to talk to as many businesses as possible, and find our where they see possibilities for new product development.

5. Enthusiasm will win people over

DABS always presents ourselves as we are – a small start-up from a little town in the North East of England, powered only by our enthusiasm and our skill sets, with a mission to get better products in the hands of industry. What we didn’t appreciate at first was how much that enthusiasm was key. Merely by showing we believe in what we were doing, and that we weren’t going to give in until we succeeded, did we see people buy into the mission. If we were to leave one piece of advice for any entrepreneurs reading this, it would be that – don’t be scared to show your enthusiasm.

Us being enthusiastic

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