Venture aims to put a spring in your step

THE son of a well-known footwear entrepreneur has returned to his roots after launching a new shoe brand using pocket springs typically found in luxury mattresses.

Jono Black, founder of Springuru, which makes trainers filled with bed springs.

Jono Black, whose father, Gordon, is the former chairman of shoe supplier Peter Black in Keighley, launched Springuru through crowd funding website Kickstarter with an aim to raise £15,000 by November 3.

Each pair of shoes has 34 micro pocket springs built into the soles, which he says provide extra cushioning and support.

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Mr Black decided to make the leap following a 13-year advertising career, most recently at global marketing agency JWT, working with brands including Rolls Royce, Shell and Kellogg.

“I worked with some fantastic brands but I always had a nagging feeling that I wanted to run my own business,” he said.

“I come from an entrepreneurial family where my dad and my uncle ran their own business and four of my cousins run their own businesses. I knew that if I didn’t make the leap now, it would get harder to move.”

Mr Black, 39, stumbled upon the idea for Springuru after a conversation with his cousin Adam Black, who used to be managing director of footwear and accessories at Peter Black

Adam, who later founded bedroom furniture business Feather and Black, and went on to launch bed business Button & Sprung, was buying mattresses from Leeds-based bedmaker Harrison Spinks, which was looking to expand into other categories.

“I got together with the managing director Simon Spinks and he was interested in the footwear background of our family,” said Jono.

“We modified an old pair of trainers, dropped some pads of pocket springs into the midsole, and the feeling was just incredible. We knew we were on to something.

“An American businessman was visiting the Harrison Spinks offices and we got him to try on a mocked-up shoe. We asked ‘How does it feel?’ He said, ‘It feels like the future’.”

Mr Black added: “For me, what was really important was not getting involved in something just because of the marketing.

“The product had to feel fantastic and I was attracted to the prospect of creating a whole new shoe brand.”

Encouraged by the success of other casual footwear brands including Crocs, Toms, Fitflop, UGG, Mr Black set about creating Springuru.

“The thing about footwear is that if you get it right you can scale it up pretty quickly,” Mr Black said.

The shoes are a distinctive design available in four colours and can be ordered directly through the page on Kickstarter, with the first deliveries expected to be made by March next year.

The current price is £55, but they are expected to retail at £75 in the future.

Mr Black said he decided to go down the crowdfunding route because as well as raising money to develop the product, it also helps to test the concept at an early stage.

“Kickstarter doesn’t give away any of the company’s equity but it allows people to help fund the project in return for a reward, such as a pair of shoes,” said Mr Black.

“Early adopters get a kick out of being part of the creative process. The best thing about the site is that is that it allows me to create a community of people who feel fully invested in the brand and want to see it succeed.”

Springuru has already raised over £11,000 provided by Kickstarter backers from all over the world, including Switzerland, Bulgaria, Japan, Australia and the US.