Can Swansea inventor impress in Dragons' Den?
A SWANSEA inventor is hoping for a step forward with his footwear business after getting a grilling from the gurus of TV show Dragons' Den.
Mark Shepherd spent four years developing itsoles — an insole device which allows users to carry scented insoles in their shoes which will not slip during use.
The 49-year-old from Mumbles claims the key to successfully getting a product to market as an inventor is communication and getting your idea on front of the right people.
Mr Shepherd was only able to give limited details of his time on Dragon's Den but all will be revealed when the show is broadcast on Sunday, November 25.
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He said: "I achieved what I set out to achieve.
"The funding is great but it's the help and support and contacts that the Dragons have got.
"You can have the best product in the world but you need the right backers, contacts, communications and people who can take you through the door into the stores you want to be in and meet the right people.
"Without that your product is not going to get far at all.
"You need someone who has these kind of contacts and can open up these doors for you."
Mr Shepherd is currently selling his products online through his own website and in independent stores in Swansea.
The entrepreneur was inspired to research and develop the itsole device after spending years as an aspiring inventor.
He said: "I'm good at designing things and making things.
"People over the years have said to me, when I've come up with an idea, that's clever, where can I get one?
"I have to explain to them you can't get one because that is the only one and that are not on sale."
Mr Shepherd said the idea of itsoles came from his time spent working in discos as a DJ and noticing insoles on the dance floor which had fallen out because they were not attached to the shoes.
He added: "I hear from women constantly complaining about one particular brand of insole and constantly paying for new insoles.
"My product is designed mainly for high heeled shoes.
"I have found that women are also wearing them in flat shoes.
"The main thing women buy the itsoles for is comfort and the fact they don't fall out of their shoes."
The inventor has already benefited from having investors who have bought into his idea and currently manufactures the products in China.
He said: "For a small investment there is a great reward because this product could go internationally.
"There is an international market."
Mr Shepherd is keen to pass on his experiences and added: "I think entrepreneurship should be taught in schools.
"I would like to help other entrepreneurs and steer them in the right direction.
"I would like to set up an entrepreneurial school."