Liz Colleran, Co-Founder at Duvalay

Searching for new ways to make it easier to sleep better

Last week, Duvalay won the ‘Manufacturing Innovation’ category at the 2019 Made in Yorkshire Awards; it’s amazing timing because we’re just about to jet off to China to support our licencees at the launch of our luxury beds to the Asian market.

It feels like forever since my husband Alan and I first showed our solicitor an invention we felt sure could transform our family’s fortunes… Troubled by the back pain and insomnia often associated with caravanning, we told him we’d hit on the idea of a portable foam mattress topper that’s integrated into a one-of-a-kind sleeping bag. His first words when he saw it were: “Can I have one?” so we knew we were onto something; it was like we’d been given a bar of gold! As Sales & Marketing Director, I’ve felt a huge responsibility to make the most of our unique concept ever since.

Flying out to meet attorneys in Washington DC on a self-financed mission, we successfully secured an international patent. What changed everything though was our nerve-wracking appearance on BBC’s Dragons’ Den in front of five million viewers! It was a huge success – resulting in investment from Pall-Ex empire founder Hilary Devey. We were even granted an audience with legendary entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, who said: “Everyone should have a Duvalay.”

Since then, Duvalay has invented the world’s lightest caravan mattress (made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles) and launched our revolutionary new FreshTec foam range – offering a cooler night’s sleep.
People know Duvalay best in the leisure vehicle and outdoors market, but we began making beds for the home in 2015. We’ve had outstanding reviews from The Independent, Good Housekeeping Magazine and Mumsnet; and received National Bed Federation ‘Bed Manufacturer of the Year’ recognition for the past two years running.

In 2018, we sent shipments off to the US and Asia, and signed a deal on our biggest factory yet. Sometimes I wish I could switch off, but then I love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
My tip for other entrepreneurs is to keep looking over your accounts; I don’t like murky waters. Seeing where you are up to tells you where you are going.