The dad who’s making a difference
Brian O’Reilly from Cumbernauld in Scotland found the inspiration for his invention from his daughters who were partial to leaving on a TV or two…
by Colleen Reid, Mindful Mum, 27th October 2011
Brian O’Reilly, 37 from Cumbernauld in Scotland was working for a major US software corporation when he had an idea for a new invention.
After six years with Oracle Corporation, launching his own business was a shot in the dark for the Dad from Glasgow.
Living with his wife Gillian and their three young daughters, Anna, Ellie and Mary Kate, Brian knew all too well the rising costs of electricity and could see the direct impact his growing family was having on the monthly bills.
As his children were young, they weren’t aware of the cost and safety implications of leaving appliances on or in the standby mode and after countless reminders, Brian knew there must be an easier way.
This inspiration led him to create a gadget to automatically power down all appliances left on in a room after the person has left. Called the energyEGG, its convenience and attractive design saves the household money from their electricity bill whilst keeping everyone safe and doing its bit for the planet.
A family man, Brian knew safety was going to be one of the main factors the energyEGG would have to tackle. He explains, “What we found in some of the market research we did was that safety really stood out. There’s a generation out there of people who were always warned about switching things off at night that could lead to electrical fires. We make that one of the key benefits. If they are sitting on the bus worrying that they’ve left appliances on, they’ve got the peace of mind that it will switch off shortly after they leave the house. That goes for kids bedrooms as well.”
As well as being able to tell the difference between an empty room and someone sitting still watching television, the clever gadget has a built in feature to alert parents when their children haven’t turned off appliances and the energyEGG has had to do so itself. Brian says, “We deliberately added that feature in so that it can tell you before it switches anything off. As a parent, I want my children to switch things off as soon as they are finished using them so the energyEGG will tell me when they’ve forgotten.”
The eco-friendly energyEgg also has a button to power down all appliances in the room with one click. This makes those hard to reach wall sockets accessible and saves time for the ever busy Mum.
A long and arduous path
The process from inspiration from his daughters to where he is now has been by no means easy for Brian. After remortgaging his house and the support from his wife, Gillian and his daughters, he transitioned slowly from his job at Oracle Corporation to creating his new business, TreeGreen. With his responsibilities as a father, husband and homeowner he couldn’t go into his new company full throttle and was meticulous in his planning to ensure his idea was viable. Brian admits it’s been a long an arduous path but is now expert in juggling his work/life balance. “I won’t say its been easy. It’s just about making sure there’s time set aside for the kids. When i come in at 6.30, I just spend time with the kids until they go to bed at 8 o’clock and then it’s back to work again for me.”
For other dad’s thinking of launching their own company, Brian advises preparation and research. He says, “I would suggest doing your market research, get as close to your customers as possible from day one. You need to get inside your customers head, you can do all that with just a bit of time before you start putting investments or commit any of your hard earned cash to it.”
With one of the first companies who bought into the energyEGG being supermarket chain giant, Tesco, the future of Brian’s company, TreeGreen, looks set for success.