Enterprise stories: Singsafe by Joseph Lee

Posted on: 2 November 2021 in Enterprise

student enterprise stories

I am a singer/musician and engineer here at the University of Liverpool. I am part of the university chamber choir and have previously been involved with bands and other musical activities throughout my time at university.

As well as this, my expertise is in mechanical and materials engineering with an aim to have a career in the space industry following on from my year in the industry at Airbus Defence and Space in 2019/20. I am an enthusiastic entrepreneur in my own time, with ‘Your Happy Life’ health and wellbeing app (2018) and ‘AnyThreads’ clothing and merchandise online store (2019/20) being two of my more recent ventures before SingSafe.

About my business idea:

SingSafe is an inexpensive silicone spacer that fits underneath a face mask (for best results we recommend a blue surgical mask) and makes it far more comfortable to sing while wearing a mask. The two biggest problems when singing with a mask are inhaling the mask when breathing in and the restriction of the jaw movement. There are similar products on the market which prevent you from inhaling the mask when being worn however no product which does this without restricting jaw movement; a vital feature for singers who need full facial movement.

We have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/singsafeuk/) with much of our information on it and an email address (singsafeuk@gmail.com). To place orders, customers contact us through one of these routes.

 What is the next step?

So far we have been launched and already had dozens of SingSafes sold, including to heads of university music departments and professional choral directors. We have compiled a comprehensive email list of choral directors, choirs, vocal ensembles and similar which we plan to utilise for email marketing. Our aim at the moment is to increase and number and size of the orders we receive, as many of our initial orders have been small sample packs to people who would like to try before they put in a bulk order for their choir. In the future, we also plan to expand our reach more internationally as the UK moves past COVID-19 and other countries start their process to remove lockdown restrictions.

Did you participate in any enterprise activity or programmes at university?

In 2nd year my ‘Your happy life’ health and wellbeing app startup reached the finals of the “Liverpool Start-Up Competition”, wherein we got to present our idea to notable business people from around Liverpool such as the Director of Signiture Living and the Owner of BWMacfarlane Chartered Accountants. We did not end up winning however the experience gained has been applied to my more recent ventures, especially how to organise and manage finances and how to effectively market a product.
At this time I do not feel connected to other enterprising students, I am doing this venture with the help of my housemate but due to COVID, I have had very little contact this year with any student I didn’t already know pre-COVID. I would like to gain more real-world experience in managing operations, especially one where I am taking on the shipping myself and the complexities which arise from this. I would also like to grow a healthy user base for my product with the choir/singing community within the UK and the wider world, with the hope that it can get everyone back singing faster.

Have they helped you?

I was actually reflecting on the impact these activities have had on my entrepreneurial journey not too long ago. When we started, my co-founder and I, only counted with some expertise in this industry and a wild idea to change how healthcare is provided for the better but, we did not count with economical support nor a background in medical device R & D as to convince people that our idea had future.

Thank the initial support from Santander Universities UK and the University of Liverpool with the Enterprise fund, we could kick-start our entrepreneurial journey with these non-biased institutions believing in us and our mission.

We had to knock on many doors to get our feet in this industry eventually but, without this initial support, I am sure we would have had to knock on many more doors, many more times.

Do you have any top tips to share with future and current students looking to bring their idea to life?

Save up money when you can so you have a pool to use when your next bright idea comes along. Being able to buy some initial materials, products, etc without worrying about money in the short term makes it a lot easier to get an operation going.

Be happy to fail, you learn a lot and it still looks great on a CV at the very least.