United Kingdom
Business type
Product start-up
Design support
Design Council
Atto Partners


Sugru is an innovative new material developed by founder Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh. Sugru is mouldable silicone rubber that allows customers to repair, fix and improve just about about anything.

Like many technology start-ups, Jane knew they had no shortage of potential customers around the world but was unsure how best to articulate the company's vision with clarity and impact.

The product was ready to launch, but our business plan still needed refining. We needed to find a simple way to communicate a product with a huge number of possible applications.

Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh
CEO, Sugru

How design helped

Jane approached the Design Council (UK) who paired her with one of their network of expert Design Associates, Chris Thompson. Chris set about helping the Sugru team identify and communicate what made their technology so unique within the materials landscape.

Chris Thompson then led the team through a practical process to help them use design to boost performance, open up new markets, cut costs and reduce risk. There were three clear objectives to meet:

  • Clarify and articulate what the company does and stands for
  • Refine the business model accordingly
  • Apply design thinking beyond brand communication to maximise Sugru's chance of success on a limited marketing budget

The Design Council then worked with Jane to develop and write a brief for web, brand and customer agency, Atto Partners.

The designers at Atto were able to breathe life into the Sugru brand – creating compelling messaging, packaging and website design.

Insight from the Design Council helped us identify the people who could help define and then fulfil our ambitious plans. These included the team at Atto Partners who worked with us to create a brand that allowed us to reach our goals in the smartest, most delightful way we could imagine.

Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh
CEO, Sugru


  • £1M increased turnover
  • 100,000 new online customers
  • 155 countries reached
Watch a short film made just after Sugru's launch in 2004

Watch a short film made just after Sugru's launch in 2004

Working with external design expertise helped Jane and her team build a clear and ambitious business strategy. They had an incredibly successful launch and within 18 months had a turnover of turnover £1 million (€1.3m). This allowed them to secure additional funding to establish their own manufacturing facility and grow their team from two to 18.

The branding and online presence of Sugru, has enabled them to build a strong community around their product creating an online customer based of over 100,000, with two thirds of Sugru's sales now coming through their own website.

In 2010 TIME Magazine listed it at number 22 of the top 50 inventions of the year – and in 2012, Founder Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh won the London Design Festival Design Entrepreneur Award.