TeamO Marine, founded by brother and sister Oscar and Lauren Mead won Young Business Person of the Year Award at the British Marine Federation Awards – the first time the award has been given to two people.
The business designs and manufactures lifejackets with a unique, patented technology inside that turns the wearer the right way up if they go overboard whilst tethered to a vessel.
Oscar, 28, was the youngest person ever to complete the Solo Transatlantic Race when he was just 18, and he has channelled his sailing experience in to product design.
In 2011 a local sailor lost his life falling overboard whilst tethered to his boat.
He was dragged face-down in the water next to his vessel and despite best efforts by his crew, he lost his life.
This, and other accidents and fatalities in the sailing community, sparked the idea for the BackTow Lifejacket when Oscar and Lauren realised that the current standard of lifejacket deck harness was inadequate.
The Backtow took four years to design, testing and patent applications before Oscar’s design was recognised by the official test bodies
“It became a family passion to get the design available in shops, despite resistance and being told by lots of the ‘big players’ in the industry that it wouldn’t be possible to break in to the market,” says Lauren, 30.
The Backtow was launched in 2017 to acclaim from the sailing sector.
In May 2018 the business successfully campaigned on Crowdcube to raise funds for product development. Nearly 200 investors joined the business to raise £270,000.
Last September TeamO became the official lifejacket supplier for Tracy Edwards’ relaunched ‘Maiden’ sailing team, who are currently sailing around the world to promote equal access to education and sport for women and girls.
In October the business made the decision to move production from China back to the UK.
After scouting locations for months the Meads found a unit near the Itchen Bridge in Woolston and have established a production facility where a team of sewers who make lifejackets from scratch.
A team of six works at Woolston at the moment and Lauren said the workforce is set to grow in the near future.
The Backtow is now available in 20-plus stores in the UK and selling in eight countries.
“TeamO is driven by a passion for being on the water. We want to help keep people safe whilst they get on with pushing the envelope in their chosen field, whether that involves crossing oceans, racing around the coast and buoys or cruising on a summer day with family,” says Lauren.