Daniel Lynch

Daniel Lynch is a digital business reporter for nzherald.co.nz

All White's UK sports shoe start-up turns heads

ToBe's 'Wool runner' sports shoes. Photo / Facebook
ToBe's 'Wool runner' sports shoes. Photo / Facebook

A former All White's skipper is finding success off the soccer pitch as he turns his hand to the world of business.

Tim Brown's start up company 'ToBe' uses Fitwool - a proprietary woollen fabric, which Brown invented - to make wool sports shoes that promises to make wearing smelly socks a thing of the past.

Brown's concept has gained a place in the UK Trade and Investment's Sirius Programme - fending off more than 160 aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world.

The business accelerator programme allows Brown and his team to base themselves in the UK with visa endorsement and also offers financial support amounting to £12,000 ($NZ23,598) per team member, as well as mentoring and help with building clients.

The enterprise will remain wholly owned by ToBe with no equity taken by the programme.

"It's the perfect opportunity to help us fulfill ToBe's ambitions. Being based in the UK will enable us to start up and develop alongside like-minded entrepreneurs and gain access to world-class strategic advice and support," Brown said.

Brown says wool has never been used in footwear before and their fabric and design allows "an unparalleled level of comfort with no internal seams."

"We're creating a whole new, unique category of footwear based on the biodegradable and sustainable properties of wool.

"Entirely negating the need for socks, our invention aims to revolutionise the way everyone from everyday athletes to professionals train," Brown said.

ToBe joins six other start-ups, which are made up of 19 young entrepreneurs from 13 countries - including India, France, Algeria, Italy, Germany, Canada, Kenya and Nigeria.

The teams will now be able to establish their promising businesses in the UK.

The Sirius Programme aims to attract talented entrepreneurs into the UK based on the premise that each of the resulting businesses will create new jobs, bring in foreign investment and make a significant cumulative impact on the UK economy.

The Sirius Programme is open for entries until 15 January 2014.

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