Issue date: 24 July 2012
Young entrepreneur, Ed Cheney and his bamboo T-shirt business, Maboo will feature in a new business show, The Angel, which launches on Sky 1 at 20:00 tonight [24 July 2012]. The Angel is fronted by billionaire investor John Caudwell of Phones4U fame and presented by Amanda Byram of the Total Wipeout show.
Ed Cheney, was a runner-up in the UWE Biz Idea Competition in 2011 for his business plan and decided to base his business in Bristol to take advantage of UWE's business incubation service, and the creative vibrancy of Bristol. He launched his business in late 2010, and in 2011 he had a turnover of £30k.
Mabboo is based on a sustainable business model, using bamboo, the world's fastest growing plant, to create a range of ethically-made clothing with thermo-regulating and hypo-allergenic properties.
Ed, who comes from a village in Somerset, studied Chinese and History in Nottingham and spent two years in China, after completing his degree. Initially he taught English and began learning Chinese, but it wasn't long before he came across the pervasive presence of bamboo in Chinese society, culture and products. He is now based in Bristol with frequent visits to China.
Ed says, “I realised when I looked into it, that bamboo is an amazing natural product. It can grow as high as a double-decker bus in a week! The soft inner core of the bamboo is often discarded as a by-product, but I discovered that some Chinese businesses break this down and spin this into a thread that is used to make a t-shirt type material. This material is really comfortable to wear – it is very soft, anti-bacterial, and helps to keep you cool.
“Growing bamboo takes much less water and energy than cotton because it grows so fast, and overall it is a much more eco-friendly product. It is also very versatile in terms of where it grows, and because it is a grass it spreads, so it can be cut down and it will re-grow. For Panda lovers out there don't worry they eat a different species of bamboo!”
“When I first went to China I found there was an incredible spirit of entrepreneurship everyone is willing to have a go at business. This was part of my inspiration to start my own business. Chinese products and manufacturing are clearly growing tremendously, but for me it's about having a business that works but is also ethical.
“I now have a supplier and a manufacturer in China that I visit regularly to check on the business and how the orders are going. I am trying to grow my business steadily, so I market and sell all the products myself. And of course I wear them as well!
“Bamboo has very special temperature control properties and is now used by people who look for this aspect because of their job - for example athletes and bicycle couriers. The range of shirts I have created reflect the ethos of the company, it is all about being cool, but also about respecting the planet.”
The Angel featuring Mabboo premieres tonight at 20:00 on Sky1. Mabboo is up against four other entrepreneurs trying to convince Caudwell to back their business.
The Mabboo products can be seen here: www.mabboo.com