“Cornwall has an amazing startup business network and supportive culture”

David Walker Founder Paddle Logger

Challenge

Refining the escapism versus the expedition aspects of the app.

Solution

The SpaceTech Incubation Program delivered by The South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, SETSquared, Goonhilly Earth Station and the University of Exeter.

A tracking application utilising satellite technology A global business with 70% of sales coming from the USA Software which records your trip as you explore on the water

Cornwall based Paddle Logger is a watersports software app that allows SUPers, surfers, kayakers and general watersports enthusiasts, to track their progress after a session out on the water. Stylish and simple to use, Paddle Logger has proven popular with watersports enthusiasts all over the world. Looking to take the business to the next level Founder David Walker enrolled on the inaugural SpaceTech Incubation Program funded by the UK Space Agency and delivered by Cornwall based partners; The South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, SETSquared, Goonhilly Earth Station and the University of Exeter.

Invest in Cornwall caught up with David to find out more about the company and the Spacetech Program.

What’s the secret behind the success of Paddle Logger?

There are other sports tracking apps available but none are really suitable for water based activities, and especially not watersports in the UK when cold hands and numb fingers make usability a problem. Our solution was pretty straightforward. Big, easy to use buttons. It was designed for UK waters but works great in warmer climates too. 70% of our sales come from the USA which was initially unexpected. The app uses the GPS tracker in any smartphone and doesn’t require a Wi-Fi connection or phone reception. You just start and stop the app before and after your session and review the data whenever you like. Usually back at home once you’ve warmed up!

So you had the idea. What was the plan after that?

It was horribly naive. I had the idea in the summer after my 2nd year at University in Cornwall. I figured I would design it in July, build it in August and then release it in September, in time to give me some beer money for my third year. That timeline slipped but the impetus to start was underway and I never looked back.

How long have you been going as a company?

This is the end of the third year, but it’s been running seriously for about 18 months. The University of Exeter is really good at recognising self-employment as a destination after graduation and I won some funding through their employment programme which got me started. The funding I received was invested in a friend who works in Falmouth who helped me with the design and a total re-brand from my first iteration. The great thing about living in Falmouth is that a lot of my social network is involved in the creative industries – photographers, filmmakers, graphic designers  – so there’s no shortage of people available to help and inspire you, or to collaborate with.

Doesn’t having a phone with you distract you from enjoying paddling on the water?

Not at all and that’s the whole point of the App. Press one button, stow and go. For me the water is my escape, but like many others I am curious how far I’ve been afterwards. If you do want more interaction then you can drop pins, add photos, whatever you choose. The social media aspect is also really popular. Paddle Logger links directly to Facebook and Twitter so you can share your activity with friends – isn’t the whole point of social media to make your friends jealous? Other apps force you to sign up to their exclusive platform but I wanted Paddle Logger to have a wider reach than that. A huge amount of the likes and comments I get are from friends who don’t SUP or surf but love the content and are often motivated to give it a go themselves. This wouldn’t happen if it was a closed community and that’s a key difference of Paddle Logger.

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