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The rise and fall of Sugru (wired.co.uk)
163 points by villaaston1 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 133 comments

Watched from the sidelines as Jane invented an early version of Sugru at college in 2003/4. Everyone I knew (and me) thought she was completely bonkers, developing a weird substance that didn't seem to do anything but make a horrid mess of well-designed objects. Saw how doggedly she persisted for years to get it off the ground, eventually winning me over (in theory) for the main use cases. But still, as a hard-won fan with 15 years of anecdotal observation turned admiration, and as an accomplished DIYer and general proponent of fixing things, I couldn't find a use for Sugru in my life.

The real story here is a major life effort, not a crowdfunding over reach.

Wow, I'm surprised to hear this. My wife and I bought an antique dresser. It was in perfect condition except some of the metal handles had broken apart. We didn't want to buy a mismatched handle, and we didn't want to have to replace all the handles, which were so beautiful, to achieve consistency. My wife researched a bit, and she used sugru in a very thin layer to hold the back together. You could never tell the handle is broken, and the hold is very strong. It's a wonder material. We tried so many things to get the metal to stick, but nothing was strong enough. Sugru was.

I use Sugru on almost everything I own. It's on my steering wheel and gear shift, it is on my telephone protecting the camera lens, it's on my stylus, fountain pen, keys, and wallet.

Pretty much any time I think "that could have been designed better" I use Sugru. I agree that it's expensive, but it had saved me more money than it costs. I would actually love a subscription, where one gets a single packet in the mail once a month, to address the expiration issue.

Do you happen to have any photos documenting this? I'd love to see some of your use cases.

I'm not a big social media user, but if there is anything specific that you'd like to see, I'll photograph it.

I'm most interested in the phone camera, wallet and keys use cases.

I thought I would use it for everything, but with the price and expiration I just can't justify it over two-part epoxy putty, which works almost as well.

Ordered a few packs as novelty office Christmas gifts a few years ago. Used my own pack to repair a plastic shelf in my older refrigerator that had cracked where nothing else had succeeded.

Still holding up many years later. So I think fondly of Sugru every time I open my refrigerator. And when I do think of it, I can't help associate it in the back of my mind with Wallace and Grommit for vaguely ludicrous reasons.

I mildly regret never having occasion to make another order.

For those of us who have had a macbook power cube’s cable rip open on us due to its designed obsolescence.... A little bit of Sugru would have saved us $40-80. Sadly it’s one of those things you have to know to do before it’s too late.. like knowing to put on a screen protector before your screen gets scratched.

All of the rubber feet on my Macbook Pro degraded or fell off within a couple of years of purchase. I replaced them all with Sugru. They look better than the originals and have lasted longer.

Fixing frayed cables is one use case I found.

As an alternative, I've had great luck using silicone tape for fixing frayed cable ends.

A lot of people are pointing to weaknesses in the product, but it's a highly convenient little product that applies to a lot of small problems. It was never going to be a huge business, just like 2 part repair epoxy is never going to be a huge business. But that doesn't preclude it from being a successful small company -- Sugru has plenty of benefits over 2 part mixtures. One can sell in Walgreens and the other in Home Depot.

I would propose a different mistake: they simply got too ambitious. If they had raised a little money and grown organically, they could have eventually been a tidy little $5-10M a year business, netting the founder a healthy 6 or 7 figure income. Nothing says you need to follow the start-up venture funded playbook, in fact, most consumer packaged goods businesses do not.

At least the article doesn’t say how much the founder made. It may well be just the investors that got shafted.

Wow, you're right! According to the listing on CrowdCube [1], they only sold 4.6% of the company in the offering. Scratch what I said before, the founders made off like bandits and the investors took almost all of the hit. Sadly not much recourse for them.

[1] https://www.crowdcube.com/companies/sugru/pitches/bgNOBZ

just like 2 part repair epoxy is never going to be a huge business

I disagree, just look at companies like 3M or DuPont.

I'm pretty sure 3M and DuPont sell more than 2 part repair epoxy.

And their core business isn’t a specific type of glue. They’re chemical companies.

What part about Sugru, Inc., isn't a chemical company?

Bloody hell Wired.

Blu Tack was invented in Leicester, and Bostik still make it there. It's reusable and doesn't set or cure, though it deteriorates a bit after a decade in a drawer. Can repair pretty much nothing, but handy for sticking posters to walls. :)

Sugru is/was a silicone putty that cures after a few minutes in air, and expires in a few months in the packet. Seemed terrible value for money based on the tiny packet I bought so I'd never buy again.

At least with two part putties you can keep plenty in a drawer, for years, they don't cure until you've mixed them and cost a fraction of Sugru.

Edit: Well this provoked quite the discussion. If you're looking for repair putty the two main UK brands I know are: Araldite (Now a US brand, mainly DIY and automotive, also epoxy adhesives), and Milliput.com (Epoxy modelling clay, perfect for repairs to plastics, steel etc. Comes in a few grades and colours), with shelf life in decades. Milliput are Welsh. :)

"expires in a few months in the packet"

Yup, I bought Sugru. I used some. I really liked it.... but wasted half of it and simply decided at that point to not buy it again.

I don't want to have to buy it within months of needing it. I want to store it and use it as needed for as long as I have it.

It lasts six months at room temperature, but ~18 months in the refrigerator[1] (I have seen claims you can double that in the freezer, but haven't tried).

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugru#Properties

I've ordered a 20ish pack every couple years since the Kickstarter and I always immediately put it all in the fridge. I usually have a few packets go over the expiration and I must agree, ~18 months is when it starts to dry out and become brittle and thus not work as effectively. Using a bit of water combined with lots of massaging helps but detailed work is no longer possible (like building replacement handles for little coffee cups).

I've been using FormCard as a replacement in a lot of places (lately custom-made "hangers" with screws to hold my router from the wall), since if I mess up or I want to recycle it, I can just drop it in boiling water to melt and start over. Although I must admit, Sugru feels much nicer and is a bit softer i.e. good for cushioning - FormCard solidifies after 3-5 minutes into hard, slippery plastic which e.g. doesn't work very well for coffee cup handles or drop-protection for sensitive equipment (phones, cameras, etc.).

That is way better. I hadn't thought of refrigerating it... at the same time I want it in my toolbox and I've got kids so my refrigerator is a mess as it is ;)

I do appreciate the info though.

Seconding two part epoxy putty as a thing more people should know about, I've used it to repair several sorts of broken plastic clip, fill small holes in walls, etc.

Kneadatite[1] (aka "Green Stuff") which comes as a 'tape' of yellow and blue putty side by side (and becomes uniformly green when you get the base and accelerator mixed completely) is a handy form, much used to make small models. There are also wood-colored putties for filling holes in wood, and even marine-grade ones that can be used under water. Epoxy is amazing stuff!

1: http://www.polymericsystems.com/epoxies-adhesives/epoxy-putt...

Also a readily available and inexpensive alternative that is even better for some applications is gas tank repair putty like Waterweld[1]. It's great for repairing door knobs, or your glasses in a pinch. Also it's available at almost any gas station for $5.00 for a tube. It works very similar to green stuff and has gotten me out of a jam more than once. It's sandable and paintable, also sets under water (or gas). Just slice off a chunk, knead, and apply. Sets in a couple hours, fully cured in a day. Also it's shelf stable for basically forever.

I do love sugru for all sorts of stuff though. Especially building custom connectors for electronics wiring harnesses and hanging things on tile without messing up the tile.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/J-B-Weld-8277-WaterWeld-Epoxy/dp/B000...

Thanks for spreading the word. I had no idea this was available, and it looks really useful.

if people are looking for another product that's mould-able, good for repairs and doesn't go off (but also doesn't stick posters to walls) then I've done great things with Polymorph.

It's a thermoplastic that sets solid can be fused together and reused by heating it to 62 degrees centigrade. It's also non toxic which makes it great for kids.


I always used to get it from Maplin and can't find much online, but it looks like there's a whole range of thermoplastics now available.

Also, the inventor and CEO is "Irish".

The name literally comes from the Irish work for "to play" (súgradh)

Why the scare quotes?

They're just quotes.

It expires after a few months in the packet?

RIP my spare Sugru.

This is what bummed me out about it most when I tried it. I had to buy a pack of 6 (maybe smaller sizes are available now), when I wanted to use half of one. The rest was all waste.

This might sound a little melodramatic, but it ruins the product for me.

Sugru is the type if product I want to throw in my toolbox for when I need it, because when I need it I NEED it. But instead I have to buy it online, takes 3 days to arrive, and by that time I've already used duct tape and moved on.

It is a good idea and a great product, but the short shelf life is a huge problem.

Plumbing putty has been around for a couple of decades and is available in most hardware stores. It hardens to a waterproof seal.

> Plumbing putty

Plumbing putty doesn't harden, it's calcium carbonate, petroleum grease, and silica. The hardening stuff is Plumber's Epoxy aka WaterWeld,et. al.

Plumber's epoxy putty has been recommended in a number of sailing/cruising "must-have" lists I've read over the years, which has earned it an entry in my (yet-to-be-exercised) provisions list.

Thank you!

I agree entirely. It's the achilles heel of an otherwise brilliant product. Sugru is something I would occasionally need and benefit from, however keeping some on hand is not possible.

Keep it in the fridge, lasts a lot longer that way.

Sounds like a great product for drone delivery

Yes, they sell 3 pack [1]. I bought it about 3-4 years ago and back then they also sold 3 pack. I immediately stored it in the fridge together with my Li-On batteries. I used one about 6-12 months after, and it was still OK, but it was red (they had a special deal of 3 diff colors for cheap) and the surface was black, so, not very pretty. Now I bought 3 black around black November and I assume its still good. I don't often use it (or forget to use it) which is kinda meh. But you could argue the reason I don't use it is a lack of creativity. I mean, check the website. So many uses for Sugru!

[1] https://sugru.com/buy#3-packs

Last time I bought Sugru was back in august last year, some of it is starting to get hard in the package now. Definitely more than a few months.

Also if you put it in the refrigerator it lasts much longer.

Yeah, I had a packet from somewhere and came across a perfect repair job for it. I go and get the packet and discover that it has already ossified and is useless. Very disappointing.

You can extend its life substantially by keeping it in the fridge

Furthermore, Sugru is Irish (which is no longer part of the U.K., last time I checked)

It was a London based company although one of the founders is Irish.



And Jane ni Dhulchaointigh (listed as Jane Delehanty which is the english pronunciation of her name) ceased being a person with significant control in May 2018.

Do be aware though that 'Person of Significant Control' is a recent Companies House corporate transparency thing meant to identify people with control of the company via significant share holding or voting rights etc. who may not necessarily have already been listed as directors. So Jane could be CEO and own 24.9% of the company and still not be a Person of Significant Control in this context.

I never made any claims as to her company status. I was just pointing out the companies house records such that the celticninja could investigate her status by themselves.

In fact she was, had you taken the time to review their 288a forms (November 15, 2004), a company director, which was not a huge surprise given she was a founder.

Flippin' 'eck your "bolt-counting" pedantry and davej's below are what gives HN a bad name and makes engaging in the comments often tiresome.

> And Jane ni Dhulchaointigh (listed as Jane Delehanty which is the english pronunciation of her name)

To be nitpicky, it's the anglicization of her name rather than the english pronunciation. The English pronunciation of her name would be something like Jane Nee Dool-coin-tig.

Sure "Anglicisation" (see what I did there? :) ) was on the tip of my tongue, but I think we all know what I meant.

Indeed, and the name was a deliberate play on the Irish word for play, "súgradh".

Whatever happened to good-old two-part JB Weld? Is that just a regional product? I thought everyone knew about it.

JB Weld is an epoxy. It starts out as a (2-part) liquid, and sets to a hard solid. It's good for fixing cracks or breaks in rigid objects. You want to avoid getting it on your skin.

Sugru is a putty. It's squishy, kind of like clay, and air-cures to a sort of rubbery flexible solid. It's good for repairs to things that are flexible (It's great for repairing and ending stain relief to cables) and also for adding "bumpers" to things or even molding small objects (like hooks). It's also safe to touch uncured Sugru with your bare hands. This makes it a lot easier to work with, in general.

The big downside to Sugru is that it's expensive, it goes bad after a few months (but storing it in the fridge extends the lifetime to a couple of years), and once you open a packet, the whole packet will cure within 24 hours. You pretty much always end up with some waste. If they could somehow make it 2-part so you could make the exact amount you need, or store it in a tube or something so it wouldn't go bad so easily, it would be great.

There are a bunch of different products under the JB Weld brand that are two part clay like material. They are designed for things like patching wood, patching metal, etc. The two parts are different colors, so you take the two parts, squish them together, and knead them a bit until they have a uniform color and then you can mold them into whatever shape you need. I've used the wood one quite a bit for repairing small rotted sections of wood and it works well. Not sure what the shelf life is, but in it's two part state I've had containers around for over a year and they seem like new.

I've used two part putties that should like what you're describing, though I think the ones I'd used weren't JB Weld brand. I'm pretty sure they were all epoxies as well.

When the JB Weld putties you're talking about cure are they hard and brittle, or flexible and squishy? The ones I'd used all cured to a hard plastic.

Yes, I fell into the trap of assuming a brand name actually has a fixed meaning.

Still, that's an epoxy, and if it's like the epoxy putties I've used, I bet it cures to a hard and rigid plastic, rather than the soft and flexible rubber that "Sugru brand mouldable glue" cures into.

I doubt the underlying chemistry is unable to produce elastomeric products. Especially if you look at e.g. 2 part Polyurethanes, you see that while they aren't healthy in their uncured state, they are not fundamentally unable to be made into a non-liquid form, as they don't fundamentally rely on being a liquid.

Super stuff and very useful. Also: Loctite 3450 and this stuff: https://www.autoschadeshop.nl/images/stories/virtuemart/prod...

JB Weld only joins flat surfaces, right? My understanding is that the product OP is referring to is a putty that you can form into arbitrary shapes.

I'd be very interested to find the equivalent of two part epoxy Sugru, or in other words a rubbery Milliput. Any suggestions?

Coincidentally, such was my need only yesterday. I thought first of Sugru, balked at the price and delivery time as usual, looked into making some 'Oogoo' (silicon sealant mixed with corn flour) and funnily enough I ended up using some Sugru that's been in my fridge for 5 years, which although slightly crumblier than I remember on first handling, did the job fine in the end.

I purchased Sugru years ago to form a small cover on the edge of my MacBook Pro's palm rest because it was uncomfortably sharp. Basically a thin line of Sugru from edge to edge.

It worked well, and it's still there and functioning 5 years later.

When the two tiny packets arrived I thought it was quite expensive for what it was! I only ever used one packet, the other stayed in the fridge door where I just found it and it is rock hard. So I guess my next purchase would be for this Blu Tack.

Blutak would not work for this. If you have it in contact with body heat too long it gets ropey. It would constantly stick to your hands on contact.

I think OP was commenting that they're completely different things, with different purposes and uses. Blutack is great for sticking a poster to a wall, because its easy to put up and take off, and can be useable again. It is not for something to be permanent and used.

Yup. They're solving entirely different problems.

Sugru would be great but for the really short expiry as it's just the sort of thing I'd keep by indefinitely for an unplanned repair along with glue, tape and epoxy putty.

Blu-Tack doesn't harden, it stays sticky. It's used to attach posters to the wall and stuff like that. I wouldn't want to use it on the edge of a MacBook, it would just gather dust and grime, and would easily fall off.

If stuck to posters or wallpaper it also leaks oil/plasticizer over time (months to years) which is absorbed by the paper and causes staining. I discovered this the hard way in my late teens/early 20s.

Solution is to apply some Sellotape (Scotch tape) to the back of the poster first, then put the Blu-Tack on the plastic tape, which blocks the solvent. And avoid using it on wallpaper (emulsion or gloss paint is fine). Better still, use poster holders and a picture hook, or go the whole hog and frame your artwork properly.

Sugru ... air-cures: it doesn't have the solvent-leaching problem, but if you used it on a poster the only way to get the poster down would involve a chisel or sandpaper. Blu-Tak is for temporary attachments; Sugru is intended to be permanent.

It will also stain the wall and sometimes pull the paint off if left on for long enough.

I think they fixed it since but I recall my last MBP had a wicked sharp edge on it. I used a different trick though, the same one you do when you use tin snips. You can burnish a sharp edge on metal objects. I took a round screwdriver handle and rubbed it on the edge at a 45° angle and it was gone.

Oops, I meant screwdriver shaft not handle. That just tears up your screwdriver!

The sugru that's been in the fridge might be rock hard just because it's cold. If it warms up and is still hard, then it's no good.

> Can repair pretty much nothing, but handy for sticking posters to walls.

idk, it kept a roofing tile in place for a bloody long time until my mother really lost patience with the sight of bluetac on the roof

Sugru is kind of pricey, but I've yet to find any other adhesive material with the same properties. I've repaired winter shoes, cables, headphones and more with it. It's super easy to work with. I almost wish I could buy smaller quantities economically, because after I repair the one or two things I buy it for, it usually sits unused too long and expires by the time I actually need it again.

Definitely a niche product, but a niche that isn't filled by anything else.

That's the reason I never bought any more. I needed it about once a year and it went off after a few months. I really must empty my fridge.

> Can repair pretty much nothing, but handy for sticking posters to walls.

Also good for getting tiny glass shards out of carpets and such.

Keep sugru in the fridge. Lasts a lot longer.

I repaired a tablet case with Sugru and replaced the worn feet at the bottom of my Macbook with it. I also reinforced several cables with Sugru to prevent breaks. Overall I'm pretty happy with the product, but I don't have many problems where Sugru is useful. It's too expensive to make bigger things out of it and small repairs just don't happen too often.

My biggest complaint about it is that it expires! I bought a 5 pack because I had an immediate use and it worked amazingly well.

6 months later I again had a need for it and I went to grab one of the 4 remaining packs and they were all dried out and hard. I flipped them over and there was an expiration date that had passed!

This is the type of product I want to keep on the shelf for when I need it, not something I want to purchase on demand. Also it's expensive.

I use this stuff from 3M that is absolutely vile-smelling but delivers the same results as Sugur, for about 1/5th the cost. It comes in these little rolls, with an inner core material and an outer material, which somehow manage to co-exist on the shelf without curing, until you remove the end-caps which expose both layers to oxygen, somehow setting off the curing process .. you then smoosh it together, so it becomes this ultra-disgusting smelling blob, then apply it where necessary. Within a few hours, its like, rock-solid. I've fixed countless things with the batch I bought a year ago, and its still good after living in the fridge ...

Sounds like epoxy putty. If it cures “rock-solid” it’s not the same results as Sugru, which is a flexible rubber.

Would you mind sharing the name of the product?

Doing some quick googling revealed this: https://www.amazon.com/J-B-Weld-8276-KwikWeld-Reinforced/dp/...

Apparently two part epoxy dries really hard. So not quite the same application as Sugru.

What's the name of this product?

Didn't realise it expires [sigh]. The rest of my packets are probably useless then.

That said, I happily repaired a macbook charger at both ends, so the 10 or so quid I spent on it works out far cheaper than a £60 charger.

I actually have a bunch of unopened sugru and recently needed to repair my macbook charger. I ended up using electrical tape because the sugru packets are huge and I couldn't think of anything to do with the rest of it after repairing the charger. I guess that didn't matter so much if it's expiring anyway, but I also didn't want to leave it for 24 hours to cure.

They last a lot longer if you keep them in your refrigerator.

I fixed my washing machine with it. There was a tear in the rubber round the door causing it to leak. Put some sugru on, carefully flush with the door lining, it is still there a year later. Saved quite an expensive repair.

FYI: Sugru doesn't stick to plastic wrap/cling film. So if you want to get some sugru to mold to a surface without sticking, just wrap it in plastic. When the sugru has cured, remove the plastic.

I recently used 2 packets of sugru to adapt my Hoverbar gooseneck iPad stand to fit my iPad Air. (The company used to sell adapters for newer iPads but I waited too long and my Air is too old now.)

Worked great. The sugru is about two years old, having been stored in the fridge all along.

I think the problem is the product itself. I bought it online, wasn't that cheap, and wasn't that useful.

And, by that, I don't mean that the product isn't good (it is), doesn't fulfill the purpose (it does), but it just will not be used in that many situations. Sometimes you'll fix the broken thing with commodity glue, sometimes with duct tape, and all those cost less than Sugru.

The cost was too high. At $12 USD for a package, it passed my threshold of spontaneous purchase. Silicon tape, which is amazing stuff, is about half that price. Silicon tape is water tight, flexible, bonds to itself, and very versatile. Ultimately I never tried Sugru because more affordable alternatives could do the same job.

I don't understand why they don't sell it for a few bucks a sachet in a simple point-of-sale display or via the internet. I'm waaaay more willing to buy one when I need it than have to shell out for a big multipack of stuff that has a limited shelf life..

Perhaps because a small part of the cost of the product comes from the sticky stuff itself. Selling a quarter of the quantity may have 90% of the cost of sale. So it might have to be $12 for a pack or, $11 for a small sachet, to be worthwhile.

selling it in stores has the same problem: they don't necessarily want to deal with stock that goes bad relatively quickly either.

I was wondering if anybody was going to mention silicone tape. I hadn't even heard of it until a few years ago, now I always make sure I keep a roll handy. Fixing cables, random things around the house, the stuff is super handy.

I make my own Sugru: simple silicone caulk and corn starch. I have no idea how well it compares to the real thing, but a repair to the rack inside my dishwasher has lasted for several years without any noticeable degradation. The benefit of this is that the caulk and corn starch last for a while and don’t cost as much as Sugru per unit volume.

Source: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Your-Own-Sugru-S...

Sugru seems to be mostly silicone caulk and talcum powder, so probably not that different. A lot more R&D has probably been put into the optimal mixture ratio and choice of solvents.

Anecdotally, I bought a pack a few years ago and didn’t replace it when used. I was only partially successful at the mends I used it for, and for the cost, simple electrical tape would have been better. And of course regular sticky-tack is still better at hanging photos, etc, and cheaper, and the same goes for multi-surface glue. I am sure there are specialized use cases in which Sugru excels, but I didn’t think it worked as a general repair product and I think that hindered its growth if early adopters like me didn’t enthusiastically recommend it to others or buy more.

> “I’m very disappointed as the funding literature indicated high growth plans,” says a Crowdcube backer who wishes to remain anonymous

I'm not surprised they want to remain anonymous if they failed to perceive a downside in investing in a new product. What would you exepct - "our plans for growth are unambitious and we expect only mediocre performance in the market"?

Honestly I would too be disappointed if a company planning high growth goes out and says "whoops we lost a backer, now we're selling" It definitely makes it seem like the company is knowingly misledning investors in an attempt to pull in funding for an urealisabel plan.

If you're at the verge of having to sell the entire company at a loss, the least you can do is try to restructure, reduce costs and plan for moderate growth which doesn't depend on you pulling in huge amounts of funding.

I bought some sugru thinking it'd be useful but by the time I wanted to repair with it, it had been too long and it had hardened...

If you have kids it might make more sense but otherwise, I think it's a difficult sell given the cost

I wish they'd pushed harder to become a key part of the Maker scene .. I really wonder what a 3D-printer that used Sugru as its base material would be like. Probably prohibitively expensive in comparison with the ABS materials, but then again .. maybe they could have carved a niche in that segment that pushed their value higher.

One thing is for sure, after seeing it adorning various devices and appliances around the scene for a few years, I've come to associate it with "ghetto hackers" who don't have the druthers to just 3d-print replacement parts themselves. It always amuses me to have this thought - its a bloody expensive material, all things considering.

The one thing I consider it really excels at, also, is preserving peoples fingerprints...

I put Sugru on the buttons of my camera to make it easier to feel them at night. I was always surprised how well it works and how long the buttons would last.

It makes me a little sad that a company with a good and useful product doesn't survive while others who sell only junk do.

Sugru anecdote.

I had read about Sugru in~2011/12 or so -- I wrote to her (inventor of it) and she sent me a packet for free.

Then the Fukushima meltdown happened and a few days later San Francisco experienced one of the most wicked rainstorms ever - and the wind was driving the water against my glass-door flooding my apartment (twin peaks)... there was a hole where the sliding glass door lock should have been on the bottom of the door and the water was flowing in through there - I grabbed a pack of Sugru and molded it into the opening and plugged the leak.

When I discovered the leak at 1AM - I had thought my dg had peed in the dining room...

My dog thanks you, Sugru, for not being blamed for peeing....

When Sugru was a new gimmick it made a gift idea for that nephew you have no shared interests with. I suspect that a lot of the initial sales were clueless gift purchases, the packaging looked legit, the product was theoretically useful and what else do you buy someone when everyone has everything (including Blu-Tak)?

Was there any need to get tens of millions in funding? If you have a deal with Target stores or John Lewis in the UK then you can order from your suppliers what they need, do a back of the envelope calculation as to what you can fund on the basis of those sales and stock accordingly.

Greed and hubris gets the better of people though. We have seen it before with boo.com and in plenty of other examples.

Much is said in the article about the 90% lost by investors, I think there is another 90% - I doubt that 90% of this stuff was ever opened or used. It was gifted by well meaning mums and aunties. Then those recipients didn't rate or use the product enough for it to become 'as exciting as cellotape'.

£2 million buys you a posh house in London, so the bank loan wasn't that big in the scheme of things, but a lot of money if your product is neither 'fast moving' or 'big ticket'.

"Was there any need to get tens of millions in funding?"

They probably pitched it with plans of expanding into floor waxes and dessert toppings. Or, you know, more than just little sachets of goo.

I think this exposes the problem with crowdfunding investments. Most people aren't savvy enough to perform proper due diligence, or don't have the risk tolerance. (Edit) Or don't have the time needed to do the kind of due diligence needed to invest in this kind of a company.

On the other hand, crowdfunding products, which essentially is a pre-order, is something I love. It's well within my risk tolerance and due diligence.

Indeed. I'm rather dumbfounded that crowdfunded securities were greenlit by the FCA - it opens the door to exactly this situation.

Kickstarter-style project crowdfunding makes loads more sense, though.

It was useful for a few things, but much too expensive. £7 for three sachets. For comparison an epoxy sachet is less than a pound and lasts forever.

I think Sugru might have even put the price down - I remember them being even more expensive.


“The challenge of explaining the vast potential of mouldable glue and how it can be relevant to any given consumer has proved to be a lot harder than anyone imagined,” said ni Dhulchaointigh.

That was never their problem. Most of my tech-savvy friends knew the product by name and had multiple uses in mind. Literally everyone also agreed that the price just was not worth it.

It wasn't the price. It was the fact that it expires.

I have a packet that lives in my fridge forever, as a reminder, behind my many mustards. The mustards may live forever, the Sugru won't.

If it's in your fridge it's probably still good. Might need to warm up a little first.

I would like to see what the cost of all the chemicals needed to make it. I have seen a few companies fail because the vastly overpriced the product they made, thus killing their market. Would sugru have met with success at a lower price? I for one(of many I see) put off by the huge cost.

I agree. I wasn't even aware of the expiration issue. I was too put off by the price to ever try it.

Sugru is just overpriced thermoplastic. Search Instamorph, Polymorph, Moldable Plastic for cheaper options. It comes in dry pellets that don't dry out like sugru.

Well, technically it's an air-curing silicone rubber ... but you're right, actual thermoplastics like Polymorph are cheaper, don't expire and can be re-melted if you're not happy with a first attempt at something, or you want to reuse the material in a different project.

You're right. The end result is very similar though.

I bought some many years ago, entranced by its promises, but then somehow never managed to find a concrete use for it.

This does not say good things about the product's viability.

Bad headline. Crowdfunding isn’t what killed it, the failure to meet bank loan requirements was.

Since they've been acquired, hopefully it'll get considerably cheaper now.

I suprised and sad that they failed. I guess the product may still be available from the acquiring company ?

Having kids who damage toys all the time, Sugru was really universal repair tool for us.

I'd be interested to know whether they qualified for EIS (https://www.crowdcube.com/pg/eis-seis-tax-relief-overview-43) or not. It'll allow to deduct parts of the losses made against your taxable income and therefore the overall amount lost could be much less than the 90% quoted in the article.

I heard about Sugru when it first came out. I bought a few 6 packs and gave some to my engineer friends. I think I was the only one who got pretty exited about the possibilities. Since then, I have lost several packets to age, and learned to keep any I bought in the fridge. As several people have said, I would love to know a place to get the raw materials. It is much nicer to work with than silicone caulk.

I was minutes away from investing £5k to sugru back in 2014...I was convienced the product would be popular like sellotape or superglue :(

I love Sugru, it works great. I don't care that it expires because I only buy it when I need. I know people that buy it in bulk because they use it very often. The loan out audio/video equipment and use it to reinforce cables and fix things. I've also found that it lasts well past the expiry, it is definitely a conservative date.

Wow, I had no idea it was still around.

I checked my GMail, and I ordered 2 "Smart Hacks Super Packs"(multi-color multipack of sugru) on 21 October 2010. I'm pretty sure most of it is still in my freezer. Well, by that I mean, it survived 2 moves and is now living in its 3rd freezer.

I guess, ultimately, I just don't have to mend that much stuff.

The ridiculously high cost and short shelf life put me off sugru, but looking in to it did lead me to a handy and cheap DIY alternative - clear silicone mixed with corn starch. I don't know how the 'rubbery' property compares to sugru after it sets up, but it worked nicely for my needs.

Its shelf life is advertised as something like 1.5 years if you keep it in the fridge. Just the other day I used some that must be about three years old and it worked fine.

Yes, the short shelf life is what turned me off, too. For my quick repairs I found myself using only a fraction of the smallest packets they sell, leaving the rest to dry out unused. And after needing it a few months later and finding it unusable I never bought anymore.

I'm going to try your recipe.

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