D Squared Product Development is an innovative design and engineering consultancy with exciting plans for growth. We caught up with founder Daniel Isler to hear about product development, why he wants to give back to the city region, and how Gather has helped to bring the business new focus.
Can you tell us a bit about D Squared?
We’re one of the few product design consultancies in Liverpool. We work on the entire product development process – everything from concept generation and CAD modelling, prototyping and testing, right through to industrialisation and production scale-up. Everything we do is about bringing new innovations to market or helping clients to improve existing products.
What type of clients do you work with?
We have a really broad range of clients. They are mainly in consumer, industrial, and medical sectors but it could be anyone from solo inventors and start-ups to universities and corporates. We’ve worked on everything from robot vacuum cleaners, respiratory protection, drug delivery devices, and atmospheric water generation systems. We’re a small team but we’ve got a diverse range of skills and are always looking to push our capabilities.
There’s a great quote in a documentary about Charles Eames that I’m always reminding the team of, “Sell your experience and you have limited repertoire. Sell your ignorance and you have an unlimited repertoire. The journey of not knowing to knowing was his work.” That for me sums up what we’re all about. We've not always done it before and we're not always sure how we'll do it at the start of a project – but we have no doubt that we will make it happen.
How has Gather supported you?
When you’re the sole director of a business it can be lonely and not easy to find a good sounding board. The one-to-one support from Gather has really helped me to get the focus we need to continue to grow. Since I started the business more than 10 years ago it’s grown quite organically. We’re now a team of three, with a great workshop and office in the Ten Streets area, but we’ve got big plans and talking to Freia at Gather has helped me start to envision the next stage for D Squared.
We want to develop our client base in a more focused way and make sure we’re operating efficiently – we’re all so passionate about the work we do so it’s easy to get caught up in projects! Having scheduled check-ins with someone external helps to make sure we stay aligned to our plans for growth.
What does the future look like for D Squared?
The last year or so has been all about getting the foundations ready to build the business, integrating new team members, and forming a client development strategy. The next step is to grow our client base and hopefully the team, as well as to look for new investment streams.
The long-term vision is to have two strands to the business, to continue consulting for other businesses but to develop and manufacture more of our own products. We’d love to have a building of our own that could house all the tech and equipment we need in-house. We’ve got so many ideas and having these two stands to the business would mean we could open-up new opportunities for people in the city to get experience and employment in the sector. Schemes like Nobody Left Behind and Kickstart are doing great things and we hope to be able to offer opportunities through them in the future.
Do you think the design and tech sector has changed in the city region?
I've been in Liverpool for 15 years now and I've seen a huge change in the city. The Baltic is unrecognisable, and here in the Ten Streets we’re surrounded by a thriving community of makers, designers, and creatives.
It’s one of the reasons why we're looking to pivot to a more local client base. We’ve always flown under the radar a bit in the city as most of our clients have been based elsewhere, but the ecosystem of tech and design companies here is getting stronger and stronger.
We're based in an interesting part of the city, where there are lots of traditional manufacturing companies too – engineering works, sheet metal fabrication, glass cutting – and that ecosystem is vital to our work as well.
I think if the Liverpool City Region can continue to straddle the traditional and the new it will thrive. The economy is changing, investment is coming in and we think it’s important that everyone can benefit. We’re excited about playing our part in that. Growing with purpose and giving back to the city that we’ve benefited so much from.