AN Edinburgh-based company which has developed retractable hand paddles to help surfers swim more powerfully through the sea is poised to launch a campaign on Kickstarter.

Alex and Sorcha O’Connor, the husband and wife team behind Sealboards, are looking to generate £15,000 of advance sales on the platform before launching an e-commerce operation later this year.

The driver of the Kickstarter campaign is not to offer equity in the business, but to put their Sealblades product in the hands of surfers and seek their feedback on it.

The entrepreneurs will also use the process of selling on Kickstarter to test their business systems prior to their online launch.

Sealboards has already raised £85,000 in private investment this year, with those investors now holding a 10 per cent stake in the company. Funding has also been raised from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish EDGE scheme, taking the tally to £110,000.

Asked why the company had decided to work with Kickstarter, Ms O’Connor, said: “We don’t need to give up equity – we have already done a small investment round this year.

“What we basically want is a live in-market test, so people are receiving our product, testing it, using it and sharing with us their feedback on what it is like.

“It’s about building the community, the community is more important to us than money.”

Ms O’Connor said international patents for the product are currently pending, adding that the company plans to begin selling directly to consumers on its website around the middle of next month, after the Kickstarter campaign ends.

The company is hoping to meet European distributors and retailers at the giant ISPO adventure sport and trade show in Munich early next year, and to attend a similar event in Salt Lake City before a push into the US market in the summer.

Invented by Mr O’Connor, himself a surfer, Sealblades are believed to give swimmers 35 per cent more power compared with paddling by hand. As well as surfers, the company says the product can be used by people taking part in other water sports such as windsurfing.

It expects the bulk of its sales to be generated in markets such as California and the Gold Coast in Australia, although the surfing community is growing in Scotland.

There are two versions of the product. The adult version will retail for £49 per pair, while a smaller one, most likely to be used by women and teenagers, will sell for £35. In addition to the Sealblades, the company is launching a range of “surf lifestyle” accessories such as beanies, shorts and hoodies.