Matthew Statham is a Chartered Engineer with a successful career history including various engineering roles at the Rover Group car company. Throughout his career Matthew always had an entrepreneurial streak, and eventually left Rover to start his own business making parts for other companies. Matthew is a designer at heart, but never had that special idea – until now.
“The story of AutoBlaze began at a barbeque in the summer of 2012. As often happens, we couldn’t light the charcoal and we were wondering how we were going to cook the sausages!
I then remembered that my parents had a fantastic old fire lighter for open fires. It was made in the 1950s by GEC (the General Electric Company) and it could light anything. My parents had used it to light their barbeque in minutes – it was like an industrial hot air blower.
As the afternoon wore on I started to think about how this fire lighter principle could be integrated into a modern barbeque (remember, I’m an engineer and I was with other engineer friends!). We quickly decided the idea had limited potential, mainly because the idea of plugging a barbeque into a 240V extension wasn’t ideal…
Then came my lightbulb moment. I said “but what about wood burning stoves?” and there the idea was born.
This was just the start of a long journey.
After some initial work I got some great publicity from the local press and BBC local radio, and managed to secure several government grants. This allowed me to start the long process of testing and approvals to make sure the device was safe, and didn’t have a detrimental effect on the stoves’ emissions. In fact AutoBlaze has now been proved to have environmental benefits.
I have been through seven different iterations of prototypes, carried out huge amounts of testing, and had many conversations with stove installers, manufacturers and users.
Finally, three years after that fateful barbeque, I was ready to take the product to market. I took on extra staff and there are now three major UK stove manufacturers offering AutoBlaze as an option on a selection of their products, and we are still working with a number of others.
I’m so excited about the future of the AutoBlaze Integrated Stove Ignition System and I’m looking forward to watching the business turn from a spark of an idea into a fully-fledged flame.