Updated: Saturday, 16th December 2017 @ 8:17am

I almost invented Tinder! Apprentice winner Tom Pellereau reveals how he nailed it in business world

I almost invented Tinder! Apprentice winner Tom Pellereau reveals how he nailed it in business world

| By Ben Southworth

Inventor Tom Pellereau has gone from strength to strength since winning the BBC show The Apprentice in 2011.

Tom’s curved nail file became the first product of the Stylfile range created in partnership with Lord Sugar.

Speaking at a launch event for Stylfile’s latest range of products, MM delved deeper into the man behind the range and how the Stylfile first came about.

After finishing his degree and obtaining a Masters in Mechanical Engineering  with Innovation and Design, he spent his time working as a consultant – however it was a run in with Levi’s that made Tom realise inventing was what he wanted to pursue.

In 2002, the entrepreneur suggested to Levi’s to consider inserting a Tinder-esque device into their jeans. The device would alert you when other single people wearing Levi’s jeans in the same bar as you.

Reminiscing on his potential creation Tom told MM: “Perhaps matching jeans is not a sure-fire way to romance but the success of apps like Tinder show that I was on the right path!”

Now, three years into his partnership with Lord Sugar, Stylfile is flourishing and Tom is ecstatic with the company’s growth.

“When I first created my curved nail file I never imagined that I would be where I am today," he said.

“Having said that I’m a determined character and every day I try to make the most of the opportunities available to me. I do my best to take Stylfile as far as it can possibly go.”

Speaking to Tom, it is clear to observe the joy he finds in design and the pleasure he gains from seeing the positive effects his creations can have.

The University of Bath alumnus revealed: “I want to invent items that solve people’s problems. When I see something frustrating people I immediately think two things. First of all, how can I make that easier? Then, will people pay me to do so!”

Despite Tom’s ambitious drive, his creations haven’t always been as successful. His first invention, a folding candlestick which he created for his Grandmother, attracted less demand than his current project which again was inspired by a female family member – his sister, the inspiration behind the Stylfile.


IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR: Tom says female family members inspire his products

Lord Sugar’s apprentice said: “I have always been obsessed with improving designs. Design problems keep me up at night so when I saw my sister struggling with a traditional nail file, I thought that is something I can improve.

“I made the original prototype in my own oven, and after handing out ten files to my cousins to test, they wouldn’t give them back!”

Tom who has 15 cousins, 13 of them women, admitted he had the perfect opinion poll in the shape of his family but was keen to praise the work of Lord Sugar in helping to grow the business:

“Lord Sugar has been fantastic, completely hands on from the start. I am based in his head office and he had a huge role in the design of the original Stylfile as well as our brand new VIP range," he said.

“Lord Sugar has even been involved in testing products, although modelling fake eyelashes was one step too far!

“His experience in business has really made a huge difference in the success of the product.”

Day to day Tom is still works on improving his designs while looking for problems to solve for new products to design. As a parting favour, MM wanted to know which item he could not live a day without.

Understandably his iPhone received an honourable mention but the winner… his erasable pens. Yet another quirk to one of Britain’s best known inventors.

Stylfile’s new range is due to be released on Monday September 8.

Main image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks.