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Q&A: Kia and Sky Ballantyne

Parizad Mangi

The young award-winning inventors of a bicycle harness discuss their product

Kia and Sky Ballantyne, aged 15 and 13 are the creators of Crikey Bikey. The sister’s won the Junior Engineering competition at The Big Bang Fair in 2015 and are also the youngest entrepreneurs to ever appear on TV’s Dragon’s Den. None of the Dragon’s invested in their company, but this hasn’t stopped Kia and Sky developing the product.

Q: Tell me about your Crikey Bikey
Sky: It’s a bike harness that teaches children how to ride their bikes. It’s got a handle at the back which the parent holds, so the parent can keep a straight back and don’t bend over and hurt themselves and not enjoy the experience. We’re selling it in Halfords and Evans Cycles.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the idea?
Sky: I remember seeing a boy and his father at the park, and the father was really struggling to teach his son how to ride a bike. He was bending over and having to hold onto the backseat, giving him a bad back, and the boy was crying. It did not look like a nice experience.

Q: What were the challenges in materialising the product?
Kia: It was actually quite easy. My godmother’s husband has a friend who works for a company that liaises with companies in China, so we spoke to him and he said we could get them made. We got 2,000 made and shipped back to England and started selling them.

Q: What advice would you give to young people who want to be inventors?
Kia: To people who want to become inventors or start their own business, we just want to say you can do it and it can be surprisingly easy.

Q: How does it feel to be involved in engineering as young girls?
Kia: We go to an all-girls school so there were no boys to overshadow us or take control, that definitely helped. I want to be an engineer when I’m older, so I think you just have to stick your ground and not treat boys and girls differently.

Q: What area do you want to work in when you are older?
Kia: I know I want to work in developing countries, bring water to villages that don’t have any, helping people’s lives get better.

Q: Do you think you’re inspiring other young girls to follow your footsteps?
Sky: We hope so!
Kia: I’ve spoken to my friend who won the Big Bang this year, and she’s now starting her own business. I helped her by telling her what she could do and what people she could talk to, so I’m inspiring her. 

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