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Person behind the design: RiutBag story

In 2014 Sarah Giblin noticed a design fault on city backpacks: the person behind you can open your backpack when it's on your back. This leads to unnecessary concern, stress and suspicion every time we travel.

Her solution removes all zips on the outside of a backpack and designs them neatly against your back. This simple innovation makes the RiutBag automatically secure every time you use it. Today RiutBag is used daily by over 20,000 travellers around the world and it sparked an anti-theft backpack industry making travel safer for millions. Here's her story.

Here's the story so far.   

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Hear Sarah tell her story for TEDx and remember, whenever you spot a problem in the world, maybe you can think of a solution and create it for the rest of us. Follow the story of the RiutBag from normal life experience, to using a backpack and finally to making a backpack fit for the 21st century which helps us adapt to our own urban environment with total peace of mind.


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Riut stands for Revolution in user thinking. Sarah named her startup Riut, pronounced "riot", for these four reasons:

1) Revolution: the RiutBag is simply a backpack that has been revolved by 180 degrees around the user. This revolution of the backpack is what makes it safe - letting your back protect the zips. Sarah has reinvented the backpack to be much more user-focussed in today's urban, mobile, tech-reliant world.

2) User thinking: Sarah was not a backpack expert when she started out. She was just a backpack user, a commuter and traveller who had enough of worrying whether her wallet and passport were still there. She wanted to travel worry-free. When she had the RiutBag idea, she just couldn't shake it. She wants other non-expert users to believe tin their ideas and make them happen. Imagine what the world would be like if 7.5 billion individuals were thinking of solutions to problem, rather than a few large companies. That really would be revolutionary.

3) Your thinking: Sarah built the RiutBag to have this impact when you use it: that you, the user, can have a revolution in your own thinking. Simply by wearing the RiutBag, you know your belongings are safe, so you can remove concerns of theft or loss from your mind. Instead, use your travel time - for work or on holiday - to think about whatever you want: work on that idea you have, the book you want to write, enjoy the city you're in or even catch a few more winks on the train. You need not be suspicious of those around you. When the possibility of theft is removed, you can move with confidence and calm through any city, new or old.

4) Riut: Sarah used to work in financial services. There, she saw how an entire industry had stopped treating its customers fairly. Insurance products like PPI were missold, the banks benefitted and the customers did not. This had a major impact on Sarah's thinking. Riut is a promise that Sarah will always revolve her thinking and this startup around you, the user. This design philosophy means Riut uses the best materials, Sarah checks every RiutBag one by one as they come off the production line so that you receive the best possible RiutBag. Finally, Sarah asks for your feedback on the RiutBag: what's good? What's bad? Which of your travel problems have not yet been solved? She takes all this user feedback and builds new RiutBag designs to solve those problems.

The RiutBag project, helping you to travel safe and adapt to our busy urban world, is a Revolution in user thinking. That's what Riut is about. Riut was started by a backpack user, backpack users made the RiutBag possible by crowdfunding it on Kickstarter and every new RiutBag is, and will be, built with user feedback and user thinking.