Archive for the ‘Hawker’s Life’ Category
This past week I visited the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) where I guest lectured in the classroom of Bruce Tharp, PhD, a professor at UIC and regular contributor to Core77. Bruce is teaching a first of its kind college course on licensing to a group of industrial design students. A licensed designer himself, Bruce realized there was a disconnect between industrial designers and licensing knowledge, which could be an important part of their future careers.
I lectured on the topic of licensing and product entrepreneurship, and spent a great two hours talking about theories and practices in the invention industry. It is always fun to get to talk about the thing I love best to an interested crowd. Designers are almost always inventors and are well positioned to take advantage of this type of opportunity, since they don’t necessarily have to hire a design firm to execute on their ideas!
The class was held in UIC’s awesome new Innovation Center (Check it out here).Thanks for the invite Bruce!
You can read some of Bruce’s ideas and thoughts on licensing and product development on Core77, be sure to check it out!
When inventing a product it is important to track down the high quality feedback. Always Be open to
input all along the way, at every point in the invention process, you want to get open feedback from every member of your team. It is very easy to fall in love with your own invention (especially if you’re like me!) and fail to see something very obvious right in front of you. Make sure that you aren’t missing anything and that your reasoning stands up to scrutiny. This goes for your business plan as well as your product design and marketing materials. Track down the highest quality feedback you can find. Don’t be afraid to ask a high-powered individuals you meet at a trade show to be a part of your advisory board. I have found that people are flattered to be asked for advice, and it is a good way to gain access to other contacts. Make sure all your advisers understand the confidentiality of your invention project (and maybe sign Confidentiality Agreements). Don’t be defensive. Your goal is to win, not be “right”.
It is also important to note that when you ask people for feedback, they almost always come up with something. You are asking them to, so they feel obligated to contribute, whether or not they have a real improvement. At the end of the day, you need to take responsibility for the final reslults of your invention, so don’t let anyone talk you out of anything you feel strongly about. The invention still need to stay true to your vision. Of course, you need to be open to being wrong, as well, and willing to change in light of some quality input. It’s a fine line to walk as an inventor
Another form of feedback you’ll want to make sure you are getting is financial, both during the development stage and after you start generating revenue. Establish budgets for all of your invention activities and then compare your actual expenses (and incomes) to your projected expenses. That way you can make sure costs aren’t getting out of control and have guidelines to help you make decisions about what to spend money on and when. If you then decide to “break thebudget”, at least you know you are and have a good reason to do so.
Modern invention is a team sport. The ideal of the lone wolf inventor is out of date. It takes many skills to develop an invention idea to the monetization point, and very few individuals will be good at all of them. As you progress, assemble experts in a variety of areas, both as core team members and advisors. Cover the following areas of expertise: product design, engineering, branding, manufacturing, finance, legal, marketing, public relations and sales. You might possess several of these skills, and someone else might be able to handle several of them. You just need to make sure they are all covered. Many of these skills can be brought into your team at no expense at first; interview some lawyers and accountants. They’ll give you some basic advice in your interview! Recruit your designer and engineer for equity.If you are manufacturing your invention find a sales rep in your industry and sign a deal to start getting their input on strategy. You want power players for each role in the invention process. Each person should be great at what they do, so you can focus on your own strong suits.
Once you have a great team in place, it becomes easier to create the next product. With each person knowing their role, you can eliminate most of the bottle-necks in the process. After 16 years of being in the invention business, it takes me 10 percent of the effort to accomplish the same work due to the strength of my team.
Since it is inventing, one of the most important team members you need to locate is a manufacturing partner. For most items, China is the place where things are made. There are many agents that can help find reliable manufacturers. You can also use Alibaba.com (a web-based directory of Chinese factories). However, I recommend auditing any factory you plan on proceeding with past prototyping into production. Either go yourself (it’s cool in China!) or send an auditor like AsiaInspection.com. The right manufacturer won’t charge for basic engineering and will provide inexpensive prototypes as proof that they can actually produce the product.
Most of the “invention services firms” you see advertised on TV are a waste of your money. They offer to “help” you for a fee, sometimes quite large. Then they do nothing active to secure a licensee for you product, merely adding it to their catalog of inventions which they publish. It takes focused and special attention for every single product that is licensed. This kind of approach very rarely provides any useful value for what you pay. You need to work with devoted partners who are committed to your product.
I have some new and cool news about the exciting world of Trident Design. Just yesterday Chris received an invitation to the signing ceremony with President Obama for the “America Invents Act”, passed by Congress last Thursday, at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, VA. This patent reform bill marks the biggest change within the patent office since the 1800s. The passing and signing of this bill will ultimately open up new jobs in order to eliminate the backlog within the patent office and make the system more affordable and efficient.
After a long, eventful, and very productive week Chris, Andy, and I have parted ways and returned to our respective homes. We lived the life for four days in Las Vegas walked numerous miles through the convention center for the National Hardware and Garden Tradeshow and had many great business dinners and breakfasts. All in all it was one of our most productive tradeshows to date. We secured many great leads for licensing products, caught up with old friends and and industry contacts and made new ones. Las Vegas is an interesting place its like a huge mirage in the middle of the desert, nothing seems real and it at times seems like one big illusion. The fun things I highly suggest you doing when in Vegas: If you have a chance, see a Cirque De Soleil performance( there are seven to choose from) they are all stunning, visit Tao in the Venetian Hotel there is 30 foot Buddha in the dining room and the food is amazing,lf you need a break from the bright lights head out to the desert,within 45 minutes there are several fantastic national parks.
A few things that we noticed from the show and everyone should keep their eyes open for are:
1. Powersquid- Had great exposure at the show, it was relaunched under the Stanley brand and was front and center in their booth, they are releasing four new models and have more lined up for the future.2. Command 1- The line of 14 products that we redesigned for the Westinghouse brand were out front and center as well, looking very stunning I might add.3. The Tough horse- is an innovative take on the sawhorse which solves the problem of them just being awkward and having multiple components. Not to mention its just cool which means a lot in the world of design.If you want a closer look at our trip you can see our pictures on our new facebook page at Trident Design, LLC.-Nile
This totally slipped my mind and fell into the cracks but i think its important enough to mention even at this late date. It is a really cool article titled “Follow the fun” about Chris. The Columbus edition of Business First the premier periodical covering local,national, and international business and businesses has used one of Chris’s cool and innovative jobs as one of their front page stories. The interview took place about two months ago and was set up by the hardest working marketing assistant in the world (me). They followed up a few weeks ago to snap a couple of photos of Chris sporting some Onion Goggles, and the rest is history. The issue printed on the 15TH of April, which was also my birthday and is likely located in a store near you . The article is great, it focuses on the importance of fun in the creative process. We slowly we are building awareness of Trident Design and what we are all about. So if your interested grab a copy and read up on us, or you can get a sneak peek at their website Follow The Fun article
Things are moving here at Trident, the design team is whipping out products left and right that will hopefully be in the public eye sometime soon. We have recently licensed a few great products from independent inventors. We have also made some great recent additions to our staff. We are headed in a great direction and having a blast. Chris is on an elevated level at the moment making some of the biggest moves of his career to date. Not only has one of his products been featured on Modern Family( one of the biggest shows on air at the moment) but we have been receiving some great press lately. Columbus Dispatch wrote an article about him just yesterday that is awesome, here is a link- Dispatch Story. In addition to that article there are some other local periodicals that will be covering him in the near future. Also, Monday May, 9th @ 8AM on the fox local news Chris will be chopping some Onions tear free with one of their anchors. Keep your eyes open for more great press on Trident and our products in the very near future.
After a long hiatus of various events, eleven days spent with his family in St. Croix immediately followed by four days in Chicago for the Housewares show, Chris has made his way back to Trident, Columbus, and all the other things in his life. Besides a tan, he brought back some interesting tales of things to come in the houseware market, some from Trident and some from others. I would imagine that most people who read this blog are familiar with our company, but for those who aren’t a large portion of the products we work on are in the kitchen department. Some of the products we have on the market like the Perfect Peeler, the Onion Goggles, or the Cut N’ Serve were born at the housewares show, and this year a few more made their way to Chicago to be oohed and awed. Amongst those were the java mitt(with RSVP), a flexible silicone cup handle for take away cups and the Pitzo(with Lifetime Brands and Rosle), an innovative pizza cutter that has yet to hit the market. A few more things that Chris mentioned to look out for were:
·Black and Blum- a very stylish and well designed line of kitchen gadgets
·Joseph Joseph- innovative utensils for your culinary needs
·De La Terra- one of Chris’s favorites, this line is composed of beautifully crafted organic culinary pottery