Monday, October 29, 2012

Now Who Is Going To Make This Thing?

Late 2010-early 2011-So, the patent paperwork is cooking in the background and now we have to figure out what to do next. I know, some who may read this would automatically know the next step. Well, I promise you, we had no idea. We sort of knew you had to get a prototype made, but how? Who makes those? Yes, I know what you're thinking, "Get on the internet girl!" Well of course I did, but I realized it wasn't that simple. Turns out you can't just call up a manufacturer and say, " Hey, I have an idea for something. Here's what it looks like. Can you whip that up?" Here's what they say, " Um...whip it up? Well, do you have Auto-Cad drawings? Have you worked with a product design professional to ensure the pieces and parts fit and work together?" Insert *Blank Stare* here. My savvy response to their questions, "....No..." So, now the best friend and I are brainstorming on the phone, "Do you know any engineers?" "Well, yeah, but he's an electrical engineer, do they know about this? Don't we need a mechanical engineer who has access to Auto-Cad? How much will that cost?" I want to take a moment right here to mention money since I just brought it up. I had about $2500 socked away when this all started and the best friend had money set aside too. The patent attorney had told us that when all was said and done, the patent could ultimately cost $6000-$13,000. Jeesh. So, we knew we'd have some money challenges ahead. I decided to go to my Credit Union and get a loan for $5000. I set it up so that the loan payments would come out of my paycheck so I wouldn't notice them. So, now, I had $7500 with which to work and the best friend had her cash ready too. This amount was sufficient...for awhile. We'll get to more money talk later.

Ok, back to who's going to make this thing. Here's where I have to tell you about one of my angels along this journey. I got a list of manufacturers in Pennsylvania and started calling down the list. I came across a nice gentleman who told me the machines at his facility did not work with small parts but he had previously worked at a place that did. He gave me the name of the company and a contact name. Well, I called repeatedly but failed to get a return call. I decided I'd leave ONE LAST message and then move on if I didn't hear anything and this time my patience paid off. A lovely man named Ryan, took the time to talk to me and find out what I needed. Even though his facility did not actually have the machinery I needed, he still vowed to help in any way that he could. His company was considering buying a new machine so he took my drawings to the supplier of the new machine and asked if they could demonstrate how the machine worked with MY drawings. He called me and told me he had the FIRST Nikki's Magic Wand model in his hands. He was excited to send it to me and I was excited to get it. In addition to this kindness, he gave me a list of reputable manufacturers that could help get this prototype made. I am eternally thankful because this list led us to more angels...and to actually finding who was going to make this thing.

The VERY FIRST Nikki's Magic Wand model (and cap)! :) Thanks Ryan!

Flash Foward...
10/29/2012-- The best friend received the magical, beautiful box  in the mail and said, in these exact words, " The box has changed my life." Yes, we are both a bit dramatic but that's why you would love us so much. We are on track for finalizing all design aspects, sending the balance for the molds ($9700--yes, you read that right) and ordering the first 5000 units. I am SO ready!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Magical, Beautiful Box

Gonna start this one a little differently and begin with some present day stuff in the beginning then flash back on ya near the end of this post. It's been a busy couple of days and I've missed ya'll.

As I mentioned when we last chatted, I had to postpone the launch of the new product because we are still tweaking some aesthetic things and I can't let the world see it until it is JUST right.

Two days ago, I was pretty stressed. Busy at the 9 to 5 (yep, still on the J-O-B for now) and feeling a tad tense about yet another delay with the launch. Decided to breathe deep and hope for a better day.

Well, by the end of the next day, I was happy dancing and smiling from ear to ear. After a long day, I came home to a package on the front steps. I was expecting its contents (or so I thought). There were more samples of the cosmetic tool I've invented but there were also boxes, in which to place these tools when we're ready to sell them. The boxes were...magical. JUST the right size, weight, font, text spacing...truly beautiful. I never knew I could get so excited about a box, nor that I had been taking the delicate art of box design for granted up to this point. I'm telling you, I look at things in a whole different light these days. I now know just how much goes into communicating your vision and having the supplier "get it." I showed the box to one of my dearest friends and she cried. Yes, actual tears. I told you, this box is serious business. :)

Anyhoo, I started texting the best friend and the box designer, snapping pics and singing the box's praises. Trust me, it was a big hurdle cleared and I'm thankful. Chatted more with the supplier today and expressed my pleasure and she told me that the box is actually being tweaked to look EVEN BETTER than the one I did a jig for. Be still my heart.

Flashback Time:
2010- So, at last check, we'd found a Patent Attorney, among my Facebook Friends List. :) Had a few phone meetings, told her the deal and she started the paperwork. Oh, I forgot to mention that before the best friend and I took one step forward, we planned how the company would be divided and put that in writing. Trust me, it's always best to get that kind of stuff written down. The best friend and I have hearted each other since 1993 but business can make folks act outside of themselves and we just can't have that. So, write out the terms and plans. I promise, it's best and you'll thank me when you avoid being on The People's Court looking like as ass, fighting over who was supposed to buy the printer.

Ok so while the Patent Attorney was busy pulling papers together we were thinking of ALL the ways we could cover ourselves with the patent. She advised us to think like a competitor and think of EVERY single way the product could be made and put that in the patent application. I am so thankful she had us do that.

While this was happening, we couldn't really talk about it. We crafted a non-disclosure form but were very wary of discussing it for fear that someone would swipe it. Plus, ok, I'll be honest...during this time I had just taken over as Manager of my group and that consumed me. I wanted to do the best job ever so my "baby" sat for a bit while I was trying to get acclimated to my new role.

I think I'll end the flashback here. I have so much to tell you about this process, so many tips to share but I want you to keep reading so I have to play coy. :)

10/25/12-10:44pm--So, we're on track for a December 2012 launch. I'm starting to get the guest list together and planning what the invites will say. You should come...even if it's just to see the box. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Now What?

In my first post, I shared how I had an epiphany. I would change the world by inventing a product which would stop me from banging my head on the wall when my TWO week old lipgloss' applicator could no longer reach any of the leftover makeup.

 (12/2009-1/2010)So...what you learn quickly is that when you have an idea for a new product the next step to take is not obvious. However, even though we weren't sure what in the world to do next we decided we had to consult the most valuable, all knowing consultant alive...the Internet. The best friend and I thought we'd struck gold by finding a place that would possibly take us on completely. Fully fund and support the project by finding manufacturers, help with the patent and all of the other stuff we literally knew NOTHING about...AND they'd cut us a check, once the thing started making some money, to the tune of about 70% of profit. Sounded like a dream set-up to us. We submitted our crude drawing and our $199 and waited, while holding our collective breaths for five weeks while they did the evaluation.

The report came back, finally, and we read every word with rapt attention. They seemed to love it. It was safe, would sell well, wouldn't require much to get going, had no real competition, a true winner. BUT...we scored just a few points shy of the "We will fully fund you" level. Disappointed? Yep, absolutely. Especially since we hadn't really thought of what we'd do if they didn't take us. We spent about three months trying to get motivated to come up with Plan B. What we knew for sure was that we had to get this thing patented. You know where we went to find a Patent Attorney right? YES! The Internet! Ok, Facebook to be exact, "Which one of ya'll is a Patent Attorney?" Ding! Ding! Ding! someone said, "I AM!"

I said in my introductory post that one of the things that I wanted to do with this blog was to share my journey and by doing so I hope to help anyone in cyberland if they are trying to do the same. I've had some angels save me time and money along the way and I hope to do the same.

I'm going to try to write this blog like a suspenseful movie, where you get glimpses of the serial killer's childhood and then they switch scenes to show you what the full grown killer's up to these days. LOL!

So, it's 10/23/2012, 8:06 pm and I have just postponed the launch again to do more tweaks to my "baby". There's so much to do, think about, get right. Just waiting on the final, final, final samples to approve and then I get to say, "Please run that minimum of 5000 units so I can introduce them to the world!"

Stay tuned, the Take Over is in full effect! :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Let's Get This Party Started...

Entrepreneur?  Not only did I fail to ever see myself as one, but I always question if I even spell it correctly.

18 years...that's how long I've been a 9 to 5 chick..hour long lunch and paycheck every two weeks or so. It's always been my past, present and future...or so I thought. Figured I'd retire at 65, with hopefully my body and brain intact, collecting my Social Security check and if I'm lucky, a pension or two. This was my plan and I was completely content with it...Until 12/19/2009.

Almost Christmas, driving down the street, chatting with my best friend, lamenting on how the lipgloss I'd purchased only TWO weeks prior was basically gone. No, seriously, I couldn't get ANY more out. How could that be possible?

I grumbled, "I should invent something to get this out." Each one of us has probably said something like this one time or another but this time the best friend (and future business partner) very simply said..."Why Don't You?"

So, I did. And that's where the story begins.

I gotta tell you, being a 9 to 5 chick does NOT prepare you for ALL there is to know about this process. I'm telling you, whatever you THOUGHT you knew about business (and I actually do have a Business degree) is miniscule compared to what there was to learn.

You are catching me in the thick of things. I want to share my journey up to this point, (10/22/2012 at 10:32pm) and I want to have you walk with me, step by step, as I take over the world.

No seriously, it's going to happen. You'll see.

Social Security checks and pensions?  Pshaw. The plans have changed a bit. Ya girl's trying to be RICH. Forget that, Ya girl WILL be RICH. I've got stuff to do, kids to send to college, beaches to lounge upon and charities to support.

Let's Get This Party Started.