May
0

Drew Ann Long and Caroline’s Cart

By Drew Ann Long


My name is Drew Ann Long. My husband David and I are the parents of Caroline, a special needs child, who along with our other two children bring much happiness and joy to our lives. Having a special needs child presents unique challenges, but as a family we have learned to cope with these challenges and accentuate our blessings. However, there was one challenge that often presented itself with no apparent solution – grocery shopping. Something I do several times a week.

When Caroline was small, I was able to use the shopping carts that retailers provided. As she grew older and bigger, it was clear that I would soon have to find another option because she would no longer fit in the cart. When I needed to shop, I felt a sense of frustration due to my limited options. Pushing both Caroline in a wheelchair and a grocery cart at the same time was not feasible. I would have to find a sitter for Caroline, bring someone with me to push her wheelchair, or take her shopping with me and only purchase what I could carry while pushing her wheelchair.

Eventually, my frustration turned to innovation. I made up my mind that Caroline and other kids with special needs deserved the same opportunity as other children – a specialized shopping cart that would enable them to more easily participate with their families in the shopping experience. So, in 2008 I began my journey to invent a shopping cart for special needs children. I became obsessed with shopping carts. I laugh and say I know more about shopping carts than any one person should!

Over the course of three years, I hired a professional design firm to engineer the cart (Indesign, of Indianapolis, Indiana), retained legal counsel for business and patent matters (Johnston Barton Proctor & Rose LLP and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, of Birmingham, Alabama), and enlisted the services of business and public relations consultants (Dennis Leonard, an Entrepreneurial Business Consultant, and Panorama Public Relations, of Birmingham, Alabama) to help bring Caroline’s Cart to market.

A big boost came from our family’s relationship with Easter Seals, an organization dedicated to helping special needs children across the U.S. Since Caroline was 13 months old, Caroline has received services from Easter Seals. I shared my dream of Caroline’s Cart with our local Easter Seals chapter and my husband David flew to Chicago to meet with National Easter Seals to present the idea of Easter Seals endorsing Caroline’s Cart. They believe in it! They believe that Caroline’s Cart will be welcomed by thousands of families who have children with disabilities and love the fact that this shopping cart will make it possible for kids with disabilities to be part of a family shopping outing. More than this, when kids with disabilities are visible – with their families – doing everyday errands, it sends an important message to everyone who sees them. As advocates, Easter Seals’ message has always been that kids with disabilities are kids first and need to be included. With Caroline’s Cart in neighborhood stores, users of Caroline’s Cart will be helping communities across the nation to understand this.


Caroline’s Cart has become a reality. Our goal is to enable special needs children to more easily be included in their family’s every-day life by making Caroline’s Cart available at retailers across the country. If local retailers do not offer Caroline’s Cart, be sure to ask for it by name or contact us for an outlet nearest you.

Why Caroline’s Cart?


According to the Census Bureau, approximately 1.6 million children between the ages of 6 and 14 have a severe disability. Without extraordinary efforts on the part of parents and caregivers, many children with disabilities are prevented from normal day-to-day activities such as shopping. Caroline’s Cart was created to accommodate the unique shopping needs of these families.

Caroline’s Cart is for children with disabilities. It allows the child to be able to shop with a parent or caregiver, releasing them from the overwhelming efforts and dangers of having to fit a child into the seat or basket of a standard shopping cart, or pushing and pulling a wheelchair and a shopping cart, or leaving the child out of the shopping experience all together.

A positive shopping experience can encourage a shopper to choose one retailer over another (or over shopping online), and gives them the opportunity to stay in the store longer during their visits.

Caroline’s Cart is designed to accommodate children with a variety of levels and types of disability. Whether a child has limited mobility or a disability that prevents them from walking; has a lifelong disability or a temporary sprained ankle; has stamina issues or behavioral problems that keep a parent from being able to shop with him or her, Caroline’s Cart provides a solution for comfortably transporting a child while shopping.

We are currently in 18 states. Also, we just signed a contract with the world’s largest shopping cart manufacturer…….they have the ability to make Caroline’s Cart explode and also go international with distribution. (we have international patents and have had huge international demand)

And one more thing…..Caroline’s Cart is made in the USA!!!

For more information, please visit www.carolinescart.com

May
0

Alice M. Brown And The Groove Brace

By Alice M. Brown, RPh., Pharm D., FMPA

My name is Alice M. Brown, RPh., Pharm D., FMPA and I am the inventor and designer of this knee brace-here is my story. I was in a terrible head-on car accident on my way to work one day. The Jaws of Life were required to extricate me. Safety belts and driver air bags saved my life. I suffered multiple injuries to my hands, arms, knees, right foot, face and back. I had multiple surgeries on my hand and right foot including right foot reconstruction. I was in a wheelchair for over 16 months. I had multiple courses of physical therapy, and had to relearn to walk five times in the first two years after the accident.

I wanted to get my life back and to lose the weight I gained while in a wheelchair, so I started working on the treadmill, five minutes a day to 2 mph. Doing so, I injured my “good” knee on my “good leg”. Thinking that the pain was just something I had to work through, I continued the routine for three days. When I was barely able to walk, due to the knee pain, and was back in the wheelchair, I stopped the treadmill exercise program. I saw my orthopedic physician. He suggested that I rest the knee for four to six weeks. When this did not help, he ordered knee MRI. The MRI revealed that I had fluid on the knee and arthritis and a 0.5 cm opacificed density in the knee joint. Subsequent knee arthroscopy also revealed a damaged (“shredded”) medial meniscus, Chondromalacia and a Baker’s Cyst. Following arthroscopic surgery, I did very well for two weeks. Then knee joint became swollen again. I again ended up in the wheelchair. My orthopedic physician recommended that I try physical therapy again and if that was not successful, I would need a knee replacement surgery.


At physical therapy I was evaluated and given exercises. One exercise totally relieved my pain and allowed me to use my knee again. The exercise that gave me relief involved having the physical therapist, Mel Svorinic, putting one hand above my knee on the lateral thigh and one hand below my knee on the medial leg and then gently pressing with each hand toward the center of the leg while I flexed and extended the leg. This is known as the Mulligan mobilization with movement (MWM) glide. (If this hand position does not work, the hand positions are reversed.)


The next day of physical therapy when I walked into Physical Therapy with minimal pain, Mel asked what I had done . The first day I could barely walk into the physical therapy department and now I was able to walk without a lot of pain. I told him that since he would not come home with me, I did the next best thing — I made a brace to do what he did. I purchased several knee braces, took out the metal stays from a carpal tunnel brace I had, and made a knee brace. My skills as a home seamstress, farrier (with limited metal working skills), and a pilot (with 3 dimensional visualization skills) combined with my intimate knowledge of medicine and bracing as a pharmacist who was trained in a brace fitting and as a brace user (with a box full of various hand, wrist, shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle and full leg braces along with canes, crutches, walker’s, my wheelchair and electric scooter) all came together and made this possible.

Mel was very impressed with my brace. He told me that he had never seen anything like it and that I should have it patented.

I was just glad that it worked and I could walk again with minimal pain in the “good” leg. My husband and I did a patent search — we were unable to find anything else like this brace and subsequently consulted a lawyer about patenting it. The lawyer had an independent patent search done and also found nothing like this brace.


What makes this brace unique is it’s wrap around design, use of stays to help to restore normal alignment of the knee, and allowing the knee cap to move normally. The small opposing force is enough to help align the thigh and the lower leg. Once proper structure is restored, new damage to the knee is stopped or slowed, pain is relieved and the muscles of the leg are trained to work to maintain this better functional alignment JUST BY WEARING THE BRACE. — this is an “exercise” that most people, including me, will do.

Hopefully, someone else can benefit from my disability, my efforts to minimize my disability, to maximize my function, to relieve my pain and to ultimately improve my quality-of-life.

I will probably still need the knee replacement surgery, and am in physical therapy for reoccurrences, but for now I am mobile, have much less pain, have improved my quality of life and continue to make the best of my abilities.

About The Inventor

This brace was designed by a pharmacist who has training as an orthotic fitter, a provider of durable medical equipment, a caregiver and first hand knowledge. She is disabled resulting from injuries sustained in a head-on motor vehicle accident. The Jaws of life were required to extricate her from her car. She sustained severe injuries to her foot, ankle, knees, hands, arms, shoulder, face and low back .

Prior to her motor vehicle accident, she was also a home seamstress, a Farrier, with limited metal working skills, and a pilot, with three-dimensional thinking. She was in a wheel of chair for 16 months and had worked very hard regain her mobility, including having to relearn to walk five times the first two years after the accident. Unfortunately she still has to use an electric scooter or wheel chair for extended distances. She is committed to helping others to help themselves to regain mobility and improve their quality of life.

For more information, please visit www.inthegroovebrace.com

May
0

Larry Storey and BagButton

By Larry Storey

BagButton is the Global leader in economical space saving vacuum storage bag solutions. BagButton provides the highest quality and most economical portable vacuum space saving solutions in the World.

BagButton LLC has been in business for 12 years designing the Space BagButton in order to bring the Space BagButton to the market place in February of 2004. We are deeply involved in the economical space saving industry.

With our company’s proprietary product and trade secret information we were formed with the objective of becoming the major participant in the economical space saving industry, targeting whole sale and retail outlets and the massive market that exists with vacuum storage space saving technology.

Larry Storey is BagButton LLC’s founder, president and CEO. He was educated at Redding University, receiving acknowledgements of class completed in Structural Engineering and Drafting.

He began his business career as a licensed Contractor in the construction field building custom homes for Weyerhaeuser Corporation in Washington State. He left Weyerhaeuser to become an independent Contractor in the state of Washington, which he participated in several major housing developments in the Snohomish/King county area for twelve years.

He acquired his Real Estate License in the state of Washington in 1993. It was during that period of time that Storey came up with the idea of the BagButton, an economical solution to Space Saving and Vacuum Packaging for the consumer.

In 1996 he filed for patents and spent the next 7 years revising the molds. In late 2003, making the decision to leave real estate and go full time with the BagButton, refinancing his properties and started the manufacturing, packaging and distribution process of the BagButton in February, 2004.

Vacuum Space Saving Bags by BagButton

Space and storage problems afflict most every household today. Whether its winter clothing such as sweaters and coats, large bed linens like down comforters and pillows, holiday decor or your garbage, the bottom line is we could all use a little more space. Rather than resorting to the drastic measure of discarding space-hording items or spending thousands on closet organizing systems, try using vacuum storage space bags by BagButton to store and protect clothing, linens and other precious items until they’re needed once again.

BagButton can also be used to compact your garbage right in the can.

With BagButton; making Space Saver Bags is very simple!

1. Simply place your items into a plastic bag of your choice
2. Use the BagButton and o-ring to create a secure seal on your bag.
3. Attach the hose from a vacuum cleaner and remove the air from the bag.
4. Remove the BagButton and o-ring, twist and tie off the bag.

Now your items are ready for storage in a Space Saving Bag Organizer the wardrobe, garage, storage units, linen press, moving boxes, shipping boxes, suitcase, camper, RV, backpack, saddle bags, in a box for mailing or just under the bed. Space saving vacuum storage bags for the price of a plastic bag. The BagButton makes vacuum storage bags out of plastic bags.

Hailed as one of the greatest economical inventions for creating space and organizing clutter, the vacuum storage bag, also known as the BagButton, the 10 cent Space Saving Bags, is the perfect solution to protect and store items while creating space and added convenience. BagButton Space Saving Bags retards dangers such as moisture, mildew, insects, dirt, debris, and other unwanted harmful elements possibly endangering your household/outdoors items. One of the best features is the repeated use of the BagButton; it can be used over and over. Thanks to the BagButton, previously forbidden storage spaces such as basements, garages and attics can be utilized to free up coveted indoor storage areas, all for the price of plastic bags.

For those who become flustered when their luggage could not accommodate their travel essentials, there is hope. Rather than spending too much money on expensive vacuum bags, bulky luggage, use the BagButton to carefully pack clothing and travel essentials. After placing your items into a plastic bag, simply attach the BagButton and begin rolling the opposite end of the bag to remove all of the air. Once the bag is rolled, remove the BagButton and o-ring, tie off the bag and place in your suitcase. It’s a no brainier!

For more infomation please visit www.bagbutton.com

May
0

Laurie James and Breathing Relief™

BY LAURIE JAMES

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Laurie James a Ford trained product designer from Essex suffered with terrible snoring and sleep apnoea. He tried all of the apparatus on the market to try to control his snoring and nothing worked. Finally he had two operations, one to remove his adenoids and one to cut his soft palate but neither worked. He was not happy using a C-pap machine every night as at that time he travelled a lot and he also found it quite intrusive. After his second marriage broke down he decided to design his own device to stop snoring as his methodical mind worked out that the snoring was due to the obstruction in his nose where his nostrils collapsed.

Laurie spent 8 years and over £250,000 working with an Ear Nose and Throat specialist and an injection mouldings specialist determined to find the cure to his problem until he came up with the product that we now have today. The high cost is due to the tooling which is very expensive and many tools had to be made for previous designs which when tested, did not work as effectively until the final design was found that did.

Mr James then ran clinical trials with the ENT doctor to prove the effect that the product had on reducing and eliminating snoring. In 2007, once the design had been proven a success, Laurie patented it. Unfortunately retired Laurie had little experience with products and marketing having run a service based car design company for many years and as the recession was hitting, he had no idea how to take the product to market.

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In 2009 Mr James’ daughter Phillipa James decided she would research into whether there was a market for this type of product. Phillipa by then had completed a degree in Business and Marketing and had acquired 8 years of marketing industry experience. In 2010 after finding there was a market for the product Phillipa left her full time employment and invested further in the product to take it to market. She started by selling through independent resellers, practitioners and at trade events. What she didn’t expect to find was that not only was there a market but the feedback she was getting showed that due to a better night’s sleep customers were claiming that they had lost weight on the product and that it also helped during exercise.

Phillipa decided to rebrand the product using the design agency Milestone to help to match its multi-purpose uses and to relaunch into more retailers. Although Phillipa had a background in Marketing, she had only minimal experience in sales and was not so used to pitching. Added to that Phillipa is dyslexic and sometimes finds it hard to work without a structure. She contacted Leonard Cheshire disability and one of their consultants-David McDermot helped Phillipa with a strategy for pitching which she used to pitch to Waitrose and was able to get the product in there. Another of Phillipa’s concerns was the ever evolving business plan where she seemed to have a mental block. Finally after months of ‘putting it off’ Phillipa attended an executive summary event at the British Library run by Paul Grant of the Funding Game. Inspired by her very focused Executive Summary she then decided to scrap the standard word document style business plan and write her business plan as a power point presentation. This style of business plan was much easier to read and later she was able to obtain funding from an investor to move the company forward more quickly.

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While there are still many obstacles Phillipa is currently refreshing the website and getting ready for the company’s next campaign which will be far more focused to all of the customers that may benefit from the product so sports enthusiasts as well as snorers.

“Both my father and I have put all of our savings into this product because we believe it works. Despite the obstacles, when we receive feedback from customers saying how it has changed their life we know that it is all worth it.”

Breathing Relief™ currently sells through Waitrose and The Health Store into independent Heath Stores as well as in Independent Pharmacy chains and with practitioners.

More information about Breathing Relief can be found at www.breathingrelief.com and breathingrelief.blogspot.com.

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Apr
0

Mr. Michael Aldrich and Online Shopping…

Shop online to save time? Thank Mr. Michael Aldrich…

By Michael Aldrich

Hand with credit card and a small shopping cart coming from  laptop screen isolated in white

Hi, I’m Michael Aldrich, inventor of on-line shopping, and this is my invention story.

In 1979 Michael Aldrich connected a domestic television by telephone line to a real-time transaction processing computer and invented what he called teleshopping. Today it is called online shopping, e-commerce and e-business and it is a fast growing world-wide multi-billion dollar business. E-commerce changed the way the world does business. This is the story of how it all began.

Preamble

Names of companies change over time and names of technical ideas change too. In 1979 Redifon Computers was a part of the UK Rediffusion Group of companies. In 1980 the company name was changed to Rediffusion Computers and in November 1984, under new ownership, it was changed again to ROCC Computers (Rediffusion’s Old Computer Company).

In 1979, there was no such thing as on-line shopping so when I invented it I called it teleshopping, meaning shopping at a distance. Unknown to me, in 1977 in the USA, a TV selling technique called infomercials (effectively paid advertising programmes on TV with a pitchman urging viewers to make a phone call to buy goods) was also being called teleshopping. Over the years in USA TV terminology ‘teleshopping’ succeeded ‘infomercials’ and my ‘teleshopping’ – real-time transaction processing from home via a Television or PC – became ‘on-line shopping’. The terms ‘e-commerce’ and ‘e-business’ are from the 1990s. We never used those terms.

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The Beginning

Early in 1979 a 26” colour television was delivered to my office on the Crawley Industrial Estate, Sussex UK. With it came a note that asked me for my assessment of it. The Rediffusion Group manufactured TVs so it wasn’t unusual to be given prototypes for testing. It just wasn’t one of our priorities (we were computer manufacturers), so the TV sat in the corner of the office, unused, for a couple of months. During that time we learned that it was a prototype of a new TV designed for a new service to be offered by the Post Office (PTT) called ‘Prestel’. Prestel was a kind of Ceefax/Teletext service (available on UK broadcast TV providing news, weather and other text information) delivered by telephone line rather than broadcast by the BBC and ITV. Prestel was to be a paid commercial service (Ceefax / Teletext were free) providing information supplied by independent IPs (information providers).

We did a little desk research on the Prestel idea and business model and we could not see how to make money from such a venture and in any case we were too busy with our computer business. So the TV in the corner was not switched on.

One day one of our engineers, Peter Champion, asked if he could strip the TV and find out what was inside. This was not an unusual request from an engineer so I said ‘be my guest’.

Some weeks later he came back and mentioned that he had found a chip set with a chip modem, a character generator and an auto-dialler that could hold four telephone numbers. We casually chatted about it and he said if we built a controller for one of our computers we could connect the TV just like Prestel. And that was it. At the time, we made real-time computers and visual display units (desktop terminals) for large corporations. There wasn’t much demand for TVs from those companies.

In the summer of 1979, in the St Leonard’s Forest behind our house in Colgate, Sussex my wife and I were walking our Labrador, Tessa. We were relaxing, talking as ever about our children, just the usual family domestic things and I was thinking that we could use some assistance with the boring weekly supermarket shopping expedition. All of a sudden I thought about the television and hooking it up to the supermarket and getting the supermarket to deliver the groceries. I told her my idea and we rushed back to the house and I started thinking, writing and planning.

It was simple. We had a domestic TV that could communicate, a computer that not only could handle transaction processing from multiple users but it could also communicate (network) with other computers. We could build a networked real-time transaction processing system. Using an inexpensive domestic TV with a remarkably simple human interface, it could be used by anyone without training. With its ability to dial into any computer via a normal domestic telephone line and, using a standard communications and human interface , it could be used for multiple applications. It wasn’t restricted to talking to just one computer for one function [like the airline reservation systems]. It had genuine open market independent teleshopping capabilities. And you could still watch TV! It was hugely exciting.

I then did two things. Firstly, thinking about the potential of the new idea from every angle, I wrote a large number of papers – a tumble and jumble of ideas. Some of the papers were eventually gathered together and published as a book in 1982 – ‘Videotex – Key to the Wired City’. Secondly, I asked my inquisitive engineer to ‘bodge up’ a connection to link the prototype TV to one of our own computers. It worked!

And then I didn’t know what to do. The ideas of teleshopping, telebanking, teleworking, tele- everything seemed like crazy science fiction. There was no market, no demand and no infrastructure. Perhaps it was all nuts. We had to get a reality check. Talk to real people. Get some feedback. Get some reaction. Yet we had to do it all in total privacy. No one must know what we were doing until we figured out what we should be doing.

So we hit on a plan. We would take our system to a small computer conference, the Data Entry Management Association Conference in the Convention Centre in New Orleans in September 1979. We would rent some space, set up, show the visitors and gauge their reaction. No-one would know us and we would leave town quickly when we were done. Three people would go to New Orleans. I would do the presentation talking, my wife, Sandy, would operate the TV and my inquisitive engineer, Peter Champion, would make the ‘bodge‘ work.

So we packed our gear and went. All our equipment was 240 volts / 50 Hz. The USA is 110 volts / 60 Hz. No small problem but somehow we found a conversion solution. When we arrived at the Convention Centre in New Orleans we found that we were not allowed to carry in our rag-tag kit of equipment because it was a unionized facility and the union did all the heavy lifting. Fortunately we managed to negotiate a deal.

Our stand at the exhibition consisted of a table covered in green cloth with the TV on top. Under the table concealed by the cloth was our intrepid engineer lying on his back ready to ‘bodge’ the connection at the right moment during the presentation. He was there for three days! It was all a bit cheeky.

But it worked. The visitors were interested, intrigued and excited. They even loved the picture quality on the TV! We could have sold many systems. The big issue was that they loved the idea of shopping from home. It was a winner. We left no forwarding address and hot-footed back to the UK.

Roger Newman and his team designed a multi- port controller for the TV and Jim Bethel built the complete interface software to run the system. And we set a public launch date of April 1980 for our new system. We were going to make a business of online shopping!

We hired Quaglinos Hotel in London, England at the end of March 1980 for the Press Conference. We announced ‘Redifon’s Office Revolution’. The Revolution was that heretofore information systems had been in-house servicing corporate needs. Now the corporations were going to connect the outside world –customers, consumers, agents, distributors, suppliers, service companies- to their corporate databases and do business electronically. And we were releasing the system to do it, deliverable in 90 days from contract.

The media were bemused. They latched on to the televisions connected to the computer. They seemed familiar but they didn’t understand the rest. In the ‘Introduction to the Michael Aldrich Archive’ can be found some of the material we used at the Press Conference and some of the Press comment. The rest of the Press comment is in the Press Cuttings section. In hindsight this was probably the beginning of e-commerce and e-business as we know it today.

The actual product launch was a few days later in early April 1980 when we demonstrated systems around the UK. We did the launch again in July 1980 because so few understood what we were talking about. From this launch came the now famous piece from the ‘Financial Times’ which began ‘If Mike Aldrich can be believed…….’

Building a Market

Except for a handful of people no-one in the world knew what we were doing and those that did probably thought we were mad. But we had a plan.

Most inventions never make money for the inventors. For online shopping we had to build interest, awareness, need and a financially viable product for our clients and ourselves. We had to make a market, and we had to do it without spending any real money.

We had some huge advantages. The product development cost was very low. We had a multi-user real-time transaction processing mini-computer that was fast, versatile and relatively inexpensive. We had a client base of large corporations and public and government institutions. The rest was not difficult.

We called the new technology ‘Videotex’ to differentiate it from Prestel and we produced an add-on feature to our office computer called ‘Viewdata Plus’ because there was much free publicity around the word ‘Viewdata’.

Because we bolted the new technology on to an existing if somewhat enhanced system we knew we had stability, reliability and dependability. The system was bomb-proof.

The marketing plan was simple. Sell the idea to the big corporations that they could connect their agents, distributors and customers to their corporate information systems for direct shopping and sales. No third parties would be involved. We coined the name ‘private system’. We divided the big corporations into leaders and followers and we focused on the leaders. We sold the ‘competitive advantage’ to be gained from the new technique and we made compelling financial arguments. We knew how to do cost/ benefit analysis – that was how we sold all our systems. This idea became known as Business to Business [B2B] online shopping.

The plan worked like a dream. We were soon knee-deep in projects. There were world firsts in the travel industry, the car industry with a ‘locate a car’ system for one of the world’s largest manufacturers, car financing systems with automatic checks with credit rating agencies, supermarket shopping, services for the elderly and even a taxi booking service. To avoid spending money on advertising and promotion we used free editorial and conference papers extensively. It wasn’t difficult. There was huge interest and excitement.

However, we had two other advantages. Videotex came from the telecoms and consumer electronics industries not from the computer industry. The computer industry wasn’t interested and made only some token gestures towards it. The Press was intrigued but highly skeptical. The net result is that we sold our systems with little competition for 10 years and made excellent profits.

Developing the Market

B2B was commercially viable from the beginning for enterprises that could afford to set up their own networks or could use the videotex terminals already installed in customers’ offices by third parties for other purposes. The terminals had programmable auto-diallers and could hook –up to any computer. The human interface was standard so learning to use another system was easy. Some of the early systems ran virtually unchanged into the 21st Century. The first B2B became operational in 1981. Business to Consumer online shopping [ B2C] as in supermarket shopping did not become commercially viable until the 1990s when a critical mass of installed home computers was reached, improved telecommunications with internet/www opened up continents and service providers appeared in volume. From 2000 onwards, improved availability of bandwidth [broadband] at affordable prices, improved encryption for payment processing, improved search engines, exponential growth in service providers and near saturation in installed home computers in first world countries made B2C ubiquitous From the first B2C supermarket online shopping in 1984 it was best part of 20 years before B2C became a heavyweight force in retailing.

The original pioneering work was not lost .It merely migrated to the internet in the 1990s. Reading those original papers again today, the social impact has been pretty well as predicted even if the videotex technology proved short-lived. And today’s internet shopping is beyond our wildest dreams.

For the record books: September 1979 was the first public demonstration of online shopping: March 1980 was the launch of what was later called online shopping, e-commerce and e-business: March 1981 the first B2B, Thomson Holidays, went live: May 1984 the world’s first online home shopper, Mrs Jane Snowball, used the Gateshead SIS/Tesco system to buy groceries.

Apr
0

Todd Greene and HeadBlade

BY TODD GREENE

headblade-sport-razor[1]

The original HeadBlade was designed by Todd Greene in 1997 and definitely followed the axiom “necessity is the mother of all invention.” He had been shaving his head almost daily since 1992 and, after years of shaving his head with a standard razor, created an ergonomic handle that was compatible with standard razor cartridges. An entrepreneur at heart, Todd took his original razor and created a company based on the design. Combined with the growing acceptance of head shaving and the active lifestyle, Todd bet that he could create a brand with head shavers as its core. He never expected the design world to take note of such a novel idea. Not that it was ‘just a razor;’ Todd knew it was completely functional and well designed, but because it seemed so small in the big picture.

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Major razor companies poured hundreds of millions of dollars into product development, design, and marketing yet here was this tiny little razor designed by one man, in one year, and it was winning national design awards. Why? Because it was so pure and functional and aesthetically pleasing. It wasn’t watered down by fifty designers with fifty viewpoints who answer to ten bosses who have to listen to the bean counters and the marketing department and, well, the list goes on. The HeadBlade had a single function; to make headshaving easy and it was based on some very simple design principals;

• the user had to be able to shave by feel (meaning the razor has to sit close to the head and the user be able to touch the head with fingers while shaving).

• The razor needed two contact points to create a ‘suspension’ allowing the blade to automatically pivot.

• The razor had to be compatible with current razors sold in most retailers (as many users have a blade preference).

At HeadBlade, product design is paramount. And Todd’s love of automobiles is apparent in many of the razors’ design elements. In the decade following, with Todd’s guidance, HeadBlade, Inc. has pioneered the head care market and expanded the company’s product range to incorporate complete skin care. HeadBlade products can now be purchased in over 15,000 stores. In the next few years you will see some new and exciting designs come from HeadBlade. We hope you will continue to follow our journey and go along for the ride.

More information about the Headblade can be found at www.headblade.com.

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Apr
0

Tim Fitler and the Night Glow Toilet Seat

BY ROBERT BEAR

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Night Glow, the glow in the dark toilet seats will stay lit all night long after a charge from any light source. Available in BLUE and GREEN glow in both ROUND and ELONGATED bowl styles. I came across this product online, loved the idea of it, bought one, use it, and LOVE it! I spoke with the inventor, Tim Fittler and asked him the following questions:

1. What gave you the idea?

I had the original idea back in 1999 when I was a single guy living in Toronto playing hockey and drinking some beers with a few buddies. I always hated turning the light on in the bathroom in the middle of the night because it wakes me up. I basically peed all over everything and I thought if my toilet seat glowed in the dark, I could find it without needing to turn the light on. I called up a buddy who owned a plastics plant and asked him what he thought about my idea. After laughing he said he could make something and 10 days later, after he got glow in the dark resin from a coloring company and put it in his machine, he got a boat handle and a steering wheel to glow in the dark. There is a bigger company named Olsonite that manufactures toilet seats a couple towns away and we went to talk with them. We made a deal and they started co-packing these toilet seats for me under the Potty Glow name. It was a low-end toilet seat more novelty than substance. The glowing material only lasted for about an hour. We sold them in novelty stores like Spencer’s Gifts, a few retail stores in Canada, and some mail-order catalogs. It retailed for $25-$30. We sold about 50,000 of them between 2000 and 2004. It kind of ran its course. I got into some other businesses and so did my partner but in the back of my mind I wanted to create something that would glow 8-12 hours to give you the full glow all night long.

About three years ago, I was thinking about it again while talking to my friend Dave Reynolds who thought it was cool. A new glow resin was developed by NASA and the U.S. Military and airlines use it. It’s quite expensive but it glows the 8-12 hours I always wanted. Dave called me a few weeks later telling me a story about how he got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom without turning the light on. While attempting to sit down, he missed the toilet and landed in his tub and hurt himself. After I stopped laughing (he was okay), he said we got to get on this. We partnered to remake the company and launched the new NightGlow Toilet Seat in April 2013. We have both blue glow and green glow in the elongated formats and they’ve been doing great for us. It’s been 100 percent online sales but we’re dealing with some of the major retailers in North America such as HomeDepot.com, HomeDepot.ca, Lowes.ca, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Wayfarer.com, ActiveForever.com along with our own website, Nightglowseats.com. It’s been a real interesting process since getting back into it with the new product.

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2. You said it’s 100 percent online. Would you like to be in brick and mortar stores?

I am currently working on that. In the hardware world, they typically look at new items in the fall for the next year’s product set. Home Depot Canada gave me my first break. I promised them last year that I would only go to them and try to get it in their stores in 2015. We went through the process and everything looked really, really good. Parallel to that, my partner and I applied for the television show Dragon’s Den, which is the Canadian equivalent of Shark Tank. We passed the audition and taped the show in April of this year. Two days later, I find out from HomeDepot.ca that we just missed out on getting into their product set for the year. My one year exclusivity for stores with them is over and I plan on hitting all the major retailers in Canada and the U.S.

3. What is your background?

I grew up in the food processing industry and did office calls for 25 years. The sales side for me is changing from food to toilet seats, but it’s essentially the same process.

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4. Why just the two colors?

We are limited by the phosphorescent resins we can buy. There are some yellow and reds we can buy and we have had some requests for them but they don’t perform well. They only glow for about an hour. Green and blue perform well and are readily available. They just haven’t come out with a rainbow of colors yet in theses phosphorescent resins that we can use. We are looking at expanding the line. We have household and lawn and garden products in development.

5. Was it easier to create the NightGlow Toilet Seat having a manufacturer so close to home?

Based on my experience working in the food industry, I learned how things are co-packed. You make an agreement with a processor and have them produce your brand for you. It may be a matter of changing a label or adding some ingredients or having your own recipe. I do the same thing with this major toilet seat company. I supply them with the glow resin in the pellet form that they use in their standard seat molds for their most popular models. This results in adding line time work for them. It’s really no different on their end whether they are making my NightGlow Toilet Seat for me or if they’re make a white toilet seat for someone else; the process is the same. I make it convenient for them to work with me so they give me reasonable minimums, we sell them, and they make another batch.

It’s very costly getting into the plastic molding business. For something like this, it would be a real cost barrier if I had to buy a very large molding machine to create this product and would need to have people working for me. If you’re an inventor and have a good idea, look for another company you could partner with. Sometimes it’s just as simple as developing a rapport with them. A lot of manufacturers have production gaps where they would like to fill more production time.

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6. Have you patented the NightGlow Toilet Seat?

I couldn’t technically patent the product because we are piggybacking on pre-existing molds. We do have trademarks in Canada and the U.S. for our brand names but as an interim patentable product the best thing we could do is get a design patent if we made our own specific mold but then again it would be just for that exact shape of toilet seat. Sadly, there is not much protection for this type of product.

I think a lot of inventors and entrepreneurs get scared away from a good idea by the fear that if they don’t get a patent someone is going to knock it off right away and they’ll be left exposed. I believe anything can be knocked off unless your patent is so iron clad that they can’t get around it. Your best bet as an inventor is to get to market first. Trademark your name, build your brand, and be the first to market. There is always the potential for somebody cheaper and not as good to come out but if you can establish yourself as the market leader and have the brand of choice then you’ve got something to build on. Be the best.

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7. What has changed the most?

When I first brought the original potty glow toilet seat to the hardware store I was laughed at. It was a fun novelty product, it glowed for an hour but it wasn’t a solution product. I take the new Night Glow Toilet Seat out and they don’t laugh anymore, well they chuckle…everyone chuckles. Consider the following: when you get up at 2 o’clock in the morning and can see where you’re going; when your niece sees the seat and doesn’t have to use a nightlight; and when your wife gets up in the middle of the night when you’ve left the toilet seat up and she goes to put it down before she falls in. The NightGlow Toilet Seat is a real bonus. A friend of mine has elderly parents; the Night Glow Toilet Seat saves them from a fall because they can see the toilet. We’re also in homes with Alzheimer’s patients and they can find the toilets easier. It’s a funny product. Don’t get me wrong, we make great television with it but when you use it, you realize that it’s really handy. Everybody I know has at least one toilet and everybody I know over the age of 40 gets up in the middle of the night to use it.

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8. What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

Every day is a new opportunity. If you’ve got a good idea you should run with it and don’t be afraid. Previously, I’ve done other projects that haven’t done as well. I run a successful food brokerage company and I do it every day. You don’t have to be scared to spend some money just try not to lose your house. Fortunately, Night Glow Toilet Seat has been profitable from the start. I consider it a controlled investment. I know that some people don’t have the ability to make such investments, but if you can hedge your bets to keep yourself safe and then grow it over time, then that would be great. I get scared when I see peopled spend their life savings on a bad idea.

For more information, please visit www.nightglowseats.com

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Mar
0

Mike Forehand and the Perfect Seal

BY MIKE FOREHAND

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I'm Mike Forehand and this is why I came to invent The Perfect Seal.

In 1988 a customer contacted my company to purchase three electric embossers. There was only one brand available at the time, and I had no experience with the unit at all. I did some research with users and dealers and found this brand of electric seal was undependable. I should have known when the manufacturer said it had just decreased the warranty to sixty days from purchase. The customer was going to purchase these units no matter what my advice. In the next sixty days, I made five repair trips and had no support from the manufacturer. The customer and I became very frustrated at such a poor quality product. My wife said: “why don’t you just build your own?” I think she was just sick of hearing me complain, but she was right! Now being very familiar with the mechanics of this brand of electric seal, I felt I knew what not to do, so I began a three year endeavor. I consulted seal users, design engineers, product manufacturers, studied design criteria, calculated force and drew more sketches than I had ever done before in my life. I was spending money with machinists for test samples, just to throw them in the dumpster due to a design flaw.

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The criteria was easy: (1) a seal impression from a touch-of-a-button, (2) extended life of electric models over hand held models and (3) no chance for repetitive stress injury. Sounds simple doesn’t it. In 1991, after fourteen designs and about a hundred variables, one simple design worked. When I made the very first test impression, my first word was “perfect”. That was the basis for the name PerfectSeal™. The simple design with only two moving parts has proven durability and dependability time and time again. In April of 2005, I implemented the fifth generation of updates, but still have not changed from the original design. My PerfectSeal™ heavy duty high volume units produce a minimum of 200,000 high quality impressions from just a touch of the button. These units are supported with a sixty day “final approval” time on one unit to assure each customers total satisfaction and have an unmatched TWO YEAR or 200,000 impression performance warranty.

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It is much easier to justify the cost of an excellent performing quality product, than to justify a poor quality product to less cost. Fortunately, PerfectSeal™ is most definitely a better product for less cost. Nothing can be more aggravating than being “left out in the cold” if the product does not perform well or being left all alone without manufacturer support. The “final approval” time on one unit allows a first time user to be convinced or return it. If you don’t like your PerfectSeal™…. Don’t keep it! This policy was created because I am so confident of the user safety, value and performance of PerfectSeal™, and that you will be nothing short of “impressed” with every impression. I want you to be convinced too!

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The value of any electric embosser should be the increased durability, extended life over manual embossers and the insurance of removing any chance of repetitive-stress injury during use. Repetitive stress injury is a major concern. One claim could cost several thousand dollars and a major loss of employee time. Companies spend thousands on ergonomic products for computers, desks, tables, chairs etc., and are looking to minimize risk and increase performance when using their seals and other marking products.

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Electric seals are changing from heavy-duty high volume users only, to include the standard duty users like notaries, tag agents, architects, schools and small court systems at a more affordable price. PerfectSeal™ MOTORIZED is a standard duty electric embosser that operates a common die holder from an existing or new hand held embosser. This innovative design will convert any existing manual hand held seal to an electric operation at the lowest price ever offered. An unlimited amount of hand held seals can be converted to a “no stress” electric operation.

More information regarding Perfect Seal is available at http://www.southernmark.com.

Mar
0

Tiffany Krumins and Ava the Elephant

BY TIFFANY KRUMINS

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Tiffany Krumins is the CEO, Co-founder and inventor of the AVA the Elephant brand. AVA the Elephant is a talking children’s medicine dispenser that takes the fear and axiety out of administering medicine to children 3 months and older.

Tiffany’s passion for helping sick children has been evident through her years of experience working with kids, including children with special needs and childhood cancer patients. It was that same passion which brought Ava the Elephant to life!

She realized no product on the market resolved the common problem of giving children medicine, minus the tears. So she took matters into her own hands and created the first Ava from sponges, fabric, and a store bought medicine dropper.

After her life changing experience on ABC’s “Shark Tank” she went home and spent months perfecting AVA to make sure she was as safe as she was helpful. She found that it was not necessarily children’s dislike for medicine that made it so difficult. After all, they can flavor it to taste like bubblegum these days! The process was the scary part. Realizing this, her first goal was to hide the medicine dropper completely! Her second was to make the child smile or laugh, hence the sweet voice! And last, but not least, she wanted their new little friend to praise them for a job well done! In a twist of fate, Tiffany was diagnosed with cancer three months after the show (at the age of 28) which made her passion to help sick children even stronger!

Tiffany was considered one of the Top 50 Mompreneurs of 2011 by Babble.com! She was a panelist at Troy Johnson’s SPark and Hustle event as well as a panelist at Mom’s in Business Unite.

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With mentions on Youngentrepreneur.com, Mominventors.com and many others, she has been coined the “Modern Day Mary Poppins”. AVA the Elephant received the Certified Miracle Award in 2011!

AVA the Elephant is available in more than 10,000 retail stores in the U.S.A., including CVS Pharmacy, Kroger, Safeway, BabiesRUs.com, Drugstore.com, Amazon.com, and Walgreens.com and many more.

AVA the Elephant is also sold in multiple languages and internationally in Canada, Mexico, Australia, Europe, and parts of Asia.

When I walked out of the Shark Tank with a $50,000 investment, I had no idea where to start. Although Barbara is a genius when it comes to real estate, business and marketing, product development is the one area where she lacked experience. After all Ava was the 1st product she invested in while filming Shark Tank. I set out on a journey to learn the “Ins and Outs” of developing and launching a successful product.

Almost two years later, I have a international hit & well known brand. I receive between 300-2000 emails a month asking the question: “How did you do it?” The bottom line is, I did it with a lot of hard work & determination. The path for developing my product was not handed to me. Much like any investor, Barbara expected me to do the leg work and supported me along the way. I am thankful for that because it forced me to really LEARN this industry. The sad fact is, I found there were more companies looking to take advantage of inventors/entrepreneurs than there were those willing to help. I am determined to give you the simple, yet time consuming steps to develop a product. Along the way, you will find that manufacturers, freight forwarders, and even licensing companies will all take full advantage of you if given the opportunity. Even with my well known investor and careful consideration, some took advantage of me. My goal is to steer you down the right path so you have a fighting chance at making your dream a reality.

When I first started developing AVA I wasn’t able to find answers to all of my questions in one place. Yes, I eventually figured it out, but my lack of education resulted in some major roadblocks along the way, including financial setbacks. I have attended some great entrepreneur events. One that really took away what I call “fluff” and gave you real life steps was Tory Johnson’s Spark & Hustle. (http://sparkandhustle.com/) I attended the event to sit on a panel and help others, but I also left with a wealth of knowledge and a few new friends that I would cherish for years to come! With that said, I have seen a lot of events that lure inventors/entrepreneurs with the “keys to success,” but many are all fluff and not enough cold hard facts.

This program came out of my desire to help others, as well as my own frustration in seeing people taken advantage of. A few months ago, I decided I would take the time to write down all of the steps I took and put them in one place in an easy-to-reach, affordable website program! I don’t care for companies that want to profit solely on entrepreneur passion. They often speak of “License your product now!” Or “Patent this, patent that!” The reality is, neither of these may be your priority in the beginning. Once my first patent was awarded, I received HUNDREDS of “scams” in the mail regarding my patent. You may be thinking “Don’t patent my product? Are you crazy?” OR “But all I want to do is license my idea and sit back and collect royalties” I am not saying you will not or should not do either, but it shouldn’t necessarily be your first priority. AVA the Elephant is a successful product and we still aren’t at the licensing phase.

My goal in mentioning other seminars to you is so that you may keep in mind what you get for your money. You are going to spend a lot of money on launching a product! If you spend $2000.00 on a one-weekend seminar, that will not do the leg-work for you, it may not be money well spent. I would depend on the seminar I suppose. Consider your thinking pattern and be willing to question and test it when securing an investor! Although I have an investor, I closely consider every penny spent on AVA. You will need to do the same thing from day one in order to succeed.

Inspiration and drive are important, but it is not going to get your product on shelves. It is going to take hard work and determination!

If you are trying to break into retail, know that there are “rules” that are not broken. Simply put, my invention was seen by over 6 million people in one night and became a favorite of moms and children right away. However, I was not able to get into stores quickly, and you probably will not either. Searching for a retail buyer’s email, name or phone number is far down on the list of things you will need, although many people think it should be 1 on the list. If you want to succeed, you have to prepare your product and presentation before selling your product to retailers/customers.

I will take away all of the FLUFF and give you the simple steps! I will give you a list of the exact steps I took to get to where I am now. I don’t recommend skipping over steps. The order in which you do them is VERY important as well. The reality of securing an investor without gathering all of the needed information is next to impossible. I won’t confuse you with the “what if’s”, like licensing your idea, as the reality is that may not happen. It is more important that I am realistic with you and offer you a plan. Stage 1 will focus on: Idea Conception, Patents, Prototyping & Finding a Manufacturer. Stage 2 will focus on: Investors, Retail Buyers, Logistics & becoming a vendor. You will have to put in the time, and in the end you could have a worldwide hit like AVA! For inspiration read my blogs about roadblocks I encountered along the way, some of which I am able to laugh at now, some not so much. (Cancer sure will throw a wrench in your plans!) My hope is that my triumphs and mistakes will make this a successful journey for you in the end! If you are ready to get started, yet don’t know the next step,  visit www.tiffanykrumins.com, and click on the Paypal button to sign up!

All the best,

Tiffany Krummins

P.S. I am thrilled to be donating a percentage of every website membership to one of the life-changing charities listed on my website. Check out the Charities page for more information on the groups I support!

Mar
0

Norm Hudson and the OzHitch

BY NORM HUDSON

Hi I’m Norm Hudson, the creator of The OzHitch, which came about after a challenging experience of mine in outback Australia…

My problems started when I was traveling through the Finke River Gorge in the blistering Outback Australia heat around midday when I met with a stretch of really soft, coarse river bed sand that got me badly bogged!!

It was stinking hot and there was nothing to hook the winch to…I knew it was bad considering the rigs overall weight, and river bed sand doesn’t let you out easily. So after tires down almost flat, lockers in, some cursing, I realized I wasn’t going to get out unless I unhitched. It was getting worse and by this time I was P****D Off and HOT. So I decided to disconnect the trailer from my 4WD to reposition it on firmer soil and away from the boggy wheel tracks.

The hitch was almost impossible to reconnect.

Man, I tried everything… reversing & repositioning the car a dozen times, trying to push the trailer around, just about breaking my fingers, wrestling with the pin and the 2 hitch halves…. The worst part about this situation was that no matter what I did, I’m damned if I could get the two halves of the off-road hitch to line up, so I could connect it up. Talk about frustrated, I was out of my mind.

This damn tow hitch just wouldn’t line up. So, like any true blooded bloke, when I got it reasonably close I used a tire lever and my big hammer and bashed that bugger into place! Tired and worn out with the stress of the hitch not lining up, I got back on the track again.

A half an hour later I got bogged again in another section of sand and knew I that I was going to have to deal with the same problems again. So getting bogged can be a pain, but its nothing compared to getting hitched back up again. Just recovering from my last ordeal, I was feeling the frustration before even getting out of the car. I was hot, tired and crazy out of my mind with this ridiculous so called off-road hitch. What The HELL..!! It would have made a better anchor for my tinny.

How do you connect a pin with less than Half a millimeter tolerance?

The third time I was coming into a sharp uphill turn out of the riverbed and well… The drama went on for 45 minutes. No joke I nearly pulled my hair out trying to get the hitch realigned. Just imagine trying to reverse a 4WD in sliding and shifting river bed sand on an angles, while reversing, and then trying to line up hitch halves – with less than half a millimeter of tolerance to put the pin through it. I was getting good with the tire lever and hammer and the hitch was looking bashed. I was buggered, you know that feeling when your hands are kind of ringing or buzzing they are so worn out from hard struggle?

Surely there had to be a better way.

This is what got me thinking there has got to be a better way. I have worked in and been a business owner in the camper trailer industry since 1980, and with the experience and knowledge I have, I set about reinventing the off-road hitch. I thought about the situation I was in that caused me so much grief and all the little things like lining up the holes, having to reverse the car to near perfection, the danger of a possible collapsing jockey, being that the front of the trailer was getting shoved about heavily in very soft sand and having my feet under it…!!! and simply the hard work and stress you just don’t want on a holiday.

So after some brain crunching, I came up with the ultimate 15 second hitch. The hitch guides itself together, loading from above, with far less accuracy needed than the tow hitches currently on the market. The other great thing is that hitch self locates because of the alignment tool which simply lines the two halves of the hitch together in the cradle. Presto! OZHITCH is the simplest 15 second off-road hitch that’s easy to use.

More information about the Ozhitch and where to purchase it can be found at http://www.ozhitch.com.au

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