Since my flashlight holder idea probably wasn’t that great I sought other uses to widen the commercial horizon. The rubber lamp holder was a bit like a gun-belt so the weapon market had to be perfect!
I quickly found lots of other flashlight holders for guns on the American market and it is good to enter a market that already exists. Then you know there is a demand and if your product/idea is better than the competition on that market you can take a tasty bite of it. People were already buying flashlight holders for their guns and I had a universal solution. Excellent!
Looking around for manufacturers I found the perfect one. A Chinese plastic company in Sweden that was into quality flashlights too. My first contact over the phone gave me the shivers. Apparently they already manufactured a flashlight holder very like mine!? The nice lady kindly guided me to a very disturbing picture in their web shop . Their holder had other dimensions but looked extremely similar to mine. Crap! Shit! Fuck! etc.
Voice of reason
I hadn’t told them the specifics of my rubber holder to them and was still interested of their quality flashlights. So I arranged a meeting where I finally got a good look at their flashlight holder. It was made to fit rifle barrels and made of hard plastic. Not at all the same as my rubber holder but I still felt a strong need to be careful.
Competition turns into resource
They were very helpful getting me chineese flashlight samples for free. But they were already manufacturing, marketing and selling other flashlight holders. So I kept my elastic innovation secret to this potentially high risk competitor.
After making sure the prototype actually worked I made up my mind to go for it. However, I was in really bad need of professional help.
Public investment organisation In Sweden you can get really nice business counselling from a public investment organisation called ALMI. They are specialists in helping stupid inventors like me and its financed by the state and some other guys. Apparently its good for our small country economy to help out poor inventors.
Miss Cutie Pie At first I was assigned a really talented and good looking young woman as my mentor. But she was so popular it was a hassle to book meetings. My rubber gadget wasn’t in her range of expertise and I had to wait over three weeks for another meeting. Unfortunately this meant I had two good reasons to look elsewhere.
The unpopular one
I’m a self employed guy, used to rapid decision paths and quickly found another counsellor with a completely empty schedule. His field of expertise was the retail market I was aiming for – Perfect!… I thought…
October 2009 was the first time I put my Rubber-Ringer idea to the test looking around my basement for stuff to use.
The fun had begun and creating prototypes is invigorating. I simply cut out a piece from a bicycle tube, put in a few stitches and the lamp holder was done. This was so easy to do I figured this had to be really cheap to manufacture.
What happens next?
I really had no idea so I looked for guidance and found my first professional adviser at ALMI, a Swedish government funded institute that helps stupid people with good ideas. But that’s another story for the soon coming category ”Professional help”.