The last prototype

 

Gearfix plaster mould
Deteriorating last effort.

To get final input of the right amount of bit holders for the gadget I made one last plaster mould.

Only bits
The flashlight was no longer with us. It had given me a heap of problems with quality, packaging, pricing, battery and usefulness issues. Now it was time to go from prototyping to production but I had to decide how many bits the drill bit holder should have. Time for one last prototype.

Detail of plaster mould
Thin metal pins.

Time saver
For the Lampowitz moulds I had huge problems with the holes for the bits. The small plaster “pins” for theese holes were braking off. And this time I needed ten pins in each half of the mould = a total of twenty brittle ”pins”! So I made a really simple clay dummy to cast in the plaster, cut the plaster in two with a saw and simply drilled holes to glue small metal “pins” into. It wasn’t pretty, but it was faster and worked good enough.

Sloppy Joe
I just needed one prototype so I did it rather hasty. Unfortunately silicone is extremely fluent and it ran straight through all the cracks of my poorly made mould into a elastic puddle on the table. Problem fixed with some plastic foam (the grey stuff on the right plaster mould).

Ruined prototype
Bubbly problems.

Stupid bubbles
Now the silicone was kept inside my mould but air bubbles ruined a few more attempts. Big pieces of the mould were chipped away for every failed attempt and I had to glue stuff back on all the time. Finally I got one functional prototype. It would have saved me lots of time and effort by doing the job properly to start with.

The second pitch = Fail

Detergent commercial
Click image to see this weird commercial.

It’s a good idea to wash your groin stained pants before an important meeting. But I had bigger problems than embarresing clothing.

Ooops!
I travelled half across Sweden to the second retailer meeting and spent the night at my sisters place. Just before I was off to the meeting I realized my one pair of pants were stained from silicone prototyping. Naturally all the stains were strategically placed near the crotch area.

Stupid box.
Stupid box.

Bogus confidence
Despite high confidence from my first pitch it did not go well and my stained pants weren’t helping. On the phone I had accidentally revealed that my invention was a new type of drill bit holder. The problem was that, before I had a chance to whip out my clever invention, the retailer presented all of their stupid drill bit boxes. He had already made his mind up and it was impossible to convince him that my rubber drill bit holder wasn’t a box.

My second USP*
Gallantly I went for my other strong sales argument:
-”Hey it’s a Swedish invention manufactured in Sweden. People love quality stuff don´t they?”.
He replied that they can´t boast about any Swedish stuff because then it becomes apparent that 97% of their other stuff comes directly from China. Quality and intelligence wasn’t their game.

One more time
I had another go at this retailer a year later. Now Gearfix was sold in other stores and this time they were interested. But I got a bad feeling that their business strategy was to tie me up and screw me in some way. I cut my losses and let them keep on with their crappy Chinese stuff.

* Unique selling point

Letting go

Prototype evolution of Gearfix.
The flashlight holders transformation into Gearfix – drill bit holder.

The main feature of my flashlight holder was the flashlight. It turned out to be a much better product when I removed the main feature.

Gearfix prototype
No more enlightenment.

Innovative evolution
During the prototyping process I added small drill bit holders to the rubber band. It quickly became obvious the bit holders were much more needed than the flashlight. When the flashlight problems became overwhelming the Lampowitz evolved into Gearfix – a drill bit holder.

Damaged ego
It was hard for my ego to finally realise the original idea was bad. Could I really remove the main feature of my product? Yes! The flashlight was obsolete when I started but I had a hard time getting that into my head.

Lucky schmuck!
If I from the beginning had come to terms that Lampowitz was rather crappy I probably would have stopped there. Clearly, you don’t have to have a great idea to start with. It might just transform into something completely useful if you’re open minded enough.

Widening the market

Prototype test
Because your worth it?

Miss Cutie Pie was up front and told me the flashlight holder probably wasn’t worthy the Nobel prize. So I tried to figure out some other uses to widen the market potential.

Grinding halt
It worked nicely to put it on almost any machine but who would buy a flashlight for their grinder? I still havent come up with a really good alternative use for my drill bit holder.

Patent problematics

Screwing image
Unscrew your assumptions of patents.

Miss Cutie Pie advised me that my lamp holder wasn’t that great and I certainly didn’t need to patent it.

Mo patent?
I thought it was
mandatory to have a patent on your invention. But from the very beginning she quickly stated that, even if I managed to get a patent, it would be very easy to legally bypass it.

Design protection
So I applied for the much cheaper and easier design protection from OAMI. It’s supposed to stop the competition manufacturing and selling something with the exact same shape as my gadget. Not that great, but a patent wouldn’t be better in this case.

Patent perks
If you ask me, a patent is good for three things:

  1. If you have LOTS of money you are able to sue people/company’s that infringe your patent.
  2. You can sell or license your patent to others and get sweet royalties without doing shit.
  3. To make sure your not infringing some one elses patent by mistake.

Poor man’s choice
It felt like a drawback that I wouldn’t have the advantages a patent brings. But in hindsight it worked quite well just having the design protection solution.

  1. If someone would infringe on my design/patent I didn’t have the money for any legal process.
  2. Producing Gearfix was rather lucrative to do “in-house” in comparison of a small royalty.
  3. Accidental infringement wasn’t an issue in this case.