I am very grateful to inventor Claire Mitchell from Chillipeeps for being kind enough to answer some questions about her inventions; the Chillipeeps teat, Chillipeeps spout, and Chillipeeps pourer which are great little gadgets to attach directly to the top of ready made boxes of juice and baby milk (the Chillipeeps teet should only be used with milk). This is a great idea for busy parents on the go with their babies and kids. Make sure you check out the Chillipeeps website to keep up with news of the official product launch.

UPDATE 5/9/11 – The Chillipeeps teet has now been launched and is available online at http://www.everydaymaternity.com/chillipeep-teat-p-1227.html

Claire Mitchell ChillipeepsTara: Thank you very much for agreeing to do an interview for ideasuploaded.com

Claire: I’ll do my best

Tara: Congratulations on winning the BPA Concept and Innovation Awards 2009 and Winner of the Women On Their Way Outstanding New Product 2010

Claire: Thank you :o)

Tara: I love the simplicity of your idea to create a Chillipeeps teat, Chillipeeps spout, Chillipeeps pourer which are capable of being attached to ready made cartons of baby milk or juice.

Claire: Thanks, the teat must only be linked with milk please, Babies mustn’t drink juice!

Tara: Please could young tell me how you came up with the idea?

Claire: I came up with the idea from a need, I think it is where all the best ideas originate. I had just set off to a party with my husband and beautiful baby daughter. We had an hour to drive and as soon as we set off, I knew I had a carton of ready-made baby formula milk in the car, but I couldn’t remember if I’d put a clean sterilised bottle in the car. I begged my husband to climb over the seats and check for the bottle, whilst I ranted ‘Why hasn’t anyone invented anything that can directly attach to the carton?’ Eureka!

Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?

Claire: Well we went to the party and on the way home, I just said ‘I can’t stop thinking about why no one has come up with a product that directly attaches to the carton, I’m going to look when I get home.’ Later that evening I checked the internet, baby catalogues and there was nothing, so we sat and discussed the idea and wrote reams and reams, contacted Peter Jones via email that night, not knowing who else to contact. Immediately received an automated email response saying if you’ve patented you idea please fill in this form, if you haven’t, please don’t tell us as we can’t keep a secret, we’ve got to involve a lot of people in the decision process, this is how you patent…. on the back of that advice, I contacted the Patent Office the next morning and organised a FREE half hour with a Patent Attorney. I then went and researched, patents, trademarks, copyrights, so I knew all about them, I didn’t want to waste 30 minutes being told what a patent was. I also searched published patents for anything like my idea and took them along to the meeting with me with my initial sketches of the product.

Tara: Did you try and patent your idea straight away or did you develop it first? How did you go about getting protection for your idea?

Claire: The first thing I did was develop my patent and it was only after I filed it that I spoke in detail with a product design company, although whilst we were developing it, I found the design company that I wanted to use.

Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or have a prototype made for your idea?

Claire: The product design company took the filed patent and developed three concept images for us to start with. The day I saw them was a very emotional day as I actually saw a computer generated photo of what the final product could look like, and it blew me away, in fact I was speechless and it brought tears to my eyes! From there we developed one of the concepts further and produced prototypes, until we got to a working model.

Tara: How did you go about promoting your idea, did you contact possible companies with the idea of licensing your product or did you want to maintain control and manufacture and sell it yourself?

Claire: We kept everything very secret and were going down the manufacture it ourselves route, when we found out the tooling costs which stopped us dead, it was too much to fund, so we went looking for investment and we got an investor interested, they loved the product and us, but they wanted us to prove the product. How do you prove a product when you can’t afford to manufacture it, very quickly I realised that the one thing I could do was enter an industry competition and see what they thought of it, so I entered the Baby Products Association Concept & Innovation Awards and was thrilled to become the Overall Winner! This gave us a huge amount of PR, globally within the baby industry and within my local Business area, both of which were very important, I had to get the Chillipeeps brand known and I had to increase my profile and credibility within the Business arena.

We are still aiming to manufacture it ourselves, but always said we’d consider every door that opened in front of us. I never say never, you  just don’t know what’s round the next corner!

Tara: How long did has it taken from your initial idea to where you are now?

Claire: I came up with the idea in Sept 2007

Tara: When can we look forward to seeing you product on the shelves?

Claire: We’re aiming to launch in March 2011 at the Harrogate Nursery Fair.

Tara: If you had to do it all again is there anything you would do differently?

Claire: Oh gosh, yes plenty of things, I wouldn’t do it again…. only joking!
What would I do differently, well I don’t regret anything, every step we have made has taught us something valuable, I believe in fate and things happen for a reason.

The biggest thing I think I’ve learnt is simplicity is the key, a product has to be able to be manufactured as cheaply as possible to be able to be sold at a price that consumers will pay. The more complex the product, the more it costs to manufacture. So keep it simple. Also the old cliché is sadly true and that is the length of time & cost of taking a product to market is longer & costlier than you think! (multiply it by ten and you’re probably somewhere near)

Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?

Claire: Life’s too short and you only get one chance at life, so just do it!
Get your free half hour with a patent attorney, research and see if your idea is a good one, then go from there.

Tara: Are you going to be developing more ideas to expand the Chillipeeps range?

Claire: We have lots of ideas for the future of Chillipeeps, we are planning on launching more than has already been seen, retailers really want more than one product, so that is what we are planning on giving them. Fingers crossed!

Tara: Many thanks for your time, and as I said before if I can help you in anyway in return please don’t hesitate to let me know

If you enjoyed this inventor interview you can read more here.

Are you an inventor with an interesting story to share, then please get in touch via the contact form or email tara (at) ideasuploaded (dot) com