In this inventor interview Delia Strand (www.logicalgadgets.com) tells the story of bringing her invention the Chargem to market. I was keen to find out more about Delia as she financed her invention with Angel Investment, a funding method which has not been mentioned by any other inventors I have interviewed so far. The Chargem lets gadgets such as ipods, phones and cameras all be charged simultaneously.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background and when you started inventing?
Delia: I am based in Dartford in Kent and I suppose I have been inventing my entire working career. I was a database Analyst for The Woolwich and Barclays for 15 years and used to create all sorts of systems and processes through my work. Invention of products has only happened in the last 4 or 5 years. I have been thinking about several inventions for a while now and only decided to go ahead with Chargem™ 3 years ago. I have many ideas and more products will follow after Chargem™.
Tara: Please could you explain what the Chargem is and how you came up with the idea?
Delia: As a commuter travelling by car and public transport to Canary Wharf every day, I used many mobile gadgets (DS games station, MP3, blue tooth and phone and sometimes I’d also have my pc). All of these appliances would usually run out of power at about the same time so I would have to look around the house for the chargers and free plug sockets to charge everything. I was getting fed up of doing this every couple of days and thought there must be a better way. I did some research on the internet to find a multi charger and couldn’t find one that charged everything. I could find chargers for phones and USB items but they then wouldn’t charge laptops and higher voltage gadgets. I am also a Diver and go on Live a board holidays and again plug sockets are limited so you are running around looking for sockets trying to charge everything.
Chargem™ will charge anything from razors, computers including mac’s, MP3’s, IPod and IPad’s, Sat Navs, rechargeable headsets and 3D glasses, PDA’s, notebooks, camera’s and camera battery chargers, camcorders, hand held game stations, portable DVD players and many more. You can also charge retrospective models as we will also sell charging heads for older models of everything. It uses one plug socket to charge 6 gadgets at the same time. Most gadgets will charge quicker through Chargem™ than they do via a normal plug socket, so uses less energy and Chargem™ will turn itself off when it has finished charging everything. It looks sleek and modern and could be seen in any office, home or even whilst on holiday in a hotel or even your caravan or boat.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Delia: The first thing I did was look on the internet for clues of how to get started. I found several companies offering concept drawings and prototypes, some in the UK but mostly in the USA. I didn’t want to have to travel and talk to the USA, so from the limited companies in the UK, I spoke to three. After talking briefly on the phone I decided to meet with one company who sent me an NDA to protect my idea. They were Innovate Product Design in Salisbury. I went to meet with them and they helped me to understand the process. First I needed a concept drawing of my idea and I needed to check that the idea did not already exist by doing a patent search. Once these had been done, I then needed to get a patent.
Tara: To finance your invention I believe you used Angel Investment, please can you tell me what was involved in finding and securing Investment?
I did use Angels Den to help with funding, I had tried some others but was nearly scammed out of my invention. I met up with Ian Shipman at Angels Den who again, informed me of the process and gave me an idea whether the project was investable. It was! So I paid my join up fee, and prepared to present my investment opportunity. Angels Den does this via speed pitching. There are a panel of investors sitting at different tables and you have about 5 minutes with each one, to get the opportunity idea across. After you had seen each one, there was a mingle session where the Angel could approach you to ask further questions and set up a meeting to discuss the investment opportunity in more detail. I attended two of these speed pitching sessions before I secured my investor. I had a total of 8 interested Angels and met with each one several times to discuss Logical Gadgets. Then out of the 8 I had about 3 offers and I chose one investor from these. I must say he is a great investor and I work very well with him
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea straight away or did you develop it first? How did you go about getting protection for your idea?
Delia: I did a patent search whilst the concept drawings were being done. Once the search came back with positive results for me i.e. no other patent out there, I then approached several patent lawyers to draw up a patent for me. My mother works for a solicitor who recommended one of his colleagues who then did all the work for me and put in an application with the concept drawings created by Innovate Product Design. I then protected the design of Chargem™ and trademarked the logo too.
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Delia: I have been working on the Chargem™ project now for 3 and a half years and we will be ready to launch in Sept 2011. I gave up my full time job at Barclays about a year and a half ago to work on the Chargem™ project full time.
Tara: How are you promoting the Chargem?
Delia: I have a website linked to Shopify, Amazon shop, Facebook page, Twitter and Blog, I have a Google adword campaign with a remarketing campaign to follow. I will be contacting retailers and have already had initial meetings with DSG, Express Gifts, CPC and MISCO, TJ Hughes and Red5. I have lists of all the newspapers, magazines, user groups and e-sellers who I will contact once I am ready to launch. I have a Sales Director who has experience in launching new products to the market, he is helping me get ready and is a friend of the family.
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing the Chargem that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Delia: Yes, I would do twice as much research into companies for the prototyping. Although Innovate Product Design could do the Proof of Concept prototype, and very well I may add, they could not do the electronics for the manufacturing model so I used another company who turned out to be less than competent in building the electronics for the manufacturing prototype. I have since found a better company – Varitas Design, but this was an expensive mistake. I would also be very careful what I said to friends as this has caused jealousies and questions which is a drain on my time and energy. I know they mean well but when you get 20 of them all asking the same things and coming up with their own idea of how I should do it, it gets frustrating. I also got one friend to help me build the website and that did not turn out well.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Delia: Do it! We can all sit there and say, I had an idea once but did nothing about it, and carry on in our day to day life. But the real thrill is seeing your dream come true bit by bit, day by day. If it doesn’t work, at least you can say you tried. But if it does work…….
Tara: Where can people find out more about yourself and the Chargem?
I have also just obtained sole distribution rights to another product via my investor. Click Car Mouse is an investment Sean made a while ago in Switzerland and he has been looking for a route into the UK market. As I have to contact all the retailers and end users anyway for Chargem™ it seemed right to take on this product too. Not only can I test out the routes to market, it will help Sean’s other inventor and bring some much needed money into Logical Gadgets for the manufacture Chargem™.
Are you an inventor with an interesting story to share? Please get in touch via the contact form or email tara (at) ideasuploaded (dot) com