Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
Adrian: I am currently living in Minehead, Somerset UK and I conceived my first invention at 12 years old. I sought advice from a few people and even went to a business advisor a while later, but didn’t have the tools to proceed. A few years later I saw that my idea was on the market but someone else had got there first! I was gutted that I hadn’t been able to do anything with it but it gave me confidence that my idea had been a winner.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about your invention, what it is, and how you came up with the idea?
Adrian: Pick Tack is a simple pick holder with a twist. As well as storing 3 picks, like many conventional holders, it has a putty pad that enables you to stick and retrieve your plectrum quickly and easily when you’re playing. Many people seem to invent by problem-solving. I have always found the ideas come to me without any obvious thought process, effort or build up. That may not seem like helpful information but I have found that my best ideas come when I get out of the way of them and allow them to surface.
The idea of Pick Tack came in the way I’ve just described: I have been playing guitar for over 25 years. My unique playing style requires that I constantly change between pick and finger methods.
When I invented Pick Tack, I was performing professionally around my area of the South West and I found that I was always mislaying my pick between songs or sets. I would balance it on the music stand, balance it on the guitar or even hold it between my teeth. The last option, although more effective than the other two, only worked if I wasn’t singing. I’ve seen many guitarists struggle with this same issue.
After looking at the problems and solutions from many different angles, I came up with a solution that solved all of my requirements and Pick Tack was born, or at least I had found a substance that solved the problem. It would be a while before it became Pick Tack as it is today.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Adrian: From the age of about 14 until late 2012 (22 years later), I had all but forgotten about inventing. Initially, the idea was purely a personal solution and it didn’t dawn on me that it was a marketable idea.
At that point I had been trying various kinds of self-employed work because I knew I didn’t want a regular job. I had very little work coming in and wasn’t satisfied with any that I did have. I was spending every day on the internet looking for jobs and work-at-home opportunities. An idea came to me to look up courses on inventing and I came across InventRight and looked into what they had to offer. It only took me a few hours to realise that their course was exactly what I needed so I scraped the money together for the first instalment and signed up.
With the InventRight course you get personal mentoring from one of the two co-founders and I soon had my first Skype call with my mentor. I discussed some of the ideas that I had and he advised that I go for something simple to start off with. I chose what would later become known as Pick Tack and began to work through the 10 steps laid out in the course.
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype of your invention, how did you go about this?
Adrian: I was invited to a wedding and on the way up, my friend asked me what I’d been up to. I told them about the course and shared a couple of my ideas with them. They informed me that I would be sharing a room where we were staying with a guy who was a 3D designer. That night, we stayed up for hours discussing my ideas and he said he’d be up for helping to design what was still just a concept in my mind. After a few weeks we had 3 designs and I had picked one to use as the centrepiece for a sell sheet to give to companies to promote my idea. Using the CAD file, the designer was able to create a rough prototype so we could shoot a video for promotion.
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?
Adrian: My mentor advised me to patent the idea just before approaching companies. I had decided I would go for the US market, partly because InventRight is based there and so I thought I’d take advantage of the expertise and having an avenue in. This meant I was able to utilise their provisional patent option, which allows you to file a claim in plain English rather than legal speak. I used a book called Patent Pending in 24 hours by Richard Stim, Attorney. It gave me all the info I needed to put together a document that I was confident had covered all the necessary information and requirements.
Tara: Did you always intend manufacturing your invention yourself or did you look into licensing the idea?
Adrian: InventRight is setup to help people take their idea to market through licensing to companies, so that was always my intention. I was looking for a way to free me up to concentrate on my music career without the music bearing all the pressure of providing my entire income. I had been approaching manufacturers for a few months in the music industry and had been finding it hard to even get to the right people. I had some encouraging responses from some very reputable companies, but none that wanted to include Pick Tack in their retail line.
I came to a point where I felt that I needed to consider other ways of taking Pick Tack to market. I got in touch with an old contact who has been a successful entrepreneur for many years. He got back to me within a few hours and we talked things through, and as a result I decided to venture Pick Tack as a business. From then on, the whole dynamic changed for the better.
Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for your invention and did you self fund this?
Adrian: My friend, who I just referred to, is already connected with a manufacturer that he has used for a while so I was able to make use of an already existing arrangement. We decided it would be a great idea to launch the project on Kickstarter and it has just gone live today at the time of writing. Kickstarter is an amazing platform for raising the initial capital needed to get things off the ground. It also proves that there is a market for whatever you’re funding and helps to create a fan base. I have put some of my own money in as well but have tried to keep that to a minimum, as nothing is guaranteed when it comes to business. It is possible to keep running costs very low if you are resourceful and it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality.
Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting your invention?
Adrian: As I’ve just mentioned, Kickstarter is an amazing place to host your product and has a great following, but this on its own is not enough. You need to find a way to get people to the site to look at it. The number one way I have chosen to promote is through social media, especially Facebook. I made a list of relevant people that I thought would be interested in Pick Tack or willing to help spread the word. I then contacted them all one by one to tell them about the launch. This way I hoped it would have a personal feel, rather than just me spamming them to get likes or money.
I will be contacting bloggers and music publications as well, to try and widen my reach but these are secondary methods.
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing your invention to market?
Adrian: Although Pick Tack has not made it to market yet, there have been some difficult obstacles to overcome so far. When you work with others, you are often restricted to their timetables and ways of doing things. I am referring to the big companies that I approached over the last few months. They take their time about everything and they have their way of doing things. This can be very frustrating when you want to move things along.
I have struggled a great deal with maintaining belief and enthusiasm in what I’m doing during the long period of waiting for ‘a break’. I think time can be one of the biggest killers of dreams!
The most difficult obstacle for me to overcome was one that I believe nearly everybody faces who has not been taught the best ways to take something from concept to market. It is not a science but a learning experience and I cannot imagine that I would be where I am without input from people who have already been down the kind of paths I’m now taking. The biggest help for me along the way has been a course that guides you through proven steps to take and a mentor who has the experience to navigate through the twists and turns that are brand new to me but that he’s seen many times before. I can’t recommend enough finding someone who can help in this way!
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Adrian: From the point of conception until now and reaching Kickstarter, it has been about 10 months and providing the Kickstarter project is successful, it should only be about 2 or 3 more to market. I have loved nearly every minute of it and don’t really view it as ‘work’, although I have worked incredibly hard throughout this time on this and other projects, some days working as much as 18 hours. I mention this because I always believed that business ventures were the easy way out and I never believed the veterans when they said how hard it can be. I genuinely thought that my journey would be different but it has been long and hard (as well as incredibly enjoyable).
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing your invention that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Adrian: As I have said, I had a proven method to follow so that eliminated a lot of the mistakes I would have otherwise encountered. The only thing that I would probably do differently is to spend less time trying to perfect everything. It’s in my nature to do so, as with a lot of inventors, but it doesn’t make enough of a difference to warrant the time it takes.
I have ended up venturing the idea, so have been able to retain a lot of the ideas I came up with. If I had ended up licensing, it it’s possible that the manufacturer would have changed a great deal of stuff I’d agonised over. Not only would this have wasted some precious time but it would have been harder in the long run to let go of control when it came to a licensing deal.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Adrian: Don’t give up. You never know when a breakthrough’s going to come. Actually, it often seems to come just after you had the chance to give up but didn’t take it. Find a mentor or anyone wiser who is further along the journey than yourself. Learn how to learn. The internet is full of amazing advice but there’s so much of it and at first you have no way of measuring its accuracy or validity. The more you learn, the more efficient you become and the faster you can find out what you need to know. Create space to be creative and learn to feed yourself with the best ideas and information for you, so that inventing is just a natural by-product.
Tara: Where can people find out more about you your invention?
The best place at the moment is the Kickstarter site. It has everything anyone could want to know about the story behind the idea, the benefits it brings and the way to get one if you want one.
Are you an inventor or invention expert with an interesting story or advice to share? Please get in touch via the contact form or email tara (at) ideasuploaded (dot) com