In this inventor interview Lydia delRossi explains how she came up with her invention StepnSoak out of necessity when on of her horses had a hoof abscess and she couldn’t find a cheap and easy product to use for soaking her horses hoof. She has since expanded here range to include products for human use.
Tara: Please can you tell me your name, invention name and website URL?
Lydia: My name is Lydia delRossi, I reside in Aiken SC and my product has a formally trademarked name of “StepnSoak” with a second division known as “StepnSoak4Feet” with websites www.stepnsoak.com and www.stepnsoak4feet.com
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
Lydia: My invention was born of necessity – I was a Health Insurance Broker who owned several horses in Aiken, SC with no background in inventing. One developed a nasty hoof abscess and I had a difficult time treating it as all the “hoof soaking boots” on the market were expensive, awkward, difficult to use and/or small and inflexible. Out of sheer frustration I sketched what I wanted – then took the steps to make it happen. I designed the first “one piece – one step – slip on and tie” set of soaking boots that has morphed into human use. It was passion and frustration.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Lydia: The first sketches were made by myself – it was not a complicated design as I had a clear idea of what I wanted to use on my horse myself. These were the original design I sent to my first prototype manufacturer. I searched for months online all over the world for exactly my idea – and then I contacted a patent attorney to do a full search so I do not waste my time or money on a product that may already exist elsewhere.
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype of your invention, how did you go about this?
Lydia: I consulted the Thomas Registry to seek out plastic and vinyl manufactures in the US , once I found one (so many vinyl products are done in Asia) that was reasonable in price and would sign an non-compete – I faxed my sketching and he made 10 prototypes in my initial design for me to test
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?
Lydia: I did hire a locally based patent attorney to file for a utility patent and we also filed for Trademark name protection – I always felt without a patent you have nothing to sell if a large company was ever interested – that is when the true detailed sketches and formal designs were properly done and a utility patent was filed
Tara: Did you always intend manufacturing your invention yourself or did you look into licensing the idea?
Lydia: I had no idea one could license an idea (!) – I always saw a market for my product as a long term horse owner and knew I had “created a better mousetrap” for that exact – very common problem with hoofed animals. The human morph is what surprised me – but only for a second – the equine aspect was a true “beta test” of strength and durability – otherwise a slip on set of “foot soaking” boots to replace a tub or pan on the floor makes excellent sense
Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for your invention and did you self fund this?
Lydia: I first sought medical product manufacturers – IV bags, pool toys, water-beds and the like as that was the type vinyl I wanted to create my slip on soaking boots from – however – 99.9% of all that manufacturing is done in Asia and I wanted a 100% AMERICAN product – so I was fortunate to find a company that did military and medical contracts on the West coast – very easy to work with and cost effective. Although it was mid 2009 and the market had put the world into a tailspin I was lucky enough to be able to sell a art gallery I co-owned with my daughter and the small time payments form that sale funded the StepnSoak project as I still had my ongoing insurance business for the day to day living costs – between StepnSoak and insurance deals I worked constantly!
Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting your invention?
Lydia: I initially brought StepnSoak to market by contacting all the major equine health/lifestyle catalogs with this fresh new idea and I reinforced it by also contacting and sending out press releases in the equine specific market. The samples I sent to all the purchasing agents, shared copies of articles written and “buzz” created by sharing all media with each other put StepnSoak squarely in every large horse health catalog in America by late 2010 – and those sales just keep growing as the product performed EXACTLY as I said it would – no surprises.
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing your invention to market?
Lydia: The StepnSoak equine aspect was not difficult at all to bring to market as I was simply introducing a better way to do a established act – it has since go onto use in zoos for large pawed animals and in Hobby Farms across America for use on prize cattle, llama, goats, sheep and any backyard animal as the vinyl is flexible, durable and can be folded and/or rolled down to fit any size hoof or large animal paw – the human aspect is more challenging as it is a entire new approach to the act of foot soaking vs a pan of water on the floor. Once we launched the site StepnSoak4Feet.com we had 3,000 orders in the first 10 days from a very respected pharmaceutical company for a foot fungus clinical trial – we knew we were on to something big. We have since been written up in blogs and newspapers across America from press releases and samples – just as we did with the equine division.
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Lydia: Start up to market – the idea was born in June of 2009 – prototyped in Dec or 2009 and we were offered nationwide in our first large “lifestyle” catalog in mid 2010 – once we were in one large catalog the rest followed – we are currently in all the largest equine/animal health product catalogs in America
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing your invention that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Lydia: I accidentally did a lot of things right because I was self-funded and had no money to make too many mistakes and I had a ton of passion for this product – I did learn that although the original manufacturer was great to work with the shipping costs were drowning me and I looked a bit harder and actually found a vinyl manufacturer right her in SC which dropped my shipping costs – if I could do it over I wouldd have been better financed – we are NOT in debt but I sure would like to buy PR and more marketing as I think that is what I will need to get the foot product moving faster than it is not – that may be a licensing deal.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Lydia: My advice? Never ever ever give up – hire a attorney to research the market first so you don’t waste time and money – don’t think it will be easy – eat , sleep and breath your product and seek ways to make it better – don’t read blogs about overnight millionaires – we were approached by a “Seen on TV ” type company – they wanted to tie up the product and give us a small % for a long period of time – if you love it and believe in it and are willing to work for it – it can come true
Tara: Where can people find out more about you your invention?
Lydia: The StepnSoak websites www.stepnsoak.com www.stepnsoak4feet.com
Best article lately tells my tale well : Both a blog and a newspaper article:
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