My thanks to Bernie Graham for agreeing to do an interview for Ideas Uploaded. Bernie has previously invented and brought to market the VacPan, and his latest invention the PadPivot is soon to go into production. Money is currently being raised for production of the invention via Kickstarter. You can also follow PadPivot on twitter at PadPivot
Tara: Please could you tell me where you are based, a little bit about your background and how you got into inventing?
Bernie: I’m located in North Bay Ontario Canada.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about the The VacPan and how you came up with the idea?
Bernie: The VacPan is a automatic dustpan for built-in or centrally piped vacuum systems. You simply sweep dirt and dust to the VacPan and it is sucked away. Almost like sweeping dirt under the rug.
I came up with the idea when my wife and I had three small children. My wife was a nurse and often worked weekend leaving me to look after the little ones. It seemed I was always pulling out the 35′ hose to suck up all their little messes in the kitchen. I thought there had to be a better way. So I thought back to wood shop class in school where we would sweep saw dust over to a floor sweep suction port. Eureka! I need one of those in my kitchen tied into the central vac. I build a prototype and it worked great. The rest is history.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Bernie: I submitted it to an innovation center that was tied to a university for product evaluations. They thought it had merit but basically said don’t quit your day job.
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?
Bernie: I patented it as soon as I had a finalized design. This was key to my success.
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or have a prototype made for your idea?
Bernie: I built all the prototypes by hand and prepared all the patent drawings.
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?
Bernie: I promoted the VacPan through trade journals one specific one was VDTA (Vacuum Dealers Trade Association) I did approach some OEMs at the start but they did not give me any attention and those that did said if I was lucky I might make a few cents on every unit made… I had bigger ideas. So I started selling to independent vacuum dealers and installers. They showed the VacPan at trade shows and quickly realized this thing was selling the tons of Vacuums. You throw a few Cheerio’s on the floor turn it on and they are sucked away. MAGIC! Sucked the crowds in too. Then the OEM’s stared calling. It is now sold around the world by every central vacuum manufacturer.
Tara: How long did it take from your initial VacPan idea to getting the product to market?
Bernie: When I got serious… 3 months. It sat around in my head for about a year prior to that.
Tara: Your new product invention is called the PadPivot, please can you tell me a bit about it and the progress you have made so far?
Bernie: This is an exciting product especially with the explosion of tablet devices like the popular iPad hitting the market.
Pad Pivot is the ultimate tablet stand for iPad, Galaxy Tab, Kindle, or other tablet device. It features hands-free positioning on your lap and adjustable angles and positioning on the desktop. The ingenious hinged design allows Pad Pivot to fold small enough to fit in your pocket, purse, or bag making it the most versatile and unique stand in the marketplace.
Tara: Do you plan to license the PadPivot or manufacture and sell it yourself?
Bernie: The plan is to sell it myself. In fact I have teamed up with Jim Young of James Arthur Young Design (http://www.jay-design.com) to make a Kickstarter.com submission. Jim and I collaborated totally over the internet to design the PadPivot and have never met face to face in person. He is located near Seattle Washington on the West Coast in the US and I’m in a North Bay Ontario Canada a long ways apart. Yet using all the latest technologies, skype, 3d modeling and the internet we have designed what we feel is a tablet stand like no other. We hope to raise some funds to help with our tooling at Kickstarter.com. So I’d like to put a big shout-out to anyone interested in supporting independent design and grass roots inventors to drop over to our kickstarter.com page and pre-order a PadPivot and be part of our story. Better yet you could be the first to drop us an email at our website. www.padpivot.com) We need all the tweets and facebook help we can find to spread the word that a hands-free revolution is coming. (Do I sound excited?) This is critical to a good Kickstarter campaign using social networks to move a good idea forward.
Tara: Is there anything you did differently with the PadPivot that you learned from your experience with the VacPan?
Bernie: The VacPan was hugely successful yet totally different distribution method that would not work with the PadPivot. The PadPivot will be an experiment from the start. The whole idea of using social media, the internet to design, collaborating with other around the world is totally new, different and exciting. Hey I met you on the net and here we are having an interview. COOL! We hope to sell from our website but will also be hitting retail outlets as well. The big thing at the moment is to drive as many pre-orders as possible through the Kickstarter campaign.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Bernie: You can put on my grave stone…”KEEP ON PLUGGIN!”
You have to have drive and a strong belief you can make things happen. If you don’t succeed, and the reality is that the odds are stacked against the grass roots inventor, you at least you gave your all. Don’t waste your time on negative people they likely have accomplished little in their lives and offer little to our world.
Tara: Do you have more ideas you hope to bring to market in the future?
Bernie: If I told you I’d have to kill you. Joke Joke.
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