In this inventor interview Stuart Walsh talks about his inventor journey to bringing his inventions Gripeeze® sports glove and Grip-Par® golf glove to market.
Tara: Please could you tell me your name, a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
Stuart: My name is Stuart Walsh and I am the Managing Director and inventor of Gripeeze® sports and support gloves and the Grip-Par® golf glove. I have been in the building industry for over 15 years and I have injured myself a few times and found it difficult to grip even the simplest items or tools. I became worried as my hands are how I earn my living. I then started thinking how I can get my grip back and the first concepts of Gripeeze® were born.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about the Gripeeze Sports Glove, what is does, and how you came up with the idea?
Stuart: The Gripeeze® sports glove is a unique glove that gives you less strain on your hand and wrists by using the now patented Gripeeze® strapping. Made for racket sports, you can use these on the rowing machine or any other activity that involves gripping an object. The idea to make it fingerless is for flexibility when in use. I designed them from adapting the original concept glove and made them from leather for extra grip and comfort using elasticated lycra for manoeuvrability.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Stuart: I took my first steps by going to the local market and started gathering materials like mittens, Velcro, string, thread and needles and started trying to make my idea work, I came up with a prototype glove that I had originally forseen for one purpose of helping anyone with a disability such as arthritis being able to grip.
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?
Stuart: I made the concept glove over the Christmas period when my building trade was slow; I then researched on the internet and realised that I had to contact a design and patent company. The choice was hard as I didn’t want anyone to take advantage of my idea.
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype for the Gripeeze Sports Glove?
Stuart: I signed a confidentiality agreement with a company that I would not now recommend. They advertise that they assist small businesses with patents and after nine months I realised that what they had done was something I could have done myself and not only that I was weeks away of losing the filing for my worldwide patent. Thankfully, this was highlighted in time and now after visiting a specialist patent attorney I have the world patent pending too, as well as covering the UK and Europe.
Tara: Did you receive any help or advice with the Gripeeze Sports Glove which helped you develop your invention?
Stuart: I was not given any help in developing the invention as this I did on my own. Although Fortunately along the way I have found great people who have helped me get my product to where it is today. Have to give thanks to my mum and dad and sister Helen and then I randomly contacted via the web, Nola Baldwin MD in Liverpool who manufacturers Gloven® Oven Gloves who has continued to be a mentor and Liam Browne who is currently my Marketing Manager. All have been terrific and have given great encouragement when at times it has been tough. To be honest you really need that support from everyone around you to succeed.
Tara: Did you look into licensing the Gripeeze Sports Glove or is it your intention to manufacture and sell it yourself?
Stuart: My initial intention was to manufacture and sell the product myself, but I would not dismiss the idea of licensing my product, but the deal would have to be right.
Tara: How are you promoting the Gripeeze Sports Glove?
Stuart: We are now stocking the gloves in shops and the PR campaign is just starting, we are currently sending our promotion packages out to editors of specialist magazines and local and national news papers.
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Stuart: From original idea to selling the product 19months.
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing the Gripeeze® Sports Glove to Market?
Stuart: I feel the most difficult process was the initial concept to the current products in the Grip Aid Ltd range. There were a lot of amendments of the original concept after receiving feedback from consumer panels and buyers in the retail market so overall it has been the product development.
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing the Gripeeze Sports Glove that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Stuart: I would make sure that the correct factory was chosen so you can get the quality that you demanded first time without any mistakes or miscommunication.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Stuart: You must have belief, passion, commitment, and focus, because some days it’s really hard, but other days it’s the best feeling in the world. Try and get a mentor or someone with more experience than you as this has been a tremendous support to me along my journey.
Tara: Where can people find out more about you and the Gripeeze® Sports Glove?
Stuart: You can find out more information on our website www.gripeeze.com and www.amazon.co.uk or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org we also have a contact form on the website where people can submit enquiries. Also find our product videos on YouTube: MrGripeeze and follow me on Twitter: MrGripeeze. We also have a Face book fan page: www.facebook.com/GripeezeGloves
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