Westin: My name is Westin Lord and I invented the cell phone case with an integrated bottle opener called the iPopper. It can be seen at www.theipopper.com
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
Westin: I am currently located in Charleston SC and this is my first invention. I have always had lots of ideas but never had the need or burning desire to bring any to market. When I graduated from college and found getting a job that would suit me very difficult, I decided to make my own job and give inventing a try.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about your invention, what it is, and how you came up with the idea?
Westin: I came up with the idea on Christmas Eve at my aunts house. We had some beers and no way to open them, so I used my phone with its current case. I broke the case and thought there that there should be a case that can do more than just protect your phone.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Westin: I made the first one in a garage out of the back plate of a Harley Davidson speedometer and a few cellphone cases and some glue. I then talked to my cousin who is an engineer who put me in touch with another engineer that made CAD drawings and a 3D printed model that fit my phone. It looked great and it opened bottles!
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?
Westin: I got in touch with a patent attorney that went to my high school and filed for a patent as soon as the drawings were done. It is still pending but it looks like it is going to go through soon!
Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for your invention and did you self fund this?
Westin: Fortunately for me, my engineer already had contacts with plastic injection molding companies. So after shopping around a bit I found one in India that was able to do what I wanted at the right price that allowed me to get my first mold. I spent some of my own money and also found an investor to buy 30% of the company and provide the rest of the funds needed to bring my idea into a reality.
Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting your invention?
Westin: I have had some success and failure with marketing and promotions. I have found that the best way for me to get sales has been to knock on doors of various stores around where I live. Facebook and word of mouth have been quite successful as well.
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Westin: It took just under 2 years to get my product in the quantity and quality I wanted to start selling it.
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing your invention to market?
Westin: By far the most difficult part of bringing my invention to market was in dealing with the people in India and trying to get them to work fast for me and make sure that all of the parts fit together properly. This is a BIG issue because of how fast the shape of phones change!
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing your invention that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Westin: The one big thing iI would do differently would have been to wait for the next iPhone to come out before starting because it really limited time for getting my first case out, compromising the quality of the case and costing extra money
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Westin: The advice I would give to any inventor is to not rush and make sure the product you make is up to the standard of quality you have in your head. after that figure out how much time and money it will take to get your business up and running and double both for a more accurate number.
Tara: Where can people find out more about you your invention?
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