My thanks to Lucas Jordan and his wife Debra for their interview about the Pad Bracket. The Pad Bracket is an invention that Lucas created, which allows you to mount an ipad on the wall without having to put sticky pads or a case onto your ipad, you can also easily switch between portrait and landscape.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got into inventing?
Lucas: Coming up with the next “Million Dollar” idea is a bit of a family past-time. As a kid and now, we spend hours sharing and creating ideas for products or services. But mostly it is just us having fun talking. Occasionally I would try and actually bring one of those ideas to market, usually if it was software oriented. But I never managed to get anything past the prototype stage, it was just to much work on top of a day job.
I had some small success a few years back creating two educational titles for the iPhone. This was a bit of a milestone for me, since I had taken an idea (my mother’s idea actually) and turned it into a finished application, available for sale.
Over the following years, I started and gave up on a few more projects, but last year I had the opportunity to write a technical book for Apress. While not an invention, it represented another big project out side of work that I had accomplished. Not to mention I got married, another huge task. So this last Winter I had a lot of confidence in myself that I could actually bring another idea to life. My wife and I picked the Pad Bracket as the idea we would run with, plus my brother and mother offered to help, which was very encouraging.
With any luck, things will work out and I can quit my day job, and spend a lot more time on new ideas. I would really like to be able to focus on educational software, but I also have this idea for a robot that can…. well never you mind 🙂
Tara: Please could young tell me a little bit about the pad bracket and how you came up with the idea?
Lucas: Last winter I was running away on my treadmill, which for whatever reason, faced a blank wall. I wanted to put a screen on that wall so I could watch videos. I think I wanted to brush up on calculus because I wanted to brush up physics because I wanted to brush up engineering. It was a long term plan.
Just about that time the iPad was coming out. I am a user and developer of Apple’s iPhone, so I was pretty excited about the iPad. So I just had to figure out a good way of mounting the iPad on the wall. I had some other ideas, but quickly settled on a small bracket, one which allowed me to place the iPad in landscape and portrait. The idea that it could work on both orientations was very important to me, and it is still a feature that separates it from most of our competition.
As soon as the iPad was available for sale, I started figuring out how to design and manufacture the Pad Bracket.
Picture below: The Pad Bracket can be used to show the ipad both landscape and portrait
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Lucas: Well, once we decided to “go for it” and actually move forward, I contacted an industrial designer I knew from a previous job and we set up a meeting. To prepare for the meeting I used the 3D modeling tool Blender to try and draw what I had in mind. Besides starting the manufacturing process I set up a simple web site and started taking pre-orders. Being a software developer this was easy and inexpensive, and it felt really good when we sold the first couple. I could hardly believe this were happening already.
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?
Lucas: We are in the process of setting up the patents now. I am not a big fan of the patent system in the US and was hesitant to participate, but it seems like they are required. I have really have no desire to use any patents in an offensive way, I just don’t want somebody else patenting my idea and suing me out of business… that would be really lame.
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or have a prototype made for your idea? Did you do this yourself or seek outside assistance?
Lucas: The designer I was working with has a lot of experience creating products and thankfully he already had people who could make a prototype. It was really a painless process, he just showed up at my door with this clear plastic part. The first thing I thought was, “wow, it is really small.” Which is when I realized how important a prototype really is. Nothing compares to actually holding your design in your hands, it tells you way more than seeing the design on the computer can.
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?
Lucas: From the beginning we wanted to maintain control, we have such a simple product we figured we could handle the logistics. Plus we didn’t have a lot of start up cash, so we were dependent on making as much as we could on each sale to actually fund the next steps.
As for promoting, this is really the biggest piece of work. Thomas Edison has this quote, about one percent inspiration and ninety nine percept perspiration, not that Pad Bracket is genius or anything, but today I think he would say, product development is one part inspiration, ninety nine parts perspiration and nine hundred parts advertisement and marketing. You can have the greatest product in the world and no one will buy it, if they don’t know about it.
There is all this hype in marketing about an idea going viral or whatever, that is just luck when it happens. You can’t buy a viral marketing campaign, the reality is that you have to spend time and money to tell people about the product.
Debra (my wife) has taken the lead on sales and is learning as she goes, I don’t envy that part of the job.
Picture below: The Pad Bracket being used at the piano
Tara: How long did has it taken from your initial idea to where you are now?
Lucas: About 10 months I guess. It is really hard to believe how much we have accomplished in that time, especially when we think about how much more we have to do. For example, we don’t have our retail packing done yet, though we do have our packing sorted out for on line sales. There seems to be no end to tasks.
Tara: Where can your product be purchased from?
The website is running on something called the Google App Engine, which I highly recommend as a web hosting solution for startups. I also highly recommend Google Apps for your Domain, it allows you to create a URL and have a bunch of google tools ready to go. Like mail, calendar, wiki, documents, etc. Cutting out the cost/time of IT at the beginning of a project can he a huge head start.
Tara: If you had to do it all again is there anything you would do differently?
Lucas: I originally wanted to make the part out of aluminium, I thought it would be a much nicer product. I spent a lot of time and effort looking for a way to accomplish that. But it was simply undoable with our resources. In the end we made the right choice about the material, since it is lighter and wont scratch the iPad.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Lucas: Pick your simplest idea and make a prototype. Don’t work on any other ideas, regardless of how exciting they are. Once you have a prototype, find a person who is good at marketing. Work with that person to create a compelling story about the product and create a very simple business plan. Use those materials to sell your idea to people who are good at running a business. Let the business people and the marketing people run the business, so you can get back to all those other great ideas. Debra adds that if you want to market and sell your product yourself, don’t underestimate how much work it is! It takes a lot more time, money, and work than you think it will!
Tara: Do you have more ideas you hope to bring to market in the future?
Lucas: Ideally, I want the Pad Bracket to bring in enough money so I can afford to quit my day job. Once I do that, I want to focus on creating educational software. I think the drop in the quality of education is responsible for a lot of our social ills. I want to do my part in improving that. I also want to work on a robotics project at some point….oh, and better electric boats and bike locks that don’t drive me crazy!… but those are down the road a good way, I have to be sure to do one at a time.
If you enjoyed this inventor interview you can read more here.
Are you an inventor with an interesting story to share, then please get in touch via the contact form or email tara (at) ideasuploaded (dot) com