Toy Inventors Workshop Northamptonshire September 22 2015

Lego and Hasbro Toy Design Gurus to Speak at the Inventors’ Workshop

Inventors Workshop for toy and board game designers, 22 September, Northamptonshire, UK –

Budding toy and board game inventors will have a unique opportunity to meet professional toy designers from some of the world’s biggest toy companies at this year’s Inventors Workshop.

Samuel Thomas Johnson, a toy designer with LEGO Group, and Hasbro’s Dougal Grimes are among those confirmed to speak at the one day event, which takes place on 22 September at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire.

The workshop provides both new and experienced toy and board game designers with a chance to take part in life-changing face to face ‘pitch’ meetings with leading toy companies as well as benefit from a morning of educational sessions covering critical issues including funding, toy safety, legislation, intellectual property protection, using technology and pitching to retail

Hasbro’s Dougal Grimes will lead a panel session called How We Made It!, which will see Samuel Thomas Johnson, Jenga inventor Leslie Scott and Crazy Cart creator Ali Kermani deliver a rare insight into life as a toy designer and the secrets behind the success of some of the industry’s best loved products.

“It’s always important for new toy and game inventors to understand the challenges that others are going through,” said Dougal Grimes, Hasbro. “And it’s important for toy companies to support the inventor community because if they are successful they’ll invent more, and we want to keep that community alive.”

Also on the How We Made It! panel is Gillian Logan, who attended the inaugural conference as a delegate last year with her idea for Skinny Sketcher drawing kits. A major toy manufacturer signed Gillian on the spot and her product is now in production and on the cusp of going on sale.

“Getting to pitch your ideas to the toy industry’s major players is a fantastic opportunity for inventors, some of whom have been trying to get in front of the decision makers for years, and everyone who attended last year came away feeling inspired, energised and better placed to get their products on toy shop shelves,” Gillian Logan, Skinny Sketcher.

Billy Langsworthy, Inventors Workshop conference director, finished by saying: “Toy and board game inventors could not be more important to the toy industry because, without them, there would be no new toys, no new play experiences the industry would stagnate.

“The tricky part for inventors who know they have a great product is getting in front of the right people. They can spend years patiently knocking on doors in the hope of getting their products noticed and picked up. We launched the Inventors Workshop to expedite that process and their frustration and we’ve stepped things up this year with an inspiring conference programme and the life changing One2One sessions that will give inventors an even greater chance of connecting with the right business partner.”

Tickets to the Inventors Workshop are on sale now for just £99. This early bird rate is applicable until 7 August and can be accessed here

An Interview with David Sykes about his Invention the Multitask Joist Hanger

David Sykes inventor of the Multitask Joist HangerIn this inventor interview David Sykes talks about his invention the Multitask Joist Hanger

Tara: What is your name, invention name and website URL?

David: David Sykes – Multitask Joist Hanger –

Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?

David: I am based in Aylesbury – Buckinghamshire – England

Today I am a retired ‘OAP’ who requires funding for the Invention and create a ‘BRAND NAME’ for the product

Life began as a bonded apprentice to the motor trade as a Coach Builder & more, when I completed my apprenticeship I changed careers for one of Public Service and was very much focused on problem solving on every aspect life could bring with it in the Human sense. This provided an opportunity as the years rolled by to use my skills and experiences in focusing and challenging my knowledge into Disruptive technology – Doing things differently and to improve on the present at the time – Never to accept it cannot be done that way or this, push the boundaries to its limit for change and never take no for an answer. Be a free thinker without handicaps or devils advocates tripping you up as to what your passions and dreams are made of and to find that extra mile to bring too fruition and the reality of seeing your achievements come to life for the benefits of others.

Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about your invention, what it is, and how you came up with the idea?

David: The multitask Joist Hanger was designed to incorporate those who lack the skills and knowledge of Construction, whether it be for DIY use in building Sheds, Bases, Workshops & Decking. The building industry clearly does not like change and very much sits on protectionism and cartels as by rule of thumb.

The lay person, the public in general would not normally consider using single joist hangers as such products are confined to the building industry. Therefore, my product opens up a greater market where those who are able and capable of using a lightweight product that once used forms a very solid construction, where timber joists are supported and cradled and not just timber to timber fixing. In today’s markets the public have greater use of garden sheds and workshops for business and pleasure. Of course floors and roofs require strengthened support and to be easily constructed without specialist skills my product achieves that for the lay person. Furthermore, unlike single hangers, my product can be recycled many times over to be cost effective for the user.

To provide a quality product that caters more for the user in being lightweight and an adaptable product in building a quality product of their own albeit, a shed or workshop etc that affords their own dreams in shape, design and use.

joist hanger invention

Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?

David: Two o/clock one morning (7 yrs ago) the hanger concept along with three other ideas plagued my sleep until I decided to use the Computer and start off loading my thoughts and ideas and this I did, So hours later I had knocked into shape 4 new inventions. The hanger project came first and is and always been my main choice to continually pursue until fruition (meaning that I was able to obtain a British Patent)I had many comments about it could not be done, how can you etc, well the proof of the pudding is in the eating – I own today the Patent on the invention.

Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype of your invention, how did you go about this?

David: I approached a professional in mechanical engineering who was able to draw up a series of not to scale drawings, this allowed me to adapt further a number of ideas and then onto the first of the prototypes, the final moment came when I was able to use for the very first time the product. Once satisfied I had more manufactured for home use and to create decking walkways around my garden and office as seen in the pictures shown on the website.

Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?

David: From start to finish (Grant of Patent) has took seven years (7 yrs) of my life, I suppose it’s about living the dream against adversity and those who tried to disrupt or slow me down. Although, none of this would have been possible without finding and engaging with a Patent Attorney who had the same beliefs and energy to make it all happen for me. Working as a team effort to consider every possible eventuality as to the workings of the Hanger and includes a Patent application that remains very comprehensive and includes other inventions within the Patent.

Tara: Did you always intend manufacturing your invention yourself or did you look into licensing the idea?

David: I am by circumstance a serial inventor who specialises in disruptive technologies. How my thinking works and where the ideas come from I have decided not to challenge or analysis my thoughts. Others have tried, so the bigger challenge is with so many ideas and projects do I want to manage and market one Invention or do I consider alternatives by Partner Investing, Joint Ventures, and Collaboration or to license on the Invention for royalty payments. To this end I am still very open-minded as to what best suits my situation and to consider any commercial interests in sharing equity and this remains THE CASE TODAY – I AM OPEN TO OFFERS.

Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for your invention and did you self fund this?

David: I spent 5 years researching and browsing the internet for a British Company able to produce my Prototypes. The task was very frustrating as clearly this would not have been a problem in my younger years as Britain had the skills and opportunities to produce anything one required. I had been quoted a price of £16.000 to £30.000 for tooling requirements in order to produce my product. I knew this was not the case that somewhere I would find a company and indeed a company virtually on my own doorstep and able to manufacture and produce volume at an affordable price to trade on for profit and allows for big margins across the board.

Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting your invention?

David: At the moment ‘NONE’ although, the shopping channels would be idea and would keep advertising to a very minimal cost overall as television exposure would provide a greater market than using numerous sources and obviously the financial implications would be far greater than I would want at this stage of the product. Again I have found a greater interest through word and mouth as peoples common sense values are soon realised as the product is very visual and unlike the single hanger products. One pair of my products provides an Instant, Fast fixing solution in minutes, this could be a shed base 10 ft X 10 ft, where as the single hanger requires much more time in fixing, spacing out and leveling off.

Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing your invention to market?

David: Funding today is my greatest challenge in knowing how this product would change people’s lives. The Building Hanger for new build dwellings (requires certification) would take more than a week off the build in time and labour. What I have achieved overall has been self funded by myself and as an ‘OAP’ much of what I have available has gone towards the Invention and protecting my Patents as I have Patent Protection in Europe, Canada and USA and of course this is a very expensive exercise but is vital and essential in order to succeed.

Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?

David: 7 years, although, once again Funding is the most difficult as any lone and independent Inventor in Britain will tell you that the Business, Innovation & Skills Department (British Government) very much ignores the difficulties that we as individuals experience as we have no backup services like Corporations and Universities our lives are very much governed by those closest to us or we go with cap in hand and just hope that we will be recognised. The lone Inventor does not have a national body to represent them, so being very much a one man or women band is and will always be time consuming in search of being accepted and where this will bring the funding opportunities one hopes for to bring the Invention to market

Tara: Is there anything you learned developing your invention that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?

David: Consultants, the market is littered with consultants and all sing from the same song sheet. They all appear to have the answers as to how you should be approaching the markets and how you should be running your business. But then I prefer Action to words, so be careful and not put your hand in your pocket and throw good money after bad. At times I have wondered as to how many have swallowed and digested the same dictionary, very flowering statements by most but little mention of your product(s) The paranoia that surrounds business plans is so comical and at times very scientific (if you let them) mind boggling performances and should be awarded Oscars for their efforts. There are very good people out there but you need to research before committing one’s self, services are free, but be wise in your choice. My main argument is simple if such people were that wise with business, then surely they ought to be multi-millionaires enjoying retirement, but my experience overall is the laziness of the individual, had a big lunch, eyes fluttering and you are talking to a person in a suit, why should they get their hands dirty when they have you hook line and sinker.

Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?

David: Do as much prior research as one can possibly do – Does your Invention solve a problem – Is it better than what is sold on the market or is your idea the first of a new generation of undiscovered products. Use the Patent Office and British Library for free advice and research. Keep a tight rein on your confidentiality and to engage ones thinking to establish ‘Proof of Concept’. When satisfied source out a reputable Patent Attorney who shows a true interest rather than just another customer coming through the door, you need a friend and confidante one who you can relate too as a working team and consider the overall costs involved and how you can cover such immediate costs before you apply for a Patent Application – Never be rushed, be patient and be confident with your endeavours overall.

Tara: Where can people find out more about you your invention?

David: I have two links on the Internet, both provide and show how the product works and the video is on Youtube

Are you an inventor or invention expert with an interesting story or advice to share? Please see this post for more information

Learning to Test Business Ideas at a Leicester Start up Weekend

A while ago I posted up about Leicester Startdom (Business Startup) Weekend so I thought I would share my experience of the weekend. It is something which should be of interest to anyone looking to start any sort business including inventors wanting to bring products to market, but who need to know how to test if their ideas are viable before plunging in time or cash.

Another FREE Startup Weekend running in Leicester on 27th June

There is another FREE Startdom Weekend running in Leicester on 27th June so if you want to learn how to start a business without wasting time and money check it out at I am going again!

So what  happens at the Startdom Weekend?

The Friday Pitch (don’t worry it’s only if you want to)

On Friday I went to the building in Leicester known as Incubate, a hub designed to help new start-ups. The event started about 6 and up on the top floor there were about 20 chairs ready for people to arrive, people interested in starting a new business just like me. Things like this are always pretty daunting, so I found a friendly face and sat down. The evening was for anyone who wanted to to pitch a business idea – it didn’t have to be big or polished as long as you got the idea across. If you didn’t have an idea you wanted to pitch that was fine too.

The ideas were voted on by everyone taking part in the weekend and the ones with the most votes were chosen (mine was not  – quick sob! ). We could then choose which project we wanted to work on for the weekend. Ideas ranged from an online gift business, to recycling metal in computers to alcoholic beverages. And if that wasn’t enough for one night there was take-away pizza to eat too :).

Saturday – The Lean Canvas

We had to throw away any ideas we had of writing a big business plan and instead we learned about the lean canvas. The lean canvas is a sort of one page business plan designed to make you look at key areas of the business – assumed target market, biggest risks, who is your customer etc. One of the biggest things that I, and I  think most people are apprehensive of is that we had to find potential customers to talk to to find out if the idea was viable. Our team were working on a Beer idea so this meant talking to people in bars. Walking up to strangers to ask them questions is not something I or most people are very comfortable with, but it had to be done and no-one told us to “get lost”. You also learn what sort of questions you should ask – to ask questions only in the past ie. Do you drink beer, what sort of beer do you like etc. You shouldn’t ask things like “WOULD you drink this type of beer” as this is all guess work and often people say what they think you want to hear (or say yes to get rid of you).


Imagine having access to several business mentors from all different types of business at your disposal to give their advice on how to progress the project (you can also get help with your own ideas too). That’s exactly what you get at the Startdom Weekend – and all for FREE!

Sunday Stick or Pivot the Business Idea

Sunday was a case at looking at the responses and revisiting the lean canvas to decide if the original idea was viable. If not, can you “bend” the idea a little or pivot as the call it in the world of Lean Startup to give the potential customer something they will want?

Overall Experience

I really enjoyed the weekend, as well as the tuition and mentors one of the things I enjoyed was having like-minded entrepreneurial people around me all with a common goal to start a new business.

There is another weekend running in Leicester on 27th June, check it out here I hope to meet you there!


UK Nationwide Innovation Competition for Inventors

D2M have recently launched a new, nationwide Innovation competition for inventors, to have the chance of having their idea fully designed, manufactured and retailed at no personal cost. Applications are being taken from April the 1st 2014, but people can register their interest now.

Shortlisted applicants will go before a Dragons Den style panel to pitch their idea and the winner will receive expert support to transform their idea into a commercial reality.

For more information please visit

invention competition

Startup Weekend in Leicester UK 4 April 2014

If you are an entrepreneur or like me a wantrapreneur living anywhere near Leicester in the UK you might want to check out a Startup Weekend event that is taking place very soon.

The main point of the weekend is to learn to validate a business idea, turn it into a business model and begin customer development.

From the Startdom Website

“The event will start with an introductory evening meeting on Friday  4th April 2014 at Exchange Bar, 50 Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1RD. UPDATE: Friday will now be at at 18:00 in the Incubator at Incubate Leicester, 117 Granby Street, Leicester LE1 6FD. In this meeting you will be able to form teams and vote for the most profitable ideas. The atmosphere will be informal, friendly and full of excitement.

The next two days (Saturday and Sunday) will be dedicated to business building with the help of business advisors, MENTORS and entrepreneurs. The teaching will be intense and the learning will be fast paced. The aim will be to have an initial product and maybe also a customer by the end of the weekend.”

The three-day event will cost only 45 pounds.

To find out more check out the website