After reading some of Robert Kiyosaki’s books David was looking for ways to create passive income and that opened his mind to looking for new opportunities. While working for an insulation company he carefully listened to his prospects and came up with the product that solved one of many peoples problem – losing valuable storage while insulating their lofts.
Greg: Hi Dave. How are you doing today?
Dave: I am good Greg, how are you?
Greg: Cool! It’s really great to have you on the show and have a conversation with you, and thanks for agreeing to talk to us today.
Dave: No problem. Glad to be here.
Greg: Great! So can we start from your quick history: your story, life, employment and interests. Tell us about what you have been doing so far.
Dave: Right, ok. I have quite a mixed background really and haven’t ever followed a specific career path. I went to university in Brighton, in England, then did a […] in France. After that, I went to America and worked as an intern for a year in New York, then returned to England for about six months. Next, I went off to Japan, taught English there for two-and-a-half years, and then moved on to Australia for a year. There, I just travelled and surfed and that was a kind of holiday year. I got back to England in 2008 just when the recession hit, and tried to get a job, which was actually really, really tough. I went for about thirty interviews but didn’t get anything.
Dave: Yeah, about thirty. I needed a job, I had no money. I had nowhere to live. I got back with my – at that point – fiancée and we didn’t have anywhere to live! My CV was a mess, obviously, because I’d only lived in England for eight months in six years. My experience was all over the place and that was at the time when everyone was losing their jobs, so it was kind of tough. I was going for sales jobs really because I knew I could sell. We sold strawberries in Australia for the year – that’s what paid our way through Australia, a job just selling strawberries door-to-door. So I knew I wanted to do a sales job. I’d also read the Robert Kiyosaki book Rich Dad Poor Dad, and he says in it, ‘You need to be good at sales if you want to be a businessman’, knowing that at some point I wanted to start my own business. My plan, originally, was to go to Japan and save enough money to buy investment properties as a way of getting out of the rat race and becoming financially free.
Greg: Why Japan?
Dave: A couple of reasons. I had worked in New York for a year and loved it. Also, it stems back from the time I had a year out before starting university. Having a gap year before university was a really popular thing to do in the UK, and I spent five months in India, which gave me the travel bug. It made me realize how much of the world there is to see. So I knew that after university I didn’t want to just get a job, I wanted to live and work abroad and see some of the world, to experience other cultures. So I did that in New York for a year and loved it, but the culture there wasn’t that different from in England.
Greg: Are you looking for a place in the world where you want to live among people from different cultures. Is that what you are looking for?
Dave: At the time, yes it was. In 2005 when I went to Japan, I was just looking to get some experience. I knew at some point I’d have to come back to England, get a bit more settled and become more stable financially, because every time you up and move, you have to start all over again. I just wanted to see as much as I could before I started to settle down.
Greg: Cool. Sort of browsing the world!
Dave: That’s how I was thinking, and Japan to me was somewhere that had a culture and environment that was totally different from the cultures in England or America. I also had friends that had stayed there and said it was a great place to save money. Everyone thinks it’s expensive, but Tokyo is actually a very cheap place to live.
Greg: So that attracted you, the prices.
Dave: Yeah, my goal was to save enough money to buy an investment property and start getting some passive income. Before going to Japan, I nearly got a job as a waiter on a cruise ship for six months, which I thought would be a good way to save money and not spend any, but that all fell through at the last minute, so I ended up going to Japan instead and it was great. I am so glad I did, it’s an amazing place. I would recommend Japan to anybody.
Greg: Great. Now let’s go back to the time when you came back to the UK and you went to thirty interviews. Did you find a job?
Dave: I did, though it was definitely not the job or industry that I ever thought I’d be working in. It was something that I had no interest in whatsoever at the time – a sales job for an insulation company. Basically, it meant selling loft insulation and cavity wall insulation, and I actually ended up doing that job for five years, which surprises me when I think about it, but I stayed because it was great money. It was a very easy sale because the government was funding the insulation by 100 per cent in some cases and by at least 50 per cent in others. So for the homeowners it meant they would save tons of money off their energy bills. I made great commission, it was an easy sales job, but most importantly it gave me at least two hours a day to work on other projects. So long as I got my targets at the end of the week, I could choose how much work I did. So there were periods where I’d maybe only work an hour or two a day, and other periods where I would work a bit longer, but it was the side projects that really kept my interest and kept me stimulated.
Greg: What were they?
Dave: Well the first was a product I invented called loft storage stilts. Obviously, I got the idea from working in sales for the insulation company. When trying to sell loft insulation every day, I realized that a lot of people didn’t want it even though it was often for free, it would make their houses warmer and would save them hundreds of pounds every year. It was hard to sell the loft insulation, unlike the cavity wall insulation, or even give it away because installing it meant that people would have to give up the valuable storage space in their lofts. As you live in England, you know the houses can be quite small and the loft is an essential place for storage in most houses. Then, I woke up one morning and the idea just popped into my head that a very simple product could solve this problem. The product would just slot or screw onto the joists, the pieces of wood in the lofts, and allow you to place boarding over the insulation to provide a storage space. I quickly made a rough sketch, then searched for product development companies online, and found one that had a Non-Disclosure Agreement already signed at their end. So I just had to print it off, sign it, scan it and send it back with my idea, and they contacted me a few days later.
Greg: You said you woke up one morning and came up with this idea. Was that the effect of talking to your customers? Did they say, ‘Oh it would be nice to have insulation and storage in the loft’, or was it something that you just came up with yourself?
Dave: Well I didn’t think of it straightaway, I’d been working for the company for at least six months before I thought up the idea. Every day I was talking to people and trying to give away this insulation but they just didn’t want it. I would always ask them why, because as a salesman you try to overcome objections. One of the objections, which you couldn’t really do anything about, was that people couldn’t be bothered to clear out their lofts in the first place, but the other objection that came up all the time was, ‘I can’t afford to lose the storage space in the loft.’ So I was in quite a lucky situation to clearly see a demand for something that would allow people to fully insulate their loft and have storage. After six months, I must have spoken to hundreds of people that had this problem. I am always coming out with little ideas for businesses and products, although most of the time they are completely useless. At that time I enjoyed watching a TV serial called Dragons’ Den, which I still like watching today, and the ideas in it must have stuck. I remember lying in bed thinking at first of a new product that was really stupid. It was like an alarm/watch type thing that vibrates or something in case the person snoozes through their alarm. I went through the criteria that Dragons go through and very quickly realized that no, it was not a viable product. Then, I was just thinking of what the Dragons like in a product, and remembered how they love environmentally-friendly products, and I suddenly thought, hang on I’m working for an energy-saving company, and it’s an environmentally-friendly industry. My next thought was that they loved products that solved a big problem. I started asking myself what problems I see every day. And then it just hit me. I thought ‘Oh, my God, that is a massive problem in this industry’, and it was a growing industry at that time. When I put those two things together, the idea popped into my head for the new product and I drew the sketch.
Greg: I like the description of the kind of product people like the Dragons would back with their money. It’s not a case of what would be the best for the market or for the people, but instead, it’s about looking, on the one hand, at what people need in their homes to improve their lives or how they can save money or how to keep their valued storage space for that matter; and on the other hand, looking at what the business people, the ones with experience, want to invest in. You were considering all the aspects of launching a new product. That’s great! So you had this idea and made a sketch, but what were your thoughts in terms of selling the product? You had experience of selling insulation but it wasn’t your own product, and as you said, it was easy to sell. Next, you were creating a new product. What was your plan from there?
Dave: Well I thought I’d spend about six months to create this product, to have it developed and then either get it on sale in one of the big DIY retail stores in the UK, or, what I really hoped was that the company I worked for, which is the biggest insulation company in the country, would start selling them or installing them alongside the insulation. That was my goal.
Greg: Hang on! Did you hope that the company you were working for would use your idea and put money into this product?
Dave: No. I was really careful around that as you can imagine. I waited. I didn’t even mention anything to them until I’d put in a patent. So I did realize very quickly that all my expectations of having a product in the stores after six months, and of becoming rich were ridiculous! The first thing I would say to anybody who is thinking about doing a product is: don’t get ahead of yourself and don’t race ahead! It was hard to swallow when I realized after six months that I was only a fraction of the way through the process. In the end, it took me almost two years to actually bring the product to the market. So that’s my bare advice to anyone with a great idea, who is thinking or planning on bringing a product to market. I have learnt so much from the experience and I recommend it but you just need to manage your expectations. It will take a long time.
Greg: Ok so we will talk in a minute about how it worked out for you after two years, but first, going back to the time when you were very positive and full of energy, thinking, ‘Wow, I have an idea for a fantastic product’, you said you didn’t talk to people about it really, so what was your next step? Did you think of putting a patent on it or of going to ask the retailers if they wanted it? Or what was the process?
Dave: Well I woke up that morning and I just went ahead, like a bull in a china shop. I contacted a product development company, sent them my idea and waited to hear from them. I had no idea what the next steps were at that time, and I was trying to figure it all out myself. The company got back to me a few days later and said they thought it was good, it had potential and they would take it on. I later found out that they wanted to take lots of money from me.
Greg: Hang on! So you found a development company for this product. How did you find them?
Dave: Just Google search. I did a Google search, looked up product development companies and one popped up. Their website told you about the process involved. It said that first, I needed to have a mock-up designed, with images, then to go through a prototyping phase. This is where I made a huge mistake and followed the advice of this company blindly, and applied for a patent too early. I applied for my patent after they had send me the designs of what the product would look like and then they told me to apply for the patent. So I did that, then tried to get manufacturing quotes but I found out that the product they had shown me in the design images could not be manufactured for a reasonable price. I then had a little bit of a falling out with the development company, stopped using their services and started trying to get free advice, which is what I should have done right from the very beginning. I contacted a free service in England called Business Link, which is not actually around now, unfortunately. I also contacted my old university, which ran a program called ‘Be Purpled’ for former students, and that was what really helped me. So I would recommend that anyone who has an idea for a product should look for free advice. Your citizen’s advice bureau, any universities in your area, especially the one you have been to, any design schools and even bloggers, people like myself, who are free to reach out to. Talk to people that have done it before and are not trying to get you to pay them a fee.
Greg: This is interesting because when you say, go and find free advice. I also read in one of Robert Kiyosaki’s books that free advice is the most expensive advice.
Dave: But he also said a lot about finding a mentor and finding someone who has done it before as they are the people that can advise you because they have the experience. But the problem with paying for advice or paying a company for their service is, as you know, you never know how good that advice is or what their actual interests are. I found out that the company I was using gave me very bad advice in the hope that I would follow them on the next path. Ultimately, the advice they gave me meant that I had to have the product totally redesigned and have the pattern completely redrafted and resubmitted, but I was very limited in what I could do because the initial application which was very poor. So it’s really important that you know exactly how the product is going to work and how it’s going to be manufactured before you apply for a patent because that cost us a lot of money.
Greg: Brilliant! That’s great advice. And so you worked with these developers and you went for advice here and there. Were you still on your own? Have you had any partners? Did you share it with anyone?
Dave: At the time when I first came up with the idea, I was in quite a lucky situation. As I said, I was doing this sales job and getting really good commission. Mine was a very simple product, just one piece of plastic with no moving parts, but in the first three months I spent at least three-and-a-half thousand pounds for the product development, on developing and getting the pattern drafted and things like that. I could have done that cheaper, I found out later. But to answer your question, I just carried on by myself for a while, and got help from the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the UK, which was amazing because they really helped, and they paid half of all my costs. In the end I went through them to get the product redeveloped, and it wasn’t until I actually had the patent application put in that I realized I needed some investors and partners. I knew that I wanted to contact the big stores like B&Q and Homebase, which are big DIY stores in the UK, but I didn’t have any experience in negotiating with stores like that and from watching Dragons’ Den, I knew how hard that process could be and how you can get caught out very easily. Robert Kiyosaki advises that you find people to fill in your knowledge gaps, and that’s what I needed to do. As soon as I had the pattern out, I started talking to this guy who ran the property investment course that I was doing at the time. It was a year-long course and I was three months into that when I got the idea for the loft storage stilts. So. even though I was doing the property investment course, my focus was actually on developing this product. The guy that ran the course was great. I had heard him speak over and over again, and really believed in him and his very ethical approach to business. He was always proselytising the benefits of integrity and how it comes back to you tenfold. He felt like someone I could trust. He is actually a business angel who invests in products and businesses. He wasn’t overly interested at first, but he helped me a bit and gave me some advice. At the same time, as soon as my patent application was in, I sent letters to all of the big chain stores like B&Q, saying I had a patent on this product I was developing, told them what it was about, but didn’t hear anything back from them.
Greg: Hang on! What did you actually send them? You sent them a letter just saying that you had a product or did you send them any designs or mock-ups?
Dave: I sent images of the loft stilts done by a designer because, obviously, they hadn’t actually been built, and then just a short letter saying that I was patenting and developing this product. I explained the benefits of the product and gave them my contact details, saying I would love to speak to them further about it. So I sent that to a few big chain stores but didn’t hear anything back for about six or seven months. Again, that’s the way it goes as nothing moves quickly.
Greg: But if you don’t hear from someone for six months, it seems like time to say, ok dude, they’re not interested.
Dave: Pretty much. I tried to find people to speak to. I pretended to be someone trying to find out who the buyers were for these big companies, but it was really hard and the receptionists were obviously very aware of what people like me were trying to do.
Greg: So who did you send the first letters to?
Dave: I believe I just sent them straight to the head offices of all the big DIY companies.
Greg: How did you get the addresses?
Dave: For that you can just call up the head office reception and ask for their address.
Greg: So you sent them by mail, right?
Dave: Regular mail, yeah.
Dave: If I was to do it now, I may do it slightly differently. I would send something that would stand out, not just a letter.
Greg: Like a package, right!
Dave: Exactly! But ultimately, I did get a response to the letter, after six or seven months. I got a phone call completely out of the blue, from a buyer at B&Q, saying they were very interested in the product. They had actually funded a university to try and develop a similar product, and then they came across mine, and wanted me in for a meeting. I stayed as calm as I could [laughter]. I told Hanif about it – he was the guy who was running the property investment course, and who later became my business partner. I told him that I had got in contact in B&Q, and they wanted a meeting. Suddenly, he perked up quite a lot and became very interested! He immediately decided to get me in for a proper meeting with him and his business partner, David, so I could present my business plan to them. It was really the interest from the DIY company that helped to get that interest in the investment. It would have been difficult, I think, without that. But having said that, you might find investors that see the value of your product and the demand for it, and they might be able to open the doors to the big chain stores and retailers.
Greg: Ok, now tell us how much you invested of your own money before you got partner investors?
Dave: I think in the end it was close to ten thousand pounds, to be honest. So that was a lot of money. We had been back in the UK only six months, and my other half was not particularly happy with all of this money going straight out of the window again, but it worked out in the end.
Greg: How did you feel at that time? Did you feel that you had spent a lot of money and had no results?
Dave: I was extremely stressed at the time, especially after spending about three thousand in the first three months or so. and because I needed to keep going to make my money back. Then by the time I’d spent six or seven thousand, it was even worse. As I said, I was in a unique situation, working in the industry, as I saw the problem of loft storage space every day, and I knew that there was a demand for my product. My biggest fear though was that someone else was going to beat me to it, and with everything moving so slowly that became a massive fear. So it was a hugely stressful time, I won’t deny that, and I’d also warn anyone who is thinking of doing it to expect it to be quite stressful because you are never certain until you get the first sale. Luckily I’d been working on my business plan. I spent a good six months writing it and refining it. I started off with a business plan that was 30 or 40 pages long, and then I got some great advice from someone that said, ‘No, your business plan should be a marketing tool.’ In other words, it should look great and sound great, it should make them excited, and it shouldn’t be too long. So I cut it down to about ten pages, I think.
Greg: So was your original business plan focused on the product?
Dave: Yeah, I had sections on the market, sections on the product and on on how it would be manufactured and installed. There was a competing product but it was a bit different and it was expensive. It was made of thick polystyrene boards that would go in the loft, using the polystyrene itself as insulation. There were sections on that in the business plan.
Greg: So basically, what you are saying is that the first business plan wasn’t really exciting enough for potential investors or buyers.
Dave: Long, very wordy.
Greg: Yeah, if anybody wants to start with a business plan, what do they need to look at? Does the plan need to sell the product?
Dave: Yeah, you need to give the investors the main information they will want to see, which is the demand and the competing products, if there are any. They will want to see how much it’s going to cost to manufacture, compared to how much you will be able to sell it for. They basically want to make sure it’s a viable business.
Greg: These are the kind of questions that come up in the Dragons’ Den show.
Dave: Definitely! I am just looking through my folder and I have a document here of Dragons’ Den questions, including, ‘What would the Dragons ask?’
Greg: [Laughter] Great, great!
Dave: So yeah, that was definitely part of my thinking and I would totally recommend that people watch these programmes and similar types of programmes because they are helpful.
Greg: Yeah. Going back to this ten thousand pounds investment from your own pocket, and how you waited so long for a response from the first buyer, having no investors and feeling very stressed, what do you think now in retrospect? Would you do something differently? Would you still spend ten thousand pounds if you had to do it again? Or would you rather do it differently?
Dave: I would do something completely different. Having said that, if I came up with an idea for a manufactured product that I was confident had a huge demand, then I might go ahead with it, but as I don’t have an idea like that, my answer would be to do something different. I would go for a digital or online business or product because you don’t have all the risk with that. I have done everything I can to get more into digital, internet businesses because the risk is really quite high for the type of thing I did, both financially and timewise. It took such a long time to get it going.
Greg: Yeah, but the fact is we still need physical products, and many people are still creating them or selling them. We are very happy to have creative people who are creating something new for us, like you just did. It sounds like you would do it differently, but, as you say, you would go for a different line of business, offering services or internet products or something that is not tangible. But if you were to create the same product again, how would you spend your money? Would you still spend the ten thousand pounds or would you rather cut on something or do something earlier or later?
Dave: I could have definitely cut it down significantly, maybe even by as much as half. As I said, in the first three months, I spent three-and-a-half thousand pounds, and I went in like a bull in a china shop, going straight to the first product development company that I found. If I had done a bit more research and tried to find free information, free help, as I later found from the Manufacturing Advisory Service, which is a government-run body in the UK; if I had found them earlier, I could have significantly reduced that amount. It is important to find free advice, especially from the government bodies that are there to help small businesses start and don’t have any vested interest. Their role is purely to stimulate the economy and help new businesses. If I had gone straight to them originally, I would have saved a lot of money and got great advice. As I said, I used the Manufacturing Advisory Service for the last half of everything I did. They match funded everything I purchased, so I paid half and they paid half, and they set me up with new patent attorneys, with manufacturers, and with everything after that. Consulting them would be my biggest piece of advice.
Greg: So it sounds like you went the hard way. Why didn’t you follow the process shown in the Dragons’ Den programme?
Dave: Because that was the other thing on Dragons’ Den. The first thing they always ask is whether you have a purchase order. And if you don’t have one, they are quite often not interested. I was actually planning to go on Dragons’ Den. That was part of the plan but the point about the purchase order is that once you’ve got that, you wouldn’t necessarily need the Dragons after that. The toughest thing is getting the purchase order. Luckily, my business partners were far more experienced businessmen than myself, and when it came to the B&Q meetings, of which there were many, they took over the reins. I went to a few of the meetings but I still had a full-time job, so I couldn’t take all the time off work necessary to go to meeting after meeting after meeting. It took at least a year after starting to speak with B&Q, and starting all these meetings, before we actually got our first purchase order from them.
Greg: So first, you waited six or seven months for them to contact you, and then you waited a year until they made the first order.
Dave: Yeah, I didn’t send out the letter to them until I’d applied for my patent, which was at least three months after I came up with the idea. So yeah, it was about two years altogether.
Greg: It looks like it can be a lengthy and expensive process that you need to be prepared for and be patient with if you really believe in the product, or if your customers believe in you and you see the potential in your product. Great, so you told us a little bit about these B&Q meetings, but do you remember the first meeting and how it went? What were the questions and what you have to provide? Did you go alone or did you have your investors with you?
Dave: I had David and Hanif, my two business partners, with me. I asked them how we should handle it before we went in. And their advice was to say as little as possible. They said we should let B&Q do the talking and find out what they want, not to commit to anything, to stay interested but say as little as possible, and basically find out what would happen from there. That was great advice, I have used it in business ever since.
Greg: More listening, less talk.
Greg: Great. So how many of these meeting did you have with B&Q?
Dave: Oh, well as I said I went to about seven in total over the year or so, but my business partners went to around thirty.
Greg: What were the topics discussed? What kind of questions did they ask?
Dave: Well, firstly, there were obviously discussions about money and about how much we would sell the product to B&Q for, the quantities they were going to order, and all the logistics of that. There was meeting after meeting for weeks and weeks about the packaging and the quality, about making sure that all the information on the packaging was correct and that it met their standards. Then there were the pallets that we would send them from the manufacturer, which they wanted to be a certain size, and every aspect of marketing. B&Q took it on as an exclusive contract initially, and they were in charge of the marketing. They tried to get us to sign a contract, I just can’t think of the name of it now, but it meant that they would buy the products from us to sell, with the right to send us back any that did not sell, and we would have to refund them.
Greg: So they wanted to protect themselves against the risk?
Dave: Yeah. Luckily, my business partners were well aware of that. They refused to agree to it.
Greg: So that is a sort of warning light. These big companies always play their own game on their own terms and you have to be careful to protect your own interests.
Dave: Yeah, It’s not only about B&Q because any retailer would do the same. It’s definitely something to be aware of, and I wouldn’t ever sign a contract like that because it gives you no security whatsoever.
Greg: Exactly. What other sorts of problems did you experience before coming to the agreement with them?
Dave: Mostly just delays. For example, we were told on one day that everything was ready for the purchase order. They just needed one signature and said we would get the order the following day, but we didn’t get it for another nine weeks! So for me personally, that nine weeks was a nightmare. That purchase order was going to allow me to get my money back. That first order from B&Q covered all of our costs up to that point, which added up to something like a 100 thousand pounds.
Greg: That’s including your ten thousand pounds, your initial investment, right?
Dave: Yeah. I guess I should explain my deal with my investors, which was that I would not pay any more money into the business and they would front up everything needed to bring the product to the market, so they didn’t give me back that ten thousand straightaway. I would get that back with the first purchase order, when we would get back all the costs. I got a lot of grief from my friends and family about the deal we struck. They all thought that I was being scammed and ripped off. I gave 40 per cent of the business to my two investors and kept 60 per cent, but they thought I’d given away too much. My point was that I wanted the investors to be fully invested and to have an incentive to make money. Actually, I may have given them slightly more than that, but I didn’t mind doing that because I knew they would bring finance and expertise to the table and they would need to see enough of the financial rewards at the end of it to be motivated. For me, I hoped to make my money back with a little bit more, although obviously, I wanted to be rich [laughter].
Greg: We talk about these agreements and the investors. We talk a lot about money and the process of finding the retailer, the buyer, but I feel we have forgotten about the product itself. What was happening with the product at that time? Did you have to produce samples for B&Q, or did they just rely on your sketches?
Dave: I believe that at the very first meeting we took a prototype of the product, although we told them it wasn’t the final version and there would be some minor changes.
Greg: And where was that developed?
Dave: All the development was done with the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the UK.
Dave: We also manufactured everything in the UK. We did think about manufacturing in China but because the stilts are quite bulky, they don’t stack that well in a box, and the boxes are quite big. So it would cost a lot more in terms of shipping and everything to make them in China than it would in England.
Greg: So until you got the first agreement with B&Q, the first order, you had no product for sale.
Greg: Ok, and what happened once they made the first purchase order?
Dave: I remember celebrating that, and we were expecting sales to be great and they were good, but never quite amazing. Within a week of us launching our product with B&Q though, another product appeared that was the same as ours. Luckily, ours were out a few days before that and we had the patent, which they didn’t have. A patent is more of a deterrent than anything and it doesn’t mean that much, especially mine, which was quite a weak patent, So we couldn’t really go down the route of threatening them, although we tried a bit but it didn’t work. Then we realized we just had to deal with it but the other product was cheaper and smaller than ours. That meant that the boxes were also smaller so more could go in a pallet, and the store then needed less storage space for it. For the retailer, space is a huge factor. That’s a vital consideration. That’s when things got a bit messy and B&Q told us they were not going to order any more from us in the foreseeable future.
Greg: So you got the first order and that was it.
Dave: That covered all of our costs, about 100 thousand pounds, as I mentioned. We were just about to get the second purchase order of which there would be a profit of a similar amount. So I was getting very excited and then this all happened. B&Q said they were not going to order from us in the foreseeable future, and that we were going to have to match the price of the competing product.
Greg: So didn’t you feel that you had overlooked something here?
Dave: In what way?
Greg: It seems like you didn’t know about the competition doing the same thing.
Greg: You were not aware of that?
Dave: No, not at all. I have obviously spoken to a lot of people about the product along the way and I tried to find out if someone had taken the idea from me, but I actually don’t think they did. As the product was so overdue in the market, I think that someone else just came up with the same idea. The timing was obviously terrible, and I was devastated at the time. I had got my money back but I hadn’t really made any more than that. I was on the verge of getting a decent chunk of money for the first time. Then it all went badly wrong. I started thinking of moving to America, and I still am now. That was five years ago. So I ended up pretty much stepping away from it, and sold a lot of my shares to my business partners to get a bit of money, which was the only profit I really got out of it at that point and it seemed like nothing was going well. Then, a year later, B&Q became interested again. That was partly due to the fact that my business partners had another product from an inventor in Australia, which was a DIY product that B&Q really wanted in their stores. So that sparked interest again and my partners managed to get B&Q back on. In the time that I had stepped away, they had sold the tool that was used, they redeveloped the product to make it smaller and cheaper to manufacture so we could compete a bit better with the other competing product, and then they started selling again to B&Q. Since then B&Q have ranged us, which means that we are guaranteed to be in the store for at least the next two years, and sales are going quite well. So I am now getting royalties from the product and a royalty fee every three months. So at least I am still getting money out of it now. We have also expanded over to Australia and New Zealand. We are selling in a big DIY store over there. We are currently in talks with a massive retailer in America, and if we can get that, we will probably double or triple our sales. So now things are moving forward, which is great, and I am getting a royalty of two pence for every stilt that is sold worldwide.
Greg: Great! So overall you have made money out of it.
Dave: I have not lost my money. I am not making tons of money now. I still have a day job but in terms of passive income, it’s pretty good, I am getting about a thousand dollars a month.
Greg: It’s great to hear that in the end it has paid off, and now when you look at the years ahead, you don’t really know what might happen to this product and you are still involved with your partners. You can actually make some decisions in the future that may make this product or the other products you are creating a great source of income. You can also build on this experience, and having existing relationships with retailers means it’s easier for you to talk to them and get a new product out there, rather than starting from nothing and sending them a letter, then waiting six or seven months for a reply [laughter].
Dave: Yeah. It hasn’t worked out exactly as I planned but I am very happy with how things have worked out. Just for what I’ve learned over that period, about business and about myself, I wouldn’t have changed anything. Obviously, I would have loved to have made a ton of money but it’s not all about money. Now I have the experience, and like you said, the relationships are built, and the personal development has been huge. So I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Greg: Great! Thank you! And I know, Dave, you are moving to the States soon. However, I’m sure you will be happy to answer any questions that people might have for you. Would you tell me how people can get in contact with you?
Dave: Yeah, no problem, Greg. The best way is either through my blog www.bringmyideatomarket.com or they can contact me through my personal e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg: Great Dave! Good luck with your trip to America!
Dave: Thank you very much Greg.
Greg: It was pleasure talking to you today.
Dave: You too. Thanks a lot!
- Loft Storage Stilts website: http://loftstoragestilts.com
- David’s product is available at B&Q store here: http://www.diy.com/departments/diall-black-polypropylene-loft-storage-stilt-pack-of-12/181925_BQ.prd
- David’s blog: http://bringmyideatomarket.com