.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

This Invention: A Family Content Network

A journal, information and resources for establishing a Family Content Network, as I am doing - essentially a framework for managing all your Family's online assets and inventions for maximum exposure and revenue. This blog began as an inventor's journal, and retains the overall parent inventor's context and mindset.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

(39) Desert Conditions

We're off to the beach! Vacation time, finally. It's also a good opportunity to test the invention in "desert conditions", as well as "beach conditions". Lots of sand, salt, bad terrain, greasy suntan lotion, wet kids, packing/unpacking, loads of beach accessories; in short, all kinds of variables to throw into the stroller and strolling equation. I don't think our stroller fleet will be happy with us, getting put through the grueling "boot camp" for this invention; thankfully, though, we've still got 1 kid small enough to warrant a stroller, and therefore serve as spokesmodel (she's on the front of slingwheels.com).

In support of the eventual ecommerce element of this journey, I've now applied for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), plus registered as an LLC retail business for tax and tradename purposes in the state of VA. Very easy, all forms online, and nice telephone support. Have also collected the wholesale information on select accessories we think we could resell, that are related to the invention, and started to adjust the site (in our development environment) to accommodate a shopping cart/catalogue feature. I'm investigating two different kinds - one offered by my ISP (aplus.net), and one that seems pretty good another mom-operated stroller site uses. Letsgostrolling.com is a nice shopping experience, easy and clean - I did a "view source" on the web pages, found references to "aitsafe", and tracked it down to Mal's ecommerce server/shopping cart service. Looks pretty good.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

(38) Back from JPMA!

Did a fly-by down in Orlando this week, at the Juvenile Products Manufacturer's Association convention (JPMA). Since this is my first foray into the world of manufacturing such things, I was eager to see whether (1) my particular invention had any up-and-coming competition, (2) what other parent-inventors like myself were up to lately in this arena, (3) what other stroller accessories were available that might be cross-selling opportunities, and (4) what the stroller industry in general was up to, such that my invention was still relevant and workable with their new offerings. It turned out to be a very positive trip.

I found many other stroller accessories, several by Mom and Pop inventors (highlighted on www.slingwheels.com/products.htm), and many as adjuncts to particular stroller lines. Funny the major stroller manufacturers really didn't want to chat with me, as an "Independent Buyer/Inventor"; must-of thought I was some kind of spy (got this understanding from reflections of the "strollerqueen" when she visited similar shows). Things like the MommyHook, Strollometer, Plate Pal, Pacifeeder, Frubi Shades....all kinds of neat stuff, from persons who really enjoyed telling me their story, and were eager to share information. Perhaps I'll one day have a table-top or booth exhibit. The tabletop exhibits were a new feature this year, just $600 for a table in the main area; Brad from Mominventors really seemed to think this was a great idea, especially for other Parent inventors.

The strollers themselves; mostly more of the same (this evidently isn't the real big new stroller venue each year), but some really neat things were the Nascar/Pro Sports licensing, new colors and mechanisms for folding, and stylings in the wheels and handles. But, basically, the stroller market is unchanged with respect to the need for my invention - this is good news, likely keeps me in business another few years.

The invention itself - it's amazing how many minor issues crop up, the more pieces your product contains. I've had two separate shipments of accessories for my product, and each shipment had errors, handling damage or otherwise were unusable. The manufacturers are very responsive, sending replacement parts etc., but it all adds up to more and more time lost. One particular area of the invention may have to go to market as "Plan B"; i.e. the way I would've like to have done it (and the better way) will have to wait a while and continue with tinkering and testing; meanwhile, I go to market with an easier, but not as elegant or truly useful part. But it still solves the fundamental issue, and reason for purchasing the product. I wonder how many inventions do well on first release to the market, where the maker doesn't really intend the ultimate product (though it accomplishes its basic purpose, to solve immediate problems and capture market share) to be available until release 4 or so (sounds like the software market, doesn't it).

So that's what I'll do - get "release 1.0" out there quickly, and let the public help test/revise for releases 2 and 3. Can't be utterly perfect, the first time out, but the point is to get something out.