Private Inventor home truths

At some stage or another many of us will have an idea for a new product; a product which we believe will become the next great invention. This is very exciting but it is easy to be swept up in the excitement of being a private inventor and to count those chickens before they hatch.

Over the years we have talked to many private inventors and we always dread the calls from those inventors who have spent their precious resources only to end up with artistic CAD drawings of their product and a big cost milestone in their patent application. Sadly, this type of call often comes at a time when the private inventor has run out of money, out of time to secure investment and now face losing the exclusive rights to their own invention.

How does this happen?

Many private inventors cannot fund the entire process of bringing a product to the market and they require investment. Investment is not easy to secure. There are some companies who offer ‘help’ to private inventors by offering artistic CAD drawings and a patent application. The danger is to think that having a pretty picture with a patent application will be enough to get an investor on board. Is this really enough? An investor is looking at investment as a business risk; so they need to be convinced that their risk is manageable and there will be enough reward in taking that risk. So, what does an investor really look for when making their decision to invest?

• The investor will undertake due diligence using their own professional IP resource to establish if the intellectual property the inventor has is adequate (relevant, robust, defendable) and is worth maintaining.

• The investor will want properly researched and presented facts and figures to demonstrate the size of the potential market for the invention, and its competitive landscape. This will include a competitor’s analysis and a patent landscape, ideally with a freedom to operate analysis.

• The investor will want to know the costs of developing the invention into a manufactured product. Development can involve considerable expenditure in prototypes, tooling, testing, compliance and approvals.

• The investor will want to know costs of branding, packaging, marketing, stock holding and distribution.

To put it simply, investors need to be presented with a properly designed and costed product supported by robust intellectual property.

At Sated Design we have a team of design and engineering experts who all share a passion for creating successful products. We are supported by Chartered UK Patent Attorneys from world class intellectual property firms. Our track record is proven by hundreds of products and thousands of component parts taken from the first sketch all the way through to manufacturing, sometimes in their millions.

If you have an idea for a great new pleasure product, contact us today.

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The Lockdown Lowdown – Part 3

Managing Director Chris Howsam shares his thoughts about the lockdown.

For many years I have maintained a fully functioning office at home complete with CAD and secure access to all our files and documents. I can’t remember when this was not the case as it has been driven by the needs of planning projects, dealing with admin and working with clients/suppliers in different time zones. Having video conferences at 3am to look at tooling in China or talking to clients in far flung places at 9pm is quite normal and part of the day to day challenge of delivering our product design services. The challenge of Coronavirus now means that a home office is crucial for many of us. In my case I am sharing my time between home and the office. Work that can be done at home is done there but work that needs to be hands on with parts must be done in the office. There are of course the usual items of post and parcels that need to be dealt with, many of them necessary to maintain the running of the business.

Within Sated Design we now have some staff working from home and some working in the office. By liaising between those who need to come into the office and those who can work at home we maintain a normal working week. Thank fully, the office space and workshops are large enough that we maintain social distancing. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same buzz in the office because of the reduction in conversation and bustle of people moving about it feels a little odd, almost like working on a weekend. Gadget and Gizmo (the office dogs) must think everyone is on holiday!

Everyone here has adopted to the new way of working without any drama and this set me thinking about what could happen once the lock down is over. I think there will be a need to redefine how many businesses operate. The changes imposed on us through Coronavirus and the lock down have added a different dynamic which will change the status quo.

Of course it will be impractical for some to work from home but there are many that could work in an office facility close to their home. The provision of more leased workspaces in residential areas and town centres created from vacant retail or office space would reduce travel costs and travel time for many. The concept of leased workspaces is not new because many business start-ups get off the ground in this way, but I see many people wanting to work nearer to home, especially after proving they can work remotely from a central office.

I believe there is something positive to be learned about how businesses are coping with lockdown and this could result in improvements to the work and life balance of many people. Do we go back to everything as it was or do we as employers and employees actively engage in discussion about what we have learnt about how we work and use it to define a better way?

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The Lockdown Lowdown – Part 2

These are very strange days indeed and like many workers I am bunkering down and experiencing the joys (and tribulations!) of working from home.

Some years ago I worked full time from home, so in a lot of ways going back to that style of working has been easy to pick up again. However, the biggest difference between then and now is that we’ve since had two kids, bringing with them much joy, happiness and a significant amount of chaos!

The main challenges facing our household when it comes to working from home during this lockdown revolve around space and time management. I needed a quiet place to set up my workstation. We have a desk in the living room, which would have been great except for the fact that it’s in a communal area and I wouldn’t get a moments peace with a pair of under-fives running around. In the end I set up a makeshift workstation in the main bedroom. It’s rather cramped and far from being the perfect solution, but at least I can close the door and concentrate properly on my work.

The other problem we have is scheduling our days so that both I and my partner can work on our respective jobs. For me as a product designer it’s relatively simple as I’m able to sit down and log on quite flexibly. My wife however is a yoga teacher and while her in-person studio classes have been cancelled, she continues to teach some lessons by livestreaming and posting pre-recorded sessions on-line. Her livestream classes are at a set time each week, so in order to have a peaceful environment in which to teach, I use our allotted daily hour of exercise time to take the kids out and get some fresh air.

Communication and flexibility between everybody at home and the team at Sated Design has been very important to make sure we all know what we can contribute, and when. This way we can all have an opportunity to continue our work sensibly, even whilst under a lot of additional pressures.

If working from home is new for you then the best advice I can give you is to treat it as you would a regular working day – have a routine, get up, get dressed etc. Set clear working times to prevent the boundaries of work and home life from blurring. If you’re able to safely, go out for a short walk before you log in can help create a divide between your personal and professional time. Do some exercise after work to help you decompress. Try to create a dedicated work area at a desk or in a spare room if you have the space. Check in with your colleagues regularly and invite them to do likewise, preferably by video if possible so you can see each other’s faces and lessen the sense of isolation. Above all, communicate with people around you to work through challenges you may face individually.

Working from home is a compromise but as a positive I do get to see my children for lunch every day and that is a very special time. And who knows, once all this is over, maybe all our ways of working will never be the same again!

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The Lockdown Lowdown-Part 1

In these current unprecedented times, many working professionals now find themselves having to juggle home working with caring for their families. So how is it possible to ensure you are fulfilling your obligations to your employer as well as those in your care? Sated Design’s Marketing Manager Holly Hollis shares her experiences so far in her role as a home worker, educator and carer.

I am a single parent, raising two young children with cystic fibrosis (CF) – a genetic condition which is life limiting. I’m no stranger to complications. CF has a habit of throwing curveballs when you least expect it and never allowing you to take anything for granted. The respiratory symptoms caused by the Coronavirus could be catastrophic to my children and so (along with 1.5 million others in the UK) they have been placed in a 12 week isolation for their own safety and protection.

As I type we are 19 days in. Since we entered our isolation here at home, many across the globe have lost their lives. Many businesses in all sectors have had no choice but to shut up shop and every school has closed its doors. No one yet knows when this will end.

It’s a very challenging time for everyone – but for home workers the biggest challenge is managing to run your home, care for your children and provide the dedication and support expected by your employer. My role in Marketing means at this critical time, it’s more important than ever that I bang the drum and make some noise for Sated Design. If we keep a presence, it not only reassures our clients that we’re still in business but it also shows potential clients how resilient we can be.

The difficulty is that at the same time I am having to be a full time mum and dad, co-ordinate a care plan, oversee and support their education and still continue to run a home. Fortunately this is where digital marketing is a great help – you can pick up where you left off at any time of the day. My working week has become 24/7 as circumstances allow but the flexible nature of it means this can be managed around the needs of my children.

They have anxiety about the change in routine. They haven’t seen their father now, apart from a wave over the gate, since this all began. They miss their friends. They are scared for those they know. My approach has been to keep them busy. Whether it be drawing a rainbow for a neighbour to put in her window, making a new tortoise house out of an old cardboard box, or planting up a new vegetable patch in our garden we are making memories. In amongst all the devastation this pandemic has caused there are still reasons to feel positive and grateful.

It’s not easy. In fact it’s proving to be the greatest challenge of my life to date. But it is achievable and employers like Sated Design should take a small bow for doing all they can to help those like me who face these challenges.

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Keep calm and carry on innovating

In amongst all the doom and gloom being reported at the minute there are some incredible stories. Some of the UK’s leading engineers and manufacturers are retooling, innovating, collaborating and donating vital resources to support the coronavirus crisis. From small family run gin distilleries, making sanitiser to a large corporations building ventilators, there are so many shining examples of this happening across the UK and they have a vital part to play.

In the last two weeks, the Government has called out to designers and manufacturers from all disciplines for help. Sated Design has registered and we await instructions for how we can support the national effort against coronavirus. It’s extremely humbling to see that even in these unprecented times we can innovate, diversify and find ways to secure our businesses, our population and our economy.

At Sated Design we are focussing on supporting work in progress as there are still commitments to deliver on, however we are heartened to have received a number of new enquiries for our product design service.

Director Chris Howsam says “Some businesses are already thinking ahead and planning for what happens when the lockdown is lifted. We are supporting these businesses in any way we can so as soon as this is over, we can be the first out of the blocks”.

Pre-planning will make the difference when it comes to securing the future of your business. If you have a great idea for a pleasure product and would like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a reality, take this opportunity and contact us today.

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