It was seen that the works of founders of States, law-givers, tyrant-destroyers, and heroes cover
but narrow spaces and endure but for a time; while the work of the inventor, though of less pomp,
is felt everywhere and lasts forever.          - Francis Bacon Preface to a Treatise on Interpreting Nature

The Design of Everyday Things

Every inventor should take this free online course. Learn the basics of design and start observing and applying design principles.

How to Design Breakthrough Inventions

A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley

How to Build a StartUp

In this free online course, learn the key tools and steps for building a successful startup (or at least reducing the risk of failure).

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 2009

Ms. Christine Best Perkins, inventor of FidoRido, a car seat for dogs (see video in left panel), shared with us some of her ongoing experiences as an innovator.  Her presentation and the ensuing discussion offered practical insights into the world of the inventor. 

The need.  Ms. Perkins got a puppy and immediately realized that she needed to protect both her dog and herself during car rides together.  How could she make the ride fun for her dog while keeping her dog off of her face, from between her foot and the brake pedal, and from falling out of the window? 

The solution – a car seat for dogs – included a molded container (originally a cat litter box), a dog harness that could be strapped to different areas of the container, a cushion that elevated the dog high enough to see out the window, and a removable pouch for carrying small items.  At home, her dog could use the car seat as a bed or (frown) as a bathtub. Mr. Craig Thompson suggested that she focus on finalizing the development of her core car seat before developing accessories such as a leash for independent sale. 

Legal protection.  Ms. Perkins obtained the legal benefit of a patent which gave her the right to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell or selling, or importing her invention in the United States.  This patent lets her protect dog owners and their dogs while earning enough profit to grow her business to protect more dog owners and more dogs. 

Manufacturing.  All FidoRido parts are made by companies located within a few hours drive of Indianapolis, allowing Ms. Perkins to remain directly involved in the manufacturing process. Nevertheless she constantly evaluates new opportunities to reduce manufacturing costs.  Current manufacturing costs are too high for her to profit by selling retail, so she sells directly to consumers over the internet.  The audience suggested that she consider offering both her current product, and a new product that could be manufactured at lower cost for profitable retail sales. 

Financing.  Ms. Perkins found that funding growth of a small business can be difficult.  An accountant (her husband) improved her financial situation by helping her to efficiently direct the use of her funds.  Mr. Thompson solved the chicken and the egg problem (which came first?) by suggesting that, even though a loan is hard to get, a bank might offer a loan based on the collateral of one purchase order from one major retailer. 

Marketing and Sales 
     - Attention by association is a great way to market a product. Give your product to a celebrity who will use it publicly and inquiring minds will want to know where they can buy it. 
     - A professional web site developer benefits Ms. Perkins, who sells her invention only on the internet. 
     - Marketing to targeted audiences (such as bazaars that emphasize novelty, the Humane Society, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and to pet store chains) can efficiently increases sales. 
     - And, of course, public praise of a good product is a wonderful marketing tool. Ms. Perkins and FidoRido have been featured by MSNBC, Dr. Laura, Inside INdiana Business, and Rainmakers; she was named Indianapolis Small Business Development Center 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year; and she won the first Entrepreneurs’ Alliance of Indiana “Entrepreneurs Challenge Award”. 

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Ms. Perkins. Best of luck with FidoRido!

Patent Drawings by Richard McVicker

Some inventions patented by our members:

Bob Brand
3,179,907 Tuning system for television receivers
3,219,933 Television tuner switching system
3,241,072 Tuning control system
3,538,466 Television tuner cast housing with integrally cast transmission lines
4,503,740 Optical cutting edge locator for a cutting apparatus
4,503,896 Dog system for veneer slicer
4,601,317 Veneer slicing system
5,511,598 Veneer-slicer with remotely controllable blade angle adjustment
5,562,137 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,590,700 Vacuum flitch table with self-cleaning vacuum valve
5,678,619 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer from a tapered flitch
5,680,887 Veneer slicer with timing belt
5,694,995 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,701,938 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,819,828 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,868,187 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,395,843 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,552,750 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer sheets from a flitch

Kenton Brett
6023685 Computer controlled event ticket auctioning system
6704713 Computer controlled event ticket auctioning system
6907405 Computer controlled priority right auctioning system
7647269 Computer-based right distribution system with reserve pricing
7698210 Computer-based right distribution system
7720746 Computer-based right distribution system with password protection
7747507 Computer controlled auction system
7769673 Computer-based right distribution system with request reallocation
7992631 System and method for seasonal energy storage
8073765 Computer-based right distribution system with password protection
8128407 Method and system for teaching math
8538856 Computer-based right distribution system
8732033 Computer-based right distribution system with temporal variation
9614733 Methods and systems for reducing burst usage of a networked computer system
9900220 Methods and systems for reducing burst usage of a networked computer system

James Dougherty
8622039 Rockerless desmodromic valve system
9488074 Rockerless desmodromic valve system
9366158 Unitary cam follower and valve preload spring for a desmodromic valve mechanism

Ron Jackson
4,886,110 HVAC zone control system
4,943,039 Adjustable clamp
4,987,409 Level sensor and alarm
5,132,669 Level sensor with alarm
5,381,989 Adjustable spring clamp
5,944,098 Zone control for HVAC system
6,145,752 Temperature monitoring and control system
6,322,443 Duct supported booster fan
D347,596 Audible security alarm
D376,747 Door security device

Jerry McQuinn
D689,343 Universal Nutcracker

Richard McVicker
3,261,937 Three position snap switch utilizing interference blade means
3,319,477 Timer Escapement
3,332,704 Manually propelled treadmill vehicle
4,625,616 Thumb pick
6,309,076 Light barrier, screen or reflector
D240,237 Sculpture or the like
D356,653 Yard light
8389839 Thumb pick

Bill Pangburn
5,943,831 Device for Hauling Objects

Matt Thie
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
4,844,446 Multiple-compartment currency stacker-sorter
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
7,298,280 Lighted fluid flow indication apparatus
7,617,826 Conserver
8146592 Method and apparatus for regulating fluid flow or conserving fluid flow
8230859 Method and apparatus for regulating fluid

Don Walls
D707090 Torque key lever
RE36209 Door lock apparatus

Dave Zedonis
5,637,926 Battery powered electronic assembly for wheel attachment

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