Diary of a Young Entrepreneur – licensing and light at the end of the tunnel

In the fourth of her monthly blog posts charting her journey towards taking an invention to market, young entrepreneur Rowena Mead finds some valuable contacts and sees light at the end …

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14th August 2007 at 9:01 am

In the fourth of her monthly blog posts charting her journey towards taking an invention to market, young entrepreneur Rowena Mead finds some valuable contacts and sees light at the end of the prototype tunnel.

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So, the Knowledge Rich scheme was my first attempt at trying to get prototype help. I heard back from two universities, both of which turned out to be non-starters. I travelled the two hour journey to one of them, to be told that actually, they couldn’t make me a prototype – it was too complex, but they would happily conduct some clinical trials on my product for a mere £230,000. Thanks very much, I said politely, but I don’t have a large yacht I can put on eBay.

The other university messed me around for four weeks, then sent me to a company down in Dorset who couldn’t help either. Great!

At this point in time, I still needed more business advice – I didn’t know what options I had. Could I do this alone, or should I go down the licensing route? I was advised to contact my local Business Link for some support and got some sound advice from them. But the lady who spoke to me said that I needed to be referred to the ‘High Growth Business Team’ for a meeting and advice.

About two weeks later, I had that meeting and they suggested licensing was definitely the best option for me. This meant, I needed to get prototypes and other display material to formulate a pitch to potentially interested parties – Colgate-Palmolive, Proctor & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline, Wisdom, Boots etc. But who should I approach first? So many options, my head was spinning. I needed help. My Business Link advisor directed me to a great mentor called Julian Horrocks, and thank goodness I contacted him. He has been so supportive ever since the day I first called him!

But I still needed a prototype. I proceeded to contact practically every prototyping company in England, and some in China, all of which were saying ‘I don’t know how the hell you’re going to make that!’ Because I didn’t understand how rapid prototyping worked, I was baffled as to what the problem was. I really didn’t know whether I was asking the impossible, or whether these companies couldn’t be bothered to take on a complex project. I was quickly running out of options at this point, until I went to the Leeds Inventors group meeting.

My business contact Steve Ascough had invited me and during the event the organiser happened to overhear my plight, and mentioned Richard Hall of Pd-m international. I’d heard of his name before – even had his business card on my desk, but had visited the wrong website and had initially ruled him out. But as soon as I emailed him about my prototyping plight, he called me straight back saying his company could help. Finally, there was some light at the end of this prototyping tunnel.

Exactly 63 days after starting my prototyping search, I had a meeting with Richard (which also happened to be my 24th birthday!) and established that his company could help me with everything – the best birthday gift I’ve had in a long time!

Join me next month for prototyping madness, and a BBC documentary!

Rowena Mead

Rowena Mead is a freelance copywriter and entrepreneur with ambitious plans to bring a new type of children's toothbrush to market. Married with a 20 month old mischievous daughter named Saskia who was the inspiration behind her invention, Rowena shares her business trials, tribulations and successes with SmallBizPod readers. http://www.subservientcopy.com

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