Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions
Marketing a New Product
A True Story About Inventing and Marketing (Previous Page)
The "Trim-Trak" - A New Inventions Story Continued Page 2
While experimenting with the tractor units I found that I could use one of the tractors as a hand-held manual type of trimmer. Depending upon the weight of the paper and the style of perforations, I could trim the margin of a stack of up to about 20 sheets at a time.
Two new inventions to develop and market
So now I had two potential new inventions, a hand held trimmer, and a trimmer built into printers. There was no question in my mind that the devices were patentable and marketable.
I enlisted the help of my brother, setting up a limited partnership to fund the project, and we raised about $75,000 from about 30 small investors we rounded up from among our friends. One of our investors owned and operated a plastic injection molding company.
We applied for a patent, and I designed a hand held margin trimmer that was attractive, easy to use, and entirely injection moldable.
I also designed a stand alone automatic margin trimmer that automatically trimmed the margins off of the paper as it fed out from the printer, or in batches. The prototype automatic margin trimmer had a paper tension sensor so it could track the output of the printer, trimming at the same rate as the printer printed. It also could trim just the left margin, just the right margin, or both.
The tool and die makers at the injection molders built the prototypes of the hand held and automatic margin trimmers.
Our injection molder built the tooling we needed for the hand held device, amortizing the tooling over a large number of units. We were to pay an additional dollar per piece until the tooling was paid for. I'm having a hard time remembering the details, but I think it was costing us about a buck and a half ($1.75) per trimmer to injection mold the plastic parts, assemble the trimmers, and package them in blister cards.
I think we had a suggested retail price of $7.95 although I am not sure. My brother and I were trying to market it ourselves, but we weren't really salesmen, and weren't making much progress. New inventions can be hard to market.
One of our investors was my marketing guy for another product. He took the prototypes of the trimmers to a computer products trade show. He was able to demonstrate our new products to the president of Curtis manufacturing. Curtis was in the business of manufacturing and marketing computer accessories such as surge protectors diskette holders, mouse pads etc.
Curtis Manufacturing takes on our new inventions
The president of Curtis loved the automatic margin trimmer and agreed to market and distribute the handheld version which we were to manufacture at the injection molding plant. The president of Curtis hired a product development company in Palo Alto CA. to refine my automatic trimmer. After several months the new product development company had a working prototype to show us, and it was slick. I believe it was going to cost about $50 to produce and was to be marketed for a couple of hundred. We would get 5% of the gross sales (wholesale).
Curtis was selling my new invention, the hand held margin trimmers, color coordinated to match Curtis's color scheme, for $9.95 I think, and they were beginning to sell. Life was good.
The president of Curtis asked me if I would be able to invent a better burster than what was on the market. A burster is a machine that separates the continuous tractor feed paper into the individual pages. They are large heavy expensive machines that weigh 60 to 150 pounds and take up a whole desk top. They are batch machines. They are so prone to paper jams and problems that they come complete with a special un-jamming tool. They retail between $1,600 and $3,000.
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