How most good things start with a bar, a friend and a napkin.
The scene was familiar – the room was a little too dark, there were a few too many empty glasses on the table and a fairly intense conversation was going down.
JD is a very smart guy.
He’s a veterinarian, which makes him a little smarter than the average person, and a lot more responsible than most people I hang out with.
He came to me because he had been working on this idea, and, me being an idea alchemist, he wanted to see if I could be of assistance – work a little magic.
I get the chance to hear a lot of idea pitches. Having helped everyone from first-time inventors to Sony Electronics build out go-to-market strategies for product launches I have a reputation.
If I can’t do it, I know someone who can get that shit done.
I’m typically not much interested in the idea itself, as I explain all the time – it is usually the most UNIMPORTANT aspect of taking a product to market.
So, JD explains that he’s taken four iphones, strapped them to the four legs on a horse and tapped into their accelerometers, gyroscopes, levels and GPS functions, kicked out a string of math and can tell with a bit of accuracy if the horse is sound or lame.
Seriously!! Fuckin’ bad assery right there.
From experience I know the horse market is not a big market but there is a shit ton of money in there. And lameness is THE number one healthcare concern to a horse owner.
So it had legs (pardon the pun) and so it began.
Step one started with a napkin and some ideas to get rid of all that unnecessary hardware.
We only need the core sensors and maybe a Bluetooth to make them talk to your smartphone.
I figured it could be a smallish device that could easily slip inside of a protective skid boot. But I also knew the engineers and industrial design team would have way better ideas about that.
Then we had to consider funding. Money, as always, is the kicker.
JD and his Dad had enough to get through the first 2 or 3 phases of development. This was good.
It would get us to proof of concept – and that would help us convince someone with money and a love for horses to get us to the finish line.
Since he was looking for some validation outside of family members I let him know that, yes, it was a good idea and yes, he should be proud.
We needed to do quite a bit of research to know how accurate it would be (a key) and was protect-able.
But if that all worked out, and we played the cards right, he damn sure was on the path to being an inventor.
The next step was multi-faceted.
We needed to get this in front of the right engineering team – one who had done this type of work before.
And, we needed to see if it had been done, if someone already owned the patent.
Not getting a patent doesn’t mean it’s dead, it just means we might have to go about it from a different angle. I’ll explain more about that later because it could save your ass down the road.
That wrapped up my favorite part of this process – a bar, an idea and a napkin.
Next chapter – Recruiting the Bad News Bears…