Inventors fix problems. Good inventors fix problems for the masses. Great inventors fix problems for the masses and deliver it to the market. We (Dan and Judi Bruns) learned firsthand about characteristics of inventors with our first invention, the TwistekCase. As everyday smartphone users like the other 190 million+ people in the world and ski instructors, we needed a way to stay connected to our phones and use it in new ways. Instead of buying wearable technology, we decided to create a product that allows you to wear the technology you already own.
In 2013, the TwistekCase was conceptualized. It is a multi-purpose smartphone case nothing like anything on the market. It has a dual-axis 360 degree rotating hinge which allows it to fulfill more than one need. It becomes a photo stand, selfie extender, night stand, “TwistPro” for filming during action sports such as running, and an aid for those with disabilities making the phone more easily accessible and usable. The TwistekCase also helps stop the drop, giving quick and easy access to the smartphone without taking it out of the clip. This is why it has been dubbed a “smartcase.” A smartcase is a case that is more than the average case because it adapts to the user’s specific need.
Dan keeps his TwistekCase on his belt for quick access to his phone and to protect it from being dropped or lost. Judi keeps hers on her desk as a second screen to watch posts, tweets, etc. Of course, skiing and movement analysis during the winter is something we both use it for.
Creating the invention together has been exciting as we prepare to introduce it to the market. We learned a lot including what not to do! Here are some of the things we learned along the way:
1. Working as a married team has been a challenge, but well worth it. We are so different that we totally complement each other. Whether married or not, when working with a partner, identify your strengths upfront. Use each of your strengths to contribute to the product and tackle everything as a team.
2. You can’t do it all by yourself. There is a lot of help out there, just knowing where to find it is half the battle. We knew that networking is big, but found that it is bigger than we thought. You can’t avoid it. Network. Network. Network. When you meet people, harness their strengths and follow the advice of those who have once been in your shoes. You will hear so many angles and perspectives from professionals. Be willing to listen and you will learn.
3. Get ready to work in new ways. You need to be able to wear more than one hat. There are so many ways to do things such as injection mold, 3D printing, milling, rubber molds, packaging, etc. When to beta test and when not to. For some people this can be uncomfortable but it pushes you to rely on your strengths and either improve your weaknesses or get assistance.
4. Plan on it costing more than you thought. Innovation takes time and patience. With every change (improvement) there are more costs. More CAD work needing done, making another prototype, etc. For example, the 3D printing material is brittle. We broke at least 5 of them! Also, everything will take way longer than you expect, and time is money. With every change, add more time for you, for your engineer, for your 3D printing, for shipping, for weather, you name it…So make sure you build room for unexpected costs and changes in your budget and timeline.
5. An entrepreneur must overcome and persevere. Having the drive to continue moving forward is important. There will be times when you wonder, “What the heck am I doing?” Just keep moving forward. Even if you fall on your face, you’re moving forward as you fall.
You have our 5 tips on becoming a great inventor. Now it’s your turn. Share some of your lessons learned with us or your invention. We’d love to connect with you on our blog or social media sites.