The Man – The Legend – John Osher, Inventor of the Spin Brush Part I

John Osher is the protagonist of that story. You know it well. It inspired you to begin inventing and continues to give you hope in the darkest of days. It’s as rare as it is remarkable. For John Osher, lightning has indeed struck twice. And three and four times…

He’s the creator of the smash toy-candy “Spin Pop”, a lollipop that sits atop a battery operated handle, twirling the sweet treat in your mouth. In it’s inception, the Spin Pop created an entirely new category of products, now known as “interactive candy”. The Spin Pop, born in 1996, sells around the world today. But the product, successful as it might have been and still is, was merely the precedent for Osher’s next bigger and better creation.

Osher is the inventor of the “Spin Brush”, which he sold to Proctor and Gamble in 2001 for 475 million dollars.

How’d he do it?

I want to first make clear that Osher’s story is FAR from the typical inventor’s experience. But it’s relevant nonetheless because many of the skills he used to bring his product to market, despite having sophisticated design teams, established contacts, and sufficient funds, are the same ones you must master.

Osher approached the creation of the Spin Brush in a unique manner.

“In 1997, after the sale of the Spin Pop to Hasbro, I got together with a group of designers and inventors, many of whom I previously worked with. We decided to purposefully invent a new product – rather than having an idea come to us, we would actively seek a great new one. We wandered the aisles of WalMart and Walgreens, eventually conceiving of over one hundred ideas. Creating an electric toothbrush that would retail for five dollars was at the top of the list.”

Osher knew the potential market for such a product was enormous – every sex, race, religion, creed brushed their teeth, right? But because the retail price of electric toothbrushes between seventy and eighty dollars, the product simply wasn’t affordable.

But Osher had the technology to create a new electric toothbrush – he would apply the same technique utilized by the inexpensive toy candy twirler to a toothbrush.

“Our design group was very specific about what we wanted to invent. A group of rules was decided on. The brush would not cost over a dollar forty to make, and would not retail for over five dollars. The new brush had to better than a manual one. The brush had to last a minimum of six months, and the brush’s batteries for three. If any of these criteria proved to be too difficult, we would have abandoned the project. It wouldn’t have been worth it.”

But remarkably, it was. The audacious plan was underway.

“The most difficult task we faced was proving the Spin Brush wasn’t a gimmick – that even though it was so cheap (especially in comparison to other existing electrical toothbrushes), it really worked.”

How did they begin making the Spin Brush? Read the next blog to find out!

Click here to listen to the interview.