Julie Austin is a PR professional, author, and inventor of the wrist water bottle “Swiggies”. The motivation to create her invention came one hot Texas day.
“It was August, and I was running in the heat. It was probably over one hundred degrees, but I thought I’d be fine without bringing water – I was already carrying my keys and my iPod and didn’t have room to carry a water bottle as well. About two miles into my run, I passed out from dehydration. I thought, ‘Maybe there’s a better way to do this…’”
Austin tried a number of different designs before settling on a final one. Because she thought bringing her product to market herself would be overwhelming, she first sought out licensing.
“I didn’t want to run a business and frankly, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I found an infomercial company that wanted to sell my product, and we agreed to a contract. But after a year, the product had done nothing. I had to take it back and begin again.”
Austin’s experience explains the perfect dilemma for many inventors: determining which route (licensing or manufacturing yourself) is better for their product. She learned that “Swiggies” sold better as a promotional item and for specialty groups, and also that it required several other related products to complete a line.
“I learned a lot about my consumer market through tradeshows. When I finally attended the right one, I was mobbed. I actually sell about triple in the premium market what I do in retail. Many companies purchase my product in bulk to distribute to employees as gifts or give-aways. When I approached the Home Shopping Network to sell my product, I learned that I needed to expand my line. So I designed a child’s Swiggies and all-natural electrolyte drink to go with it.”
Austin estimates that she has spent a little over $300,000 – a very large sum. If she knew the process would demand so much time and investment, would she do it over again?
“You know… I’m not sure. I’ve learned from every experience. But I definitely could have benefited from having a mentor, someone who had actually done what I was trying to do before I tried to do it. I ran into a lot of obstacles that could have been prevented. It was also difficult because I relied solely on one idea. I had all of my eggs in one basket, so to speak. That was stressful. But Swiggies has really taken off now!”
Check out Julie Austin’s new book, “The Money Garden: How to Plant the Seeds of Income for a Lifetime”.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 25 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas and the skills needed to succeed. You can ask questions and get advice on the inventRight forum, check out the resource center, and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.