I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Warren Tuttle, an experienced inventor. Warren has designed a number of successful products for the housewares industry – his “Smart Spin” product was the top selling Infomercial product of 2005.
So, how would Tuttle recommend bringing a product to market? Although he’s done so in a number of ways (including selling in specialty stores and through direct TV), he maintains that the following steps should never be skipped.
“People are always asking, ‘Where do I start?’ With the idea itself, yes. But the best way to rapidly move your product along is to do a lot of research. It’s really important to learn a lot about the industry you want to design for, or that your idea will sell in. How can you do this? Start visiting retail stores. Talk to sales clerks, look at catalogues, go online. Become an expert.”
Before he began inventing, Tuttle owned his own gourmet cooking stores and cooking school. He’s a chef – and his intimate knowledge about food, cooking, and people who cook has undoubtedly contributed to his success.
“You will really learn a lot along the way. Obviously, another first step is to verify that your idea is original – or at the least, unique in some way. Make some initial background checks. The USPTO is a great resource to determine if any similar patents already exist. Feel free to vet your product to your friends and family, but go even further. Eventually, these discoveries will lead you to creating what I call a ‘proof of performance’.”
While Tuttle admits that the advent of computers and computer software have allowed us to create renderings and drawings, at some point, you will need to determine if your product can actually function. This isn’t necessary at the very beginning, but definitely further down the line.
What are some of the current trends Tuttle has identified in the housewares industry?
“The average housewares consumer is getting younger. The kitchen is being viewed differently than it used to. It’s now more of a family room. People are eating out less due to the economy, and they’re cooking more at home. And some general trends across the board translate – products that save on energy consumption and waste are popular, as are personal health products.”
Tuttle now devotes his time to scouting new products for Lifetime Brands. Lifetime Brands is a leading designer, developer and marketer of a broad range of nationally branded consumer products used in the home. Their five main product categories are Kitchenware, Tabletop, Cutlery and Cutting Boards, Bakeware and Pantryware and Spices.
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.