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Recon Rail & Flight Fender Adapter Instructional Installation Video

This is a 10 minute, informative demonstration of how to easily install your Recon Rails, the Flight Fender Adapters, and the spacers for Kush and Cobra Pads. Leads off with an overview of the components, purpose of the Recon Rail as a mounting platform, and some close up shots of installing your Flight Fender Adapter Spacers in case you are rolling on some thick 3rd party pads. Note that all purchases are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a MFR defect warranty. If you don’t like your product SEND IT BACK! The Recon Rail is the base platform for all of our accessories. The original intent was for moving your Flight Fins and we have a variety of useful accessories you can purchase on our site. Lights, camera mounts, slings, and more. The Recon Rail set is only $179 and for a limited time, comes with FREE flight Fender Adapters, use code ‘FFSendy’ with both in your cart. The Recon Rail is constructed of a 6061 Aluminum Alloy with a picatinny style mounting face. The inside is lined with a neoprene damper to add tension in the mounting process AND protect you Onewheel rail. The handle is 60A durometer urethane and is intended to be soft so that during carry, the tire rotates away from the body. The mounting brackets are 80A Durometer Urethane with Stainless Steel threaded inserts to receive the hardware. Flight Fender Adapters are injection molded Zytel ST801 Nylon, incredible impact resistance and austere weather conditions. There are two stainless steel threaded inserts for connection to the Flight Fender. The spacers are an 80A durometer urethane and provide a “locking” feature to the hardware when installed, much like a lock washer. Once your rails are installed, you can mix and match any accessories you like, move your fins, remove your fins, roll with only one, etc. The options are up to you.

In short, Recon Rails are a new mounting platform that allows you to expediently customize your Onewheel by adding accessories or moving your Flight Fins. The primary goal was to provide you with the ability to move your Flight Fins using our Flight Fender Adapters. We also have several accessories in our online catalog that have been tested and vetted for use. Each Recon Rail has a built-in rubber handle that centers over the axle. Carrying with said handle torques the board away from your body so you don’t keep bumping your Onewheel.  See installation instructions below.

I’ve got plenty of accessories in our catalog that have been tested and vetted for use on your Onewheel.  You can also shop picatinny accessories on your own if you like.

The board setup includes: Tire – FF Hoosier 6″ https://www.flightfins.com/ff-hoosier…

Fender/Fins – Flight Fender & Flight Fins https://www.flightfins.com/flightfender/ https://www.flightfins.com/flightfins/

Customizations – stock rail but with Recon Rails. Flight Fender Adapters, Elite Shred Grips, 1200 lumen lights, and Onewheel sling clips attached to Recon Rail https://eliteinnovationsllc.com/produ… https://eliteinnovationsllc.com/produ… https://eliteinnovationsllc.com/produ…

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Onewheel Stability with Elite Flight Fender Adapters

This video is intended to demonstrate the effectiveness of being able to relocate your Flight Fins on your Onewheel. Our Recon Rail system allows you to move your Flight Fenders and Fins using our Flight Fender Adapters (FREE with Recon Rail Purchase for a limited time). They’re basically commitment pads, but not stupid.

The video portrays the stability of the rider’s stance using the Flight Fender Adapters. Sticking landings at speed, bonking blocks and curbs, etc. are far EASIER and you have far more CONTROL over your board. I’m not a pro, but in 8 months I’ve put 2200 miles on that XR and can attribute much of my capability to the gear I’m using (This disclaimer is unfortunately necessary). Hours and hours of practice are required to master bonks and balance without Fins. Add fins and you got it in minutes. Add Recon Rails & Adapters and you got it immediately if you can touch the tire to the surface, you can get up it with the board secured to your feet.

I was a surfer/skater and pretty good at both so I had a place to start in board sports. Snowboarding came naturally to me, and of course these things feel more like a Snowboard than anything else though not exactly like ANYTHING really. I wanted to give the boards more user control above and beyond the power supplied through the wheel, i.e. lifting and landing with stability and keeping the board with you when you want it but still being able to drop it when you don’t. I love that float vibe and when I want it, I just take off my fins in a couple minutes and float on. If I want to shred, I put them back on and I shred.

Image includes prototypes and pre-production rails.

Regarding nosedives, these help SIGNIFICANTLY with nose dive prevention AND riding them out. YES, nosedives are prevented with skill and experience, but the last divot that dumped you on the ground couldn’t be avoided by either. On speed nose dives, I typically prevent them when I feel the motor accelerate (I’m not accelerating forward, rather you feel the motor accelerate to keep balance).  I ride alone usually so I’m not, nor would most people, have a video that captures this magical moment.  My back foot has full control over the board and I simply force it forward under my body and stay upright. My back foot us back about 2 inches from original mounting spot so my gravitational support structure gives me this ability. If I dive completely, the same movement pulls me out as long as I’m conscious not to panic, or at least slow me down enough to run it out. You can’t run a nose dive out at full speed. These things exceed 20 mph, it takes 1/4 second, on average, for a human to react to anything, and the average sprint speed of a human is far under 20 mph. Like Uncle Ricco, I used to be able to throw a football over them mountains. I also ran a 4.7s 40 yard dash, that’s not super fast but for the positions I played, it was good. That’s about 17 mph. If I reacted at 20 mph, I would have already moved 2.45 yards or 7.35 feet. Then, because your linear velocity does not decrease, you have to run faster than everyone except Usain Bolt to run it out. I’m 33 and I tore my right hamstring in half in Iraq, I can’t run a 4.7s 40 anymore.

Acceleration nose dives are almost a thing of the past. I can slap the tail and nose down on command and the board stays with me. Turn your aggressiveness down to 3 or less and your physical inputs will be even better. High aggressiveness when you have poor traction or stance leads to burnouts. Acceleration nose dives and hill nose dives are essentially the same. Just remember, your board’s gyros know flat and your brain knows what it sees. A hill gives you the perception that you have more angle available under the nose to accelerate, but REMEMBER the gyro doesn’t care that there’s a hill there, the motor does. Rather than having linear velocity to deal with, the motor must now also take you UP which requires more power and torque. You can’t have speed and torque just yet, you gotta pick wisely.

Obstacle nose dives, i.e. hitting a divot, bump, curb or whatever without seeing it. At slow speeds, just lift your rear foot and ride over it. At higher speeds, good luck, lol. As usual, you can plow over things other electric boards can’t, but I’d say an obstacle roughly 1/3 the height of the tire will send you flying. With this setup, I’ve cleared 2 foot defects in the sidewalk that would send me flying just by lifting the board ever so slightly. Landing off curbs can be done at full speed and you can ride it out like it’s not even motorized.

The board setup includes:

Tire – FF Hoosier 6″ https://www.flightfins.com/ff-hoosier…

Fender/Fins – Flight Fender & Flight Fins https://www.flightfins.com/flightfender/ https://www.flightfins.com/flightfins/

Customizations – stock rail but with Recon Rails. Flight Fender Adapters, Elite Shred Grips, 1200 lumen lights, and Onewheel sling clips attached to Recon Rail https://eliteinnovationsllc.com/produ… https://eliteinnovationsllc.com/produ… https://eliteinnovationsllc.com/produ…

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Recon Rail Updates

Hey folks, hope you are enjoying another week and getting your float on when and where able!

So there are about 10 Recon Rail sets out there being tested to date.  For all folks using my products, pre-production, I am going to keep you updated on parts as they are refined at no cost to you.  I’ve begun to receive tons of great feedback, and yes some negative, but that’s the point here!  The Onewheel industry is currently pretty small, but you and I know it’s going to get a lot bigger.  As I roll out new products, I want to keep it lean and community-feedback driven.  Having worked in product development for about 10 years, I have a real knack for getting designs updated, prototyped, and to production fairly quickly.  I want to continue incorporating community feedback into my design process, so here’s what I’ve received and acted on to date:

  • All black…
  • Better instructions for installation.
  • Clean up molded parts.

All Black.

As you can see below on the left, the first revision included black aluminum alloy picatinny mounts fixed to naturally finished 6061 Aluminum plates.  The combination of the two increased the product’s overall resistance to bending stress, even though that’s alleviated by mounting flat to the rail.  For consistency, I’ve built jigs for the tapping and assembly of the parts.  I anticipate someone will clip a curb with the front of one of these so I want to ensure it won’t grab and bend.  So far so good there.  I’ve had two requests in the same thread for all black.  While, of course, I’ll eventually be as smart as FM and release multiple colors; I’m going to switch to the all black murdered look until then.

Better Instructions for Installation.

Given that the install is VERY simple, I relied heavily on a simple render to show the steps.  While that does show it, feedback suggests that folks will need some more deets!  All good there, I’ve updated the installation instructions (see below) and created an overview video.

Cleaned up molded parts.

My intent is to field feedback on the functionality of the system and ease of installation.  Also, any durability issues or just general product feedback.  I have pushed a few mounting brackets and FF Adapters out that have aesthetic flaws.  I’m molding the parts using a Cast Urethane process and want to cover all changes necessary for a full launch.  I have a fantastic molder I’m on-boarding to start shooting these in a hard tool after they’re all tested out.  I expect prices will drop with the drop in COGS as I switch to Injection Molding.  Parts below show the before and after shots of parts that I’ve sent and changes made to the aesthetic since.  The ugly one was a prototype mount, the prettier ones on the right or bottom are what is currently shipping.  Also have feedback to increase the offset of the “mating” faces for a more secure hold (Thanks Cory).

 

What’s next for the Recon Rail?

I have a vendor producing custom 18″ picatinny rails for me.  I’ll transition to that once I off-ramp the assembly to the manufacturer so we aren’t using two different sizes per side.  This should reduce COGS and consequently cost.

My molder for the mounting brackets will also be doing the handle.  Fillets will be added for better comfort.  Currently, the handle is flat stock TPU cut with a water jet to eliminate Non-Recurring Expenses (NRE) in production until I feel it’s time to inject it.

Once the supply chain is ironed out with my manufacturer, I’ll start adding multiple color options.

What’s next for Elite Onewheel?

Well, hopefully no one cares that I have Onewheel in the name.  I’m sure I’ll hear if they do.

The Flight Fender Adapters (formerly Flight Fin Adapter) will be off-ramped to the molder for better parts pretty soon.  They will be molded in glass-filled Nylon for durability and resistance to the elements.

I have 3 types of pads going to production.  Not happy with the last sample, so no pics until they’re right.  One is a standard set of coarse grips, one is standard EVA for comfort cruising (would rather buy from an existing 3rd party vendor), and the “Shred Grip.”  The Shred Grip is unique in a couple of ways.  The front grip creates a concave footing and the rear grip has a hump in the arch of the foot.  This mimics parabolic stringers on a surfboard and doubles down on your cutting power.

I have a prototype for a set (front and rear) of pads.  It’s early in development, but currently functional.  These pads allow the changing of grips without tools or adhesive backing.  The base will be comprised of glass-filled nylon and an industrial TPU and will be lighter than the stock pads.

A Caddy system for Joon Kim, lol.  Actually, it’s a “Caddy” that will attached to the Recon Rail using the holes for the built-in rubber handle.  It is a frame-style device that will not interfere with fenders, Flight Fins, etc. and will be used for grabs, handle points, speaker mounts, long-range mod mounts, lights, and more.

Keep an eye on our social for daily use of our equipment and updates.

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Elite Innovations’ First Year Reflection

Looking back on our first Elite year

Wow, a year gone by already for Elite Innovations?! For a startup, it’s hard to say whether you are more surprised that you still exist or that you have actually done quite well!A little over year ago, Ed Hall and I were setting up shop on 18th street, literally, a big a$$ shop known as a Makerspace. The goal there was start serving Wilmington’s “inventrepreneurs” by giving them access to 3D printing, Computer-Aided-Design (CAD), metal fabrication, textiles, electronics, and more. Our Grand Opening was October 18th, 2014. I’d say it was quite a success given the turnout, mostly attributable to Ann Revell Pechar and Emilyanne Atkinson’s exhaustive event planning skills (Also Vittles was there, that was my contribution to the effort). It’s also exciting to see that those are two increasingly popular names around town, well deserved of course. Our partnership with UNCW’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (initiated by Jim Roberts) introduced us to various local product ideas and opened the doors for really making an impact on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in town. Ron Vetter got us engaged with the Center for Marine Sciences to get our first R&D project under our belts. The month’s to follow certainly proved there was a need for a product development service in town, our doors were flooded with inventors who needed help turning their concept into a reality. I’m not one to “toot my own horn,” but I can at least say we’ve made some solid traction over the past 12 months. Did that traction come easily, or without pain? Nope… So what did we learn?

Our original plan happened in reverse order… As we used to say in the Marine Corps, “Don’t fall in love with the plan,” or “a plan is great until the first round goes down range.” Remember the unknowns also play a part in every outcome. I expected more product-focused entrepreneurs, full of energy and motivation, to knock down the doors of the Makerspace. While many did show, what we saw most was product development customers. Basically, this meant we needed to scale personnel sooner and faster. It would be one thing if the first batch of customers had simple ideas; they didn’t… We first brought in an industrial designer (Jonathan), TacLace sales rep (Jay) and two programmers (Andrew and Jason). This kept our capacity up through the present day.

We came across things we were unfamiliar with, imagine that! That’s why we have Barnes & Noble, the internet, and a local research library.

We had internal disputes. Go figure, we are humans.

We played corn hole, A LOT!

Hosted the Wired Wizards build season in the Makerspace. The Wired Wizards, headed by Jazmin Caprezza, are an NCFirst robotics team comprised of local high school students (geniuses).

Our pace increased, yet again. We brought in our Director of Operations (Liz) to manage our pipeline and functional responsibilities. Since then over 60 product ideas reviewed and scoped, 24 prototypes complete, four in production or ready to start.

In the past quarter, we have seen a surge in IOT related projects. One additional designer (David) and a web developer (Ken) was added to the team. Project management is now more than just a collateral duty for some team members, but essential serving our clients well. We are thrilled to say that six of our team members are UNCW graduates and one is a CFCC Graduate.

We partnered with Edison Nation out of Charlotte, NC. This landed us in front of SVPs at Amazon where we were able to pitch TacLace for their Launchpad and Vendor Express programs. They loved it and we were awarded both opportunities.

We have been honored to speak at various local entrepreneurial events and play a strong role in this year’s Cucalorus Connect.

Most importantly, we have had the opportunity to embed ourselves in Wilmington’s entrepreneurial community. We have met some excellent thought leaders, networked with other local startups, and seen firsthand the progress being made in town. We cannot express our excitement for where this scene is headed and sure hope we have made some impact on helping Wilmington get there.

Now for a few things I find important at Elite that I hope help others:

Team – there is no I in team, unless you ask Jonathan Dineen, our industrial designer. He likes to doodle a “designy” TEAM where he emphasizes the negative space in the “A” and it inherently makes an “i.” I digress. One of the toughest calls in a startup is when and who do I hire? Initially, it’s great practice to bring in team members that tie directly into the revenue streams. However, at some point you have to identify some administrative positions that have less “tangible” impact on the business. Who can manage your pipeline and how much time does that save you? Once you analyze this, you start to realize that these impacts are quite a bit more “tangible” than you thought.

Tools – You’re a manager, right? Your job is to provide resources to your team; that includes time, money, personnel, the list goes on. Sometimes these tools have that same “intangible” impact on your business, but at the end of the day, they empower your team to excel in their jobs. The obvious firsts include accounting tools, better yet an accountant. Hire one… Spend a couple hundred a month, the amount it costs comes back in a matter of hours. The next thing is a CRM tool. Get one… Salesforce, Sugar CRM, there are tons. The first time you see your opportunity pipeline as real potential, you’ll quickly realize what you are missing otherwise. Combine some of these formerly “intangible” items together and you’ll be pretty excited about what it does for you. The next thing needs to be a billing tool. Just think about it, you handle business with similar people. We are all busy and it’s easy for bills to be put off. Invest in a billing tool to cut down on your receivables, you’ll sleep better at night.

Leadership – You might be able to manage a fortune 10, but if you can’t lead your way out of a wet paper bag, the startup scene isn’t for you! The startup environment is transient and chaotic at best. Take the beatings, but motivate and inspire your team. Know that they could have chosen the status quo and not the path less traveled. My favorite leadership quote didn’t come from a General, Politician, or Business Tycoon. It came from a U.S. Marine Corporal who said, “Think of leading people like using a lasso. If you throw that lasso around your team and push it, the lasso loosens and they scatter to the winds. If you throw that lasso around your team and pull them through, it tightens and they follow you as one.” This is not saying management skills are unimportant, after all, you have to conduct business. I am saying that leadership is not easily learned if it isn’t inherent, but management skills are. Know your strengths as well as your team, be humble, and leverage both accordingly.

Pivot – As previously mentioned, unknowns will surface and you will be forced to change. First off, never have knee-jerk reactions. Always take the time to assess your situation and determine whether the current obstacle is isolated, or representative of a trend. If it’s the latter, pivot. Stress is the body’s natural response to change, the good news is you’re already stressed in a startup so a pivot is not going to make it any worse! That’s sort of a joke, basically, don’t be afraid to stand by your perspective on where your business is headed. Update your plan and communicate this clearly to the team. In high-velocity markets, your ability to adapt as markets and technologies change is instrumental to your future (I learned that in MBA school).

Network – You are strong as your network, plain and simple. Also, build your Alma Mater networks, I don’t care where you went. On average, you’re one degree of separation from that connection you need to take it to the next step. Attend our local events, expand outside of them then share your local networks outside the area.

Sense of Pride – I don’t see our area as just a vacation town and being at the beach is not an actual employment benefit, so don’t tell your employees that it is. Also, I hate the term “Wilmington prices.” Let’s not show up to outside events and expect others look at us like we are just “figuring it out.” Rather, let’s lead the charge and expect others to look to us as the example. Please don’t confuse the word “pride” here with its negative connotation, and obviously being humble is equally as important.

So here is to an Elite year and we hope for many more.

We would like to thank those within the community for ongoing support, now for my Oscar line up: Our Clients, Jim Roberts, Ron Vetter, Laura Brogden, Anne Revell, Adam Burke, George Taylor, Ed Wolverton, Craig Snow, Rob Kaiser, all the Wilmington Biz Journal folks, The Star News, Dr. Arch, Corey Heim, Geoff Fox (FLIPPZE), Ted Zoller, Chuck Whitlock, Elijah Huston, Tek Mountain (Audrey, Derrick, Sean, Jason), Cucalorus and Dan Brawley, Roger Johnson, Allen Davis, Doug Tarble, Mike Hunter, Mike Rhodes, Mickey Finn, VMI Alumni Chapter, and so many more.

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Intellectual Property and Patent Protection

If you are like many of our clients, after the Client Inquiry Meeting, you have identified your new idea as a potential business opportunity and determined it is worth pursuing further. If you have not read my previous blog “Small business ideas, big business opportunities,” please do so. This will help you understand the difference between a common idea and a rare business opportunity. The post provides tips on how to perform an opportunity feasibility analysis to determine if your new idea is worth the commitment of time and money to take it further. It is a crucial step in turning ideas into business realities that I cannot emphasize enough.

With any new idea, or intellectual property, comes some added fears of theft. You are worried to talk about your ideas because you fear someone may try to steal them. You might fear competitors may get wind and quickly adjust their product to provide the value your invention creates for their customers. These are legitimate concerns. Keeping your ideas to yourself in light of these fears seems like the right idea, and in some cases it is. However, keeping your idea to yourself can significantly slow down any development progress. Many times, by sharing your idea, a person you are speaking with may have just the right contact, resource, or expertise you need to help bring your idea to life. But, if they don’t know what you’re doing then this discovery cannot be made. This is where non-disclosure agreements and patents can come in handy. This blog post primarily focuses on patent protection. It is essential to go through the initial patent steps to help ensure that you are not infringing on an existing patent or product before spending tons of money and time on something you could never legally bring to market.

How to protect your intellectual property

Protecting your ideasTo start, a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, is a contract signed by the owner of the idea with any party they are sharing the idea with. It basically states that all related discussions to the idea are confidential to the signed parties and cannot be discussed with other parties that are not part of the agreement unless authorized by the owner, otherwise legal action can be taken to compensate for the breach of contract and any resulting damages. This agreement allows you, the idea holder, to speak candidly with someone since they are now held accountable and will be more hesitant to disclose any of your ideas. Another method to protect your idea, which is also the most known is Intellectual Property protection or IP for short. IP comes in four forms: Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, and Trade Secrets. This post will be outline patents since at Elite Innovations, we specialize in product development where patents are most commonly used.

How to patent an idea

For something to qualify for a utility patent, the idea must be novel, non-obvious, and useful. As part of our services, we help our clients gain IP protection on their ideas. There is typically a two-step patent process recommended to startups for two reasons; one is to file a provisional patent to give the inventors 12 months to be able to disclose their idea, work the kinks out, and raise money, and the second is to file for their full patent, normally a utility patent with products to protect their ideas going to market and open up potential licensing opportunities. Patents become an asset to a company because they can be used to create barriers to entry for potential future competing companies, patents can be licensed to other companies and the patent holder will be compensated for allowing them to use the patent in their products, and patents can be sold outright.

The provisional patent is basically a placeholder to a full patent. This secures the date you filed your provisional patent and the date is transferred over to your full patent, once issued. The date is absolutely critical since the United States is a “first-to-file” country which means that whoever files the patent first becomes the owner of the idea if approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). For instance, let’s say you have the idea, and you tell a company you would like to license the idea to. That company sees you don’t have a patent-pending status and they quickly file a patent before you do with their own money. Regardless if the idea came from you, they now would be first-to-file and have ownership of the idea once approved by the patent office. You no longer have claims to the intellectual property, nor the opportunity to sell it. The provisional patent helps secure that first-to-file date at a fraction of the cost of filing the full patent. Full patents can cost $6,000 – $10,000+ depending on complexity and number of claims you are protecting.

Provisional Patent vs Utility Patent

The provisional patent is broader and does not necessarily have all the claims that would be present in your full patent but establishes the general idea of the novelty, non-obvious, and usefulness of the idea you wish to protect. It then allows the inventor 12 months to choose to file for the full patent, in many cases a Utility Patent, and raise the necessary funds to do so. Note, if you do not file for your full patent within the 12 month provisional window, then you lose the opportunity to file the patent. There are some other things you can do if this situation arises that are advisable by a patent attorney.

During the provisional twelve month period, the inventor can make adjustments to the design, test and validate with customers, sell the product or pitch to investors to raise money, and publicly disclose the idea. Public disclosure is an important concept to keep in mind. If an idea is publicly disclosed prior to any patent-pending status, or let’s say sold for a couple years prior to filing for a patent, then the idea can no longer be patented as the idea is already public knowledge now and anyone can produce it. From U.S. patent laws, a person is not entitled to a patent if the invention was “known or used by others in this country, or was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country.” So before telling the world about your idea be sure to consult a product design company like us, at Elite Innovations, or a patent attorney, or you can choose to file independently.

How to file a patent

Thomas Edison Light Bulb PatentPatents can be filed by yourself through the USPTO online. The patent office is currently back-logged and it may be 1-2 years before you find out if your patent was accepted. However, your filing date is still secured. So if your first attempt is rejected, which is common, they will tell you what needs to be fixed and you can readjust to meet their needs. This is good and bad in that it helps you identify key features or claims that are able to be patented, and it shows you what areas you may need to work around and adjust. My patent attorney and good friend of mine Doug, a fortune 50 patent attorney, always told me to swing for the fences on a patent, try and get as much of the claims as you can. This way if you get a large, broad patent GREAT, but if not, you can always refine. The broader the claim, the more licensing opportunities and protection you can get. Utility patents last 20 years if filed after June 8, 1995.

I stated earlier you can file yourself. This is convenient but not always the best way to go with intellectual property. Patent attorneys like my friend Doug are great resources to do this. This is because they have years of experience identifying what makes an idea patentable. They can also perform IP searches, where a patent attorney or firm searches through the existing patents to see if your idea does not infringe on any of those patents. A provisional patent and IP search could cost a few thousand dollars. However, this is crucial before moving forward with pursuing an idea. Imagine if you filed your own provisional after doing some Google searches for products and searched briefly through the existing patents with limited knowledge on what to look for, and then spent $25,000 or more and hundreds of hours developing a product to take to market just to find out that you can’t sell it because it infringes on existing patents. I can’t stress enough how important it is to do your due diligence first.

How to do a patent search

As I stated, you can file yourself, but it is not recommended. However, doing your own research ahead of time is great and can help save you some money with the IP attorneys. Save any relevant information you find for your patent attorney. There are a few ways to conduct your own research:

I know all of this can seem like a lot. Keep in mind I am not a patent attorney and none of the information in this blog is legal advice. I am speaking as an inventor, entrepreneur, and product developer that has worked with many patent attorneys over the years. I am merely providing a quick, go-to guide for some considerations to keep in mind to protect your intellectual property. All of these topics and concepts should be discussed with a licensed patent attorney. I highly recommend not using a general attorney firm. Find attorneys or firms that specialize in intellectual property.  Just like any other professional service, you want an experienced professional in that field. Remember to ask an IP attorney about their background. All patent attorneys have some sort of engineering background, and typically it is good to find one that fits the application. So, if you are patenting an electronics product, then it would be very beneficial to find an IP attorney that has a background in electrical engineering, and not chemistry.

I hope this helps with the development of your idea. Remember, if you have not read my previous blog on ideas vs opportunities, please do so before pursuing intellectual property protection. This will help save you in the long run to assess if it is worth the money and time to go forward with IP protection. As always, feel free to contact us or respond in the comments with any questions or if there are things you want us to touch upon in future blog posts. Thanks for reading.

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Elite Innovations Ribbon Cutting with Mayor Bill Saffo

Elite Innovations Opens 2nd Location 10 Months after Grand Opening
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with Mayor Bill Saffo 9/3/2015

EI logo

Elite Innovations will host a ribbon cutting with Mayor Bill Saffo on September 3rd at 11:00am at the Chandler’s Wharf to celebrate their 2nd office space. Open to the media and public.

Please RSVP to: elizabeth@eliteinnovationsllc.com 

Headed up by local entrepreneur and champion for Wilmington small businesses, Elite Innovations, LLC. (EI) opened a second location in July in the Chandler’s Warf in downtown Wilmington, NC. El is a veteran-owned company that specializes in design, prototyping and engineering services. Just 9 months after Wilmington local and CEO Andrew Williams opened El, the company expands its business into a second office space in the historic riverfront downtown district. This second office space houses the growing staff including a Lead Designer, Sales Manager, Operations Manager along with a number of interns. The space also houses space to showcase EI’s completed products. “We have many new clients with various needs. We hope the new office space will allow us to take on more projects that do not necessarily need to utilize our MakerSpace prototyping services,” says Andrew Williams.

The company will maintain its flagship MakerSpace on 18th Street for the growing demand of their product development services as well as 3D printing and prototyping. In addition to expanding into a second office, the company continues to make its mark on the local entrepreneurial community through strategic partnerships with like-minded groups and businesses such as the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at UNCW, Cucalorus Film Festival, UNC Chapel Hill, Wired Wizards, TekMountain and many more.
I see our new space creating businesses, creating jobs and impacting the regional economy,” said Williams. “I think MakerSpaces are the new industrial revolution.” EI hopes to increase its impact by growing the company more in the next year by creating new businesses that will in turn, hire more Wilmington locals. CEO Williams is proud to have 4 full-time UNCW graduates, 2 contracted UNCW graduates and 1 CFCC graduate on his staff and hopes to hire more in the future as Elite Innovations grows.

The MakerSpace on 18th Street and the new office in Chandler’s Wharf are open for scheduled tours. Elite Innovations is also taking on new clients. To schedule a meeting, or for more information about the Ribbon Cutting, please contact Director of Operations, Elizabeth Wilson, Elizabeth@eliteinnovationsllc.com

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Small business Ideas, big business opportunities

Creating value by problem solving
Zap! Lightning has struck and you have just had your next big idea! An epiphany of sorts, or as Smee would say in the movie ‘Hook,’ “an apostrophe.” Congratulations! You have just identified a problem and found a possible solution. Better yet, you may have found a solution other people are willing to pay for. This idea may have come about when you were frustrated with something, or witnessed someone having trouble and thought of a way to relieve them of their struggle (also known as a PAIN POINT). Immediately, thoughts start running through your brain of different ways to build it and how much money you could make if the world bought your idea. You start thinking of friends and relatives that may be able to help you. As these thoughts continue to progress and sketches begin to emerge, you realize, this could get expensive. How much will it cost? Do I have the money to pay for it? Could I borrow money? Maybe I’ll take out a second mortgage? Should I get a loan? WOAHHHHH! Slow down.

 

There are some major considerations before thoughts of financing or production should ever be a concern. So take a deep breath and enjoy the new idea before you stress yourself into an early grave. Just keep reading and I will show you ways to analyze your idea to see if it may in fact be a business opportunity. Knowing the difference will save you time, money, and hair before investing into an idea that could lead to a financial dead end. I will show you some key elements that help determine whether you should pursue your idea as a business or let it go. We call this an Opportunity Feasibility Analysis. Now, let’s dive deeper into the difference between IDEAS and OPPORTUNITIES. Before considering financing your life away under the allure of potential riches, let’s ask a few level-headed questions first:

  • Do other people have this problem?
  • Is this a common problem?
  • Do people know they have this problem?
  • Do you have to educate people of the problem?
  • Is your solution the best solution for the problem?
  • Is the problem (PAIN) big enough for someone to pay money for a solution?

Seeing a pattern here? It all comes down to the problem for others and not just the inventors when turning an idea into a product for the marketplace. It can be very difficult to be objective about a subjective problem. It is important to understand the difference, and acknowledge that people are not frustrated by the same things in the same ways. Nor are people motivated in the same ways to make a purchase. So, as much as you may love your new idea, others may not agree with you. That is okay. That does not mean your idea does not have wings to fly. It very well could. That is why I am writing this blog today. It is to show you some ways to identify if your idea potentially has these wings to be a business opportunity instead of just a good idea. They are two very different things!

What’s the difference between ideas and opportunities?

To start, let’s first identify the difference between the words IDEA and OPPORTUNITY. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, an IDEA can be defined as:

  • a thought, plan, or suggestion about what to do
  • an opinion or belief
  • something that you imagine or picture in your mind

Notice that each of these definitions have very subjective language. “An opinion or belief” is obviously a biased view. “Something that you imagine or picture in your mind.” Again, this is an internal thought. Looking at these definitions and knowing what an idea is, you can see that it is a very personal, internalized concept. If businesses only sold products the way the inventors wanted, then more than likely they would not do well offering what the customer’s want or need.

Now, let’s look at the definition of an OPPORTUNITY:

  • a favorable juncture of circumstances
  • a good chance for advancement or progress

If you notice, the definition of an opportunity is very different. An opportunity considers more than itself, but considers outside factors and conditions as well. “A favorable Juncture of circumstances” considers other variables that make something opportune. “A good chance for advancement or progress” shows the consideration of odds based on a situation.Business Opportunity

Now that we have identified the differences, let’s get back to your “million dollar” idea. YOU have found a solution YOU like, to a problem YOU have. That’s YOUR IDEA. As you think more about this idea, you feel it may be possible that others have the same problem and would buy your solution. That would make the idea an OPPORTUNITY in the marketplace. However, just because you FEEL that way (subjective), does not necessarily mean others do as well. Ideas happen all the time, while opportunities are much harder to come by. Opportunities, when talking about products or services, can lead to potentially staggering revenues and possibly leaving your day job behind. Business opportunities can make a positive difference in people’s lives, they can change the world, and they can create jobs and boost economies.

How to identify an opportunity

So, how do you know if your idea is a business opportunity? Well, you would perform what we spoke of earlier – an Opportunity Feasibility Analysis. To properly distinguish whether or not an idea is truly an opportunity, there are four qualities that need to be met; Attractive, Durable, Creates Value, and Timely. Let’s look at these a little closer:

  1. Attractiveness: First and foremost, your idea needs to be attractive to your target customers who will buy your idea. You first you need to identify who your target customers are for this idea to work. The idea must also be attractive in the industry in which it is going to compete. When I say “attractive” I do not mean just aesthetics and a cool look and feel. I am also referring to the idea itself. Does it create excitement? Does it have an attractive price point? Will the quality and ease of use meet or exceed the user’s expectations? Is it unique? Does it have attractive features and benefits? Basically, what about your idea would make people want to buy it?
  2. Durable: Durability of an idea from a business standpoint means that it can last as a business. A PRODUCT and a BUSINESS are two very different things. Businesses create products, but a whole business built around one product that has little scalability is pretty much a dead end. A scalable product can penetrate multiple markets and sometimes industries with many ways to grow. A perfect example is the invention of the microfiber textile. Some may see this as just a rag for cleaning – thus just a cleaning product. But it can also be cut into the shapes for clothing, embroidered with corporate branding, and BOOM! Now that same rag is sold in the clothing departments with minimal change to the textile’s manufacturing and production processes. If you ever watch Shark Tank, the panelists are notorious for calling people out for having a cool product, but not a scalable business behind it. If the product is not scalable, thus having no way to expand into new markets with new product lines, or have multiple branding opportunities, they often recommend to the inventors to enjoy the ride while it lasts, sell as much as possible, and then get out. The Sharks rarely invest in those product ideas because they are often not business ideas that can grow and last. If they do invest, it is because they know they have the means to expand the product’s potential that the inventor did not think of. Some other traits of durability include replicability. Is it easy to replicate for the competition? Can they easily mimic your product and steal your market share tomorrow putting you out of business? Can your product be patented to protect against such a thing (that’s a whole book in itself)? Also, is the idea purchased as a commodity, sensitive to economic conditions, or is it a necessity unaffected by the state of the economy and disposable income (inelastic demand)?
  3. Creates Value: This is obviously one of the most important factors to generate sales. Your idea must create value in order for people to purchase it, thus generating revenue for your business to be sustainable. A big consideration here is the cost of the idea in relation to the value it creates for the customer. If it costs more than the value of the pain you are solving, then people will not want to buy it, aka willingness to pay. Recently, consumers have been facing this issue with high-end smart watches. They have a $700 phone in their pocket, so do they really want to spend another $200-$400 to read a text on their wrist? Is the time they save from having to pull their phone out of their pocket really worth $400? The watches do much more than that, but the mass market does not see things the same way as the innovators did. This is common in the early adoption stages, where products are looked at through a very simplified lens by the mass consumer. However, now that the prices have come down, more people are adopting this technology now that the price is beginning to match the perceived value. So, again, does your product create perceivable value that is affordable? Do some research and talk to people in your target markets. It’s amazing how much you can learn if you just ask the right people.
  4. Timely: Timely can get a little tricky as this is really an area of economics, demographics, psychographics, and various other externalities. Basically, this quality comes down to the question, “Is this the right time for my idea?” When analyzing this, it is always best to look at various trends. Major trends to consider are economic trends, social trends, technological trends, and industry trends. All trends can be looked up on google, but I will do a simple breakdown.
    1. Using trends for feasability analysisEconomic trends will be factors such as disposable income, unemployment rates, interest rates, spending, and other metrics that define how a country or region is doing financially. Obviously, it is hard to sell a premium commodity product to the mass market if the unemployment rates are high and people have little discretionary income. They will be more prone to buy the things they NEED and not the things they WANT.
    2. Social trends have to deal with things that are trending socially and culturally. This could be lifestyle trends such as a higher demand in organic products and a decrease in demand of fast food and processed foods. It could be clothing trends, exercise trends, yoga and smoothies, etc. There are TONS of trends, but often we observe them subconsciously and they become more apparent as we think about them in relation to our ideas.
    3. Technological trends are pertaining to both what technology consumers are buying, and what technological capabilities we have in society. For instance, James Cameron waited ten years to make Avatar because the technology wasn’t where it needed to be yet for the vision he had of his idea. A decade later when cinema technology was where it needed to be, Avatar was made, and became the #1 grossing movie of all time! Now that’s knowing the difference between an idea and an opportunity! 3D printers are another example of this. The technology for 3D printing has existed over 30 years now. However, it was not made affordable to the public until really the past 5 years when they were able to be less than $2000. The mass market and DIY communities did not have $10,000 – $1.5 million to spend on 3D printers. The technology improved, became more affordable and now the timing is right. Even Dremel makes a 3D printer now.
    4. Industry trends are very important to not only consider, but research heavily. To survive in an industry, you must know where the industry has been and where it is going to be. In business, people often, if not, overuse the corporate cliché Wayne Gretzky approach. For those of you unfamiliar, I’ll tell it, because it is good advice. For those who heard it 100 times I’m sorry. When Gretzky was asked in an interview how he always outperformed other hockey athletes even though there were many other players that physically tested better, Gretzky stated, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” He would be where the opportunity was. You can look at industry trends and see what other major companies in the industry are talking about and where they are going to be. You don’t want to create a product in a dying industry, nor do you want to make a product that has some of the same mistakes the industry has made in the past. If you are the first in your industry, try to find out if other companies have thought of it but cancelled the project. Find out why if you can. Sometimes you may be lucky enough to have a new product that they have not thought of yet. It’s rare, but it does happen, regardless of what some skeptics say. Research is absolutely critical.

feasability analysis

Research, Research, Research

In order to assess these qualities, much research has to be done. Don’t worry, it can be a fun process. Especially when I provide you with some great free resources to get you started. I would recommend using www.SBA.gov. More specifically you can check out the Small Business Administration’s marketing guide to help you get started with your market research. Some additional sources are:

I hope this has helped you get a grasp on how to identify if your next “million dollar” idea has the potential to be a full-fledged opportunity worthy of capitalizing upon. At Elite Innovations we help people every day on their path to turn ideas into opportunities, and those opportunities into real-life products. Helping our clients along this path at the right pace is a critical part of the process to help ensure their success (and ours for that matter). And remember, sometimes an idea on its own does not meet all the qualities of an opportunity, but with a few adjustments, the idea can have wings to fly and become a business. So go, young entrepreneur, and create your own opportunities. Entrepreneurship is not merely a replacement for your day job, but rather a way of life. It’s the difference between a pipe dream, and crossing off every last thing on your bucket list. I’m not saying it will be easy, but I can promise that it won’t be boring. And if you ever need a helping hand along the way, you know where to find us. Thanks for reading, and good luck!

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Unlocking Hidden Brain Secrets

Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the blind texts it is an almost unorthographic life One day however a small line of blind text by the name of Lorem Ipsum decided to leave for the far World of Grammar.

[blockquote text=”Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts.” show_quote_icon=”yes”]

Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the blind texts it is an almost unorthographic life One day however a small line of blind text by the name of Lorem Ipsum decided to leave for the far World of Grammar. The Big Oxmox advised her not to do so, because there were thousands of bad Commas, wild Question Marks and devious Semikoli, but the Little Blind Text didn’t listen.

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Iceland’s volcano timelapse

Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the blind texts it is an almost unorthographic life One day however a small line of blind text by the name of Lorem Ipsum decided to leave for the far World of Grammar.

[blockquote text=”Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts.” show_quote_icon=”yes”]

Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the blind texts it is an almost unorthographic life One day however a small line of blind text by the name of Lorem Ipsum decided to leave for the far World of Grammar. The Big Oxmox advised her not to do so, because there were thousands of bad Commas, wild Question Marks and devious Semikoli, but the Little Blind Text didn’t listen.