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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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Bioelectronics – The Next Revolution in Medicine

I was recently invited to attend a very special meeting at Case Western Reserve University. The topic was entitled “Bioelectronic Approaches to Personalized Medicine.” Roughly 100 Neuroscientists, Biomedical Engineers, and Clinicians gathered to share their progress in the new field known as “Bioelectronics,” or as some researchers like to call it – “Map and Zap.

Sourced from GSK

Bioelectronic medicine has the potential to be superior to drugs in terms of efficacy, cost and safety because it directly modulates the natural language of the body’s nervous systems — electrical impulses and action potentials. To appreciate the full potential for bioelectronic medicine, consider that virtually all the cells in the body are directly or indirectly controlled by neural input and that peripheral neural circuits play a pivotal role in maintaining homeostasis.1

In the next ten years, miniature electronic devices no larger than a grain of rice will be implanted at selected nerve fibers (axons) to stimulate or block neural activity to treat conditions such as asthma, Type II Diabetes, and digestive disorders, thus reducing or eliminating the need for traditional “molecular” medicines (e.g. pills or injections).

It is interesting to consider that by converging neurophysiology with data analysis and disease biology, it will be feasible to develop bioelectronic devices that can record and analyze neural and physiological data in real time and modulate the neural electric input to the target organs.1

I recently met with some scientists that are beginning to use machine learning and big data to analyze huge amounts of acquired data to identify biomarkers that indicate the onset of certain conditions. For example, connected biosensors will soon be able to detect the onset of an asthmatic episode and immediately stimulate the appropriate nerves to open the airways, thus preventing an asthma attack before it happens. Similar progress is being made with cardiac disease and epilepsy.

Wearable devices that monitor physiological activity (blood pressure, ecg, and eeg, for example) along with the increasing computing power of smartphones, will provide a truly personalized approach to healthcare. Imagine the following scenario:

Your electronic personal health assistant (using artificial intelligence similar to IBM’s Watson) has been monitoring your ECG, blood pressure, body weight, activity, and caloric intake using wearable and implanted devices that monitor your heartbeat, blood pressure, weight and activity.  It notices that you have recently gained weight and your blood pressure is beginning to increase.  Based upon this sensor information, your assistant realizes that this could lead to heart disease or hypertension, so it reminds you to get some exercise (while monitoring your activity, of course), and suggests a meal plan to shed those extra pounds.  In addition to creating a menu, the assistant triggers an implant connected to nerves that control your appetite to help you feel full more quickly.  

Image sourced from

While this sounds like science fiction, the technology is within reach. Breakthroughs in nanotechnology, neurophysiology, and information technology are occurring at a rapid pace; and collaboration between these researchers is increasing.  Just last month, GlaxoSmithKline and Alphabet (Google’s Parent Company) created a new company called “Galvani Bioelectronics”, and provided over $700 million in funding over the next 5 years.  The National Institutes of Health has initiated the “Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions” (or “SPARC”) is also funding research to treat cancer and other diseases. The SPARC initiative is designed to minimize the amount of “red tape” normally required to obtain funding for this type of research.

As an expert in making instruments to measure pulmonary and electrophysiological signals, I am excited to bring a small part of this initiative to the Cape Fear region.

1 – Chavan, 2014

Mike Bower, the man, the myth, the legend.  Electrical Engineer – Elite Innovations.

Prior to 2007, I worked for Vishay Micro-Measurements in the Triangle area as a software engineering manager.  Most of my focus was in experimental mechanics, and the measurement systems I developed were used on projects as diverse as the International Space Station to the Freedom Tower in New York City.

 Despite the fact that I had a rewarding and challenging career for over 20 years, the sea was calling. So my family and I decided to pack up and move to Wilmington from the Triangle area in 2007.  I joined a small company called Buxco Research Systems. It was then when I became involved with biomedical technology, and I developed software and hardware for preclinical pulmonary research.

 In January of 2014, Buxco was sold and moved out of the Wilmington area. I was given the opportunity to move to Minnesota, but by then my ties to Wilmington were too strong, so I joined a company based in Paris, France. Over the next several months, I built a small but very effective Research and Development lab over my garage, which included reflow ovens, microscopes, and 3D printing capability.  During that time, I developed implantable telemetry devices used to measure biopotentials (ECG, EEG), core body temperature, and blood pressure in preclinical research. These devices are used by researchers to measure the responses (pulmonary, cardiovascular, neurological) caused by various interventions, including conventional (molecular) and bioelectronics.

In 2015, the decision was to consolidate the R&D efforts to Paris, and Montreal. I was given the opportunity to move to Paris or Montreal, but once again, I chose to remain in Wilmington. Fortunately, I was asked to represent the company as a Biomedical Engineer and am currently involved in providing technical support to the researchers.

 These days, I travel throughout North America and work with a wide variety of researchers involved in the development of new therapies. A large part of my time is involved in training biomedical researchers in the use of  sophisticated software and hardware used to measure complex signals such as ECG, EEG, and pulmonary function.

Wile I am currently a “one man show”, as my involvement (and reputation) in the Bioelectronics field grows, I hope to eventually bring more of this technology to the Wilmington area.

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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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Women in Business – Wilmington’s Women to Watch

A Salute to all of the area’s Women in Business

In a nation where women make up more than 55% of college students, but only 57% of working age women are in the workforce compared to 70% of working age men, encouraging women to seek a fulfilling and profitable career path is more important than ever. Creating an equal workplace advantage for men and women is also critical for employers pursuing to be the best in their industry.

Looking ahead to WILMA’s Women to Watch awards coming up this Friday evening, we decided to ask some of Wilmington’s most interesting women in business a few questions.

Ann Revell, Founder of a. revell communications and VP of Communications at Cloudwyze, a 2014 W2W finalist offers experience and insight into working in a male dominated workplace.

Stephanie Lanier, Co-founder of Lanier Property Group, gives her spin on what women should strive for in their career.

Fanny Slater, Founder of FanFare Catering, a 2014 W2W finalist gives tasteful advice and insight into working in a fast moving industry as a young entrepreneur.

Emilyanne Atkinson, Senior Database Manager at CastleBranch Corp., is a 2015 W2W finalist and offers her thoughts on perseverance in the work place.


Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?

SL: A country music star

FS: When I was a kid, I had one answer for that question and no backup plan. I was going to be a famous Hollywood actress. That dream didn’t entirely change, but it morphed at 28 when I realized that I could still be in front of the world—and I could do it as myself.

EA: I don’t think I had a firm grasp on what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I still don’t.  I’ve never viewed science, technology, engineering, art, or mathematics as truly independent fields of study.  Rather, they give each other context.  There isn’t one thing or one profession that I want to be.  I just want to be free to study and create the things that intrigue me.

Q: How did you get into your industry?

AR: I was a theatre major, and while working on my Master’s I learned to program and so was hired by GeVa Theatre in Rochester NY to run their computer department. While there, we opened a new facility and I became enamored with the work being done by the PR team. I was stuck in the “computer room” while they were out managing lights and cameras and actors… man, I knew I was not destined to stay behind the screen forever…

FS: I was always a Food Network-aholic. I never wanted to go to culinary school or owned a restaurant, though, so I had to figure out how to do food in my own way.  After a brief stint in Hollywood, California—I moved back east to Wilmington and opened a small catering company, Fanfare. I was able to be my own boss and hone in on my craft and creativity in the kitchen. My other passion is writing, and I was lucky enough to eventually be able to combine those two skills and become a food writer. Having that background certainly came in handy when the Rachael Ray Great American Cookbook Competition came along two years ago. I not only had kitchen skills, but the ability to write about food in a way that was playful and always came with a story.

Q: Did you go to college? What was your degree in college?

AR: I went to Seattle Pacific University for undergrad – BA in Theatre. I subsequently received my Master’s in Public Administration from SUNY Brockport.

EA: I went to CFCC.  My degree is in Computer Engineering Technology.


Q: Best advice you have for women in college looking for a career path?

College Career Path

SL: Remember what you were good at when you were in elementary school, what you loved to play, the times when you lost track of time. Look at the little girl you once were for the clues about the woman you should become. It is all there, and when you find “the job” all the pieces will come together. It is like falling in love with someone, it clicks. Keep trying till you find it.

EA: Treat college like a monetary investment rather than a spiritual walkabout or intellectual finishing school.  I see so many people my age crushed under the debt of their student loans.  They’re angry that they can’t find a job with a PhD in first century Latin poetry.  Don’t gain personal enrichment at the expense of personal freedom.  Enjoy the journey, but make sure you obtain knowledge that others will pay you to use on their behalf.  That will get you the best ROI.


Q: What are your future aspirations?

AR: I would love to play a significant role in helping Wilmington become a real center for innovation. We should be a place where knowledge workers abound and we have 100s of growth companies headquartered here.

EA: I’m a big proponent of S.T.E.A.M. I’m launching a website called which will document my exploits and experiments in an entertaining and educational way.


Q: What is the least glamorous job you’ve ever had?

SL: Being the housekeeping boss at a summer camp for teenagers.

FS: In Hollywood, I was a personal assistant for one day. I was asked to place a glass of water in each room for my boss so that if he walked into a room and was thirsty, there was already something for him to drink. I was also asked to clean all of the windows in the mansion. It was a house made of glass.

EA: Corn detasseling.  It’s basically running through cornfields and wrestling the tops off of the female stalks.


Q: What makes you unique from your colleagues?

FS: I would say that my peers are those in the food world. I admire many of them for their culinary degrees, but I would say what makes me stand out is the fact that I have no formal training so I’m able to be a bit less technical. Although that is certainly a disadvantage in some ways, there are a lot of perks to being self-taught in your profession. I think that everyone in this field is spectacularly diverse in their own way, but as for me—well I’m the only one who gets to be Fanny. That’s what my parents would say.

EA: Empirically speaking, from my encounters with other people in IT, my knowledge base is broader and deeper than most.  I owe this in part to my autodidacticism.  But I have found my educational tutelage from private school and home schooling by tutors to be a treasure beyond measure.  For better and worse, the road that I took was less traveled.  Being non-traditional has given me a different perspective of the world. I also have chickens.


Q: Have you ever had any issues working in a male-dominated work place?

AR:  Oh, man, yes. I’ve had so many experiences helping men understand that women are “greater than or equal to” men in the work place that I’m not sure where to start. With the boss that hit me with a ruler each time he didn’t like the way I wrote? Maybe with the first time I was on an all-male Board and had to explain why blonde jokes and women driver jokes didn’t elevate the conversation (as a blonde woman driver)? Or back to that temp job where the boss made me lick the envelopes in front of him … I can go on and on.

FS: Seeing as I’ve worked in many kitchens, which are typically male dominated, you’d think that I would have had issues with this. But I’ve always been a very confident, take-no-shit kind of person so men have seemed to respect that about me. I’ve certainly had some bosses who I could have done without, but as for co-workers, I’ve always been lucky to mostly work with very polite men.


Q: What is your advice for young career women working in an environment that is predominantly men?Success for Women in Business

AR: The key is to stop giggling, don’t talk like a little girl, stop flirting, and first and foremost, see yourself as a professional. Then, take none of their crap. Nip it in the bud – quickly, and quietly at first. Then, get louder and go up the ladders until it’s resolved. But be sure you keep your sense of self and sense of humor throughout.

EA: Poise is power, so maintain your composure.  The moment your voice starts climbing in pitch is the moment they tune you out because you have forfeited your credibility.


Q: Do you believe the WILMA W2W is an important event in Wilmington? How so?

AR: We so seldom celebrate women as professionals. W2W is one of the only times we in Wilmington have a chance to say “woman, you rock,” and call out key leaders (and leaders-to-be) in our community for being really great at what they do. I believe this could be one of a handful of events that helps us get to Wilmington’s next FEMALE Mayor!

SL: It helps promote the great work of women in our community. I especially love the Rising Star category, so that we can help invest in the next generation of female leaders.

FS: Absolutely. The Women to Watch event is not only encouraging for those involved, but it inspires those who aren’t to want to be part of it. It’s a wonderful feeling to be recognized for your accomplishments in your specific field, and this event does exactly that. It empowers such a large amount of women in so many versatile professions. It also brings so many people in the community together. Wilmington is a small town where everybody runs in the same circles, so it’s fun to all celebrate together in one place.

EA: WILMA’s Women to Watch is a great event that showcases the amazing local women in the area.  Women tend to be self-effacing.  By contrast, this even shines a spotlight on their accomplishments.  I think it’s also good because it gives other women something to aspire to and role models.  If they can do it that means it’s possible to do it, that means I could do it! I’m also a part of WILMA’s inaugural leadership initiative.  I can’t recommend being in that enough!  We’re a small band of eight go-getters who serve as each other’s personal board of advisers.  There is safety and insight in a multitude of counselors.


Q: How did W2W help your career or exposure? What would be your advice to other women who are hoping to be part of W2W in the future?

AR: I can’t really point to anything in particular – like, there’s no ‘new business’ that came from the award, however I certainly got a lot of “atta-girls” from colleagues. It could be that it’s because I didn’t win… Ha! What I really think is that those of us who win these awards need to position the award as critical. When other women point to the award as symbolic of success, it will have even more meaning.

FS: Right around the time of my nomination, I was just starting to get a lot of press for my win on the Rachael Ray Competition. The W2W event was specifically rewarding because I was acknowledged alongside of so many peers that I respect. It was a wonderful feeling to be nominated in a category, Rising Star, which felt so true to who I was and what I was currently experiencing. In regards to helping my exposure, a lot of people who just knew me as a local foodie saw me on the cover of WILMA and realized that I had just taken a huge leap forward in my career. One minute I was interviewing other chefs about their success, and the next everybody wanted to write about me! It was pretty surreal.


Q: What’s on your reading list?

AR: My bookshelf is full, but here’s what I’m buying next: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time; Pitch Anything; Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World; Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Common Sense (Paine); The Rebels of Ireland; New York (an historic novel).

SL: Anything by Brene Brown, Jim Collins or Seth Godin. I always recommend The Confidence Code for young women…it has wisdom you can directly apply to your career. For small business owners the #1 book is E-Myth Revisited.

FS: I’m glad you asked. Orange, Lavender & Figs by Fanny Slater is currently available for pre-order on Amazon right now! The book hits shelves March 1st.

EA: Tesla: The Life and Times of an Electric Messiah by Nigel Cawthorn, The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath,Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer, Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki.


We are looking forward to WILMA’s Women to Watch awards and the spotlight that it brings to all of the amazing women in business that are making Wilmington better and more innovative.

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Bullets and Blurbs

All alliteration aside, we’ve been growing and expanding at a ludicrous pace as of late here at Elite. Our core group of five people is already accompanied a team of 10 contractors, freelancers, and interns in the software engineering, database administration, design, marketing, and videography fields. This blog is dedicated to highlighting what we’re up to right now and what’s to come in the next month or so in small chewable bites. I’ll take it chronologically since September to give you a taste of the speed at which we’re moving.

Elite Innovations Timeline:

    • September 3rd – Elite Innovations opens second location in the Chandler’s Wharf at 225 S. Water Street.



    • October 8th – Client Leah Sherrill nails her first ever pitch with her company, Special Pedals, and wins the Wilmington Discovery Forum. She is rewarded a chance to pitch at the Innovate NC Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh for $10,000 in the social entrepreneurship category. She was also awarded a spot to pitch in the upcoming Cucalorus Connect rocket pitch sponsored by UNCW’s C.I.E.


    • October 18th – Elite Innovations celebrates it’s One Year Anniversary in Wilmington, NC!


    • October 23rd – Technical Consultant to Elite Innovations, Emilyanne Atkinson, who also helped plan our grand opening last October, will be heralded for her tireless work ethic and dedication to her community at this year’s Wilma’s Women to Watch awards in the rising star category.   Emilyanne is not only working on the Origo project for Elite Innovations, she is also the senior database administrator at CastleBranch, and co-founder of Cape Fear Women in Tech.



    • October 28th – Andrew Williams, CEO, and client, Leah Sherrill, will both be pitching at the Cucalorus Connect Rocket Pitch. Andrew will pitch Elite Innovations, and Leah will be giving her second ever pitch of Special Pedals.


    • November 3rd – Student-only “Innovative concept” pitch competition (last year’s flyer) during UNCW’s entrepreneurship week. After the pitches are finished, Andrew will be introducing these young and hopeful entrepreneurs to Elite Innovations with a speech of his own while judges are deliberating. The winning entrepreneur will receive a 6-month free membership to the Elite Innovations maker space. Coincidentally, competing in this same competition is what got me in the doors at Elite Innovations just last year.


    • November 11-15th – Cucalorus Connect. Elite Innovations as well as our business development manager, Ed Hall with his company, Petrics, will be featured in the 10×10 program that pairs filmmakers with entrepreneurs. Elite Innovations is also helping on the planning committee of this five day event. Cucalorus connect will focus on entrepreneurship, technology, innovation, and start-ups: “Where artists and entrepreneurs collide.”


    • No Date to speak of –
      *Picked up two more awesome products out of the Greater Wilmington Area to represent.
      The Flag Tender clips your flags to the pre-existing rod holder on your boat in just seconds, and lets you fly your flags high, dry, and secure, even while underway.
      The Tub’n’Shower Shelf eliminates clutter from your shower in an ingeniously simple way. Watch a user submitted product demo video here. (It’s quite entertaining, trust me)
      *Product branding nearing completion on the TailGator. The TailGator is a truck bed extension system that allows the user to safely transport ladder racks, couches, paddleboards etc. The patented modular connection system in the TailGator allows the user to attach virtually anything to the mechanism, such as a Miter saw, and turn their truck into a mobile workstation.


EI Employee Highlights:

*Jason Gillikin and Andrew Keener are our rock star software engineers who are currently splitting time between 3 different projects: The latest version of the ORIGOSafe system, a personal project, and one that cannot be disclosed due to IP.
*Ken Zeiger is our web/app development extraordinaire. Chances are, if you want something cool to happen on your phone or computer, Ken can make it happen. He’s revamping the web interface for the latest ORIGOSafe revision in coordination with our Raleigh team.
*We have also just hired on a new designer, David Eidson. It’s cool because if you change his last name around, it spells Edison… Coincidence? I think not! Check out his portfolio here.


I’d love to tell you more, but at the end of the day, a lot of our most exciting news is still intellectually protected and cannot yet be spoken about publicly. That being said, I promise we’ll have a few more BIG announcements coming up soon. Keep an eye out for us, Wilmington – we’ll be around.

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Elite Innovations at Amazon Inventions Tour

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you know that we attended The Amazon Inventions Tour this past weekend in Atlanta. The Amazon Inventions Tour was two days packed full of prestigious speakers imparting wisdom on ambitious entrepreneurs hungry to score a deal with either Edison Nation or Amazon.  Edison Nation is not so different from us here at Elite Innovations.  Edison was created “to help everyday inventors turn their product ideas into real products on retail shelves worldwide.” Sounds similar right?  The biggest difference between us and Edison is that they’ve been in the game since 2001 when Enventys was founded with a mission similar to that of Edison’s.  Seven years later in 2008, Edison Nation was born.  We work in close conjunction with Edison and enjoy this friendly relationship within the industry.  In fact, Edison extended to us the original invite to the Amazon Inventions Tour in hopes that our flagship product, TacLace, would be the perfect fit for Amazon. We were thrilled at the invitation to come pitch our shelf-ready product to the heads of Amazon LaunchPad at the tour.

TacLace is a rapid boot lacing system developed by our CEO Andrew Williams, and his bunkmate, Pete Foster, while the two U.S. Marines were deployed in Afghanistan.  TacLace streamlines the process of lacing boots with just three easy steps: pull, cinch, and wrap.  This quick and easy process makes lacing boots up to 80% faster!  When you’re in a situation like Andrew was the night he came up with the idea for TacLace, every second counts.  While walking to the shower in flip flops and a towel, Andrew hears a jet sound fly overhead.  This was followed by several explosions roughly 100 yards away.  Unfortunately, two U.S. Army Soldiers were peppered with rocks, shrapnel, and debris produced by the blast.  After grabbing his flak jacket, kevlar, and weapon; out the door he went.  By the time he arrived at his destination, he lost one flip flop and tore the other in half.  He and Pete then devised their first prototype for Taclace, stitched together by a local Afghan national. The saying is so true, “necessity is the mother of all invention.” Andrew and Pete took a grave necessity and turned it into something that could potentially save lives.


But the speed isn’t the only benefit of TacLace.  TacLace ensures that your boots will stay tight and secure all day long without having to stop and re-tie several times per day.  The user will no longer be troubled with the hazards of dangling laces.  Though this product was invented for military and tactical use, TacLace now enjoys about 55% of its business from a combination of hunters, hikers, and construction workers.

On to the pitch.  What was the difference between pitching to Edison Nation and to Amazon?  As advertised, there were three different “lanes” of market readiness presenting companies fell under.  The first two lanes are Edison’s bread & butter.  Companies that had a great idea, but were not yet ready for global expansion pitched to Edison Nation.  The third lane, or as we called it, the fast lane, was where TacLace fit in.  Lane three had a functioning product with proof of concept through steady sales metrics.  Lane three pitched directly to Amazon executives acting on behalf of their new platform known as Amazon Launch Pad.

amazon lp

Amazon Launch Pad is designed to accelerate the growth of established product based start-ups through mass exposure.  This marks the first time Amazon has acted as a buyer, as opposed to their more well known middle-man role. The Launch Pad team hand picks products that they like with intentions of marketing them and acting as a re-seller for these products.  The perk for us?  Amazon has hundreds of millions of customers.  They can reach more people in one day than just about any small business can in a year.  Needless to say, we were pretty excited for this opportunity.

The format of the pitch allotted for ten minutes in the room, two and a half of which was dedicated to “set-up time.”  Andrew walked in the room and said “I understand we have two and a half minutes to set up, but I’m not going to need that much time,” took off his Oxfords shoes, put on his boots, and in less than a minute later, he was TacLaced up.  They were hooked instantly (the judges I mean).  By the time Andrew got to the part of his pitch where he explained how perfect TacLace is for “you viewed this, you might also like” in regards to the tactical clothing market, the hunting gear market, or the $10 billion footwear and accessories market, the Amazon team cut him off.  They were practically foaming at the mouth.  “Give us a minute” they said, and sent him out of the room.  A few minutes later he was greeted back into the room with “We love TacLace, we love your story, and we love you! We’re in!”

Amazon lp2

We are extremely honored and humbled to have been chosen by the Launch Pad team, and we can’t wait to see how this new relationship pans out for us.  We will be posting about this topic again in a few months as a follow up to this post, to report back how things are going.

(See the weekend recap on Edison Nation’s blog here.)

a and jay

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Collaboration: Strength in a Diverse Workplace

“Collaboration is the best way to work. It’s [the] only way to work really. Everyone’s there because they have a set of skills to offer across the board.” – Antony Starr, actor

There is an importance of interaction and collaboration that cannot be ignored in the workplace, especially when working in a small, start-up environment. Collaboration within inter-disciplinary teams are becoming more and more important in companies today that are both expected to offer more variety in their services and to include creative elements in presenting their business for customers and potential clients. The impact of collaboration has been proven to increase productivity and improve our human chemistry. It is a fact that we are better working together than we are working on our own.

The impact of collaboration lies with the skills and experiences that each individual brings to the table. It is imperative to our success that individuals hold a wide variety of interests and approaches to help the team arrive at a well-rounded conclusion. Each individual’s experiences manifest themselves in decisions and creations that are unique and original. These viewpoints are commonly derived from the most critical of our unique personality traits; some of us are creative, some approach things with an analytical mind, we are introverted or extroverted, we lean toward being optimistic or pessimistic, we are always on time or tend to be late, we are organized or thrive in controlled chaos. The differences in our personalities and experiences as humans manifest themselves in the most productive way when we are collaborating with one another. Our individual strengths shine when we work with others who compliment our strengths or our shortcomings. Sometimes our differences create what Jerry Hirsch, executive designer at Nissan, calls creative abrasion. He encourages people to use the energy that comes from working with people who are different from each other into something positive? He suggests to leverage the differences and work to identify what can be complementary about them. Read more about creative abrasion and the other reasons collaboration is important in today’s business environment. 

The strength of separate individuals is far outweighed by the strength of a team in which each individual possess a variety of skills and experiences that compliment each other’s diverse capabilities.



A physical example of individual skills complimenting each other is in the sport of football.  The collaboration of an offense and defense one a single team is imperative for the joint goal of all of the team’s players. While both the defense and the offense have separate goals during their time on the field, the collaboration and common goal of both must compliment each other for the ultimate objective of stopping the other team from scoring, putting points on the board, and winning the game. Each player on a football field possesses skills that make them technical and physical specialists in their position. When the team isn’t working well together it is reflected in the score and in the success of each play.


While our conference rooms may not be as public as an NFL or Big Ten College Football game, the importance of bringing unique skills to the table for the common goal of success plays out much in the same way. While collaborations include moments of pulling out your hair, slamming a clipboard to the ground, or looking at a teammate in disbelief after a “play,” the importance and results of collaborating most often end in positive, creative results for the company and for their clients. While there is no denying the challenges that face us when working with those who think and operate differently than ourselves, the creative abrasion and gained assets of a variety of viewpoints culminating in the completion of a successful project offsets any denial that working together is better than working alone.


In today’s business culture, companies are trying to be more things for their customers and those customers are seeking out companies that cut out the middle- man. These demands include but are not limited to a business being a marketing firm, experts in social media, a go-to for legal advice, and a personal confidant along with having the business acumen expected from industry leaders. The results of these customer demands are more inter-company collaboration and interdisciplinary teams within the workplace. And as companies utilize the advancement in internet and technology, they are able to expand our not only within different disciplines but also to different places. Technology has lifted several barriers that we may have faced just a short time ago, and now global collaboration is more achievable and allows us to accomplish more every day. These positives should be embraced and celebrated in creating a better, more efficient way for the whole world to work together and illustrates the importance of individuals coming to together to create, accomplish and thrive.


This is more apparent than ever in a business like Elite Innovations, where we never quite know who or what idea will walk through the door. Being a product development firm, we discovered early that the clients we would serve and the teams we would need to build within the company would be diverse and ever changing. Working together in our interdisciplinary teams, we have found strength in each other’s differences and in unique skill sets that each of us possesses and exemplify in our everyday operations. Did I ever believe as an entertainment professional that I would work with programmers, engineers and industrial designers? Probably not; but in seeing that our differences compliment each other at every turn, and that creative abrasion results in even more creative alternatives and solutions, I now know the true value in collaboration. It takes straightforward thinkers and creative thinkers to gain insight from each other and for extroverts to express and present what introverts cannot naturally express. We are all wonderfully diverse and different in our concentrations.

Approaching business as an opportunity for collaboration strengthens companies and individual productivity, resulting in more shared value for the whole eco-system.


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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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Inquiries about Inquiring

The first question anyone ever asks us is, “So what exactly do you do?” and after a long drawn out explanation of artist meet engineer, and prototypes and makerspace, they move on to their next question.  That very next question people ALWAYS ask is, “How do I tell you my idea?  What is that process like?”  Well, for all you inquirers out there, here is the beginning of the bright future of your idea…This idea is your baby, your creation, the fruition of many brainstorming sessions.  You may have been keeping it to yourself for years upon years.  We’ve had clients come in saying they’ve had their idea for over 30 years!  So what do you do with your idea? You don’t peel out of the lot after buying a brand new $60,000 vehicle.  No, you stop fully, double check both directions, use your blinker, and slowly proceed.  My point is you are not only cautious, but overly cautious.  Why would you let someone else take the wheel on your new shiny idea?

Sharing your idea with someone isn’t an easy thing to do sometimes, but we try to make you feel as comfortable as possible.  The first step we take to protecting you and your idea is a NDA (non-disclosure agreement).  If you are unfamiliar with NDAs, here’s the wrap:  It is a formal document in which after you sign, and Elite Innovations, LLC signs, then you can legally and openly discuss your idea with us.  This means that after the inquiry meeting is adjourned, we cannot say, “That’s a great idea, we are going to work on it and take credit for it.”  Your idea is YOUR property and a NDA helps protect that property.

The next thing we do to make you feel comfortable is be as transparent to you as possible.  When you sit down at the Client Inquiry Meeting, you will be sharing your idea with the CEO of Elite Innovations, Andrew Williams, and the Lead Designer, Jonathan Dineen.  You have direct access to two people who can help develop your idea into a tangible prototype and prepare it for production or sales.  In this meeting we encourage you to tell us the problem you are trying to solve, how you came up with the idea, what the idea is, and why you think it will work! This initial meeting is completely free, we do not ask for any money up front for these meetings. We encourage everyone with a well thought out idea to meet with us!

Many of our inquiries come from friends of friends, or someone we have met through local and national events, but we want to sit down and talk with everyone. We don’t want you to wait for the next big event to come up to us and tell us your idea. Call us! We want to sit down and see this shiny new idea you have! Inquiry meetings are completely free of charge, so what’s stopping you!?  Some of our competitors will require you to pay money to submit your idea via email to them, and then go through a vetting process.  We don’t do that. You can email or call our Operations Director and have a free Client Inquiry Meeting set up anytime! Contact Elizabeth at


What Happens at the Client Inquiry Meeting?

What goes on at a Client Inquiry Meeting? Let’s get into the process.  We schedule the inquiry meetings between 10am to 12pm every Tuesday through Thursday.  We always allot about an hour per meeting when we put you on our schedule.  We treat this meeting similar to a pitch (but don’t worry, you don’t have to have a 5 year plan or financial documents).  We will sit down in our office, and listen to your idea for about a half hour: what it is, what you have, what you need, who it’s for, what it’s solving, etc.. We then try and pick your brain about other things you may be thinking and not know it.  Then we’ll tell you how we feel about it, things we know you’ll need, obstacles which will need to be overcome, and how we can help.   We tell you as much as we can before a written contract is signed.  We cannot stay in business if we hand out our ideas for free.  After all the talking is done, you (as all of our other clients have done) will let out a huge sigh of relief and then proceed to tell us how nervous you were to just talk about this great idea and how you were worried someone would steal it or worse, you would see it on the market.  Then we tell you we will scope the project out, shake hands, and parts ways, hopefully only temporarily.

At the end of every Thursday, we scope out all the inquired projects from that week.  Scoping is our process of estimating how many hours is needed in each phase of the design process to make the product a successful one.  We break down each phase, add hours to areas which are vital and negate any areas that are not.   We then send this scope to you with the total number of hours we feel the project will take and where we are allocating those hours (transparency).  This will give you an estimate on the cost of your project.  We do not quote for the prototype initially until we are further into the project and have a firm idea of what we are producing, what materials will be needed and how it will be produced, all of which is done through your approvals of work done at each phase of development from our team. Upon approval of this scope, we generate a formal proposal and contract to be signed so work can begin.


Get on Our Calendar!

We love hearing potential ideas and we are as excited as you are to make these ideas into reality. We pride ourselves on being as transparent as possible during every process of the ideating, design and production phase. We have heard from so many clients that they wished they hadn’t put this off, they wished they had come to us sooner. So if you need it, here is your open invitation. Our door is open. We’d love to sit down, meet you and hear your new, shiny idea!

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The Entrepreneur Mindset

“Living a pipe dream with tunnel vision”

I’m standing on the bow of my mega yacht, a salty breeze blowing my hair back into a form only the ocean air can. I glance to my right and I see the adoring smile of the girl I knew before the spoils of riches took us in circles around the globe. It’s the same smile I saw in a small apartment when we sat up late at night talking about all the things we wanted to see in this world, pondering “What else is out there?.” I raise my glass of scotch that’s as old as I am and we toast to never-ending adventure. I think of my parents. They’re living in a house that’s paid off, driving cars that are too. They’re finally retired. My Dad is playing his newly local golf course today, his swing is ten years younger without the weight of a mortgage on his shoulders. My Mom is on the back porch reading a book that’s been collecting dust on the shelf for years, patiently waiting for her to thumb through its pages. She flies through the story, imagination soaring with the words on the page, and she doesn’t have to stop once from cover to cover with worries of what she needs to prepare for Monday morning. I take a sip of my scotch and it burns against the salty air. The burn warms my chest and I swell with pride. The kind of pride a man can only feel who has dared to reach for his wildest dreams, and can finally touch them.

Screen shot business plan startCracked Computer Screen

I can feel my eyes blinking and my vision corrects itself. I’m sitting in my 10×10 bedroom/office in sweatpants staring at my busted computer screen. A freshly cracked Bud Light sits next to my computer. The screen reads “Business Plan” centered atop the page, and two lines below, that incessant cursor blinks it’s condescending blink. I laugh, nearly to the point of hysteria. I’ve read stories of great entrepreneurs; moments like these are the ones they remember. Hopeless moments saved only by faith in oneself. The sight of my computer screen is pretty pathetic, and I haven’t made any progress yet…but somehow I have a smile on my face, and I know that I will.

While trying to decide what I wanted to write about for this blog post, I kept coming back to the term “thought leader.” If you’ve ever heard a marketing expert speak about the key to blog writing, then it’s a near guarantee that you’ve heard the term. So naturally, I googled it.

Thought leader

one whose views on a subject are taken to be authoritative and influential.
(Oxford Dictionaries)

Then I thought that a successful entrepreneur gets the distinct opportunity to see both sides of that definition. An entrepreneur is told that they’re crazy, that is until they’ve made it big. And then all of the sudden, they are Marshall Law on whatever subject they speak upon in the business world.


a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

And then by chance, I saw the following clip of Jim Carrey giving his famous Commencement speech at Maharishi University with the closing quote that will give any human not made of stone the goosebumps. “I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which, was that you can fail at doing what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”
And with that quote, I found my revelation – the reason I kept coming back to the term thought leader. It is because an entrepreneur is a thought leader before, during, and after his/her successes. Literally. An entrepreneur thinks of a way to solve a pain point for thousands, maybe even millions of people. They then spend years of their lives afterwards, obsessed with this thought, and the implementation of how to properly alleviate every single person associated with this pain point. It’s almost certain that someone else has previously had this same idea, but they didn’t have the discipline to follow through with it. They weren’t a thought leader. Look at our buddy, Geoff Fox, CEO of Flippze. He is making serious waves, being mentioned by Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Inc.. His company is “the Craigslist for colleges.” He provides a safer platform for transactions that originate on his site by getting local businesses to host the transactions in the safety of their facilities. There’s no way you can tell me that Geoff was the first person to ever have this idea. But he is a thought leader by nature, and that drove him to put himself in front of any local business who would listen. He’s now in 32 college towns with Flippze, and that number is only going to grow. Which leads me to the point of my entry today.

The three traits that I believe every entrepreneur must have to become the thought leader of a new and successful business, which in turn becomes the thought leader in the industry.

  1. Faith
  2. Tenacity
  3. Humility
  1. Entrepreneurship for DummiesFaith: I do not mean in the sense of religion. I simply mean faith. An entrepreneur must have faith in themselves and in their company. Though the portrayal of an entrepreneur is sexy and laid back, the reality is not quite the same. It is a life of long nights and personal sacrifice that can only be justified by undying faith. An entrepreneur will have to learn more in a short period of time than they ever expected. Accounting, financial projections, website design, you name it. All the stuff you thought you’d get to hire somebody for, being the boss, you’ll end up doing yourself in a dimly lit room by yourself. Our CEO, Andrew Williams, has a tower of those little yellow “For Dummies” books. He tells us he would spend days on end sitting in Barnes and Noble with nothing but a notebook, a pen, and the next “For Dummies” book in line. Put simply, Andrew says
    “I had to. So I did.”
  2. Tenacity: In the words of a friend and mentor, Chuck Whitlock, “people buy my passion.” If you’ve ever met Chuck, or heard him speak, then you’ll understand. His genuine excitement for the topics he speaks upon are absolutely infectious. When he speaks to you about his business he looks you directly in the eye, squints a little bit, and always has a sly grin on his face. You can feel the passion behind what he says. In sales you hear the term, “people buy the person, not the product.” And that’s just to get somebody to decide between something mundane like DirectTV or cable. To convince an investor that you’ll work relentlessly for as long as it takes, and the world that your invention is worthy of their money, you had better be excited when you tell them about it. You had better be sharp. You had better be tenacious.
  3. Humility: The first two traits seem somewhat obvious. But the third you don’t hear about much. When you tell someone you’re an entrepreneur, they’re instantly intrigued. You can even hear the ooh’s and ah’s from time to time. That’s great, and it will make you feel good, but here’s the problem: If you talk to enough people who pat you on the back without any real feedback, it’s easy to let a hint of apathy slip into your voice when you describe your business because you feel that you’re just going through the motions. This is dangerous, because as an entrepreneur you have to be on the ready and express all three of these qualities at all times. As an old boss of mine used to tell me, “You never know who’s sitting across the table from you.” So stay humble, and keep at it. Because the second you think the world owes you something just for working hard, you’ll miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

What success really looks likeThe path of the entrepreneur is never straight and never easy. The strength of each of the above three qualities will be constantly tested. There will be times where you feel absolutely hopeless, and just don’t understand why you haven’t yet hit a breakthrough. In those moments, remember that nothing is owed to you and you signed up for this. Hold strong to your faith, even if you can’t find a good reason to at the moment. And finally, take the advice of a marathon runner whose name I cannot recall, and have never been able to find online. I remember it vividly when he was interviewed. He said, “I couldn’t breathe. My body was going numb. And then I had a thought that I’ll never forget. ‘I can either quit, or I can run harder.’ Every stride I took after that thought was longer, faster, stronger. That was the first time I ever experienced runner’s high. I was laughing as I crossed the finish line.” This man believed in the power of the idea. Certainly, he was not the first runner to have this thought. He won’t be the last. But he was a thought leader, and because of it, he had a profound realization about his craft. He found a way to finish his race faster than he had previously thought possible, and felt proud afterwards because he had earned his way to the finish line.

At Elite Innovations, we understand the struggles of entrepreneurship, because we’re entrepreneurs ourselves. This is our veteran CEO’s third business that he’s started. He has sold one, and the other is the cash cow fueling Elite Innovations. Three of our employees also have businesses blooming under the Elite Innovations umbrella. When you bring product ideas to us, you’re not just getting hourly employees plugging away from 9-5, you’re getting Elite certified faith, tenacity, and humility going into every aspect of the product development process. So the next time you take a moment to drift off and dream of the life you want to see for yourself and your family, know that we’re right there with you. Know that we want it just as badly as you do. Know that we won’t stop until we get it.