Posted on 2 Comments

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.

pcw

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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 Elizabeth@eliteinnovationsllc.com

 

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!

Posted on 2 Comments

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