Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Time ... what time?

I don't get it. You think "it was only yesterday I did that" and then you realise it was actually a month (or more) ago ! There never seems to be enough time to do anything. But at least you're never bored.

We've been setting up a new website www.slidetite.co.uk and trying to get photos, etc done. We've also been working on new promotional material and it all takes much longer than you first think. Take a simple example: a countertop box to put stock in. (1) You have to find someone who supplies them. We eventually found CardWorks and they are good, but it took ages to track them down. (2) Once you have the box how do you decorate it? Header card ... graphics on the sides ... stickers ... etc ...etc...? What you thought would be a couple of days turns into a week; then two. The up side - of course - is that once it is done you will have something which you can be proud of and that looks good.

Another important thing to do is get a good print shop who you can work well with ... we use Flying Colours. They are reasonably local to us but, more importantly, they are the sort of printer who isn't afraid to say to you "well that's OK but it would be better if you thought about this" and that is worth a lot.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Testing times

I think I've said before about how you are constantly learning stuff when you run your own business. Well I've been learning about testing the breaking point of elastic cords over the last couple of weeks and it is making my head hurt!

You would think its easy ... grab a bit of cord; put it in a machine; pull on it until it breaks; record the amount of pull. But no. The first thing that you realise is that as elastic cord stretches it also gets thinner. So the clamps in the machines loose their grip and it all goes wrong.

THEN ... the local company who does a lot of our testing Lifting and Crane, in Gloucester, get very short notice that they have to move. So the day I go to see them I find all the test equipment packed in boxes and half of it has already gone to the new site! So there will be a delay until they get themselves unpacked and settled.

In the meantime I need to find an answer to this getting thinner and letting go problem. My initial thought is to use Slidetite Binders and / or Plates. I may well test this for myself later in the week ... could be fun :-) Massive amounts of stress in an elastic cord until it breaks.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Covered in shame

Its been a long time since my last post and that's a shameful thing. No point in having a blog if I'm not going to keep it up to date :-(

So new resolution - update blog on a regular basis. The problem is - of course - that there are two conflicting drivers here:

Either ..(1) we are really, really busy and there's so much going on I don't get time to do everything so jobs like the blog get pushed down and down my todo list until they basically fall off the bottom.
Or ..(2) there's nothing interesting going on and I hate reading blogs where its just "got up", "had breakfast", etc, etc so I don't want to write like that either.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More ideas

The great thing about running a business like Slidetite is that almost everyone you talk to can come up with a couple of ideas about where the products could be used. Some of these ideas are wacky, some fun and some just downright weird :-)

BUT the point is you get this never ending stream of possibilities and the hard part is pulling out the ones which you can do and do well. For example, a couple of days ago I was in the car park of a local supermarket and watched as a young mother's trolley rolled away from her car whilst she was trying to get her young child into the car. Unfortunately I was too far away to do anything to help but it did set off a train of thought about trolleys and the annoying habit they have of rolling away from you when you least want them to. It is no ones fault - they just do it.

What was really odd about this situation is that our newest product - the Clipper - is designed to clip onto thin metal bar. It turns out - after a number of trips to various supermarkets and DIY stores - this is what most shopping trolleys are made from. Even better ... the Hook will hold onto the back of just about any vehicle without scratching the paintwork.

A quick bit of research around insurance company reports then showed that in the UK the average cost of repairing damage to vehicles bumped and scratched in car parks is £340 !!

So a potential new product / market is born.

All that from seeing one incident in a car park. The problem is that Anne is getting fed up with me coming up with ideas for new applications and is seriously considering not letting me talk to anyone :-) She has already banned me from inventing any more Slidetite products for a while so soon I'll have nothing to do ..............

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

So many ways to say the same thing

We've finally got the website for Slidetite switched over to the new database driven, multilingual version. It does work and to - be fair to the guys - is easy to use once you get your head around how to lay the words out. Its hard to not keep trying to read the different languages though. You have to just trust that the translators have done their job and that it says what it is supposed to.

Anyway we're very proud of it - sort of like a new puppy - we think it is soooooo clever and everyone else is probably rolling their eyes and wondering what all the fuss is about :-)

Also very exciting news ... we have just had the certificate through for the registered trademark Slidetite. We now own it for the next 10 years. Still other things to do in this area but the whole process was much easier than we were expecting and a lot of the credit for that has to go to the people at the UK Patent Office. They are a very helpful and knowledgable bunch of people - if you ever need to do anything in this area I can recommend talking to them. Also the website has masses of easy to read guides ... again recommended.

Now in the midst of sorting out packaging - it seems no matter what you do someone always wants something slightly different :-) Oh well ... keeps us busy and off the streets.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Plans of mice and men

Well that's been an interesting couple of weeks. Lots happening - hence the gap between entries in this blog.

No photos from the Cotswold Inventors Fair I'm afraid - some of the inventions hadn't had full protection applied to them yet (patents, etc) and so no cameras !! Seems perfectly reasonable. Its a pity though because some of them were really excellent and well worth seeing.

Anyway the SlideTite website is about to go multilingual - we have a company developing a new site for us which has a backend database in it. This means that we can add any language we like and the site will use it. I am promised the adding of a new language for the whole site will take less than a day once its all working ... we'll see :-)

We have also been building retail display units. Odd process - you have to make the display unit look good, but it has to meet all safety regulations, but it can't take up too much space, but it has to be big enough to use, but it has to have enough space to put everything on, but it shouldn't have any wasted "shelf" space. My brain hurts ... but we are nearly there with the first one - a floor standing unit which will go on trial in an outdoor / survival shop. So what happens? Anne gets a request for a second display unit ... for shelf mounting !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH

However, one excellent company we found was Index Plastics they have everything you could want to go on a retail display (and more) and they are so helpful I had to mention them here. Try their Wobblers ....... you won't be disappointed :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

One of those days

Its been one of those days today. Loads to do and everything conspiring to stop you doing anything. Not helped by the on-going problems with BT's ADSL service.


Everytime it rains our ADSL service goes into spasm. I thought originally it was because the junction box which leads to us was buried by some helpful (not) person ... who then dropped it into a hole that filled with water whenever it rained. But the engineers have moved it again and say it is OK now.

I tend to believe them - BT engineers are great - the problem is BT and its deliberate attempts to make sure customers cannot talk to them on any "helpline". It takes, on average, five minutes to navigate through the menus on their 150 service before you get close to speaking to a person.

Anyway the ADSL line went into spasm again today - even though it wasn't raining here. I found out later it was raining in the nearest town - and that is where the exchange is ... interesting.


What I was trying to do today was get ready for the Cotswold Inventors Fair on Thursday of this week (19th Oct). It should be fun. But there is a lot to do and loosing the ADSL line for most of the day did not help. Luckily I had most of the content, etc that we needed here already so I could at least get on with some stuff.

Its always the same with shows - regardless of the audience - you plan and plan but when you actually get there two things happen (1) you change the layout / display / arrangement of the stand; (2) your stand doesn't look as good as the others and you start to worry. I'll bet we do the same on Thursday even though we have done loads of shows now and should know better :-)

I'll take some photos and post them up here for comments - it would be useful to get feedback.

The other thing I am trying to get my head around is the animations we want to make of the SlideTite characters. On the website / packaging / etc you will see the small figures doing various things ... fishing, hiking, skiing, surfing and so on. We want to get these into 3D so that we can create movies of them and hopefully then make a few people (a) laugh and (b) notice us. Publicity is the hardest and most vital thing to get for a business of our size and stage of growth and we think films of the characters may help in this?

I've created a few of the characters using Minimates and customising them. The first still images are here ... better ones will follow and once I have some good ideas for topics for the films they will follow too.