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.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Volumetric and other stuff

Interesting day today - the courier arrived a whole day early to collect an order! Luckily because of other committments we had packed it a day early :-) Who says you can't manufacture luck?

Anyway I was going to try and explain "volumetric" ... basically you measure the items you are sending. Then you multiply them all together to get a volume and then divide by a fixed amount to get the volumetric figure.

So, for example, if you have a box which is 100 x 50 x 10 cm this would be a volume of 50000. You then have to divide this by a figure given to you by the courier - normally this is either 4000 or 6000. (I believe its something to do with road versus air.)

In our example if we divide 50000 by 4000 we get 12.5 - which is then the weight the courier says this box is - 12.5 Kg. So if what we have put in the box is light and only weighs 5 Kg we will still be charged for 12.5 Kg by the courier. However, if what we have put in the box is really dense and weighs 20 Kg the courier will add a fixed amount per Kilo to bring the charge up to the full 20 Kg.

So be aware - if you have big light stuff to send via courier (especially if it is going overseas) then make sure you work out the volumetric weight and don't think you can send it using the actual weight. It can take a while to get this right in an on-line ordering system :-)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Name of the product

Forgot to say yesterday we have called the product SlideTite - cunningly I also derived the name of this blog from the name :-)

Busy day today ... got to get a reasonably large order ready to go to the Netherlands. That's one of the things we've had to learn really quickly - you can't just send stuff - there are lots of small, but important, things you need to consider. Also there are numerous terms which - again - you have to know about and which matter. One of our particular favourites is "volumetric". If I get bored one evening I'll try and explain it but the in the meantime I have some paint drying which needs to be watched ......

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Why am I doing this?

Not sure why I've decided to post to a blog. Like most things ... lots of reasons, lots of influences, nothing you can really put your finger on. It just feels "right". Plus my wife (Anne) suggested I do it - and most of her ideas generally turn out to be good ones!

Perhaps an explanation of what this is going to be about might help here. I invented something - a small slot - doesn't sound much but it holds rope and bungee securely and safely. (More on this at a later date.)

Anyway it works so Anne and I decided to set up a company to manufacture products based around it and sell them. We've been doing it for nearly two years now. And really I suppose that's why I am writing this. It can be lonely running a business - even when there are two of you doing it :-)