Part 1 of an Infinite-Part Series…

I was recently asked to speak to a great local group, the Evansville Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club, and was asked to tell about how Second Rain went through the product-patent-to-market process, which got me thinking, as the great Jack Handy once put it:

“I don’t pretend to know all the answers.  Sometimes I don’t even know the questions…  Hey, Where Am I?”

But seriously, this was my first presentation that did not specifically focus on how and why to harvest rain.  (Of course, that did come up,  and hey, thanks for asking!  🙂

Go ahead. I dare you to buy me.So here I am, expounding upon the business side of what, how and why we do what we do.  Oh yeah, if you missed the meeting, or just want another copy of the handout, Click here.  (Doesn’t make too much sense, but hopefully I can clarify it in this blog!)  The ‘how it works’ handout and ‘rainwater basics‘ are actually pages on this site, so check them out, I”ll wait.  You can even read a blurb about why…?

…Ok, now that you have a little background, let’s rewind to 3 years ago, January 2009…

Out of the clear blue, I had a flash of brilliance — a way to build rainwater storage right into any landscape design —

Ok, it wasn’t quite that simple, and I’ll paraphrase:

they’ve got the quantity right…

People wanted rain barrels.  I am a designer, paid to make the functional look nice.  I did not like the options, which consisted of a barrel (or 2 or 3) sitting at the corner of the house, or massive excavation for a cistern or rainwater pond/garden.

Oh sure, I had plenty of flashes of something, but they mostly came from lack of sleep and ended in something not feasible for most people.

Example:  In my own yard in 2005, I installed this koi pond, streams & falls which harvests rainwater and irrigates the landscape.

Beautiful, yes, but this is not for every backyard  (although my dog would argue otherwise)

Inventors’ Tip #1:  Do not try  this alone!

Truth be told, I did not think up the key concept behind our products.  Or even our name.  I just wrote them all down.  Then we all put our heads together to make the most simple, functional, and attractive rainwater storage solution we could make.

Of course, we are a family of entrepreneurs, one of them already has a patent, and another one soon will…

So I did not brainstorm with just anybody.  I am blessed with a brilliant family, but I also try to seek out people with innovative minds to collaborate with.

My Father-in-Law, Knute Olson (check out his invention here) always said we need to ‘tear it apart’ – find everything that’s wrong with the product in order to make it better.  That was very hard for me to do and not take personally. But it needed to be done.  It still does, and this should continue as long as you want to have a superior product.

Inventors Tip #2:   Learn Google SkechUp.

I began using SketchUp two years before for landscape designs, and it has been indispensable for designing new products.  The best part:  It’s FREE!  (there is a ‘Pro’ version also, for when you start getting paid).  In this way, you can ‘see’ your product in detail without paying huge sums for prototypes.  (and no, I am not a paid affiliate for SketchUp, I just think it is ridiculously cool.)

Ok, so I tweaked our ‘rain solution’ as much as humanly possible in SketchUp.  Combined it with Flash to create assembly videos.

Now for the fun part:  Patent Searches!

and, that’s where we will continue in Volume 2…