Category Archives: Starting a business

Why would you as a firefighter want to use a patent attorney that is a professional fire fighter and an Inventor?

Why would you as a firefighter want to use a patent attorney that is a professional fire fighter and an Inventor?
by Andrew Spriegel
January 12, 2011

Many of the advances made in firefighting and EMS equipment and training have been made by firefighters and paramedics.  So if you are one of the numerous firefighter/EMS inventors, who do you go to write a patent to protect your idea?  Paul Filon, full-time lieutenant and paramedic in the Strongsville Fire Department and a licensed and registered Patent Attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  Paul works at Spriegel & Associates, LLC (Patent & Trademark Attorneys) in Hudson, Ohio, http://www.Smart2Patent.com.

In addition to working as an EMT/paramedic for 22 years and a firefighter for 16 years, Mr. Filon is also chemistry specialist and Haz-Mat technician for the regional Haz-Mat and bomb teams.  He is experienced in several technical rescue disciplines and teaches a variety of firefighter and EMS classes.

Spriegel & Associates, LLC is gaining a reputation as working with firefighters, Captain Phil McLean is one of their clients and one of those inventor/firefighter types that owns Sensible Products Inc. (www.senpro.net), in Richfield, Ohio.  Phil and his business partner, retired Fire Chief, Russ English are quality manufacturers of unique holders and bracketry for fittings, adapters, brass goods and tools mounted on fire trucks.  Here is what Phil has to say about working with Paul:

I have worked with Paul Filon on several occasions related to product development. With his Fire Service background and knowledge of Emergency Services it made the development and patent process easy for me and my company as we were developing a new product in the business. He is an energetic worker and has a passion for all the work and all of his professions.  His multi-professional experience was and continues to be an asset to our project.

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The Pet Rock was more than a gag or fad it was a brilliant marketing strategy

The Pet Rock was more than a gag or fad it was a brilliant marketing strategy

By Andrew Spriegel
January 16, 2011

Nothing is as easy or as simple as it seems.  How times have you heard someone say “A guy made millions selling pet rocks.”

Marketing, Marketing and More Marketing

In inventing, retail and service businesses, success or failure often depends on marketing.

Gary Dahl, a Los Gatos, California advertising professional was in a bar in 1975 with his friends who were complaining about their pets.   Dahl, as a joke told his friends that he considered dogs, cats, birds, and fish messy, not well-behaved and they cost too much money,  he had a pet rock.  His “pet” was clean, well-mannered, easy to care for, required no expensive foods required no feeding, bathing, walking, grooming, was well-behaved, had an even temperament, would not grow elderly or pass away or become sick.  They were the perfect pets, and Gary joked about it with his friends.  However, he soon took the idea seriously, and went home and started to write an instruction manual for a pet rock.  The manual was full of jokes and gags that referred to the inanimate rock as a pet.

Dahl quit his job to launch Rock Bottom Productions, the company that sold the pet rocks for $3.95 per “pet”.   Marketing, packaging and shipping the pet rock like live pets, in cardboard, pet carrier boxes, with straw for the rock to rest on and breathing holes.  Large volume sales only lasted about six months, however sales made Dahl a millionaire.

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Innovators and Genius in Ohio

Innovators and Genius in Ohio
Tom Moran
By Andrew R. Spriegel
December 30, 2010

There are many stories about the lack of innovation and the down economy in the Ohio and Cleveland Area.  Enter Tom Moran of Midwest Plastic Fabricators (MPF) in Aurora, Ohio.  Innovator and Inventor of numerous patented manufacturing processes and products, Tom is a 45 year veteran and leader in the industry.

One of the innovative products is a line of NEMA PVC Junction Boxes.  A combination of innovative materials and patented cutting edge technology combines for easy installation and reduced life cycle cost.

PVC offers less resistance than conventional metal in cutting holes for conduit entrance.  In addition, non-conductive PVC eliminates potential shock hazard.  In addition, its non-corrosive properties offer longer life and environmental integrity.

Photo Above: Light weight PC Enclosures offer Heavy Duty Performance for food process applications

Photo Above: Innovative Non Metallic PVC Enclosures feature Three-Point Latching

Photo Above: Patented PVC Elbow Crate Saves warehouse Space and is a dispenser pack.

Consider the Fulton Road Bridge,

a Cleveland engineering landmarks is a $44 million architectural attraction that spans the Cleveland Metropark Zoo


and Big Creek Valley.

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What is Franchising?

What is Franchising?
Kelcey Lehrich
12/6/2010

Franchising is an industry where a franchisor licenses a complete business model to a franchisee.  Franchising is a growth model for small businesses that allow the owners of the business model to expand while using outside capital and retaining control over the business model.

A franchise relationship is defined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as having three main properties.  If these three properties are present then the FTC will rule the business relationship as a franchise regardless of the name of the contract the parties signed.  There is a common mistake called “the accidental franchise” where these three elements are created within a licensing or distribution agreement.  An accidental franchise can create large financial and legal issues for the accidental franchisor if the accidental franchisee takes the accidental franchisor to court.  If you’re building a business model you’d like to replicate and it includes the three elements below it is likely a franchise and should be documented as such.  Franchise opportunities have their own set of FTC rules to follow and some very solid case law to protect all of the parties involved.

  1. Trade Name – Every franchise agreement gives the franchisee the right to use the franchisor’s name brand.  Typically this name brand should be trademarked but a trademark is not necessary to satisfy this part of the franchise definition.  Any one offering a business opportunity where they grant a trade name to the business opportunity buyer meets this part of the franchise definition – regardless of how well known the trade name is or isn’t.
  2. Business Systems – A key element of the franchise relationship is the presence of a business system.  The business system is typically outlined in an operations manual and contains trade secrets for systems, processes, procedures, recipes, techniques, and marketing methods.
  3. Fees of $500 – Upfront and/or ongoing fees of $500 or more in the first six months is the final part of the franchise definition.  This figure should explain why so many MLM opportunities have entry costs just below $500.

Franchising your business means entering an entirely new line of business.  Your customer is no longer the public; it is now your franchisees.  If you want the three elements described above franchising is likely the only way to legally replicate your business on a large scale.

About the Author:

Kelcey Lehrich is a franchise consultant and business intermediary.  Kelcey’s work in franchising includes franchisor development, sell-side franchise sales, and buy-side franchise consulting.  Kelcey is part of FranchiseInc!, a national franchise consulting firm.  Kelcey also work as a business intermediary with Confidential Business Sale, a regional business brokerage firm with offices in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.  Lastly, Kelcey is also an Area Director for AmSpirit Business Connections, a national business networking organization that assists sales representatives, entrepreneurs, and business owners succeed by creating a forum where they can exchange qualified referrals with other professionals.

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Interview with Inventor and Patent Attorney Andrew Spriegel about the Portion PadL

Interview with Inventor and Patent Attorney Andrew Spriegel about the Portion PadL

By Tara1 | Published: December 1, 2010

portion padl pizza cutter

My thanks to Inventor and Patent Attorney Andrew Spriegel for agreeing to an interview with me about his business partner Greg Getzinger’s invention the Portion PadL and how together they brought the product to market. The Portion PadL was invented to enable pizza businesses to quickly and easily slice pizzas into equal pieces. The Portion PadL is available for both commercial and home use.

Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about yourself, where you are based and your career background?

Andrew Spriegen Inventor and Patent Attorney

Andrew: I worked most of my career as a Manager or a Lead Senior Electro-Mechanical Engineer for Fortune 100 companies, GE, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Invacare and others.  My experience involves a wide range of products, satellites, locomotives, off-highway vehicles, medical durable goods, surgical devices and consumer goods.  I have many US and international patents and had made a lot of money for other companies.  At 48 years old I decided to go to law school to become a patent attorney and commercialize my own products and other’s products.  I now own a patent law firm (www.Smart2Patent.com) and own several businesses commercializing products.

Tara: Is the Portion PadL the first invention you have bought to market?

Andrew: No, I had brought numerous products to market prior to the Portion PadL.

Tara: I understand that the original idea for the Portion PadL was invented by Greg Getzinger with whom you are now in business. Please could you tell me a little bit about Greg, how he came up with his invention and how the two of you connected and set up your business?

Greg Getzinger

Andrew: Prior to owning a pizza business (Pizza BOGO, www.pizzabogo.com) ), Greg was a Vice President for a large Insurance Company.  He developed the equal slice pizza cutting board (Portion PadL, www.PortionPadL.com) for his business to develop school and institutional accounts.  He heard complaints about unequal size slices of pizzas and worked on developing a solution for the problem.  Greg and I met at a networking event that his group was having at the building where my law firm is located.  It was a chili cook-off and Greg brought in a “chili pizza” on one of his prototype boards.  I saw the board and I asked him if it was patented and said that if it wasn’t it would be a great product to patent and commercialize.  We formed NuVo Grand, LLC as equal members.

Tara: Did you start with working drawings of the product or did you make a prototype?

Andrew: Greg built numerous prototypes (20+) of the equal slice pizza cutting board.  He was trying to perfect the cutting board for his business.  He did not have drawings, rather his father-in-law was making various designs based on Greg’s dimensions.  Greg tried numerous materials, sizes, grooves…

Tara: How did you go about protecting the invention?

Andrew: I have written two utility patents on the cutting board and I am working on a third utility patent.  We are building up a lot of intellectual property around the product.

Click here to see Video

Tara; Were there any mistakes, issues or problems you both experienced in the process of commercialization of the idea?

Andrew: Actually it has gone very smoothly.  Greg and I seem to compliment each other’s skill sets.  Greg is great at sales and marketing and I knew how to have the product manufactured, the manufacturers, the processes and protecting intellectual property.  I spent my career commercializing complex products very quickly and therefore I help inventors avoid the mistakes made by the typical inventors. Greg did encounter a big snow storm delivering materials to the manufacturer…a two hour trip turning into a twelve hour ordeal.

Tara: Did you consider licensing the invention or did you always plan to manufacture it yourself?

Andrew: The only products that I pursue are patentable, simple, revolutionary and either we can manufacture or have someone manufacture, preferably one at a time.  I prefer to take an order and then manufacture the product, that way you get to positive cash flow quickly.  Inventors often run out of money because they buy large quantities of product to get a good price on the product and they wind up with a garage full of product they can’t sell.

In my experience, licensing a product is a difficult thing to do.  Either you don’t get a deal, someone attempts to steal or design around the product or you get offered pennies on the dollar.

If you can manufacture and sell the product you start to “take away market share” and companies sit up and notice.  At that point if you sell or license the product you get a much better deal.

Tara: How will you go about marketing and publicizing your product? Do you intend to sell the product direct to businesses and public yourself or are you planning to wholesale it?

Andrew: Greg started marketing the product to large companies right away.  He has a real talent for sales.  Greg knows that it takes a lot of “no responses” to get a single yes.  Now our customers are Domino’s, Schwan’s, Speedway, Piccadilly Circus Pizza…and many Mom and Pop pizza shops.

I built the website www.PortionPadL.com and work with bloggers and social networking to build the brand.  If you Google “Portion PadL” we are the main listing for about the first six pages.

Tara: How long has it taken from Greg’s initial idea to where you both are now with the business?

Andrew: We have been working together less than a year.

Tara: What advice would you give to an aspiring inventor who thinks they have a good idea?

Andrew: We all love our own ideas, you have to determine if there is a market for the product.

Here are some of my key decision factors:

  • 1. Is the product Protectable? (Patent, Trademark, Copyright…)
    • a. If you have a great product and it is not protected people will copy it fairly quickly.
    • b. If you can’t protect the product I wouldn’t bother commercializing it
      • i. However, there are products that sell very well such as the Snuggies, the Amish Fireplace…but those products have been successful because of large ad campaigns
    • c.    The Portion PadL is protected by numerous Utility Patents Pending so it’s met that key decision factor
  • 2.    Is the product Revolutionary?
    • a. If it meets “a need” it is likely a commodity
      • i. People can listen to music on a large number of MP3 players
    • b.    If it meets “a want” it is likely Revolutionary
      • i. The iPod is the product that people want to listen to music on and therefore they have the largest market share.
    • c. The Portion PadL has numerous advantages over the existing products that assist people in cutting and therefore it is a “want” product.
  • 3. Can be manufactured “one at a time” until you have volume orders?
    • a. In the initial stages of commercializing the product we bought a full sheet of Richlite and when a customer ordered one we had the manufacturer make one and ship it.  That way we got to positive cash flow quickly.

Tara: What advice would you give to an inventor who has already developed and manufactured their product and are now looking at ways to publicize and market it?

Andrew: If they don’t have the expertise get help.  Many inventors have a great idea or product but they get in their own way because they have no idea how to sell it.  The product fails not because of the product but because the inventor cannot let go of controlling everything.

Tara: You have started creating a series of books for inventors chronicling the journey of inventors from invention idea to commercialization, perhaps you could tell me a little more about what you hope to achieve with the books?

Andrew: The series is called the Spilled Coffee Chronicles of Invention. I have several writers documenting inventors progress in commercializing products.  I have a high success rate in commercializing products and the books will help inventors avoid the many inventors pitfalls.  The books describe the successes and the failures along the way.  The volumes are just starting to be published but the first volume for the Portion PadL is on Kindle and Amazon at: http://tinyurl.com/2wspqrh and http://tinyurl.com/36ypa6a, respectively.  The books are also written to dispel many of the myths around inventing.  It is not a get rich quick thing, it takes hard work and persistence.  The books generate income for the inventors, the writers, myself and for reinvesting in publishing the series.

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Can You Be Your Own Boss?

Robin Ryan, Author of ’60 Seconds and You’re Hired’

Many of us fantasize about owning our own companies.  Nearly one million new businesses are launched each year, but more than 85 percent will close within five years. There are some key indicators of who will be most effective as owners.  Take this quiz to help you determine if you have the burning desire, discipline and resources to become your own boss.

Are you a self-starter?
It will be up to you, not someone else, to develop the business, organize the projects, manage your time and follow through on details.

Can you handle the uncertain financial risk?
Businesses all have cycles, the ebbs and flows in profitability.  Once it’s started you’ll have overhead and operational expenses that must be met before you get paid.

Do you have good business skills?
You must attract customers.  New and repeat customers are the lifeblood of your business. You must possess or learn these skills — accounting, business planning, operations, sales, marketing and customer service — to survive and succeed.

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U.S. is the Third Largest Spanish Speaking Country

By
November 1st, 2010

Don’t be surprised if walking down the street someone says to you ¡Hola! or ¿Qué pasa? More and more Spanish is becoming a common language of use in the United States.  With over 40,000,000 Hispanics in the U.S. and many non-Hispanics taking Spanish as a second language in schools, it is no surprise that Spanish is after English the most spoken language in the United States.  In fact the United States ranks as the 3rd largest Spanish speaking country in the world!   Thus filling a need is http://www.vivaspanish.com and Gladys Benitez-Reilly.

La Presidenta

440-376-1862 (mobile)
440-520-5619 (work)
440-954-9391 (fax)

38033 Euclid Ave. T13
Willoughby, OH 44094

 


Markets are expanding, cultural exchanges add to the richness of our lives, and bridges are being built to encourage harmony and progress.
By the way, the next time someone says ¿qué pasa? (What’s happening?), be adventurous and say, ¡nada, todo bien (everything’s great!). They’ll be impressed.

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