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QUESTION: Did you ever get close to losing  your invention because you did not make enough sales?

ANSWER: We sold 2 million kits. But one of the things I did was; Better Blocks, although we are looking at releasing it, it had a nine-year life span. And that’s because we sold it, the person I sold it to, Kelvin is very good at direct marketing on TV. And eventually, you needed to get into retail stores to make a success of the product. What we did was we never quite, although we get into the Toys R Us and the retail stores, we never really made as good a success as we could’ve. So eventually after about 9 years, Better Blocks had run its life by direct response selling and that’s the way that it was. Although we are looking at re-releasing it.

This post is part of my Radio Coaching Interview. To listen to this section please click here.

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www.WarrenWilsonInventor.com
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QUESTION: You said that after the Better Blocks success, you then had a bit of self doubt. Is this the one hit wonder, basically you said. So how did you get out of that sort of thinking and selling yourself short to doing this? What was that lead? There must be something in your head that just went snap.

ANSWER: Actually, it didn’t quite go snap. But actually it was an evolution for me, what I started to do was to get, I was asked by schools to speak to classes of kids about inventing. And I went in and did that and I found that the kids would often lead me into entrepreneurship and finances and money. And I started to see that there was not a lot of good information, or information around that would teach kids about those things. So that was really the start of getting my next product. The problem I had was, I had an engineering background.,  Give  me a block to make and I can go off and do that, but give me an education program to build, I have to be honest, I had no idea how to do that. So I spent probably 15 years, researching  educational products. Like I mentioned before I did programs and whole series of things to find out how kids learn and how they learn the best. And that’s pretty simple. But the bottom line for me was; kids learn best from other kids and if the learning’s fun and entertaining, they’ll learn. And if you can get those two ingredients in, then you can build a program that will be great for teaching kids.

This post is part of my Radio Coaching Interview. To listen to this section please click here.

Please contact me by clicking here

www.WarrenWilsonInventor.com
YouTube How Inventors Invent Inventions

QUESTION: There was stuff you weren’t comfortable doing like asking, which means that, usually people say ‘you know I’m busy’ but that’s a code for ‘I’m afraid of being rejected’ and turned down, isn’t it? So you actually took matters in your own hands and took on some personal development?

ANSWER: Well, actually thanks for bringing that up because I did have a few. I’m 55 now, when I was 28 I had quite a bit of success in motor racing and what I was doing.  I used to run an engineering business alone and when I was 28, I decided pretty well, my life sucked. You know, there was a big chunk of my life that sucked. Because I was an introvert. I found it very hard to go out and meet people and those kinds of things. And I thought, this wasn’t the way that I wanted to live the rest of my life. So I started to do programs that brought me out as a person and it was, and still is, some of the most challenging  things that I’d do but I also know that that’s what I need to do sometimes. It’s like with my kids entrepreneurial program I’m developing, BetterKidsTV, I’ve got some people who have enough faith in the product that they invested money in me. That’s what I find with inventions, people don’t necessarily invest money in their ideas, it’s mainly the person. Can this person make this idea work? And people will invest money into me so it’s up to me to do the best job that I can, to make the project successful. And if that means I have to get out of my comfort zone sometimes or speak up and do things  I go ‘Well, I’d rather be sitting back at home watching TV but this is what I’ve got to do. And I’m not saying I always do it. But at least, I bring that question to myself, ‘what’s the best thing in the best interest of everybody to do here? That’s how it works for me. Which involves stepping out of your comfort zone sometimes.

This post is part of my Radio Coaching Interview. To listen to this section please click here.

Please contact me by clicking here

www.WarrenWilsonInventor.com
YouTube How Inventors Invent Inventions

QUESTION: So you also were receptive to the information that was coming through. So I believe that it’s a case of when you set the intention. Is this very much like the law of attraction? People, you know, we talked about this. And don’t put limits or standards on how it’s going to happen. And let it come into your life. Now did you feel at any stage that you were chasing your tail, and it was just one of those false leads or like some people do, they tap into their intuition and they get a gut feeling; is this the right path to go or I’m just wasting my time and you make that judgment call? So how did you go about that when you were told by John “go ring my mate, this kiwi guy lives in the States, and it will all be sweet?”.

ANSWER: My gut feeling said, ring him up! Because my attitude is I have everything to gain and nothing to lose. To be honest, I find it really challenging, to ring people up, even here on this RadioTV interview. I don’t find this easy but it’s part of what I seem to do that works. So when I get into it, it kind of works and it’s very much an intuitive thing. I do have the sense that I do what I think is right. And what I think will benefit myself and a lot of people. And that’s how BetterKidsTV.com came about, it was just something that I thought there’s a lot of benefit in for a lot of people and it just felt right, again, it hasn’t always been an easy road. But it’s a matter of ‘okay I think this is a good thing’, and off I go and do it.

This post is part of my Radio Coaching Interview. To listen to this section please click here.

Please contact me by clicking here

www.WarrenWilsonInventor.com
YouTube How Inventors Invent Inventions

QUESTION: Is successful inventing about who you know, not what you know?

ANSWER: Very good question. Thank you. Let me tell you a little story. It is certainly partly about who you know. But with Better Blocks there was a pivotal point when Better Blocks became successful. I’d written a business plan, spent two years going around Australia looking for venture capital in all traditional channels of raising finance, but I was unsuccessful. And I realised that a part of the problem was the way I approached it and part was just that I didn’t have success. I was talking to my sister’s boyfriend at that time, he was a carpenter. He built and installed beautiful kitchen cupboards, probably not the kind of guy you’d expect financial expertise from, right? So, I was talking to John Wilkie and John said “why don’t you ring up my mate in America?”. He was a New Zealander but he was living in the US at that time. He was doing very well in the direct marketing field. So I rang up Kelvin and the end result of that call was a $45 million business. Now, you can’t write that into a business plan. . So, certainly it is who you know and what you know but it’s also speaking to people and being very aware and listening. People will offer you advice or opportunities just follow them and see where they go because my great success and opportunities have come out of doing just that. You know, you need your business plans and approach to kind of go down the track but be aware of what’s in left field because, like I said, who would have ever thought, a carpenter would be the key to Better Blocks becoming a successful business. So I thank John Wilkie from the bottom of my heart for that comment.

This post is part of my Radio Coaching Interview. To listen to this section please click here.

Please contact me by clicking here

www.WarrenWilsonInventor.com
YouTube How Inventors Invent Inventions

QUESTION: What was the time frame between having the idea to the patent being sold?

ANSWER: It took me about 35 seconds to think of the idea for BetterBlocks©, then to develop it and get it into the marketplace, was about another 3 to 3½ years. I built the prototypes myself but I couldn’t manufacture it.. didn’t have the money as I was $100,000 in debt.. I wasn’t a marketing person.. in fact there was a long list of skills and resources that I didn’t have. So I had to find, then assemble a team of people who had all of the skills that I didn’t have but were necessary for BetterBlocks© to be successful.   Invest in your team as well as your product.   With BetterBlocks I not only invested in my idea that was going to become a product but I also realised there is a whole lot of business skills and resources I did not have and a team effort was required to make it all happen properly and in the sequence that it is supposed to happen. They may not have been as creative as me but were far better at manufacturing, sourcing venture capitalist or they’re very good at drafting contracts so that I did not get burned in the process. To be honest, I don’t know how I attract these people. But I seem to do that. It’s like my new venture, BetterKidsTV.com. I had an idea that I wanted to teach kids about money and entrepreneurship. I knew one thing; it needed to be entertaining because kids like to be entertained. And that was about all I really knew. Then off I went and I told people I’ve got this idea and now, I’m beginning to assemble a team of really excellent people. Not only people who can produce great products, but also on internet marketing side of it, and just general support. Again, I’m assembling a team of people around me who are far more skilled in their areas than I am and that’s ultimately what will make BetterKidsTV.com a successful business and a successful product.

QUESTION: Is successful inventing really as easy as trying something else when your idea doesn’t work?

ANSWER: To be honest.. No! When I was developing Better Blocks© I was $100,000 in debt, people were ringing me up to get the money that I owed them. I had to renegotiate payment plans with them. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think ‘Gee, what am I going to do now? I’m not going to make it by doing the same old thing.’ (just a note here, ‘Gee’ is a polite word I have written here to replace the real word I used!)   But I always believed in my invention and my end goal, which was that millions of kids around the world would be playing with my Better Blocks©. Happy kids and happy parents having fun, visualising this end result is what kept me going. When times were really tough, I just recalled what I was really trying to achieve and I would say to myself ’Okay, Warren, just put in one more effort.’ It was really like that, knowing where I wanted to go and just putting in another effort. Sometimes I would kick a goal and sometimes I would kick out of bounds and I would have to regroup and start again. But it was all about persistence. That was one thing I really learned with Better Blocks©.   My Better Blocks was an okay idea, it was a building block like Lego, but my blocks moved when clipped together. I’m just kind of an average guy that went to school. I saw some far better ideas than mine and came across far more intelligent inventors than me. But they didn’t succeed which made me start to think, what did I do that worked?   Really it was just about being persistent, you know, the only sure way to fail is to stop trying. I was probably a bit pig headed sometimes but I did just keep going, and eventually, Better Blocks© was successful. That was the skill I needed to start out with…. just being persistent.

QUESTION: Are inventors born wearing an inventor’s hat?

ANSWER: I wasn’t born an inventor, but my parents were very creative people. My dad was involved in engineering and my mum was a dressmaker. As a kid, I just used to like making “stuff,” although, looking back, there was more pulling “stuff” apart and trying to figure out where the leftover parts belonged after I had finished putting it back together! I would pull apart electronic gadgetry, old bikes, and machines, anything I could get my hands on. My parents encouraged this inquisitive side of me. From making “stuff’ like Billy carts out of junk I found lying around and then testing them, I learnt that…. some ideas worked. But many didn’t.   As I got older I became involved in motor bike racing, I enjoyed developing faster and faster bikes that could break the next record and then off I would go chasing the next title. This is where one of the lessons I learnt as a kid came in very valuable. Some of the engines I made were very fast but other’s weren’t as successful and just blew apart. So I had to go back to the drawing board and do it again, just like when I was a kid when I was testing my Billy cart.   One of the reasons BetterBlocks© became successful was because of the lesson I learnt as a kid, that some ideas worked and some didn’t and that perseverance is the key,  you’ve got to keep going to get to the end….to where you want to go. This is commonly called persistence and I have applied it to all of my inventions, my race bikes and my business.

QUESTION: What were the unexpected results of my invention?

ANSWER: My highest values are to make kids and parents happy. The business part is in the brain, the motivational mission comes from the heart. It was when parts of my business truly touched my heart that made all the hard times worthwhile. Of all the highlights of having a successful invention let me share with you a story of what truly made the sacrifices I experienced for BetterBlocks all worthwhile.

Kelvin, a NZ marketer who took BetterBlocks to America was running an event in a community hall in Florida. Kids and their parents brought in their Better Block models to enter a competition to see who had the best model for the different classes we had set up. During the event a father came up to Kelvin, and really thanked him for bringing out Better Blocks. Kelvin could see by the emotion behind his voice that this was more than just a simple “thanks mate”! So he asked him why he was thanking him. The proud father said, “I bought Better Blocks and it was the first time in 4 years that I’d sat down and play with my son. I sat down and played with him for half a day building these models.”

To touch someone’s life like that, unexpectedly, that was what made the challenge of seeing my idea, my invention, thru to the end, never giving up even when I really wanted to. I thought “Wow, I really can make a positive difference in people’s lives.” That was the beginning of my quest………….. “How can I create products which achieve this more?

I never really knew when I made a difference to someone’s life or what it was. When I was developing Better Blocks, my motivation was to bring smiles on a few kids’ faces and to get out of debt, but there was a bigger picture than just bringing a smile to a few kids faces and earning some money which I never knew at the time. That’s what makes inventing exciting for me…..the unexpected results that no business plan can include!

The Bigger Picture

That’s the bigger picture. I started with an idea, and was a 100 grand in hock. Now I need get out of hock. That was what I thought was the bigger picture……..but it was actually bigger than this. The fact that I could positively affect a relationship, a father and his son. I have not idea how many other people’s lives I may have touched with a simple plastic block.

We sold over 2 million kits, manufactured more than a billion blocks so there were a lot of BetterBlocks out there that kids were playing with. I simply followed something that I enjoyed doing; creating and making toys and learning new skills. So really I just followed my heart and did what I loved doing. The unexpected results were really out  of my control!

David v’s Goliath!

When I did my market research I found Lego was like the big giant in the building block, toy plastic building block industry. They were a $2 billion a year company. You went into a shop and there were Lego and there was Lego and there was Lego……….. there was no competition! For me to come and be new kids on the block, (no pun intended!) it was a bit of a challenge. What I realized is that I couldn’t take Lego on head-on as a company because like I said, I didn’t have the resources. But what I could do was, I could develop a block that was a bit different from theirs. It was like a David and Goliath type of relationship, but I thought ‘Lego may be big, but I’ll just keep working on my blocks