Those ideas, the ones you can't shake and would love to invent, the ones you imagine would make a cool million in an instant -- they're the ones Buddy DiFonzo and Mike Solow are looking for. Friends from their software sales jobs, they started a company called Idea Harvest, which matches idea people with designers and manufacturers, streamlining the inventing process and landing them a profit based on clients' success.
Their inaugural project is an idea of their own: the Tablet Claw. Less than a year ago, DiFonzo sat in the crowd at a company conference when the speaker fumbled and dropped the iPad he was using to deliver the presentation. "It flew out of his hand," DiFonzo says. That's when he realized that tablets are slippery as hell, and there's an uncornered market to making them graspable.
He texted Solow to discuss the idea over lunch. They were both in. DiFonzo researched currently available products that would make it easier to grip the device during a presentation. There was stuff out there, but it was "bulky," "nerdy," "not iPad cool." They imagine their product could be used by pharmaceutical salespeople, anyone delivering a presentation, or by casual users.
"This is our final prototype," DiFonzo says, fiddling with the device that clips to two sides of a tablet and has a rotating grip ring and a kickstand. They estimate that they've spent $5-6,000 on the product up to this point. The next step will be manufacturing and selling it, so they started a Kickstarter page and are talking to private investors to secure funding. The plan is to create and sell 100,000 products in the first round of manufacturing. To that end, they're negotiating corporate deals and designing an e-commerce site planned to launch by the end of the month.
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"If we could sell 10,000 to 20,000 [products], as a company, we would be able to go back and make more of them," Solow said.
For now, both DiFonzo and Solow have full-time jobs. "We're quota-carrying sales reps," DiFonzo says. They work on Idea Harvest and the Tablet Claw on nights and weekends in Solow's East Dallas home office. The exit strategy from their day jobs depends on how quickly the company and the Tablet Claw catch on.
So far, they have four Idea Harvest clients; they can't talk about specifics since they've signed non-disclosure agreements with each of them. They say the potential inventions include an infant care product, something sports-related, and a product that will be useful to the restaurant industry.
Million-Dollar Idea Broker: Would make a decent business card, wouldn't it?