406
9 min 3 sec

Chicago Architect Creates Mini-Blind Repair Tool

It takes a long time to get to market, and success doesn’t come cheap—but this mini-blind “prescription” now earns an extra $15,000 a year for its inventor.
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What It's About

An architect gets his mini-blind repair tool manufactured and patented, learning lessons along the way.

Business Model
Manufacturing
Skills Required
Design & Experimentation
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

If Chad could do anything differently, he would probably not bother with patenting his product. After going through the process, he thinks that the better strategy is to be the “first out of the box” and maybe get a trademark and go from there. Patents are relatively expensive, and he mentioned that he was up and running for three years before his patent even came in.

Fun Fact

Chad’s previous side hustle was oil painting. He had gallery representation in Indiana, sold paintings on Etsy, and was published in American Artist. He also self-published an oil painting instruction manual for intermediate painters.

Notes from Chris

Episode 406

Today’s story is a bit different from some of the others that we’ve featured because while this project is pretty successful today bringing in an additional twelve hundred dollars a month, it took some time to get to this point.

And today’s side hustler, Chad Wooters, learned a lot of lessons along the way. By day, he’s an architect primarily working as a project manager for a non-profit in Chicago, Illinois. His side hustle is a mini-blind repair tool called MiniBlindRx of his own invention, which he sells through Amazon.com’s Fulfilled by Amazon program.

Chad got the idea for the tool while working in commercial real estate. His company spent a ton of money replacing damaged blinds. Eager to find a more budget-friendly solution, Chad’s boss asked him if he could locate a tool on the market that could repair them so that they wouldn’t have had to replace them each time. After some exhaustive searching, Chad couldn’t find anything. You know how it goes—he then decided that maybe he’d try and invent one himself.

Once he learned that his invention was unique, he hired a lawyer to make up some sketches from the prototype and write up the application, which cost just under $5,000. Two years later, the Patent Office came back with some questions that needed answering, so he had to pay an additional $1,500 to have his lawyer answer those. The patent process took three years.

He sold around 100 units after four months of hustling. In the meantime, though, he managed to get some orders from mail-order catalogs. He sold about 1000 units wholesale that way, but he didn’t get any reorders because wholesalers have to charge three times their cost, which prices it too high.

At this point, he realized he’d either have to give up or do it himself. So the third year, he started selling online directly to customers through eBay and Amazon which actually ended up working out pretty well for him.

Chad says his biggest mistake was spending so much developing the product—almost $40,000 from prototype to tooling to patent. Luckily, he’s recovered his investment and now it’s a profitable product, bringing in about $15,000 a year in a net income!


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Mini Blind RX: Check out Chad's neat little tool on his website and his product page on Amazon
SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"Product development is the most fun and rewarding thing I've ever done—taking an idea and turning it into a tangible physical product that other people want. It really builds my self-esteem knowing that I brought something into the world and the customer feedback is so encouraging."
—Chad Wooters #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau