Alex O’Connor didn’t come up with his big idea at work or in his lazy chair. Instead the idea hit him while he was out doing what he loves – surfing.
Doing what you love can lead to a great idea, but getting that idea to market is a lot of work.
1. Do What You Love
Why should anyone need encouragement to do what they love? Because it is so easy to spend our evenings and weekends doing nothing after a hard day of work.
Most of us don’t get paid to do what we love, but that is why we develop hobbies! Investing in a pastime that you are passionate about can spark your creativity and gets you in the habit of taking action.
Like work, hobbies require discipline. Alex O’Connor experienced his light bulb moment on a miserably cold day off the coast of his home country, Scotland. It would have been easier to stay home watching Netflix that day, but his commitment kept him going. So do what you love, but remember, Love = Passion + Commitment
2. Build a Concept Model
While out paddling through the surf, Alex came up with the idea that greater propulsion may lead to more fun. What an idea! Little did he know, he was following in the footsteps of famous American inventor, Benjamin Franklin.
One day, while out swimming in a river, young Ben Franklin realized that he could achieve more thrust when paddling through the water if he had “fins” similar to a fish. Franklin made “fins” out of wood planks and soon found himself to be the fastest swimmer in the river.
Great minds think alike, but Alex took his idea a step further than Ben. Franklin’s paddles were clunky, heavy and wooden. Alex realized that today’s swimmers need something sleek and convenient. Long before Alex introduced his idea to the world, he built a concept model at home.
Ben stopped at the concept model stage. After all, he built those paddles for his own use. However, if you want to market your idea to the world, a model is only the beginning.
3. Listen to Feedback
Have you ever had an idea that you kept to yourself because you were afraid others wouldn’t like it? The fear of rejection can keep us from getting the valuable feedback that we need.
Had Thomas Edison feared failure, he would have never succeeded. He shared his ideas – good and bad – with those around him because he wanted feedback and contribution of ideas.
Sometimes it’s the support of those closest to us that mean the most. When Alex’s wife Sorcha left her corporate job as marketing director to join Sealblades, Alex couldn’t have been happier.
Alex surrounded himself with a group of water sports enthusiasts whom he asked to test his model. Listening with an open mind to both positive and negative feedback, Alex and Sorcha found that water-lovers were urging them to press forward!
4. Build, Test, Improve, Repeat
Although his model received good feedback, Alex knew there was a big difference between a prototype and a product. After building six prototypes, he had a functional design that worked well.
However, as Alex and Sorcha looked at the cost of their new Sealblades, they realized they would have to go back to the drawing table.
Unnecessary details raise costs while detracting from a product’s purpose. Alex and Sorcha were able to craft Sealblades into sleek, affordable masterpieces by simplifying their design.
An experienced designer stays focused on the purpose of her creation. Alex and Sorcha purposed to create a water paddle that gives you more power when you need it, but gets out of the way when you don’t.
But That’s Just the Beginning!
With a finished product ready to go to market, Alex and Sorcha O’Connor are really just beginning their entrepreneurial journey. As Sorcha told me, “Taking an idea from initial seed of a thought to fully developed product is not for the faint-hearted.” Bringing a useful product to market is challenging, but worth the work!
Sealblades, the world’s first retractable hand paddles ™ give you up to 35% more power when you want it and then instantly retract out of the way when you want your hands back. If you appreciate Alex and Sorcha’s hard work and innovation, check out their work on Kickstarter!
Question: Are you inspired by ordinary people who choose to innovate? What’s keeping you from becoming one of those people? You can leave a comment by clicking here.