Herbert Bigelow has an invention. So what. He also has a patent pending. Big deal.
The truth is neither is enough, because even though a business can be founded on an invention, it takes skilled management, financing, marketing and much, much more.
Last year, he launched an innovative, time-saving hardware device known as the Beehive Hanger.
Designed to help consumers get frames level and spaced right, the hanger requires no exact measuring and can be adjusted in any direction. It consists of two hangers that attach to the frame, two support pins that attach to the wall and four screws.
Bigelow came up with the idea in 2001 when he tried to hang three pictures, equally spaced and aligned at the top, after repainting his condo. “I thought, certainly it can’t be that difficult,” he said.
It took six months to find a company and create a working prototype. Pressured by retailers to go to China, Bigelow chose a manufacturer in New Jersey. The hanger requires a 10-stamp die process because the zinc-coated plate steel is so thin.
While creativity is the hallmark of invention, the process of creating on your own something suitable for commerce and marketing is risk-taking and requires fearlessness.
Financing is his biggest issue. Investors financed start-up costs of $100,000. He’s not taken on any debt, and his cash flow covers expenses. But he hasn’t turned a profit as yet.
He worked 60 to 80 hours per week and saved money by designing his own Web site, marketing materials, name and logo.
More than 225,000 units were sold in more than a year. He was on QVC twice, and the hangers are available in about 6,000 Walgreens and selected Pier 1 Imports on the East Coast.
Photo by Beehivehangers.com.