Recently by Alison Grieve
My nails dramatically decreased in size during the month of July. I nervously nibbled as I awaited the first production units arriving from China, desperate for Safetray to play its own part in the largest arts festival in the world - a showcase in front of an international audience within my beloved hometown during Edinburgh's multiple festivals.
Leading up to the arrival I had been fed worrying snippets of information regarding the progress with the mould tool. The initial photographs were kept from me - Fearsomengine quite rightly deciding that a snapshot image of a mangled piece of plastic might be more upsetting than informative - and so it was a relief indeed to finally see (a fortnight ago) a physical embodiment of the Safetray looking actually rather handsome.
This week I thought I should talk about the various steps that were required to protect not just Safetray as a physical product but also our brand, before we were able to start shouting from the rooftops.
I, like all inventors, had to keep my idea a secret right up to the point of patent application. Non-disclosure agreements (or confidential disclosure agreements) can be acquired from the IPO website and signed by anybody you need to discuss your idea with before you are otherwise protected.
I had several friends try to push me into telling them what I had invented. Facetious guesses ranged from 'cancer-free cigarettes' to 'the wheel' to objects of pleasure not appropriate for inclusion in a business blog.
I grew up in a household with a permanently revolving front door. It was a bit like living in the transit lounge of Heathrow Airport, with visitors from New Zealand, Romania, India, France, Canada and many others, breaking bread at our family's kitchen table.
This diversity of social interaction provided me with a patchwork quilt of influence and aspiration. It taught me the importance of tapping into to the knowledge and experience of others in order to broaden my horizons and deepen my understanding of how the world works.
It is a lesson that I have applied throughout my career but never more so than since embarking upon the Safetray project. This week I thought it might be useful to provide an overview of some of the people who have been played a big part in guiding me through the Safetray journey so far.
The Observer Book of Invention describes the difference between invention and innovation as this:
'Invention is turning money into ideas; innovation is turning ideas into money.'
When I went for my first surgery with Scottish Enterprise in 2009, they asked me whether we had considered licensing our idea to avoid the pain of both manufacturing and the commercialisation of a new product.
Whilst I understood the benefits of a grab-the-money-and-run method of getting Safetray produced and out into the marketplace, I did wonder what that said about our national psyche.
Are us Scots completely incapable of producing and commercialising products ourselves? Do we really want to define ourselves as a nation of consultants and service providers all selling to each other?
It seems a particularly relevant week to be talking about the multiple steps in our design process to have led Safetray to the stage it is at now.
If rumours are to be believed, our design process involved me scribbling down some sketches of an adapted food and drinks tray, sending them over to Fearsomengine and, BINGO, we had ourselves a revolutionary product.
How I wish it was that simple.
Fearsomengine were involved very early on in the design process. They wanted to have a look at a variety ways of stabilising trays before committing with certainty to my original idea of having some sort of solid retractable device that would slide in-between the fingers of service staff to provide the required support.
I have often wondered, when reading articles about such occurrences as housewives inventing devices for monitoring domestic energy consumption, how it is that somebody with absolutely no background in design or engineering can simply come up with an idea, have it manufactured and then bring it to market with lucrative rewards to follow.
Over the next few months I will be writing this diary to explain the ways in which I became that 'somebody' and to outline some of the pains and gains I experience along the way.
Perhaps at this point I should introduce myself. My name is Alison Grieve, a 32 year old single mother of twin boys living in Edinburgh.
After ten years of clocking up sales and marketing experience in Manchester, Australia and London, working for companies such as the QS Network and Lexis Nexis, I returned home to have my boys in 2004.