Lynette KIRK: Inventor of EzyDrain

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  • Tell us something about yourself, your background

My career choices were in creative industries, I started work at the age of fifteen as a jewellery designer and involved in manufacturing with a jeweller.

I also had a strong passion for music and studied as a musician and singer, training and working with Sydney’s best educators. As the years followed, this extended to composing, teaching students and becoming a published author of a performing arts training manual and CD.

In later years the arts extended to film direction and production with my own Production Company and studio, producing various instructional films for building industry products and recording artist film clips. I followed all my creative goals with passion and loved my career and felt very blessed. At the time I had no idea my career would change in pursuit of saving lives.

  • Can you tell us about the product you invented with a brief explanation 

What is EzyDrain?

This is a retrofit chemical free yet chemical resistant multi purpose plumbing / pest control / hygiene product. It will fit into existing floor wastes, water tanks or grate-pits and is an affordable solution for a range of problems, without any labour or ongoing purchases required.

The range is:

Economy (non antibacterial)

Premium (antibacterial with kill rate report)

Hospital Grade (has 5 times more antibacterial qualities than the Premium)

Designed to solve common problems such as:

  1. Stops bad smells, insects or cockroaches entering the living areas from bathroom floor wastes
  2. Cleans debris and unwanted caked-on grout or soap from the internal walls of the plumbing pipe over time
  3. Reduces the use and need of deodorisers and other cleaning products saving in costs and allergic responses
  4. Reduces unwanted sound and whistling between high-rise building floors
  5. Will trap small items that have fallen through grill for a simple fast retrieval
  6. Stops suds rising from floor wastes in laundry areas that can cause accidents from slipping on wet floors.

Also suitable for outdoor use such as:

  1. Water tanks to reduce bugs breeding or entering
  2. Grate-pits to reduce drain flies or bad smells permeating

The Premium EzyDrain product was designed to stop the spread of SARS.

Premium EzyDrain is especially designed to reduce the spread of SARS, it will protect family, guests and yourself from dangerous air borne diseases 24/7 which transit through sewerage plumbing pipes, these exit from the floor wastes into living areas infecting people, food and pets.

Bacteria or mold won’t build up or live on the device causing failure due to its antibacterial qualities. A simple long-term chemical free solution has not been available for all these problems in the past. By reducing air borne contaminants from living spaces this in turn reduces contamination into air conditioning ducts.

How does EzyDrain kill disease without chemicals?

EzyDrain has a unique antibacterial plastic formula that kills disease by rupturing the bacteria cell membrane when it comes in contact with EzyDrain, then EzyDrain stops Bacteria from replicating  – this process is possible without chemicals.

  • How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off?

After the SARS breakout in 2003 in Hong Kong, I realized there was an urgent need for a solution to many other air-borne infectious diseases that at minimum can make you ill and in worst-case scenario kill you.

Staph and other infections continually impact our hospitals, the urgency for a simple, labour free, affordable protection method was needed. I began my research and discovered the Hong Kong SARS transmission was directly linked to plumbing, sewerage and floor wastes, so put my thinking cap on and came up with a simple solution, which I named “EzyDrain” to address the problem.

  • How did you get from idea to finished product?

To achieve goals a business plan is helpful ensure it has a realistic time frame to achieve each step you have created.  The steps I took were:

Step 1  – Research

Learn all you can about the topic for your invention, research experts and competitors products, in my case the focus was on how SARS and other air borne diseases are transmitted. What was the source?

Step 2 – Prototypes and testing

It is essential to have a working prototype for product testing. Modifications to your current design in effort to reduce plastic use and costs may result in various prototypes before commencing production and having tooling made.

I had redesigned the product 6 times and secret antibacterial plastic formula 2 times until satisfied.

Step 3 – Patenting – the processes

Like most inventors, patenting my idea across the world was a necessary process to protect what I had spent time and money on for its development.  The Patent process will include CAD drawings and appointing a lawyer who specialises in Patent law.

Patents getting granted is a slow process (up to 10 years in some countries), be mindful once an invention is in the patent pending phase the 20 year life of the patent commences, the 20 years doesn’t start when the patent is fully granted. If your patent lapses and not renewed, anyone can copy your product without risk of litigation for that country.

At one stage I had 53 patents fully granted with one pending. Due to expense of maintaining the patents I let some lapse that had little commercial value and high risk with the ongoing patent renewal fees. 

The most important lesson to learn in patenting is to be selective of the countries that you will apply for a patent, and remembering that each year you will have ongoing patent renewal and application fees for each country though patent pending and patent granted phase. It is a 20 year commitment!

Step 4 – Partners and forming a company

Having a company offers better credibility to your business when contacting other companies, but it is not essential.  To be a sole trader at first can be a simpler step in the early stages until you have ideal partners to join you and form a company.

The difficulties in having anyone involved in your project is ensuring they are willing to work and commit hours to tasks. Having talent and experience in areas they will operate within the business is helpful.

Follow a business plan and be flexible to change it, other opportunities or changes can happen.

Internal issues

Recognise when it is time to leave a toxic situation regardless of the discomfort or financial cost of it.  In the long run it will be worth it, trust you are talented and able to manage and attract healthier and more productive partnerships in the future.

Step 5 – Commericalisation

To begin the steps of commercialisation be sure that all scientific testing and home trialing, along with compliance certifications and insurances are all in place.

Producing TV ads, radio ads, advertorials, website development and marketing material to begin sales and attract possible investor/s interest is very important.

Research what your competitors are doing and work on your product being the leader in design, functionality and competitive retail price.

Do your homework before taking on a product to commercialise, and be patient (you may wait for several years or more). Good things take time, luck of being in the right place at the right time comes into play, variables of attraction or need from consumers and retailers will determine how soon you will fruit the rewards of your labour. Patience is key!

Knocking on the doors

It is challenging to get traction for distribution or licensing, with many efforts not ever yielding, but it only takes one distributor to secure your businesses future. So keep trying!

I worked tirelessly approaching local plumbing distributors and wholesalers to get some very small and basic sales. In most cases the bigger chains wanted a large infrastructure such as warehouses in each state across Australia with my own staff to stock shelves on a weekly basis in each store outlet they had.

Hospitals are a perfect fit for the EzyDrain product line, however getting through the gatekeepers and tender systems (that have no tenders for a new innovation to address infectious disease control from air plumes escaping from floor wastes), was a consuming exercise with no results to show for it. Not one 10 minute appointment to present the product after 6 years of effort. Leaving product and information at hospitals was expensive and useless.

I felt exhausted and unclear why I was having difficulty with a product leader globally, that is well designed, proven scientifically, commercially viable and affordable for both consumers and manufacturing. My advice is to be patient and believe your network will widen with time. I am currently working on new leads and will keep you all updated!

Step 6 – Community Care & Personal Satisfaction

As an inventor, it was a key factor to include community. To support communities globally I began my own charity wish list in which I donate 1 product for every 12 sold online to any needy facility. This gives me great personal satisfaction when I know my invention reaches beyond someone’s home or workplace.

Step 7 – Have a Plan B

Broaden your businesses sales by having a Plan B, my Plan B turned out to be promising! I pursued “As Seen On TV” teams for interest. After several attempts to get past the gatekeepers I finally was able to present my pitch to the team and was offered a partnership program. In a partnership program the inventor is required to put up money for its launch at a higher percentage return. This is something that I may revisit in the future.

 Selling a couple of Patents to continue

Life throws hard blows and also brings opportunities at the craziest times. Whilst in the ICU ward recovering from a brain bleed, an American company reconnected with me and purchased 2 of my patented countries – within 8 weeks the deal was done and finalised. This was the opportunity I craved, I was able to reduce the stress to cover my expenses for EzyDrain to keep going. I felt blessed and very lucky this opportunity came when I needed it most.

Don’t be precious and decline an offer that is reasonable, if I had waited to find a buyer for all the patents it may have taken many more years.

Selling the business instead of the product

After the success of selling 2 patents it was time to loosen my load and efforts, so my next action is to locate a distributor, licensee or Buyer.

At the end of 2019 I did hire a company to locate a buyer or licensee. The benefit of using the service was preparation of complicated documents, showing the profitability and patent values based on the data of modest range for projected sales.

The valuation of the patents was fabulous and I was happy – things were looking great! Conversations started and meetings arranged. I felt that EzyDrain was in good hands and I was excited about the future. Yet, I was dealt a bad hand, after paying the large fee and documents created, they stopped any effort shortly after. Sensing things were not right, I began providing leads in which they ignored, so it was clear I was being played and we parted ways.

Believe in your product!

Being hopeful and believing in your product is the fibre that keeps the energy and faith in continuing. The small sales orders you get are acknowledgement often craved to hang-in.

I personally take pride in the fact that Ezydrain has never had a complaint, fault or return. Additionally, inventing a product that is the performance leader in it’s category always puts a smile on my face.

Yes, it can be difficult and slightly soul destroying to see competitors who have product issues (where yours does not and is far more superior) or make false claims yet they “make it” commercially and get the product support and recognition you are not. BUT, patience and trust is key in the manufacturing and patent journey.

Sometimes I felt like a mouse on a wheel constantly going nowhere after years of sacrifice and a huge workload and no decent sales traction. Eight years have passed since I designed the first proto type, the upkeep on patents each year was a painful exercise raising money to support them, but somehow I found a way.

If you believe the journey will not be a struggle, at times loss of lifestyle and resources, then patents and manufacture is not a path you should seek. It is a brave move to begin the patent and manufacture process, to be willing to ride it out until your business fruits is challenging at times.

Today and tomorrow is all good news!

EzyDrain will be placed into the right hands to commercialise the product to its full potential, and do what it was designed for – which is saving lives and health globally.

The patent valuation is more than I had dreamed of financially, a symbol of acknowledgement for the patience and labour, appreciation I worked hard for, but it’s all worth it, I am close to the final chapter of this adventure.

In 2019 Covid-19 came to shores of most countries and I knew the time has come for my product to do what it was designed for, and for my voice to be heard. I am daily in conversations discussing infection control with scientists and experts. The dream of saving lives is closer to being a reality.

Currently I am negotiating with various quality companies for distribution, licensing or buy out of the entire project.

Simple tips

  • Be brave – Take risks at times… it’s ok
  • Have prototypes – to ensure your idea works! And don’t be afraid to scrap it and start again.
  • Stay focused, passionate and energetic – as will rub off on others and uplift them too. Respect business relationships, be polite, punctual, well prepared and accurate
  • Prepare for possible hard times – Refrain complaining to your family or friends, find a solution or change what you are doing if it’s not working. Accept that friends may not understand the struggles you go through and may seem unresponsive or not supportive, being an entrepreneur or leader is often an isolated road.
  • Let us know of useful resources that helped you i.e. Books, websites, software etc

Resources and programs I used on the development journey

  1. Prototypes: I used a private service to make a hard copy models to test.
  2. Internet searches: to locate services such as printers, web developers, advertising and staff
  3. Excel, Powerpoint and Word: An essential tool to assist making spreadsheets, presentations and marketing material
  4. CAD drawing programs: I often used these programs myself or had a design engineer prepare legal drawings for my patent applications or tooling drawings for manufacturer to use in injection mold production and part processes
  5. Networking social platforms: Linkedin and Facebook
  6. Free web advertising sites: to promote the product
  7. Recommendations: sourcing from associates, clients or friends for manufacturing, scientific labs, advertising and sales leads
  8. Translators: To translate my brochure or website information into a variety of languages sourced through contacts or Internet searches.
--End of Interview--
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