- Can you tell us about the product you invented with a brief explanation
FrameTamer/BackSlider: It is the easiest way to hang frames, adjust them to their perfect position and keep them safe on the wall by locking them in place.
- How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off? How did you get from idea to finished product?
My idea was born of necessity. Part of it stemmed from my OCD. I am one of those people who loves symmetry and when I see something unlevel or crooked I want to make it straight. It’s ingrained in my DNA I suppose so… from that grew a need to find a better way to hang frames. I was a house painter for many years and I patched a ton of holes hidden behind picture frames. In my own experience I almost never get it right the first time. Even if you measure perfectly it still seems to need adjusting when you step back and take a good look at it.
It can be that furniture etc. in the immediate area can throw off our perception and make it look ‘off’. Sometimes the actual wall itself makes a frame look crooked even if it is perfectly level. After all walls are manmade and decidedly imperfect. And the worst part is… we don’t miss it by much! It always seems to need to be moved “just an inch or two that way or this way”. So the problem as I see it is that we need to be able to fine tune the position… and we need to be able to adjust upward if necessary. Therefore it can’t simply be ‘hung’ on the wall… it must be attached to the wall.
It was an idea that started as a ‘what if?’ and eventually became ‘why not?’. Every few months I would have a sleepless night thinking about the problems I needed to solve to make it viable. A few years after the idea first popped into my head I was down to one more problem… and it was a stumper. One night I woke up with the ‘Eureka Moment’ and understood that the key was to build it so that it locks into the receptacle when you install it. At that point I got out of bed and built my first prototype.
When my wife got up the next morning I showed her what I had built. I had been talking about the idea for years so she was not surprised that I had actually built a prototype but she was surprised that it worked so well. She said “That’s Legit. Kevin Harrigton needs to see that!”. That’s high praise from my wife as she’s seen many of my other ‘projects’ and only been mildly impressed until then.
And that was the beginning. I had called my patent attorney before about another idea and he pretty much said “You’re Dreaming”. He was right about that one. This time he took a look at my crude prototype and said “It’s a great idea but it’s so simple I would bet it’s not unique but… if you still want me to do the search it’s going to cost you $1000.00 to find out.”
Spending real money on one of my ‘projects’ was a big leap but I’m glad I did. My patent attorney was happy to admit that he was wrong and said that not only was it patentable… it was unique in several ways. Of course it’s important to be able to adjust left, right, up, down and rotate but to do it all without ever having to remove it from the wall… that is still to this day unique to my invention (as far as I know ;o)
During that first ‘patent pending’ year I almost got a licensing deal. I signed up to meet “The Shark” Kevin Harrington and pitch my idea. He loved it… he called it “magic”. During that trip I met Lou Caputo. Lou is an on-air presenter at HSN and he loved my invention. Lou actually made a demo video for me and pitched it to a DRTV company in New York called EMSON. I really think that he believed it was going to happen and (of course) I did too.
That was my first real disappointment but it would not be the last. Eight years later and I am still swinging for the fences. Along the way I hired a CAD designer and we built better prototypes using a 3D printer. I refined my pitch and I’ve gotten some real interest but it seems that frame manufacturers are only interested in lowest price point and ASOTV companies have their own formula that requires HUGE margins. The BackSlider apparently isn’t profitable enough.
- Where are you with the product now?
So now I’m looking at another big chunk of $ to renew my patent and I’m really torn on whether to continue chasing this dream. It seems that my next most likely avenue is courting investors and I am reluctant to even think about it seriously. It’s one thing for me to throw good money after bad but… convincing someone to gamble on developing a product that may fail… I can’t justify it to myself.
Now, if someone were to come along and ask me… “Please can I help you develop this into a quality product that will forever change the way people hang their frames?!”… I would be inclined to say “Heck Yeah”. Until then I’ll just keep plugging away on a budget with optimism and crossed fingers!
- Product video:
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