In 2011 I had to enter my school Science Fair. At the time Dad and Mum had just bought the farm and Dad had the races re-done and had to re-hang 24 gates. As you may have heard on 7 sharp he got pissed off and this is where all this amazing journey started. I went about solving his problem of how hard it is to hang a gate and get straight and accurate gudgeon holes. I then followed the technology process of establishing a need, developing a criteria, researching the market, evaluating current products and developing prototypes.
From all this research, I initially invented the Gudgeon Pro 4 in 1. This tool marjory reduced time it took to hang a gate, insuring straight and accurate gudgeon holes. The Gudgeon Pro 4 in 1’s main purpose is a drill guide for gudgeons. It included 3 levels to help hang the gates, 2 sets of wire placement guides and was baton height (1.14m) that is the common height used to ram a post to. As part of the process I had to collect consumer feedback and it started to becme clear that people were really interested in my tool and they thought it solved the problem.
This is when I came across Mike Morgan from R.D.1 who said you need to talk to my sister in law who is a patent attorney at James and Wells in Hamilton. It was only a week until my Science Fair but I emailed them and thought what will happen will happen. Kate was away and I received an out of office reply; I thought that was it.
Jason Tuck who is a Patent Attorney and associate in the firm contacted me and we met that week. He was really impressed and thought that we should go ahead with a provisional patent. I was extremely lucky and the guys at James and Wells have been extremely generous with their time and as a result I have gone through the patent and trademark application process to secure my intellectual property and have a full NZ patent and registered trademark for the Gudgeon Pro.
I won the school science fair for technology and went through to East Waikato where I won Best Technology Project, Gold Award and Best Junior Project in Fair and $300 prize money. It was here I met Bill Barwood from DairyNz who encouraged me to keep going and said ‘do it yourself don’t let someone else make the money’.
For me it has never been about the money but as I said earlier I am a process person so I felt like I hadn’t finished as people had asked to buy them and wanted to know when they would be available which meant I hadn’t finished the process.
At this time I made it into the local paper along with the Farming section of the Waikato Times, I also got interviewed on TV Central. After East Waikato I contacted Business Mentors in Hamilton, the bank manager and the accountant to see what advice they could give me. Business Mentors could not help me as I was not trading but the CEO Sandra Perry was prepared to guide me, several emails later I had contact with Mary Jensen from Smart Waikato and set up a meeting.
Mary suggested you can’t really be a one-invention business and usually you’re not an inventor and a manufacture. She thought we should go to an engineer and this is the first time I met Roger Evans from Stafford Engineering. He said the same as Mary and you should go and sell it to Gallagher or some other company. Mary would try and get me in to see Sir William, but he was a very busy man to get time with.
I felt a bit down and disappointed with their advice because I really wanted to get it made and try and sell it myself. This certainly wasn’t bad advice, just not what I wanted to hear. I know this
Probably wasn’t a good business model but for me it wasn’t about business it was about the journey and finishing the process.
Gavin Haddon my accountant said if we are going to do it lets do it properly and we set up two companies. Roskam Adriot Ltd. for trading and PRCR Enterprise LTD for ownership of the Patent. This still didn’t solve my problem of how to get it made.
The National Fieldays held at Mystery Creek would be a great way to get my product out there and it had always been a secret dream of mine to go to Fieldays and have a stand.
I convinced Mum that I should apply and managed to fill out the lengthy application in May and at the end of May I found out I got into the Innovation Centre as a grassroots applicant – I was over the moon. What happened next was the really exciting part of the roller coaster – you know how when you lose your stomach and don’t know if you want to get off or go on again
I had local media coverage from the Matamata Chronicle about getting into the Fieldays and then I got an email that I could apply for the Fieldays Innovation Den – Powered by SODA Inc. This was like the Dragon’s den programme but was the first time held at Fieldays. I applied for one of 12 spots available in the Dragons Den.
At this time Mum had the most amazing and scary phone call from Michael Holland from Seven Sharp. He had been driving through Matamata and stopped for coffee and wondered across the road and happened to pick up that week’s chronicle, yes you guessed it, it happened to be the one I was in. He wanted to meet me and do a story for the programme!
I know…. how scary… National TV but so exciting as well. At this time I also got an email to say I had been chosen as 1 of the 12 contestants to be in the Fieldays Innovation Den and that I had to attend a business growth and pitch ready course run by Waikato’s business incubator and startup centre SODA Inc.
It was really scary when they told us that afternoon we will be presenting a 5 minute pitch to one mentor and two business people. There was certainly no time to panic but I was so pleased I knew how to put together a slide show and had done speeches and poetry at school. Feedback was fantastic from the Team SODA mentors and all I could do was practice before the event on the Thursday at Fieldays.
I also had to get a slide show finished for the pitch in 2 days, along with getting a stand ready for Fieldays. It was total madness but thank goodness the cows were dry so Mum was able to give me a hand.
Fieldays was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. We left home at 6am every morning. I was so tired but so excited at the same time. People were amazing and wanted to know all about my invention. A big surprise was that Seven Sharp’s Michael Holland came back and followed my story at Fieldays and how I went at the Innovation Den.
It went great and I couldn’t believe it when they stopped the clock for feedback and Sir William Gallagher got up out of the audience and came on stage to talk to me! I had always wanted to meet him and here he was on stage shaking my hand in front of all these important people.
A long story short at the Fieldays Innovation Den I won, Best Pitch and $1000 cash from the Angel Association New Zealand, an invitation to Auckland by Vodafone’s Darren Hopper for help with marketing and time at Gallagher in the R&D department from Sir William. It went mad after this with TV and Radio interviews, Waikato times, herald and other media.
I got lots of amazing feedback from thousands of people but I still didn’t know how I was going to make it. More feedback was coming in – the farmers wanted it adjustable for different hinges on gates.
The science fair came around again and it took a lot of hard work, trips to Roger from Stafford Engineering and Gallagher for feedback to get an adjustable system that would work.
After a lot of prototypes I finally nailed it and the Gudgeon Pro 4 in 1 became the Gugdeon Pro 5 in 1. This is where I learnt the big lesson of perseverance and resilience. I stuck with my plan and worked weekends and after school to nut it out and this time when I turned up at Stafford Engineering, Roger was a bit surprised I had kept with it and was impressed with what I’d done. I don’t know if you have met Roger but he doesn’t give much away but this time I got a smile and a nod it was going to work! He asked about manufactures and I explained my problems and he was absolutely amazing!
This is when I learnt about how networking works and how important it is. He made a few calls and emails and before you know it I was talking to people and getting quotes for bushes and plastic manufacturing.
Networking is so important and you never know when you may need their help but always make a good impression, shake hands firmly, look them in the eye, listen and always carry a business card. Like I learnt in my business growth course at SODA, you have 5 minutes to make your elevator pitch and only one chance so be the best you can be.
I learnt it was hard talking to business people and engineers when you only have hand drawn pictures. So a few more calls were made using networks I had and I ended up at Waikato University in the Engineering Department learning about the Computer Assisted Drawing Program, Solid Works. This is where I transformed my hand drawings to something an engineer could use to manufacture. Now I am working through third year Engineering tutorials and can do drawings on Solid Works.
That’s another piece of advice; if you are offered something make it work, it may be at the expense of sleep but you can always get that back later.
I won the school technology section again and gained silver at East Waikato and I decided to apply for the New Zealand Innovators Awards. Mum said it was up to me as it was all of New Zealand and was not really aimed at kids as it was more a big businesses gig – also I would have to pay the $75 entry fee. So I applied for the Engineering and Design section. I didn’t get chosen as a finalist for this category but was notified that I was one of 5 finalists for the most inspiring individuals and had also been nominated for the people’s Choice Person Category.
On the 17 October 2013 Mum and I attended the Cocktail event in Auckland for the New Zealand Innovator Awards and I won the People’s Choice Award by over 1500 votes and received a Highly Commended Award for the Most Inspiring individual.
Another piece advice for you is; really believe in yourself, if you don’t, no one else will, and take every opportunity.
At this stage I met with Inex and Alpac, two amazing companies here in Hamilton from Roger’s referral. I spent the holidays making my final Prototype at Alpac. I got to use the big CNC machines and was part of the whole process, even powder coating.The big news is in December I signed a commercial supply agreement for 1000 units. Inex are helping me out with my own extrusion of Aluminium, specially designed for my tool and Alpac are helping with components, machining and powder coating. During April I managed to rope in my family to make and assemble 500 Gudgeon Pros in the Alpac factory ready for sale at the 2014 Fieldays from 11-15 June. The first 500 people will get a Certificate of Authenticity that is numbered and a special message from me.
My trip to Auckland with Vodafone was awesome and I met with their top marketing firm and developed my brand and marketing. You may be wondering why it has changed from 4, to 5 in 1 well it is now adjustable for different types of gates, has a bulls eye level on top and has a tape measure!
I have been selected again as one of the top 20 to participate in FIELDAYS INNOVATION DEN – POWERED BY SODA INC.
The next step will be to have the Gudgeon Pro 5 in 1available to all Farmers in New Zealand and then the world.
THANK YOU to everyone who has helped me so far on this journey. You are all amazing.
Patrick Roskam | CEO | Roskam Adroit Limited/ PRCR Enterprise Limited