Warren Tuttle is an entrepreneur turned author who had just announced the release of his book “Inventor Confidential”. An expert in products, the retail community, and invention, Warren served as President of the non-profit United Inventors Association of America from 2009 to early 2021. His expertise was in connecting inventors and their inventions with companies that could mass produce consumer products and get them out to consumers.
In late March 2021, Warren will be releasing his book, “Inventor Confidential” (HarperCollins). He recently discussed his inventions, career, and book via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in inventing and what was your first creation?
Warren Tuttle (WT): My first experience with an inventor was when Tom Risch, the developer of MISTO the Olive Oil Sprayer, came to my gourmet store The Complete Kitchen in the Fall of1998. The first product that I helped develop myself was StirChef in 2004.
MM: How many items have you invented and which are your personal favorites?
WT: I wouldn’t describe myself as an inventor. I am Open Innovation Director. I help companies find inventors and unique products outside their walls and arrange for productive licensing agreements. The book is about the many lessons learned from my collective Open Innovation experiences.
MM: How did you get your products produced/manufactured?
WT: In a variety of ways. With MISTO, we set up our own tooling and manufactured here in Connecticut, USA. I have experience going overseas also. The companies that I help are large enough to have their own manufacturing facilities.
MM: How did you find out about the United Inventors Association and how did you come to be the president of the organization?
WT: I first learned of the national UIA (www.UIAUSA.org) when I became a member of my local Fairfield, Connecticut inventors club. I was asked to be on the UIA board in 2007 and then became President in 2009. I served 12 years as President.
MM: What were some of the coolest inventions you discovered in that role?
WT: I have helped bring to market MISTO, Smart Spin, Food Huggers, The Odor Absorbing Splatter Screen, Cool Towels and many more. I have been behind over 100 license agreements and product launches that have collectively generated over a billion dollars in retail sales at market.
MM: How tough is it to manufacture and market an item and what should inventors be prepared to face as they enter the market?
WT: Going to market directly is not easy. I describe this in my book in a chapter called “The 30 Steps of Going to Market Directly”. On top of everything else, it’s hard to gain access to shelf space at a major retailer, not to mention finance the entire fulfillment supply chain. What is more prevalent today than 20 years ago is the ability to market directly to consumers through the internet.
MM: Why did you recently step down from your presidential role after approximately 12 years?
WT: We have now developed a deep bench of UIA board members and it was an appropriate time to turn things over to a new generation of leaders that can carry our fundamental values well into the future. By the way, it is a Board elected position, so time to vote for someone else :)
MM: What inspired you to write your book and how did you find a publisher?
WT: Looking around at all of the pay-to-play marketing middle men in the inventor community and industry who charge inventors for often times mediocre services, which I see every day in my role as a front-line Open Innovation Director, and the fact that no book on the market has told the honest “inside-of-corporations” story of licensing, which is where I have unusual expertise. “Inventor Confidential,” is being published by HarperCollins, March 2021.
MM: What can readers expect from the book?
WT: Number one, honesty. I am not trying to sell anything or financially profit from the book.
Number two, unique insight from a person with a great deal of actual marketplace success and a very unusual role in the industry. Plus, lots more on the state of innovation as a whole in the US and the myriad of challenges facing inventors in Washington DC. “Inventor Confidential” is a book for anyone who has that “A ha” moment and is looking to take a product, consumer innovation, invention to market to sell to targeted audiences.
MM: Are you currently working on any new inventions?
WT: Yes, I do all the time. I just orchestrated a terrific licensing agreement the other day. I get thousands and of leads every year and continue to advocate for inventors with the companies that I contract Open Innovation programs for. My website is http://www.tuttleinnovation.com.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
WT: I am launching a Blue Ocean Strategy (based on the best-selling business book by two amazing INSEAD Business School Professors) educational program for entrepreneurs and working on the creation of a small claims patent court to help inventors better protect their intellectual property.
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