Teamwork Launches an Invention
Since 2014 Cynthia Wark, inventor of the Personal Golf Fan and the Personal Go Fan, has sold over 4,500 of the two fans at a suggested retail price of $149.00 through her company Cynwark Corporation. The fan has a rechargeable battery and sits in the cup holder of any golf cart. Wark’s road to success was fueled by a strong team that could handle many of the technical aspects of the invention, and Wark’s dedication to providing the customer a top-notch product that could get the job done.
Wark lives in the Houston, Texas area and loves playing golf. One warm winter day in 2009 she wished she had a strong fan to keep her cool. She searched for a product and couldn’t find anything to buy. All of the cart fans had to be hard wired in the cart, which didn’t help people without a cart, and the battery powered fans just didn’t put out the airflow I thought was needed. Her husband Rick Wark worked for an industrial company and was able to help her through the patent process which took three years.
Completing the Design
Wark had four design requirements:
- Keep the weight reasonable;
- Create high velocity airflow;
- Have an attractive design;
- Configure the product to fit into a golf cart’s cup holder.
Wark knew she first needed someone to find the right rechargeable batteries and fans to give the product the required airflow. I had a friend, Mike Payne, who was into radio controlled planes, big planes that required high powered propellers to get into the air. I contracted with Mike to find the right battery and fan to create the airflow we needed. Not only did Payne, source the components, but he designed little winglets on the fan blades to increase the airflow.
For the product design Wark chose Justin Bennett, who worked at her husband’s company. He came onboard as a contractor who worked on Wark’s project part time. Justin did product design, graphic design and just about any other artwork at her husband’s company. He is really responsible for the professional look of the product.
Wark again relied on help from an acquaintance to find a China sourcing company in Hong Kong that specialized in sourcing products with rechargeable batteries. Stax Ltd. http://www.hktdc.com/manufacturers-suppliers/Stax-Ltd/en/1X0025ZM/ filled the bill and the specialist who worked with Wark’s company was Kim Kung. First step in the production process was to make an approved prototype to base the final design on. The manufacturer started with temporary tooling to make rough prototypes to generate feedback before moving on to a looks like acts like prototype.
Not the process was fast. Wark explains, “the process of finalizing the product took about a year, as we had several changes in the product and it took approximately six months to finalize tooling.” But by the end of 2013, Wark was ready and placed her first order for delivery in mid-2014.
Sales Beginnings till Today
“Once I had my prototype I applied to be included in the PGA Show Inventor’s Showcase. My first big break was to win the Show’s Pinnacle (first place) award. ” With that award Wark was able to generate press coverage from dozens of magazines that drove traffic to her site. http://www.pgffan.com/PGF_Personal_Golf_Fan__Reviews.html Originally Wark hired a PR team to get the word out to magazines, but some of her biggest articles, including a key spot in Kiplinger’s, were the result of exposure at the PGA show. Since dropping the PR firm Wart has continued to receive coverage.
Wark has always had a wholesale price that is about 35% of her retail price. She hasn’t pursued retail shop opportunities, though she was in Golfsmith catalog and has sold her fans to cart companies and some golf courses. Wark explains “I just net more money with a direct sale. Word of mouth advertising has really worked for me and sales are growing fast enough for me at this time.”
Expanding Product Line
Wark is committed to expanding sales. Her first product was the Personal Golf Fan, which has since been replaced by a Personal Go Fan which still sits in a cup holder, but it also comes with a base so the product can be used in a lot of new applications. Wark first started thinking about the new fan when the President of Yamaha told her that he would like a fan for his boat. Recently Wark introduced the Personal Golf tote, originally designed for women, as it could fit over the side rail of a golf cart. But the product, which retails for $31.99 plus $12.00 if it comes with custom embroidery, is now starting to sell more units that the fan. Mostly due to promotional orders. Recently a golf club in Florida ordered 450 unit, with custom embroidery, for an upcoming event. Other upcoming new products include the Golf Ball Tee Holder which holds six tees.
Wark had never worked on an invention before, and her driving force was her commitment to providing value to the customer. That drove her attention to detail, in making sure everything prototype and shipment met her standards. But those attributes would not have come into play if she hadn’t been r willing to team up with knowledgeable people at the right time. Wark contracted with her helpers, agreeing to compensate them for their work. This is an important step that allows inventors to stay in control of their product and company.
Engineering Services Agreements
Wark contacted with many of the people she worked with. Typically this is done with an engineering services agreement. These agreements specify that any intellectual property developed in part by the contractor is assigned to the inventor, or to the inventors company. Legally, anyone who has contributed to the conception of an idea should be listed on the patent. But that doesn’t mean they necessarily own part of the patent. You will avoid any confusion with an engineering services agreement. Samples can be found on the Internet if you search for engineering services agreement IP ownership.