For our May Inventor Spotlight Q&A we talked to Christopher Cooper, a relatively new Edison Nation community member and inventor who joined in January of 2014. While he hasn’t had any of his product ideas selected for licensing or As Seen on TV commercialization just yet, his dedication and approach to ideation and product development tells us it’s only a matter of time.
Where is your hometown?
St. Louis, Missouri, is where I was born in 1957.
Where do you currently reside?
Los Angeles, California
What is your professional background?
I’m a former Marine, and currently a fire captain with the L. A. Fire Department, public safety expert and an entrepreneur. I’m also an inventor with a portfolio of innovations that I will be developing as I transition from full time firefighter to the private sector.
How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?
I belong to a great group of entrepreneurs in L.A.. One of the members of that group recommended EN to me. After researching Edison Nation I was impressed by the model and the value proposition stated in the EN materials. This is what propelled me to commit to EN. After a patent application is forwarded to the USPTO, a firm is inundated with solicitations from a variety of product development companies. After looking into EN I found that EN was by far the most credible in what they were proposing.
You indicate in your past posts that you are a firefighter AND a product developer, can you provide some additional details about your company and what you are working on (crowdfunding, etc.)
My company, Cooper Product Corporation, is an innovator in automotive microfiber air fresheners.
As a Los Angeles firefighter who specializes in safety, production and innovation, I conceive, develop, test, and create fun, safe and useful products for general personal and professional use in companies’ and people’s everyday lives. My Los Angeles-based Cooper Product is open to new ideas, partnerships and investment, too. At this moment we are marketing our microfiber air freshener that we believe will be a legacy product for our firm. As the government and the automakers trend toward the connected car of the future I believe that Cooper Product can optimize the environment inside the car with our product line.
We currently export our products from three fulfillment centers. My firm is dedicated to achieving excellence in everything we do. My purpose is to create the best products with excellence, pride and enjoyment to improve everyone’s life. I’d love to hear from those who’d like to know more.
Have you ever collaborated with another inventor(s) on a project? If so, how was that experience for you?
Not yet, though I’m certain I could be enthusiastic about that prospect. Most people outside the innovative community are unaware of the commitment involved with bringing a product to the market. As we know as members of EN the commitment involves time, personal resources, family commitment, and the drive to stick with a concept when others are not on board with your vision.
What are some general industry trends you have noticed recently in innovation?
I’ve noticed an increased awareness of intelligent, integrated and thoughtfully organic branding, which is good for my business. The best thinkers want to put their names, brands and logos on something of similar quality and caliber. This makes Cooper Product’s line of fun, useful everyday goods a perfect fit.
The hardware side of manufacturing is moving at lightning speed with 3D printing, holograms, and fast fail approaches to innovation. Performance management processes are also becoming more prevalent in the innovation arena.
I’ve also noticed over the last 5-10 years that companies are reaching out to individual inventors to create products for them. Instead of employing large R&D the big firms are using independent inventors as a cost effective source of innovation.
Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?
Both and often in an evolution that shuttles between the two; the idea comes to me after I’ve gone after it within a certain, imaginative context – playing out specific scenarios with my team.
My best ideas result from observing people who are challenged in a certain way. I then look for that behavior to repeat itself, at which time I will devise a solution. If the concept is marketable I will pursue it onto paper in a formal template for further study. I read a huge amount of material, both research level periodicals and magazines, attend seminars, trade shows, interact with a diverse sector of people and glean as much information as I can. For example, when I was developing our mini shoe version of the microfiber air freshener our team surveyed and found that the default sneaker for millennials is the Chuck Taylor Allstar by Converse. Naturally our initial offering for our mini shoe product was built on the Converse style. I always respect the intellectual property (IP) of other firms so when I develop, this product it is with the utmost care toward respecting the original creativity.
What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?
I’ve lived an interesting life, so I’m full of good stories. I also think variety, playfulness and a sense of joy are crucial to living and doing business, so I like to observe people in action, make new friends and participate and spectate in sports.
What inspired you to start inventing?
An intense interest in advancing human life, though I didn’t think of it that way all the time. The idea of progress gets me thinking, solving problems, creating, building and making improvements. The possibility of creating an item that can result in employment for others is a driver for me. The idea that you can develop a process, product or item and get tangible credit i.e. a patent for the idea is also attractive. And finally, the possibility that you can benefit financially is also inspiring.
When did you come up with your first great idea?
When I was about 9 years old I devised an advertising board that I see on the side lines of major sporting events now. Unfortunately at the time I had no idea about the intellectual property process. Since then I have rarely let an idea pass without putting it through the innovation template.
You are a recent EN member, joining in early 2014, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?
Edison Nation is a fountainhead of rewarding sources, encouragement, information, camaraderie and enriching experiences. I like that it’s named after one of the world’s greatest thinkers, entrepreneurs and inventors. I also like that it’s a group based on an idea, innovation, which drives my company. I also appreciate the fact that Edison Nation is really a think tank of like minded experienced people who can assist all levels of inventors successfully elevate their products to the market. Either through licensing, manufacturing or other avenues EN is a great resource. I also enjoy the fact EN has a magazine that I can refer to on the fly for great information.
Thank you, Christopher, for taking time to share details around your journey and your Edison Nation story so far!
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