For our July Inventor Spotlight, we’re highlighting Chicago native, Wendy Bialek! Wendy has been an active Edison Nation member since 2012 and recently received her first patent.
We had the chance to catch up with Wendy and learn what inspired her first, now patented, invention, what inspires her, her thoughts on current innovation trends and more.
Where is your hometown?
Where do you currently reside?
Crystal Lake, a suburb about 40 miles north and west of Chicago.
What is your professional background?
Real Estate, jewelry design, artist and home staging expert.
How do you feel having a background in design helps you innovate?
Being creative and having a knack for color, design and home design comes in handy when I am drafting up my sketches. I like to try and be as modern as possible and on trend. Many ideas come from my love of interior design and home staging. My family has several talented artists!
How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?
When I came up with my first invention, the Snug n Hug wrap for children with autism.
I was researching licensing information and all kinds of things about marketing products, etc. I knew I did not want to have to manufacture or sell my item. I was someone who had a great idea to help autistic children and I was determined to find a way to license my product and get it out to the masses! I did not submit this idea to Edison Nation, but I found it in my journey to get my idea out there!
What are some general industry trends you have noticed recently?
It seems like anything that has to do with technology surrounding mobile items like phones, tablets, bluetooth speakers, smart cameras, etc. is trending. If I knew more about technology and how it all works, I would have many more good ideas!
I have also noticed that items that have multiple uses at home and in the kitchen are popular.
Personally, I think there are too many water bottles out there! At the Housewares show there were tons of them, all very similar. I actually had a unique water bottle idea, but it unfortunately did not make it to G5 on EN…oh well!
Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?
Ideas usually come to me when I am doing something, looking at something or watching something. Usually I get an idea from an item I am already using. My favorite ideas are those that can help others in a way that is profound like my Snug N Hug wrap. Many times I realize I have missed the boat, someone got to it before me. This is the difficult part…making my idea better and unique enough.
You recently received your first patent – can you highlight some positives and negatives of that process?
Funds were an issue and I was worried I would not be able to get my idea protected. The company I licensed it to does not attempt to get any patents, it’s all up to the licensee. Thank goodness for the internet, I was able to find attorneys that can do it for much less than the $7,000-$10,000 I had been quoted.
My first fear was if they were legitimate or a potential scam. How could it be so much less? Even after making a couple of payments, my husband was still suspicious. I would email and try to contact the gentleman I was working with and I would rarely get a response so as you can imagine I was worried, but I kept the faith! They delivered a copy my drawings and a long copy of the my product for the initial application. Then, I got notice just over a year later that it had been granted.
Positives…an ability to pay much less for the attorneys filing my patent. The good feeling of getting a patent after long and hard work!
Negatives…worried if the attorneys were legit, minimum correspondence and a long waiting period.
What advice would you tell others hoping to find success in licensing an idea?
It is very tough but it can be done! Thank goodness for EN!
Many companies do not look at outside ideas and there are a rare few that offer minimal protection, if any, for your idea. Sometimes your idea may just be at the wrong time for the company. They tend to go in certain directions at certain times, so your idea may fit, just not in that particular calendar year for them. If you believe in your idea and have done the research, keep trying and just don’t give up!
Be realistic too. Things don’t happen overnight. Also, avoid spending a ton of money just in case there is something just as good out there! Use EN is my advice! Don’t be foolish enough to think you have the very best idea!
What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?
Hmm, fun facts or funny facts? LOL! I am very athletic and I was always getting awards (no ego there huh!) My favorite sport is volleyball and I play in leagues. Yes, I am 50 now and I can play really well, once I oil the knees a bit! I also like to bowl and average about 150.
I have had a few pieces of my jewelry highlighted in some jewelry publications.
I have a few nicknames… one is “Rockstar” because I dress on trend and play a mean ” air guitar,” or some of my friends say! “Wendella” is another and when I was younger, “Flash.” No, I was not a flasher, but very quick at running the 50-yard dash!
I wrote a book a while back about a little monster I called “Maschi,” a cute ceramic monster my sister made. The book included photos of him doing fun things on some of my travels. Currently, I am working on a book with my sister about “Zentangling,” an easy-to-learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns.
I am a car lover. I love classic and new cars! I dream of having between five and 10 vehicles in my five+ car garage. It’s not about prestige, but the design and fun to drive personalities of these cars! I want a 2015 Nissan Murano or a 2015 Lexus NX. See, I am easy, I don’t want much! Ok, ok, a Maserati would be nice too!
Best for last…My son Zack is 15 and has autism. He has taught me so much about love, patience, perseverance and understanding! He rocks my world! Not a funny fact but the most important one!
What inspired you to start inventing?
My Autistic son, Zack, and a major incident that happened to me in 2010.
When did you come up with your first great idea?
I came up with my first idea in 2010, when I was reeling and in a depression from a freak school bus accident. This event actually inspired me to do what I have always needed to do! The Snug N Hug wrap is my first invention. It calms behaviors and anxieties in children with autism. I am still amazed how well it works! I knew I had to get it out there to help as many individuals as possible! My next one is right around the corner!
You have been an EN member since 2012, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?
To me, EN has been a great journey and continues to be! Where else can you express your creativity with a chance to have it get to market?
The community is what also lends itself to this fun journey! Everyone is so nice, funny and so supportive! We are not competing with one another, we want everyone to succeed! I get busy sometimes and can’t contribute as much as I would like to, but I really enjoy being a part of it! It is a great place to learn from the experts and others that have gone through the tough process of inventing. I wish much success to everyone!