Lisa Lloyd | Engineering with Inventors, Starting Inexpensively, and Diverse Teams
Who is Lisa Lloyd?
Lisa Lloyd is a veteran inventor/entrepreneur, voracious learner, and wicked good problem solver. She licensed her first product, the French Twister, when she was only 23 and went on to license 6 more to major household names. She also won the coveted investment of Daymond John on Shark Tank and has appeared on numerous talk shows like Dr. Phil, GMA and Fox News featuring her success. Now she helps inventors around the world go from “What if?” to “WOW!”
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engineers, people, product, inventors, business, lisa, success, company, working, sell, license, questions, spend, learn, idea, licensing, invention, patent, engineering, called
Presenter, Lisa Lloyd, Aaron Moncur
Aaron Moncur 00:00
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Hi, everyone, we’ve set up this being an engineer podcast as an industry knowledge repository, if you will, we hope it’ll be a tool where engineers can learn about and connect with other companies technologies, people resources and opportunities. So make some connections and enjoy the show.
Lisa Lloyd 00:55
What I’ll give myself credit for is the reason they believed in me is because they showed up with a solid plan, a good working knowledge of what my goals were and how I was going to get there. So when you put all that together that was for me, what got me over the hump.
Aaron Moncur 01:23
Hello, and welcome to the being an engineer podcast. Our guest today is Lisa Lloyd who is a veteran, inventor and entrepreneur, voracious learner and wicked good problem solver. Lisa’s licensed her first product, the French Twister when she was only 23 and went on to license six more two major household names. She also won the coveted investment of Daymond John on Shark Tank, and has appeared on numerous talk shows like Dr. Phil, Good Morning America and Fox News featuring her success. Now she helps inventors around the world go from what if to wow, Lisa, thank you so much for joining me on the show.
Lisa Lloyd 02:03
My pleasure. I love hearing other people say it. What?
Aaron Moncur 02:07
How do you say it is that? Did I say it correctly? I hope I didn’t get that wrong?
Lisa Lloyd 02:11
Or Wow. Either way we want that. Wow. Surprise, delight feeling right. Yeah,
Aaron Moncur 02:18
exactly. Exactly. Well, Lisa, let’s get started by sharing with the listeners a little bit about who you are and and kind of where you are now and where you started and what your journey has been like.
Lisa Lloyd 02:31
Sure. I’m not sure how much this will resonate with your audience. Because my story is a little bit unique in that I didn’t come up as an engineer, I didn’t even get formally educated. I did go to college for a little bit while I was in the Navy. But I dropped out like most classic entrepreneurs who can’t sit still long enough when they have big dreams, big visions. So when I was 23, I invented my first product called the French Twister you mentioned earlier and I licensed that to scan see. And it’s done about 20 million in sales. And then I went on to do it. As you mentioned six more times all together, the sum total of revenue from all of those products is a little over 30 million.
Aaron Moncur 03:14
Well, that’s Wow. That’s there’s your Wow,
Lisa Lloyd 03:17
there’s no Wow, that’s what I was looking for. Thanks, Aaron. And then as a result of that success and the media attention that came around it there, there was an immediate influx of phone calls from people saying, Hey, what did you do? How did you do it? Tell me what you did even after the very first product. And I remember being 23 and thinking, Well, I’m a girl, I like to give advice. So I’d give it for free. But the fact that you’re willing to pay me for it, that sounds really good. Even better, was I didn’t know what I did. That made me successful. I just did what was inside of me I have really good instincts. And I’ve been in sales my whole life. So inventing the product was actually the hardest part of the process for me not not getting licensing deals done. And that resulted in me creating this company that coached people and over the years. It really wasn’t until the product that I was on Shark Tank with TC pets. We were by worldly standards successful. I mean, I was in I sold through seven container loads from China. I was in over 400 stores. But it was during the 2008 Bust at 2000. By 2010. When we actually launched the company, we really started feeling it by 2012. There was just no margin in the business. We had shut it down and it it essentially bankrupt me. I had to financially start all over. I didn’t file bankruptcy, although I probably should have. So in fact, I’ve only recently dug myself out of that hole. But I learned more from that failure than I did from any of the success before and so about a year and a half ago I launched the invention accelerator to help inventors really lay the right foundation for building solutions. that will sell, not just inventing, but actually knowing how to invent the right products at the right time for the right audience the right way that delivers the right benefits that ultimately is successful commercially. Right? So all of that came from the learnings that I had leading up to it. And we’re having a lot of fun. In fact, we have one student that joined just a few months ago, I was going to a trade show, and he showed me something that he had worked on and actually made and sold, but failed and liquidated the inventory. So what are you doing with this? And he said, Nothing is that’s crazy. There’s something here, let’s make these little modifications to it. And a couple days later, I went to a trade show and less than two weeks later, he had a signed licensing contract. Wow. Amazing. So I know my process works. But having it’s an up hill battle, helping inventors understand that they don’t need to learn how to license they need to learn how to invent better products,
Aaron Moncur 05:55
huh? Okay, there’s like, I’ve got a billion things that just questions just now we can move on. Alright, so what the pet product? I didn’t realize that that that ended in a quote unquote, failure, even though you learned so much from it. And ultimately, probably its success in that aspect. But is there anything, any actionable items that you can pick out of that and and say, If I release a back at that time, this is maybe what I would have done different?
Lisa Lloyd 06:26
Oh, my God, there’s a long list. The, I would say the most the dumbest mistake, because even I knew better and still didn’t do this, right. So the dumbest mistake that I made was, I was working with China on the prototypes. And they sent me I kept trying to get them down and costs, get them down in cost. And they sent me along with my prototypes that I had specified, and scoped out the work for they had stuck in there another one where it was just a stuffed animal with with pockets. And mine were foam molded with the plush on the outside, so that it looked like a stuffed animal that it was really more utilitarian and functional. And they said, Look, this is the cheapest it’s ever gonna get. And it was it was probably a third of the cost. Its problem was it wasn’t patentable. It was public domain. There was nothing I could do with that. And because I had come up in this world of invention, licensing, I had put so much emphasis on the power and necessity for having that intellectual property that I dismissed their idea altogether, and said, No, that doesn’t work. I can’t get a patent on it. And it doesn’t fit the patent I already have. So no, I need you to get cost down. What I’ve made up my mind, I have to sell
Aaron Moncur 07:47
interesting, I thought you were gonna go the other way with that and say, Yeah, I accepted their cheap version, and nobody liked it. And
Lisa Lloyd 07:53
right now, okay, I stood my ground because I was so sure that I had the best solution, but not following my own advice. Listen, if someone can get something in the does the same job for less. We know studies all the research shows us that consumers it’s five times more expensive to earn a new customer. In other words, someone who’s never even bought in that category. versus getting a customer to, sorry, it’s five times more expensive to to get a customer to make the switch from an existing brand and an existing product to selling just a brand new customer that’s never bought that type of product. So if their product is a third of the cost, and sure enough, someone came out with that exact product, after I did after Shark Tank, after I had built, I had basically blown open that door of opportunity for functional plush. And now you see backpacks, you see and those were all in my inventory. Those were all ideas that I had. What else, you know, pillows, all these different things came up after that were functional, all because I just couldn’t get a patent. And that was primarily because I also didn’t have deep enough pockets to go to market. You know, speed to market is another way to win. You don’t have to have a patent. But in this case, since I wasn’t licensing, I really didn’t need a patent. But I also didn’t have deep pockets to get to market fast enough. And that’s exactly what I was afraid of any big company with deep enough pockets that already made plush could take my concepts and make their own functional plush. So yeah, a huge learning curve. I mean, there’s a lot of moving parts there.
Aaron Moncur 09:28
So is one of the takeaways there. If you can get the same Pro, it’s not quite the same product. It’s not maybe it wasn’t quite as functional as your product, but it was close enough. And the cost was so much less that it just made sense. Is that accurate?
Lisa Lloyd 09:47
I think going into it had I known had it paid better attention to that. I could have done some research like customer persona interviews for example. and learn more about what they like and don’t like and that sort of thing and how important price is because my absolutely was always going to be more expensive. And was the differentiation that I was offering the unique benefits that came with my product, overt enough to make someone want to buy it and spend more versus the competitor, which was public domain and easy. I think I would have learned that no, people wouldn’t spend more, and I would have just quit sooner, and it would have saved me my home my car. I ended up getting a divorce. I mean, it
Aaron Moncur 10:28
was ugly. Oh, my goodness, I’m so sorry. Wow, what a deal to go.
Lisa Lloyd 10:31
Great friends, families, great. We’re strong. We’re solid. But But yeah, I mean, it changed the entire trajectory of my life, not to mention, I mean, I was basically in the fetal position crying because I were throwing up, I was so sick. And that went on for almost a year. And then I spent the next five years just hanging out in New Orleans and running away from the world at large, because it just destroyed me.
Aaron Moncur 10:54
So sure, yeah. Oh, my goodness. Wow. Well, thank you for sharing such a personal story. Well, that’s awesome. Another question that came to mind, as you were sharing kind of your summary was how people were calling you asking for advice. And you didn’t know what to tell them? Because you weren’t sure how you had done it. And you had to somehow extract that information out of yourself? What was the process? Like not not necessarily the result? The things that ultimately you were able to tell people, This is how you do it, you do A and then B and then C, but what was the process like of extracting that information in, you know, from within you and identifying, oh, this, this is how I did it?
Lisa Lloyd 11:40
I I had the self awareness to know even at a very young age that I didn’t have the answers to their questions. So I told everybody, I don’t know what you should do. But I am happy to tell you what I did and why I think it worked. And so I shared everything from my personal experience. Which was quite a bit at that time, because I didn’t know anybody else that had, you know, especially at that age, licensed a product that was getting passive income 60. My job I only made 13,000 a year, and my royalties were $60,000 a year. Okay, easy choice. Yeah. And they were major companies. So there were best practices that I learned from that, that I was able to share with other people in terms of setting their expectations based on my experience. And then I reminded them as often and I still do, there’s always going to be unknown unknowns, like, I can tell you what I know. And I can tell you what we collectively don’t know. But we here’s how you can go get the answers to these questions. These are the questions we have to get answers to how big is the market? How big is the opportunity? How big is the pain? So is there enough people with that pain that it’s worth going into business? All of the questions that have to be answered to make a decision to move forward with an idea. We know those those questions to ask and how to go get those answers. But then there’s always those unknown unknowns. And so that’s where just being available to people over the years for when they do finally get on the phone, when they do finally negotiate when they do finally have a contract in front of them. We took all of those on a case by case basis. And I still do.
Aaron Moncur 13:24
Well, that’s one of the reasons I’ve been so excited to talk with you is because as engineers, we have a pretty well defined path that we follow to take a an idea from you know, just that an idea into a tangible product. And we’ve pretty well follow that same process every time. And I’m wondering if your your process your path was different than the engineers path. And I would love to dig into some
Lisa Lloyd 13:54
Tel me yours and I’ll tell you mine.
Aaron Moncur 13:57
All right. We’re gonna start with yours, because you’re the guest. I get to ask the questions. To what extent if at all? Let me ask you, have you worked with engineers during your process? Or was it mostly you join some sketches and sending it off to a factory?
Lisa Lloyd 14:17
Oh, no, absolutely. I’m working with engineers right now, in fact. So there are different times and different case, different cases where it would become necessary or maybe isn’t necessary. And so the first thing is to qualify, if my goal is to license, I know what a company needs, what questions a company needs to answer for themselves to make that decision. And one of those questions is can it be made cost effectively? And will it work at delivering on the benefit promise for our customers? So in order to answer that question, I may be able to say we’re talking about Have a new toothbrush that is designed in a way that looks more comfortable? Well, until you put that in someone’s hands there, they can look at it, and they maybe can feel it. But it’s not quite the same thing. So perhaps a working model with some Frankenstein stuff glue together will be enough to illustrate that it will get the job done. It today, what I’m working on a moth, one of the things is a moth. And it’s it’s very complicated. And it’s one of those, you know, sometimes the simplest things are the hardest things to engineer.
Aaron Moncur 15:36
I do. English teacher who used to say that which is easy to read was difficult to write.
Lisa Lloyd 15:41
Right, exactly, that’s exactly what I’m dealing with on the mob. So it’s really simple. But getting it to work simply is where the real genius is. Now I did my own is a very small scaled working model to get a proof of concept just to flesh out the idea. And then I played around with a lot of different scenarios of using different components to put it together to ultimately achieve the job that we wanted it to do. And then we patented all of those, and it’s very broad, it’s very, very wide. And then I hired engineers to take my proof of concept and what I kind of envisioned the final product to look like and fill in the gaps to get it from where I was to finish it.
Aaron Moncur 16:31
Yes, that does make sense. What from from an adventure standpoint, what has been one of the most frustrating aspects of working with engineers, and conversely, one of the most rewarding or beneficial aspects of working with engineers.
Lisa Lloyd 16:49
So I guess the most challenging is setting expectations. And I have the same problem because I deal with inventors all day also. And when someone comes really early, and they don’t have any experience any wisdom from which to draw, they don’t ask the right questions, and they don’t articulate what they want very well. And the result is that engineers who think very logically and analytically about a process, aren’t reading between the lines of the fuzzy matter that’s going on in that person’s head. And trying to extrapolate that. And so as a result, unmet expectations, result in demands from pain in the butt clients, you know, inventors in particular, or, conversely, they’re very disappointed, because they thought they were really clear and didn’t get what they wanted. And it costs time and money. And that’s terrifying for somebody who’s already making a risky proposition by venturing on their idea. Right? Right. So I would say that’s the biggest challenge. The greatest reward of working with with good engineers, is their collaborative input their their domain expertise, and helping really drill down and define on the feature set in a way that delivers a superior experience, for example, for the the end user, whether that’s getting costs down because they can think of better materials or off the shelf parts or whatever some unique combination of of parts that come together in a new way that make even a superior experience from what you were thinking about. I love that part. I love collaborating love collaborating
Aaron Moncur 18:27
with the right person with the right
Lisa Lloyd 18:29
eye with the right person people.
Aaron Moncur 18:33
What what are some beliefs that product development engineers specifically, but feel free to open it up to the general public to since you’ve worked with so many inventors, what are some of the lease that that we have about product development that you have found to simply not be true?
Lisa Lloyd 18:50
Some beliefs that with regard to product development that are not
Aaron Moncur 18:53
true? Yeah, some assumptions that we make, you know, that
Lisa Lloyd 18:57
what is in your head can be made? Followed by that it can be made at cost effectively?
Aaron Moncur 19:02
That’s a good one. Yeah, yeah. It’s the how much I
Lisa Lloyd 19:06
see an interest make, just because, again, they have no expertise whatsoever. And just because you can draw us out, you can even hire. In fact, in our business, inventors often will license using a cell sheet and so they to save money, rather than hiring an engineer, they might do a 3d photo or animation. Just because I can draw it doesn’t mean it will ever work in the real world. Right? And they don’t understand that sometimes.
Aaron Moncur 19:28
Have you had to learn much about the different manufacturing processes and what is possible and what is not, for example, injection molding versus CNC machining, things like that.
Lisa Lloyd 19:39
When it was relevant and necessary, it was always helpful for me to understand the process and because I’ve done this so many times and worked with so many inventors that I’ve had the privilege of learning from, yeah, I do have enough that it makes it easier for me to very quickly qualify good ideas and bad ideas, right, because I can think through what that’s going to take. Yeah, but In the beginning, it was a trial by fire learning, you know, and so I have learned each step of the way from each product, the very first one was injection molded only because what I had in my head was and so the French twist or for your audience who might not know what that is, since it’s a hair accessory, it’s a clip that was kind of like a banana clip it closed up on your hair vertically with with teeth on teeth to help grab it as long slim thing. And when it closed up, you rolled it up, and you put two pins in and you had a fresh twist in your hair. My idea originally was I used a hanger to make a wire you and then put the foam from the top of the hanger that comes back from the dry cleaner. I put that around the wire so that that foam would grip the stray hairs. So you put drop your hair in that you unroll it up and you had the French Twist and find a manufacturer didn’t know what that was called This was before Google. And so I couldn’t exactly even do the research. i The only thing I found in the yellow pages were injection molders. So we ended up changing the way we made the product to accommodate manufacturing processes. And nowadays, had I been able to do it another way it would have probably looked very different because I know more than I did, then.
Aaron Moncur 21:09
Yeah, yeah. I love how inexpensively you were able to prototype that first product. I was speaking just now about how I know what the engineers process is. And maybe it’s it differs a little bit from the inventors process. And that’s a perfect illustration. I can tell you right now that my team of engineers, if we gave them that idea, the first thing would be let’s let’s put it together in CAD and 3d prints and prototypes, which is a great, great way. But here you took a coat hanger and some foam and validated the idea. You know what we would have spent five grand and you did it like an afternoon with you know, $2 worth of material.
Lisa Lloyd 21:45
I did Aaron It’s fine. I have others I did one the very first proof of concept was a toilet paper roll. And it was a hair accessory. I have another one that two of them actually that I cut up soda bottles. And because that I didn’t know what it was I now know it’s PE TG but at the time when I was still figuring this stuff out, dropped it in hot water and use salad tongs to shape it. And I had a burette that did exactly what I needed. It was ugly as shit if I can say that. But it was you know, it got the job done. And it’s actually today it is the number one best selling hair accessory of all time for Helen of Troy which has it under the Vidal Sassoon and Revlon brands. And I did that
Aaron Moncur 22:26
incredible. That makes me want to create some kind of challenge for my team give them nothing but like garbage, basically. And so can you come up with you know how exactly
Lisa Lloyd 22:36
team experiment? Yeah,
Aaron Moncur 22:38
that’s exactly right. Exactly right.
Lisa Lloyd 22:41
box on the table and say you have to make something from this.
Aaron Moncur 22:44
Exactly. Yeah. I love that idea. I’m gonna do that. Okay. Let’s see. Let me take just a very short break here and share with the listeners that Team pipeline.us is where you can learn more about how we help medical device and other product engineering or manufacturing teams develop turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines to characterize, inspect, assemble, manufacture and perform verification testing on your devices. We’re speaking with Lisa Lloyd today, inventor extraordinaire. Now, Lisa, you you. You bootstrapped your your your first product, right, we talked about that. And I listened to an interview that you had done some some time ago. And the interviewer asked about the I can’t remember the context Exactly. But he asked about how much you spent on future products. And you said something to the effect of well, I realized that if I didn’t have to spend much money on this first product. And even though I was successful with it, and I had cash for future projects, why why would I spend a bunch of money other future projects if I was able to do the first one so so inexpensively? Can you tell me a little bit more about that mindset and how that went for
Lisa Lloyd 24:01
you? Yeah, sure. I think that was on the big idea with Donny Deutsch.
Aaron Moncur 24:05
Okay, that sounds right. Yeah,
Lisa Lloyd 24:07
um, business is all about ROI. I mean, it’s just as simple as that. And if you don’t have a high enough return on your investment, then you’re in the wrong business. And for me, I have even even before TC pads before the mass epic failure, I had 100% success. And even with that success, I knew that there were going to be unknown unknowns because I had learned from each one of them that something always comes up that you didn’t know plan or anticipate. And if you have spent your money just because you had it, you spent it on engineering, for example, big timing, you know, like you spent $100,000 Getting a prototype on something that doesn’t fly sensor that has to change three more times and you run out of money before you can even do the iterations. You’re out of business before you’re in it. So you need money for those rainy days, those when those unknown unknowns come up. So anything you can do yourself, you should just make sense. And unless you have some sort of guarantee that this is what you’re going to get at this date, this much money, now you have a budget, and you can plan accordingly. That would be smart business. And you’re going to get the return on your investment because you have the budget based on what you know, you’re going to get later. But if there’s no guarantee that you’re going to make money on your invention, whether you decide to make it and venture off to like to sell it yourself or license it, then you should probably do everything you can to save as much because it’s a risky enough business to begin with. And you don’t want to run out of money. Should you need it somewhere in the process.
Aaron Moncur 25:48
Yeah, I love that. I just finished reading Jim Collins book Good to Great for the great, second or third time. Yeah, it’s, you know, I’ve read it before. And I read it again recently. And it was it was like blowing my mind. I don’t know how I missed all this stuff the first time around. But one of the things he talked about was how these success companies in in contrast against the comparison companies that didn’t turn out to be such great successes. One of the differentiators in differentiating factors was that they kept so much more cash on hand than the comparison companies. And it was for exactly the reason that you’ve mentioned a couple times now the unknown unknowns, right? You just don’t know what’s going to come up. And these success companies, they were much better prepared with cash on hand.
Lisa Lloyd 26:34
Even even though they were as smart as they were, they still knew that there were unknown unknowns. And they it’s really a it’s your rainy day fund. You
Aaron Moncur 26:42
need it. Yeah, right, exactly. Well,
Lisa Lloyd 26:46
if it turns out, you don’t need it, that just means more a higher return on your investment. That’s right. Either way, don’t spend. You spend smartly. I’m not suggesting you don’t spend money. But make sure there’s a time to do it in a time not to and you need to understand when that is.
Aaron Moncur 27:00
Yeah, that’s that’s the challenge understanding when Yeah. This next question is, I don’t know where this is gonna go. But I, I was thinking about my company pipeline. And I can I can trace this, the majority of the success that we have had as a company back to a single phone call. And I wondered, Can you trace your success back to it? Was there like a single event that occurred or a single idea or a day, anything like that? I’m just curious.
Lisa Lloyd 27:33
No, it’s definitely a series of beautiful things, or the perfect storm depending on which way it ends, right. In the beginning, it was being encouraged and supported by the people I love and who, you know, loved me and believed in me and stood by me when when it got tough or scary. It was the people who volunteered to help me like give me free advice, the attorney that I met with the first time and explained to me what patents were. There weren’t there wasn’t a lot available back then. For people like me, but even even the factory that I ended up partnering with to make them the French Twister the first time around. They partnered and took a risk on me. And what year
Aaron Moncur 28:19
was that? The fridge Twister? I’m sorry. It was the question. What year was that?
Lisa Lloyd 28:24
I was that would be 30 years ago.
Aaron Moncur 28:27
Yeah, there was not a whole lot of information around back then. Yeah, okay.
Lisa Lloyd 28:32
So i i Then also partnered with a production company that did the local commercial for me so that I could put it on cable and advertise a direct response campaign. So it had the one 800 Number. I remember the jingle the French Twister, elegance meet easy.
Aaron Moncur 28:51
But a great memory. But they
Lisa Lloyd 28:52
they were super helpful. Like it’s just people believing in me and supporting me I could not have done it alone would not have happened if people didn’t stand by me now. What I’ll give myself credit for is the reason they believed in me is because I showed up with a solid plan, a good working knowledge of what my goals were and how I was going to get there. And they could see my drive and determination and passion and all of that which obviously you have to believe in the entrepreneur not just the business plan. So when you put all that together that was for me, what got me over the hump.
Aaron Moncur 29:22
How do you think you found all of these right people? You know, you had all these people who blessed your life and believed in you and helped you succeed? Did you just get lucky and stumble across the right people?
Lisa Lloyd 29:34
No, I was rabid about finding them. No, nothing fell into my lap. There’s nothing that I have that came easy or without any effort on my part. And seriously, the biggest things came with the most serious effort. In fact, the first product actually hired an engineer for was a co2 powered airbrush. And I know there’s no video for this. I’d show it to you but In the airbrush took a small co2 cartridge and its which regulated it down from, I think about 3600 psi to about 12. And that regulator was what I had to have professional help with. And so at first I used a garage mechanic guy, you know, garage engineer, sort of situation, he wasn’t educated in it, but he was really good at solving problems. And then once we got a functional, semi functional working model, I was able to license it that to a company that already owned and patented a regulator but had never done anything with it, because they were in the business of blowing up air tires, not spray painting. So they didn’t know they didn’t need a regulator, they needed just the one shot, that was all their tech, but they had this thing just sitting there. So we ended up putting that together. And then, in fact, they didn’t have the sales and distribution. So now I’ve got a company that’s going to finish the engineering for free because I’ve licensed it to them. But they have no sales and distribution and in the channel that I need, which is beauty, and cosmetics. So I went to a trade show with my working model. And they had done some beautiful illustrations of what it could look like finished. And I pitched a trade show to the VP of Sales for Helen of Troy. And they their first purchase order was $1.2 million, based on just my proof of concept, all of the drawings, but knowing that the company who developed the engineer that was going to make this actually do a good job. They had the credibility in the domain expertise, because they’d been selling co2 products for 20 years. So I mean, it took creative thinking on my part.
Aaron Moncur 31:38
How useful were trade shows for you.
Lisa Lloyd 31:41
Oh, I love trade shows. I absolutely love them. I mean, it’s, it’s like, instead of getting on a plane and flying out and hoping for a meeting with every single company, I can literally just walk up and down the floors and talk to decision makers at trade shows all under one roof with one trip.
Aaron Moncur 31:59
And would you typically have your own booth there where you an exhibitor or attendee, and you would just walk,
Lisa Lloyd 32:05
walk the licensing I just attend. If I, when I was selling TC pets, for example, the product on Shark Tank, I always had a booth because we were selling to retailers. But and those were the people I wanted to talk to. But if I want to talk to the companies having a booth is making it, it makes it harder, because I have to depend on them coming to me, I’d rather just walk up and down the aisles, walk right up to the booth and introduce myself and ask them if they have ever or would they ever consider licensing and outside from an outside product developer? And if they say, sure we haven’t, but we’d be open to it or yes, they do. Then I say great. You know, I’ve got a few products here. Do you have five minutes for them? Take a quick look. And then we can follow up after the show if if it makes sense. Yeah. And then they say yeah. Oh,
Aaron Moncur 32:49
that’s great. Oh, great. Okay. What is one of the worst and best pieces of advice relating to product development that you’ve ever received? I don’t get a lot of advice. You give more than you get.
Lisa Lloyd 33:09
You know, like I said, I didn’t have anybody. I had to figure it all out on my own trial by fire. You know, I get business advice now, because I am the quintessential solopreneur, who needs a lot of business advice, but not invention advice.
Aaron Moncur 33:26
Well, let’s let’s go there, then what’s one piece of the best and worst business advice?
Lisa Lloyd 33:30
Well, in actually in thinking about that, what it did remind me of one piece of advice. So my mentor Now Richard has now who owns innovate to grow experts. They’re a boutique firm. I’m one of several people on the team that helps front end innovation teams at large organizations ideate. And Richard has, Richard has been very helpful for me and in helping to articulate better what it was that made me successful. Like I said earlier, that was always hard for me. And after working with these companies and learning more about the more traditional best practices that happen inside large organization, innovation teams, I was able to translate it because I could see what they were doing was going to be successful and why it worked. And I could see how I did those things I just didn’t know that’s what it was called. Yeah. So whether it’s talking about using the value pyramid to use, design thinking and empathetic innovation, to create solutions that are dramatically better than the competition. That would be advice that I learned from him just to observe and all the different types of best practices that were out there already and hundreds of books that I’ve never found until him to help me formulate my processes in a way that isn’t just based on my own experience. But what large organizations do to be successful as well.
Aaron Moncur 34:59
What do What are a couple of the best books that you’ve read on the subject?
Lisa Lloyd 35:03
Clayton Christensen is one of my favorites. His last book before he passed away last year was competing against luck. That’s one of my all time favorites. But he was the author of disruptive innovation. He’s the one who coined the phrase. So any of his books are, I would highly recommend Doug Hall who started, Eureka ranch now has a program, if you go to Eureka Ranch, his website that is engineering. What does he call it? Engineering Innovation, I think is what it’s actually called. And he sells the curricula to Ivy League schools. And he’s working his way out to some of the other academia opportunities that are out there different schools and universities. Are you familiar with Doug? Ah, no, no, he has a book called Jump, start, here’s one called jumpstart your business brain. Great book, I would recommend it highly.
Aaron Moncur 36:06
Great. I’m gonna add these to the show notes.
Lisa Lloyd 36:07
And interestingly enough, Doug Hall and Richard hasn’t my mentor. Both of them worked at Procter and Gamble, they were both VPS at Procter and Gamble at the same time and know each other. And that’s how I’m familiar with that is through Richard.
Aaron Moncur 36:22
Okay. That you you mentioned, helping large organizations ideate. Can you speak a little bit more about that? What are some of the tools that you share with these these organizations to help them ideate?
Lisa Lloyd 36:36
Right, so it begins by helping for begins by getting the right butts in the seats. Since you’re talking about Good to Great, yep. Sounds familiar. It’s a collaboration. I mentioned earlier, how much I love to collaborate, clap, the best collaboration happens when you have diversity in the room. And one of the biggest mistakes that large organizations make is with their just their infrastructure, the way it’s set up, everyone’s siloed. And they all have their unique jobs, and I get why a business needs that to function. But it has that part of it has to be disruptive, disrupted, to truly impact the innovation that’s going to come out of that company, you can get incremental growth with the current systems in place, but you won’t see truly dramatic growth with that type of structure, because you won’t, if you leave it to engineering to come up with the ideas, then it’s really hard to push through marketing and sales and etc. If marketing comes to engineering, they feel threatened by that. And then you have times where there’s certain projects where you need outside expertise, domain expertise. So one example that we use with at ITG E is, you know, an athlete is a case study that we have where we’re Nestle, I think it was, yeah, it was Nestle invited us in and the challenge was around a frozen food product that needed to be improved cut the time you did cut in half and still deliver a good taste, right. And so we brought in someone who had recently written a paper that wasn’t even published yet that had microwave technology, domain expertise, and contributed in a way that it was solved in the first half of the first day where they brought into other majors like McKinsey. I don’t know who I won’t, I won’t say who it is, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t McKenzie. But you know what I mean, those types of firms had both failed. And we had a three day contract, and it was done by noon on the first day. Wow.
Aaron Moncur 38:42
Lisa Lloyd 38:42
It’s about getting the right people in there, for starters. And then there’s, you know, the stimulus, you understand the different people that are in the room, you’ve got your left brains, and you’ve got your right brains and how to stimulate that discussion in a way that is effective at driving the best possible conversation and a safe environment. Sometimes, in fact, one story Richard told me was when American Express wanted to create a new card, what ultimately came out of it was the black card. But they started right off by saying we were going to charge $20,000 a year for this card. And everybody in the room. No, no, no, no. And when they talked through it with the right people, and again, they had lawyers in the room, which normally how many times have you ever heard of bringing a lawyer into a room and innovation discussion?
Aaron Moncur 39:27
Lisa Lloyd 39:28
But everybody who who’s impacted by the decision on that innovation should be there to contribute in how it is developed.
Aaron Moncur 39:38
When you say diversity, can you explain what do you mean exactly? Are you saying men and women people from India, people from us or are you talking more engineering, legal finance, marketing? What do you mean by diversity?
Lisa Lloyd 39:55
Both and neither? What I’m talking about is the people that are most relevant to answering the question or solving the problem, the challenge that’s on the table. So who needs to be there to solve the challenge, if we as a large organization are making a decision that we, we’ve been given the task of 20% increase in our revenue directly derived from new product development, okay, that’s come down from the top or from our constituent, you know, stakeholders, whatever. If it’s that open, then we’re going to probably talk to our customers first. And we’re going to define where there are gaps in the market, and understanding what the problems are that are out there. And then we’re gonna bring the problems back and decide who needs to be in the room to solve them. But it always starts with the challenge on the table, and who are the right people to help answer that challenge. And it’s gonna be it might be all men, it might be all women, it depends on the product of the problem that you’re trying to solve and who the best people are to help solve that.
Aaron Moncur 40:54
Yeah, okay. So diversity doesn’t always mean the same thing. It’s, it’s specific to the situation
Lisa Lloyd 40:59
Always. And if you just have the engineers in there who are captive working for that company, and maybe don’t even buy the products that they sell at that company, that’s probably not going to be the best source of this information. Now, I would still want those people need to be clear those people, but I need them to collaborate with other people who also bring in the multi dimensional approach that 10x is your success in the long run?
Aaron Moncur 41:27
I like that answer. Okay, this this next question is a little bit a little bit different as well. But I found it to be a really interesting one and getting to know a person, what is the most scared you’ve ever been? And feel free to take that either personally or professionally your choice? So what is the most scared you’ve ever been? And what did you learn from that situation?
Lisa Lloyd 41:49
Wow, he got me in the heartstring there takes me back to TC Pat’s, when I was gonna let my family and my investors down and was and my reputation would be different. In my head, my reputation would be destroyed. It turns out it wasn’t. But I had this whole story painted in my head that it was the end of the world. I had always succeeded, I’d never failed. So I had a very thin skin for to begin with. But I thought that the only reason people liked me and accepted me my identity had been so wrapped up in my success that I was afraid now that I was going to technically fail at this thing. I was going to lose my reputation, my family, my friends, my clients, everything my income, my ability to live. Yeah. Terrifying para paralyzing fear. Wow.
Aaron Moncur 42:46
And so kind of finding your true identity is is what came out of this. If I’m understanding that correctly,
Lisa Lloyd 42:55
You’re absolutely understanding that correctly. Amazing.
Aaron Moncur 42:58
Amazing Well, what
Lisa Lloyd 42:58
now I have you know, I have a TrueNorth focused on and there’s different true North’s depending like I have one for work, and I have one for my personal life, and they have to align. And I’m very, very selective and intentional about what jobs I take on and what people I work with. In fact, my program, the mission accelerator, is by invitation only thing online for someone that they can just fill it out and hit a Join button doesn’t exist.
Aaron Moncur 43:27
There’s a gentleman named Earl Nightingale who has since passed on, but are you familiar with Earl?
Lisa Lloyd 43:32
Oh, yeah. And I took night and Gil courses,
Aaron Moncur 43:35
Did you? lead the field, one of my all time favorites. I just love it. Anyway, you might remember this, but you talked about TrueNorth. And I remembered on his lead the field program he talks about, if you ask the captain of a ship, what his destination is, he’ll tell you in a single sentence. And but if you ask, you know a person, what is your destination? What’s What’s your TrueNorth, so to speak, right? A lot of us don’t really know what that is. And so it’s I think it’s pretty incredible that you have TrueNorth for personal and TrueNorth for
Lisa Lloyd 44:05
right, and they have to align. To answer I have to answer the question, Why am I doing this and don’t get me wrong. I have not got this completely nailed down. I get distracted and busy just like anybody else. But every morning I recalibrate I have my quiet time and I get my shit in order. You know, blinders go on. I know where I’m going and what I’m doing and reboot every single day.
Aaron Moncur 44:31
Yeah, yeah. That’s great. It’s it’s painful in the moment but but so interesting how these times in our lives that were the scariest right cut can at least turn out to be like the biggest blessings in our in our line of sight. I I have answered that question differently in the past, but just when you were speaking I thought to myself, You know what? I think I have a similar answer to Lisa. I got laid off For my job, and I was, you know, I was terrified. And I thought, well, I if I’m not an engineer, what am I and write a young family? And how am I going to support my wife and this baby? And anyway? It’s terrifying. Terrifying. Absolutely, yeah. But it turned out to be one of the biggest blessings of my life.
Lisa Lloyd 45:16
Yep. If you let it if you let failure, be your friend and your teacher. It’s amazing what it will show you what it will reveal about you to you and you and for the world. So
Aaron Moncur 45:28
Yep. 100%. That’s great. All right. Well, just just a couple more questions. And then and then we’ll wrap it up here. To bring it back to product development. Can you think of a tool out there that that would be just the most powerful magical tool to facilitate product development? That doesn’t exist yet?
Lisa Lloyd 45:49
The crystal ball,
Aaron Moncur 45:50
the crystal ball, okay. So knowing what people want,
Lisa Lloyd 45:53
knowing what people want, what will sell? Yeah, yeah.
Aaron Moncur 45:56
Yeah, that’s a good one. Okay. Well, is there? Is there anything else that I should have asked you that I haven’t?
Lisa Lloyd 46:05
Oh, my gosh, honestly, I could sit here and talk for hours. And I don’t know your audience, I think well enough to know what they want to learn most. But if anybody’s considering inventing the biggest mistake that I think inventors make is, and this is true, I have engineers on my program. In fact, I probably shouldn’t say this publicly. But they’re my favorites. Because we Jive like we can talk the same language. And they’re logical. So when I say this is the way you do it, and here’s why they say oh, okay, and then they go do it that way. It’s a lot harder with some other people, but understanding how big of a problem it is, and for how many people who have it, and then designing a solution for with with those people in mind, so that it’s empathetic, and doesn’t just solve your pain experience, but for their pain experiences, which are different, which goes back to diversity and the assumption that we always be just like kids, they always think they’re the only ones that have that problem. No, you don’t understand mom, you know, like, you’re the only kid that’s ever out. Come on, I do understand what you’re going through. It’s not just you, it’s other people and what they go through and then it gives you as an engineer anyway, and I wish I was one. I wish I had new CAD. I’m trying I’m learning I have a 3d printer. I showed it to you, Erin earlier.
Aaron Moncur 47:33
Lisa Lloyd 47:34
Yeah, we’d be no stopping me. Because I have that part nailed, but don’t have the engineering. In fact, if I had an engineering partner, I can’t even imagine we changed the world.
Aaron Moncur 47:44
Oh, my goodness. Right. All the people listening to this? Yeah,
Lisa Lloyd 47:47
okay. Yeah, you you let if there’s someone out there that wants to be my partner, well, we’ll talk about it, I’m definitely getting the products, getting them made as the most expensive and, and slowest part of the process for me, but having the ideas and flushing out what those ideas are and making a business case for them. And then later presenting that business case for licensing, I got that part down. So for the engineers, I think it would be if I could learn how to engineer it that would help me if engineers can learn how to do what I do better, which is a best personally, I don’t know if I do it better than someone else. Listening obviously, would be to really, truly understand the opportunities that are out there in a better way, then there would be no salary gap, oh my god, the income potential for any of you listening would be incredible.
Aaron Moncur 48:34
I can tell that these words come from deep experience.
Lisa Lloyd 48:37
And as they come out of my mouth, well,
Aaron Moncur 48:41
These are well earned insights over the years. So Well, Lisa, thank you so much for sharing all of this. How can people get a hold of you? You know, for the engineers out there who want to partner with you or anyone else that just wants to chat and get to know Lisa? How can they get a hold of you?
Lisa Lloyd 48:57
Thanks for sking if you are interested in learning how to invent patent license your product so you can go to the invention accelerator.com and accelerator ACC not e x so that invention accelerator.com To learn more, or book a call with me and for that matter if you would like to just talk to me about possibly possibly working with me on some project or something like that. You can use that same calendar at the invention accelerator.com To book a call with me and we’ll just put in the notes for me that that’s what we’re chatting about. So I know I had a time. Otherwise you can check me out on LinkedIn. It’s Lisa my it’s my full name Lisa V as in Victor Lloyd is how you look me up so linkedin.com/lisa V Lloyd I think or slash i n Lisa V. Lloyd. And I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn as well. Those are the best ways to find me.
Aaron Moncur 49:51
Awesome. Well, Lisa, this has been a delight. Thank you again, so much for sharing all the insights and wisdom with the listeners.
Lisa Lloyd 49:57
Oh, my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, Aaron. It was fun.
Aaron Moncur 50:04
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team’s expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at Team pipeline.us. Thanks for listening.
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