This past November when we welcomed our second son into the world I was lucky enough to receive 2 months of paid paternity leave. Besides being thrilled to spend time with my wife and children, I also knew it would probably be the only time I'd ever get paid to take a 2-month break from work. So... I used the time to create a company, design and manufacture a product, form a team, and plan a launch.

I want to use this AMA to explain how modern-day tools make it possible to do this kind of thing so quickly, and hopefully inspire others who have their own dreams but could use more info on how to make it work while maintaining balance in their lives.

In the interest of being straight up, yes, I do have a product, but I would honestly be thrilled if I got to talk more about the process. In the interest of focusing on the stuff I want to talk about, I'll post the IndieGoGo link after the AMA is over, but you can check out our website at www.prydwenvest.com. Also, I have an amazing network of friends and family who may be asking questions. Some of them are actually over the age 50 and didn't have reddit accounts before this IamA... so no, that's not a sock puppet, it's my mom. ;)

Here are some of the details:

  1. The company is a personal protection company. Until November I knew next to nothing about ballistic protection, but my background is in trade & product compliance (I'm an attorney) so I was confident I could ask the right questions of potential manufacturers.

  2. Our first product is an outdoor bleacher-style chair that converts quickly into a bulletproof vest. Original idea was for a bulletproof blanket, which was a no-go for multiple reasons, but the convertible chair / vest came together quickly and seemed like the right balance between functionality and usefulness.

  3. My launch team includes myself, an engineer / cross-border logistics expert, a product strategy guy, a videographer, a social media manager, and an actress/sales executive. I knew everyone going in except for the london-based videographer, who is now a friend and equity holder, and the social media manager, an amazing Nigeria-based princess with a giant fortune collaborator who manages our SM presence. (Only kidding, Anny!)

  4. We launched the product Monday on Kickstarter, but it was taken down within six hours. That same morning we moved the entire thing over to IndieGoGo. I don't want to dwell on this here, but you can read more about it in this thread. https://tinyurl.com/eatmekickstarter

The things I want to share are, in no particular order: my experience starting a company and developing a new product in less than two months, the state of bulletproof technology and the implications for society, the power of multifunctional design, digital-age marketing strategy, and how to utilize your social network to build a project team.

AMA!

Proof: https://truepic.com/n5r3mx7l (apologies for the blur... five-month-olds are wiggly)

I will be answering questions today from 12:00 - 4:30 pm, Eastern Time. Will try to follow up later this evening if there's enough interest. (Updated time to add a few more minutes before I have to get into work)

TLDR : During my paternity leave I and my launch team designed, patented, tested and manufactured a stadium-style chair that converts into a bulletproof vest. I'd love to answer your questions about how modern tools & technology allowed us to do in just a few months all the things that used to take much, much longer.

EDIT - So I'm signing off. I'd love to stay, especially as good questions are still rolling in. I will log in when I get a chance later on, but won't be answering in real time. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read through my rather lengthy responses, and for giving this AMA the benefit of the doubt. It's been a pleasure. Here's the link to the IGG campaign: https://tinyurl.com/prydwenvest

Comments: 105 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

10000noways43 karma

Here's a weird question for you: Why are almost all the accounts asking questions on this thread brand spanking new, created today or yesterday?

eyeball123413 karma

Hi - It's a fair question. I actually addressed this in the introduction. I've got a really great support network of friends and family who wanted to participate, including quite a few of them who didn't have reddit accounts previously (I'm in my 30's, so parents/aunts/uncles tend to have a few more years than the average redditor). I promise there's no sock-puppeting going on.

10000noways3 karma

OK - fair enough, I missed that part of the intro.

eyeball12343 karma

Hey man (or woman), I get it. I really appreciate you giving me the benefit of the doubt by asking, and then actually reading my response as well. Also, my intro was a short novel, so no worries :P

EBOLA_THUG37 karma

Do people like you enjoy ruining the AmA subreddit by using it as an advertisment platform?

eyeball1234-11 karma

I understand that there's a lot of vitriol toward people who are looking for visibility for their product, especially with yesterday's "ADHD Beats" post, but I don't think any of my responses have been canned or corporate-esque. I've made an effort to engage with people on the process, as opposed to the product, and I think most of the people I've engaged with see that and appreciated the interaction.

Darwinmate5 karma

Not only is this the dumbest fucking product out there, it takes advantage of the fear and uncertainty in the current USA climate.

On top of all this, you're doing this AMA for advertising but oh actually it's about starting a company in 2 months. You haven't explained shit about creating a product in 2 months.

I'd be really interested in the process, more than the product. If you waiting until the end to post your product it may have gone better

eyeball12341 karma

I'm a bit taken back at the hostility, but I do want to respond to your points.

W/r/t the fear and uncertainty, we are super emphatic about keeping our messaging positive, not citing shooting stats, not forcing people to imagine use cases, etc. I'm feeling some bias already, but I don't think ballistic protection needs to be thought of any differently than a home fire extinguisher. Exceedingly rare use case, meant to provide insurance in the event of an incident, if done right then it's not stoking fear.

On the same point, right now in the U.S. it's really f-ing hard to release anything designed to offer people protection, without it coming off as fear-mongering. Like I said above, as a policy we don't cite shooting statistics, but just in defense of the timing, they are happening so often that there's practically no "non-exploitative" window of time to launch a product like this.

On your second point, I've given in-depth answers to every single question relating to starting a company and designing a product in two months. Ironically, many of my replies have been downvoted into oblivion, but that doesn't change the fact that I've provided detailed, non-corporate-esque explanations for practically everyone who has asked about the process.

Finally, I did wait until the end of the AMA to post the product. I didn't add the link to the product until the AMA was over and I had been answering questions for almost five hours. If you read the introduction, you can see that I did this purposefully, because I actually wanted to talk about the process...

My approach to this IamA event was to focus on my experience. It's inevitable that once people get wind of a chair that converts into a bulletproof vest they are going to have questions, but if you read my responses, I typically spent way more time answering questions about the process... answers which ironically get downvoted by the people who I assume are the same folks who are criticizing me for using this as a platform for my product.

Darwinmate1 karma

Well, I never expected a reply from you. So I'm taken aback by your leveled response and thoughtful response. However, I still utterly dislike your idea and your company.

W/r/t the fear and uncertainty, we are super emphatic about keeping our messaging positive, not citing shooting stats, not forcing people to imagine use cases, etc. I'm feeling some bias already, but I don't think ballistic protection needs to be thought of any differently than a home fire extinguisher. Exceedingly rare use case, meant to provide insurance in the event of an incident, if done right then it's not stoking fear.

On the same point, right now in the U.S. it's really f-ing hard to release anything designed to offer people protection, without it coming off as fear-mongering. Like I said above, as a policy we don't cite shooting statistics, but just in defense of the timing, they are happening so often that there's practically no "non-exploitative" window of time to launch a product like this.

This is great, but you're still feeding off it and in turn contributing to the wider problem. Your countries issues are unique and in turn your people's (and your) response is even more unique (and bizarre) from an outsiders perspective. You're ultimately profiting from the fear of people, and distantly feeding of the deaths of innocent people. Other people are protesting against gun violence but you're sitting down and coming up with a product, which does not exist in other countries, which is disguised as a chair. Would this product exist if your country didn't have a gun problem? Where do you draw the line between "not my problem" and "I'll make money off this? My issue is not fear mongering, your media does enough of that, it's the very existence of your product. It's directly correlates to gun violence, without the recent attack at a concert would you even have the idea? Would people even buy your product if your country didnt have so many gun related incidence?

Finally, I did wait until the end of the AMA to post the product. I didn't add the link to the product until the AMA was over and I had been answering questions for almost five hours. If you read the introduction, you can see that I did this purposefully, because I actually wanted to talk about the process...

I didn't realise this, so my apologies.

My approach to this IamA event was to focus on my experience. It's inevitable that once people get wind of a chair that converts into a bulletproof vest they are going to have questions, but if you read my responses, I typically spent way more time answering questions about the process... answers which ironically get downvoted by the people who I assume are the same folks who are criticizing me for using this as a platform for my product.

I read most of your replies and I agree you were actually very thorough and answered the questions well. More than most AMA. Would you have put forward this AMA if you weren't intending to use it as a platform to advertise your product? Maybe, I'd argue you wouldn't have.

I wish you the very best, but I really hope you're company fails not due to anything else but your country changing it's ways, making your product obsolete.

eyeball12342 karma

You raised some good points, so let's let bygones be bygones and focus on the issue that matters. I've been thinking about your comments most of the evening, and wanted to give you a response to this:

you're still feeding off it and in turn contributing to the wider problem. Your countries issues are unique and in turn your people's (and your) response is even more unique (and bizarre) from an outsiders perspective. You're ultimately profiting from the fear of people, and distantly feeding of the deaths of innocent

I disagree (obviously, or I wouldn't be doing this). Let's run with my fire extinguisher comparison for a moment. Take a country like Sri Lanka, where there are a huge amount of shoddily-built commercial buildings with an inexcusably high likelihood of catching fire. I think we both agree that this type of problem is best addressed top-down, by improving regulations and cracking down on violators (I'm an American, but I'm still a progressive.)

It seems where we differ is that I believe addressing this kind of problem from the ground-up is also an ethical way of contributing toward the solution. What I mean is that if a Sri-Lankan business-person created some special blanket that was impervious to fire, and sold it to at-risk workers, I think this helps society by both calming people's nerves and providing something that could potentially save a life.

When I read between the lines of your comments, I don't think you're saying that this type of product is inherently wrong, but I'm troubled by your comment about "feeding off the deaths of innocents". Now there might be some truth to this if I ran a bulletproof vest empire and funneled money to the NRA so that gun reform wouldn't occur. But I'm just a guy who had an idea for a product that serves a need people have.

I think it's beyond fucked up that an 18-year-old can go out and buy an assault rifle in this country, and that there's not more regulation around responsible gun-ownership. I hope there's no need for my product in the future as well.

But right now there is a lot of fear... a lot of people can't go to an outdoor concert without worrying about which direction they'd run if someone started shooting. And I believe there's a big difference between a product that makes people more confident, and a product that exploits that fear for profit. Maybe not, or maybe we can agree to disagree.

Anyways, if you're still reading, I do now realize that I should have taken a stronger stance toward the gun issue in my intro... because it is the fucking elephant in the room. I'm still thinking about how I can use my platform, if we're successful, to promote needed gun reform. Maybe the next AMA... ;)

Take care.

want-to-say-this29 karma

Did your old employer sue you for misuse of the fmla time?

eyeball123413 karma

Fortunately the two months was paid leave by the employer and I didn't have to take FML. Also, I work for a pretty amazing company that encourages its employees to maintain side gigs... my manager actually knows about my project and even posted a (rather tough) question on this IamA!

I recognize not everyone will be in this situation, but truthfully the fact that I was contributed to me wanting to make the most of it.

Roo_Badley18 karma

I’m just curious if this is against your company’s policy. You told them you were going to use your paternity leave to be a dad. And you were paid for it. Instead you made your product while being paid by your company. Doesn’t that mean your company now owns your product?

You may want to find an intellectual property lawyer ASAP.

eyeball12348 karma

Not really concerned about this. I used my evenings and weekends to work on this, and spent my days taking care of my kids and helping my wife. I talked about this in the info section and in a few posts. I'm also fortunate enough to work for a company that encourages their employees to be creative in their spare time.

CitizenSam5 karma

Why did you need to wait until you had paternity leave and a newborn child to start a company if you only used your evenings and weekends to do it?

eyeball12341 karma

I have a very demanding job. Even when I'm not working late, I'm still often thinking about work and planning things out in my head.

In that context, two months of not having to think about my day-to-day responsibilities freed up a tremendous amount of time and mental capacity.

Roo_Badley1 karma

Congrats anyway, that's an amazing accomplishment with only two months!

eyeball12341 karma

Thank you kind redditor.

Guntergruppe10 karma

You mention the Vegas shooting as where you got your idea, but your product wouldn't have helped. Most soft armor will be pierced by rifle rounds, have you thought of how you might sell a more protective product while maintaining the ease and mobility of soft armor?

eyeball12347 karma

Great question, but I have to insist on a correction: we've built the product so that level NIJ IIIA protection is standard, but we also included a customized insert for a level IV ballistic plate that will stop AR-15 rounds.

To me, this was one of the most important things, and it almost tanked the project initially. I thought it would be unethical to offer up a product designed to combat peoples fear of a mass shooting, without enabling protection that could stop the types of weapons people were using to carry out the shootings, so at first I insisted that we include Level IV ballistic plates standard in every chair. The implication of this is that it would have forced us to raise the price from $100 to almost $200, although virtually everyone (except me - lol) thought this would price it out of reach.

Eventually, with some good advice from a couple of mentors, I decided on a compromise where we'd build the chair/vest in a way that allowed people the option of enhanced protection, while providing the .44 magnum caliber protection standard. We are offering a lvl 4 plate that's fitted to our insert on the IGG page.

As a side note (sorry, I really wanted to talk about this topic!) one of the things that really worked out is the insert for the plate is in the back of the chair (needed to be at the back of vest). This makes it actually enhance the support of the chair when inserted, since it's rigid and also curved.

Guntergruppe5 karma

The problem you get into with ballistic plate inserts is that a) theyre typically heavy and b) someone has to carry them around. Another part of body armor is expiration dates, and degradation from sweat and sunlight which i assume would be big factors in this chair. Some of my officers have gotten around the weight issue by buying a smaller piece of steel armor to go over their heart inside their regular vest. With the idea that first responders can save you from a chest wound that isnt instantly fatal. Might be worth looking into as an option, or at least something to look into seems to tick the boxes of a little extra protection and cost savings if you found the test results beneficial.

eyeball12344 karma

Guntergruppe, I appreciate the thoughtful suggestions, and the reference to "your officers" suggests why you're raising the right points. I'd love to respond to some of your comments (and will try not to write a novel doing so).

In terms of weight, with the soft protection, the chair weighs about 5 lbs. Our lvl 4 plate is a ceramic/PE hybrid that weighs about the same, so while it's heavier than a typical stadium-style chair, it's not too weighty.

The degradation piece is key. Our UHMWPE is specially treated to resist moisture and UV, and the literature on the material suggests the degradation rate is relatively slow (40% strength loss over 30 years... we guarantee and recommend use at up to 5 years).

The steel part is really interesting. We were leaning toward lightweight steel plates initially due to the price and durability, but since we anticipate people using these in crowded scenarios, the shrapnel becomes a problem for others as well. There's anti-spalling material, but that raises the price and I'm not sure is always 100% effective. I do really like the idea of a small steel plate over the heart... keep a look out for our next iteration!

Edited for typos.

Guntergruppe3 karma

With the armor being a ceramic/pe blend is there any worry about the plate being damaged? Especially in regards to sitting on it, or is it still fairly durable? I've only ever messed with steel because I've heard ceramic is typically a lot more fragile.

As for spalling everything I've read and particularly the thousands of rounds I've put down range against steel make me think it's almost necessary to have. I'm not thoroughly convinced that the shrapnel from a round will cause too great of damage but it would be harmful to the face and eyes. For instance I've shot steel attached to a wood frame and the shrapnel has the tendency to stick into the wood, and from what Ive seen a lot of spall coatings are good enough to encapsulate all of this. It wouldn't be a bad luxury or addon but I've seen armor companies offer it for free and then use that in their marketing.

I'm a bit of a nerd for body armor, guns, in general so its fun for me to discuss this topic so long answers dont bother me.

I would also see your product as being particularly handy in places where they have a lot of seating, such as comedy clubs, movie theaters and the like especially if they're hosting big entertainment. Have you thought of expanding it there? A theater chair/ body armor combo could be akin to a flight seat doubling as a flotation device. It would also allow a place to have rifle protection in the form of a cheaper steel plate since no one has to carry it around it can be there in case of emergency.

eyeball12342 karma

Hey, I've got to run now but this looks like a great question and I'll be sure to respond later today.

operator105 karma

How's your baby ?

eyeball12349 karma

Fat and happy. Thanks for asking :)

UpSiize3 karma

Interesting idea. What made you choose a chair over something more practical like a backpack? Im no expert on american shootings, but from what ive seen most happen at places where people wouldnt carry a heavy cushioned seat cover around with them all day. Have there been many shootings at stadium sporting events?

eyeball12342 karma

The worst shooting, and the one that inspired the product, was at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. It was the kind of setting where you could have things with you like blankets and cushions. A five-pound seat with a self-supporting back is hopefully the kind of thing that people could use at those types of events.

Frankly, the backpack thing has been done, and backpacks are also not allowed into a lot of events where a seat cushion is.

micmusic883 karma

As you were coming up with the idea for this product, what were the main situations you pictured it being used at?

Also, have you looked into regulations on bringing certain items into ball parks?

eyeball12345 karma

The situation that sparked the idea was an outdoor concert like where the Vegas Shooting occurred. The initial concept was a bulletproof blanket you could spread on the grass, but that wouldn't work b/c 1) there's no soft-level protection capable of stopping a high powered rifle, and 2) a blanket would probably encourage people to hide under it, which is considered less preferable to running. Sorry, I know I sorted of deviated. I talked about this more in my blog. Since then I've thought of things like sporting events, fireworks shows, even as an insert into a hunting chair.

We did a ton of research on whether it would be permitted in ballpark. Compliance attorney... ;). Here are some key takeaways: bleacher seats are usually allowed as long as they meet certain size requirements (it does) and can't be used as a bag or purse (it can't); the material we use for the soft and hard plates is PE and a PE/ceramic composite, so no issues with metal detectors; a lot of stadiums have rules that are specific to them, but we made sure to follow any widely applicable guidelines like the ones published by the NFL; finally, there don't seem to be any rules specifically barring bulletproof materials.

epz2 karma

Are you considering going on Shark Tank?

It could launch your product into the stratosphere.

eyeball12341 karma

I'd probably do it :) I could see myself sparring with the sharks. My roots are in Cincinnati, where snarky responses come pretty naturally ;)

OneInAZillion2 karma

My father is looking to launch a product and company but has only a product idea, a first version of the product that he built himself, and not even enough money for a patent application (although he will soon). What advice would you give him with regards to launching his idea?

eyeball12346 karma

Start with investors, and write your own NDA. I've seen "fair" contracts you'll get handed by potential investors that are quite one-sided.

yourmother23981 karma

I’m a little late to the game but how do you even go about finding investors to start with if you don’t have any contacts in the industry? Thanks!

eyeball12341 karma

I'm not an expert in fundraising, but I can share my experience from this project. Initially I made several investor pitches to friends and family members, without success. We moved forward anyway, and developed a short product video, that all the team members shared on their personal SM accounts. Within a couple of hours, we were approached by four different people hoping to invest.

My takeaway from that experience was twofold: first, it's that your own network can be more powerful than you think. All four people who reached out were folks we hadn't talked to in years, some of the all the way back from high school! Second, having something tangible, even if it's a 60- second video, a self-sewn prototype and a catchy sound track, goes a huge way to bring people on board to your vision .

Just for kicks, here's our video. Mostly stock footage, with some nifty graphics our videographer and engineer collaborated on. https://youtu.be/Q_k8ne4Wabs

steiner_math1 karma

How does it feel to be taking advantage of a program that is supposed to be helping new parents for your own personal gain?

eyeball1234-1 karma

First, I've addressed this question already. I used my nights and weekends to do this work... not having to do a demanding day job that typically takes up far more than 40 hours of my time was what enabled me to do that.

Second, let's be real with each other for a moment. Do you really think "I'm a new father who used nights and weekends while on paternity leave to create a company" would have gotten nearly this many clicks? Lol.

sometimes_wholesome1 karma

I recently had my second daughter and my wife and I seriously relish our chill time in the evening.
How do you resist the urge to just kick back and relax at the end of the day?

eyeball12342 karma

I have terrible ADD and my medication wears off by the time I get home :P

Kidding... this is just something I like to do. But I'm seriously looking forward to chilling with my wife as soon as we BOTH have time.

christinemckenzie1 karma

How easy is this product to put on before running for your life?

eyeball12346 karma

You can convert the chair into a vest in about three seconds.

christinemckenzie2 karma

That is fast! I'm impressed that you got this company going in such a short time. It looks like a great product! How has it been tested?

eyeball12344 karma

The testing was probably the most fun we've had yet. It's also an area where we had to be creative, because we don't have access to an outdoor area where we could test (or to guns, for that matter). To get around this, we reached out via email and phone to pretty much all the local gun ranges to see if any of them would let us use their facilities.

I found a couple who would let us rent a gun and space if we came in early, which was really cool, but then I got a call back from a guy named Joe Rinaldi, the president of the Kenmore Shooting Club. He liked the idea, so he raised the matter at his next board meeting, and got approval to let us come and shoot.

On testing day, we met up with Joe, Robert (who had volunteered to do the shooting), and a couple of board members. We shot the chair with 9mm ammo (solid and hollow point) and with .44 mag. The 9mm barely scratched it, whereas the .44 penetrated a few of the layers. I was kind of nervous it had gone through, but as you can see in the video, all was good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBcyqFrEo8k

CaseyJones2411 karma

Do you approach packaging (design/manufacture) the same way you approached manufacturing, via Alibaba? How do you determine shipping arrangements and keep shipping cost affordable?

eyeball12341 karma

That's a good question. We've done some high-level planing around packaging and logistics & run the numbers to be sure we hit our margins, but nothing is set in stone yet. PM if you happen to have any options in mind ;)

Deezee860 karma

What's the product?

RoboNinjaPirate10 karma

A stadium seat that converts to a bulletproof vest

ruinevil2 karma

It actually is.

eyeball12340 karma

Can confirm :)

eyeball12346 karma

I want to be respectful of the redddit audience and not turn this into a walking infomercial, but I added some details above. I would love to answer questions about the process of starting a company from scratch in a limited amount of time.

Deezee860 karma

What part of the process took the longest? It is really impressive that it came to fruition so quickly.

eyeball12343 karma

The longest part of the process was building relationships with manufacturers. We used AliBaba as our sourcing platform. It's an incredible tool... basically unlimited ability to start conversations and put out bids with potential vendors. I might have gone a bit overboard, but I probably was in contact with over 20 ballistic material manufacturers about our requirements.

By the time we were ready to design the chair, I'd learned my lesson about juggling that many conversations, but still reached out to about 10 companies, three of which ended up submitted prototypes.

Overall, vendor selection was a really interesting example of where modern-day tools let us approach a huge number of people simultaneously in ways never possible before, while also demonstrating the importance of building relationships, which can't be rushed.

Plusran0 karma

I’m an idea guy, but I’m not a planning guy. How did you find this awesome team of people to build this company with?

eyeball12342 karma

I talked about forming the team in one of the questions that might have gotten downvoted, but it was a combination of family and friends, along with a few external hires.

I've become better at planning as I've gotten older but I'm also more of an idea guy. To be honest, one of the major benefits of forming a team for this type of thing is it creates accountability. Most of us can get to a certain point on inertia, but eventually we need the extra push that comes from having people rely on you.

This probably sounds like a well worn concept, but ultimately dedication and passion in your team is more important than the skills people have going in. This is especially true when you encounter a setback. When Kickstarter pulled our campaign I was tempted for a quick second to throw my hands in the air and walk away, but having a dedicated team with whom I could share the pain as well as the victories helped make it manageable

Hope this was a helpful response. Thanks for the question.

Ferl740 karma

[deleted]

eyeball12343 karma

Hmm not sure about time, but maybe having kids makes you forget time zones. Updated. Thanks.

anonymoustechguy-1 karma

Interesting product, especially in light of the recent Vegas shooting. Is the product available in more than one size (for men, women, children, etc.)?

eyeball12346 karma

Nope, just one size. We began seriously debating this a couple of weeks before launch. During the design stage, your creative juices are flowing, and it's tempting to keep on iterating as you think of more ideas. I think it's incredibly important to strike the right balance between having a quality first product and launching on time. One of my mentors in the compliance world likes to say "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good", which is as true in development as it is anywhere else.

Forgot to mention - it's fairly adjustable. We've tested the sizing on people ranging from 60-pound kids to 230-pound adults.

herewegoteam-1 karma

Really cool product!

How difficult was it balancing being a new dad and developing a product with such mortal implications? How do you feel about bringing a child into this world where such a product is real or necessary?

eyeball12346 karma

Man, friends and family were supposed to ask softballs! :P

Less difficult one first... the hardest part about balancing being a new dad and developing a product was that I couldn't spend as much time decompressing at the end of the day with my wife as I would have liked. Being home for the birth of a second kid is way different than the first time, primarily because your first kid is demanding even more attention than usual. As a result, your only "free time" is during naps, during day care (if you have access), and at night. I wish I'd been able to dedicate more of my evening time to just hanging out with my wife.

In terms of your other question, it's actually a bit easier. People bring kids into the world in situations that are much worse than ours. This might sound funny, but kids are sort of like a middle finger to all the negativity in the world... they are hope, optimism and faith that the future will be better than the present, all in one package.

In terms of how that relates to the product, an active shooter event has got to be the most terrifying thing most of us could ever experience. I hope that no-one ever has to, but I like the idea of being able to make something that gives people a confidence boost and could potentially actually save a life in the event they ever find themselves in that situation.

CaseyJones241-2 karma

How did you go about protecting your idea in terms of IP/Patent, especially when working with overseas manufacturers?

eyeball12342 karma

The first thing I did was have my team members sign NDAs until the provisional patent could be filed. I worked with a great law firm that got us filed in about two months.

In terms of overseas manufacturers, I don't think there's much you can do besides be diligent and raise hell the first time you see something similar pop up on Amazon or eBay. To a certain extent, it would mean my product was popular enough that people wanted to copy it, but I'd still do everything I could with the limited levers =on ecommerce sites to shut it down.

CaseyJones241-1 karma

Was it expensive to get the legal work done? How did you determine which part of your product was patentable?

eyeball12343 karma

The firm I used does it in two stages. The shorter stage is sort of a patentability study, where they look at the most similar product patents and tell you whether you should go ahead with an application. Since I'm a lawyer (and had a little extra time), I saved a few bucks here by researching similar products myself, then sending them over to the firm for review. Google patents is a great tool for even casual research, and was recommended by my firm.

The second stage was a bit more expensive. Again, my attorney was flexible and let me do some of the work myself, but... good lord!!! Patent language is tough!!! I felt like I was reading (and eventually kind of writing) in a different language.

All in all, my patent application came in at under $10k including fees, which I was told (by folks other than my patent lawyer - lol) is a good price. Having an engineer friend to do the line drawings helped as well.

mssea99-3 karma

How did you source and vet the people needed, apparently worldwide, when you didn't have a friend or family member who could cover it?

eyeball12341 karma

With the videographer, we mostly got lucky. Freelancer.com is a great resource for artistic production, and I really liked his portfolio. When we met over Skype (I think face-to-face meetings are key if you're going to spend significant money), it was a great conversation.

I hired the social media manager through a similar service, but was a bit more strategic. On a good site, a bid will attract 20+ offers. I PM'ed maybe 10 of them, then got into an active conversation with three. I used those conversations as a means to judge how effective they would be. One person was quick to respond, but extremely terse, whereas the woman we hired gave thoughtful, sometimes funny answers that showed she was engaged. It was an easy decision.

kingbenno-3 karma

What kind of product development issues did you experience?

eyeball12343 karma

I talk about this more in my blog but the idea was to make it so it could be used anywhere you would want to sit down. For example, we made sure it didn't have compartments that would prohibit it from stadiums per NFL policy. The focus is really on outdoor events.

Emilie0192-3 karma

I would love to know how you built your team. Did you know the skills you needed to have on board and then just match those skills with people you knew had them?

eyeball12340 karma

Hi Emilie - I talked about this a bit in one of the other responses, but yes, that was basically the approach. One of the mysteries of the world is that you will always find yourself surrounded by people who can help you to achieve your goals. I don't mean that in an exploitative way, but I truly believe if you have something you want to accomplish and you give it enough thought, you can find people with the knowledge and ability to help you get there. Of course you still have to convince them that a convertible bulletproof vest isn't the craziest thing they've ever heard, but fortunately I have very imaginative friends. ;)

Help_Me_123-3 karma

Would you be opposed going through the process of going into entrepreneurship that quickly? Did you have any major financial hurdles? Right now im unemployed and want badly to use this time for a simiar purpose, but am getting hung up on money \ steps.

eyeball12341 karma

That's one of the big selling points of crowdfunding. If you're going to sell a product, there's a small investment that's needed for prototyping, but essentially a site like IndieGoGo can act as a pre-sales platform so you don't need to dump a bunch of money into inventory. If I wasn't fortunate enough to have a good job, I might have spent some more time pursuing investors.

I'd encourage you to do some planning around cost & timing. My approach was to create a document with a question for every aspect I hoped to cover... maybe 100-150 questions total. Then I prioritized by alternating between the questions that were fun to answer (like watching testing videos of ballistic vests to learn about protection levels) and questions that were a pain in the ass (how fast does UHMWPE degrade over time when it's exposed to moisture and heat).

Overall, if I were concerned about my family's financial security, I wouldn't say I would not do it, but I would probably do it at a slower pace, and spend most of my time finding and doing a day job. It's hard... one of my personal principles is always to do my everyday job at the best of my ability, even when I'm working on other stuff. I would recommend focusing on getting by in the day-to-day before expending significant energy elsewhere.

turricalyapness-3 karma

Your product seems to be a reactive response, do you have any ideas for proactive security around high risk events like the Las Vegas Concert?

Additionally, what sparked this idea? Was it a specific event?

eyeball12342 karma

TBH, where I really want to take my company is in the direction of proactive prevention. I've got some ideas around image recognition and applying algorithms to do predictive modelling (and amazingly, an engineer friend with a PHD in optics). However, those types of products take more time and money. I'm hopeful that the Prydwen Vest will be rewarding enough to let me take on something more ambitious.

Yes, the Vegas shooting sparked the idea.

apples_5-5 karma

Here’s the straight up question for you. Where do you stand in terms of guns?

rdudejr7 karma

Here’s straight up answer for you, away from the barrel.

eyeball12345 karma

Based on what I've read, that's good advice. I respect guns but I don't own one.

SubjectPath-7 karma

Starting a company and launching a product in 2 months, that's really impressive. How did you do it? How did you find team members that shared your vision in such a short time?

eyeball12342 karma

Playing to people's strengths in a creative way is the most important thing you can do. Most people have a few things they are really good at. I was amazingly lucky to have a co-worker and brother who are entrepreneurial. The co-worker is an engineer who also happens to be a cross-border logistics expert, whereas my brother has his own company and spends a ton of time on crowd-sourcing sites. My stepmom is an actress with experience doing narration, and my step-brother is an incredibly talented composer who did our original score for the video. I guess most importantly, all of those people thought the idea of a chair that converts into a bulletproof vest wasn't exceedingly crazy :)