Obama's Bo gets new bowl rejected by Dragon's Den
Last year, Natalie Ellis from Essex went on BBC Dragon's Den in hopes of obtaining financial backing for her invention: the Road Refresher, a water bowl for dogs that doesn't make a mess, even when used by the slobberiest of dogs.
She had already sold 22,000 of them by the time she went on the show, but was rejected and told that if she tried to sell her invention in America, she'd be eaten alive.
Even without the blessing of Dragon's Den, Ellis went ahead with selling the Road Refresher to Americans, and was greeted with the kind of enthusiasm that even lab puppies chasing bacon-flavoured sticks can't match.
She's moved £1m of product in the US, and just recently, President Obama has purchased the Road Refresher for "first dog", Bo. With the American pet market worth £11b a year, she has tapped into a very lucrative market.
Before inventing the Road Refresher, Ellis suffered a stroke that left her unable to walk and with no feeling in her left side. While she nearly moved the Dragon's Den crew to tears, she didn't move them enough to open their cheque book.
For those of you that have an idea for a clever invention, Michael Gardner from Which?, an intellectual property lawyer and author of The Bright Idea Handbook, gives a few tips on striking gold with your idea. They include:
- Keep your gob shut: don't tell everyone until you've protected your intellectual property
- Protect your rights with a patent agent
- Research your market - focus on the commercial viability
Dragon's Den may have rejected her, but with Obama's approval, Ellis is going to be kept pretty busy lapping up profits.