In this episode Warren shares:
The one trait that he believes separated him from other inventors and allowed him to get Better Blocks manufactured.
That dealing with success was not always easy for an introvert like himself
After Better Blocks was dissol...
In this episode Warren shares:
The one trait that he believes separated him from other inventors and allowed him to get Better Blocks manufactured.
That dealing with success was not always easy for an introvert like himself
After Better Blocks was dissolved he began to question himself as an inventor.
That he and his Dad used to race and build their own motorbikes.
His Dad was the first person in Australia to grind camshafts for cars and that his Mom was a well-respected dress maker.
His Dad had a stroke and then his Mom died when he was 11 so he went from an idyllic childhood to one that was difficult.
That his first invention was the Shuffle Bug - a children's ride-on toy that he lost a lot of money on.
How a challenge from a colleague led to the invention of Better Blocks.
How he created the Better Blocks protoypes.
The serendipitous conversation with a friend that led to a wonderful business partner and friend.
That he designed five blocks personally and the rest came from ideas from his team.
How a refrigerator part inspired Better Blocks
[00:00:00] Greg Mills: Our guests today said that inventing has allowed them to experience successes far beyond what he ever believed possible. He invented a child's building blocks system, better blocks, which went on to achieve $45 million in sales. This was unimaginable success for a broke reclusive guy, working from a shed in his backyard.
[00:00:22] Greg Mills: Inventing also gave him the financial freedom to become a full-time dad. For the first three years after his daughter was born. The inventive process taught him about failure, how to pick himself up from the hopelessness of being bankrupt, how to recover from the heartache, or even the anger surrounding fail relationships.
[00:00:42] Greg Mills: He said most importantly, inventing it taught him the hidden value of inventions. It told them how we can make a positive contribution to this world and the people who live in our world with us, his invention better. I brought a son and his dad together to play together for the first time in four years, value priceless.
[00:01:05] Greg Mills: He thinks that everyone is an inventor in their own way. His aim is to encourage that spark of inventiveness inside you to burn a little brighter, to make your life and others around you. A little happier and more successful without further ado. Let me introduce Warren Wilson.
[00:01:24] Warren Wilson: Wow, thanks Greg for that. And for that wonderful introduction, to be honest, I haven't heard that for a while and it brought back a lot of good memories for me, because like you said, inventing has been very kind to me and, And I didn't realize that my products brought, brought a lot of happiness and joy into other people's lives.
[00:01:43] Warren Wilson: And I didn't kind of know that side of ed inventing. So say listening to your introduction, you're very kind wonderful introduction. It was cry. Thank you.
[00:01:52] Greg Mills: Well, thank you for being here now, Warren, can you take a few moments and fill in the gaps from that intro and bring us up to speed with what's going on in your world today.
[00:02:02] Warren Wilson: Well, yeah, there's a lot of changes went from, from better blocks. Better blocks, you know, as you pointed out, it was a very successful product for me to be honest, it was successful. Not because I was, I was it was brilliant. I was an inventor that came up with a reasonably good idea or I thought, and I'm on my journey.
[00:02:21] Warren Wilson: I saw many far better ideas and better blocks, never make it onto the market. And that was mainly because the inventors gave up. But, but what I was is I was persistent. I had what I thought was a pretty, pretty good idea. And I was persistent. I kept it. I kept going. Um, or as my wife would say, Warren, you're headed.
[00:02:40] Warren Wilson: Um, I prefer the word persistent, but it was successful because I had a great team of people around me. Like I had guys like Colin tiny, who was just a wonderful marketing person and John Mueller who was great in advertising, David Williams, who had, uh, who had a phenomenally good manufacturing plant. So I had a great team of people around me to get that off the ground.
[00:03:06] Warren Wilson: But what it did for me was, as an introverted guy, kind of living out of his back shed almost. Um, and I had the personality of, if you remember those old phones where you pick the phone up and it went, beep beep beep like I had the personality of a dial time. Right? So, so for a guy like that to, to all of a sudden become part of a pretty successful international business in 12 months, I was way out of my depth.
[00:03:33] Warren Wilson: I was, I was dealing with people. I had no experience in dealing with us making decisions. I had no idea how to make these decisions in the nineties. I didn't have a, a team of people who supported me so to speak, you know, so I was, why am I dead? Right. And interestingly enough, on lost my confidence. In being an inventor. So in my ability to get things done, it was just, I was just too overwhelmed by what was going on. So what I did was I invested in who I thought was a friend of mine's company here in Australia. And I, I put me and my wife, we put way too much money in it, to be honest. And the company went broke.
[00:04:16] Warren Wilson: She, the guy that owned the company ran, he just, he ran off with all the money, right. And left, left some of us investors holding your bag, so the end result of that was that we went bankrupt. Me and my wife has spent the past 10 years kind of thinking ourselves out about whole, but in the meantime, um, after better blocks, I, one thing about the success of better blocks was that gave me the opportunity to.
[00:04:41] Warren Wilson: To speak into schools, speaking of kids, because, you know, Warren Wilson was, was portrayed as a successful inventor. So say schools asked me to speak to their kids and I loved it. And what I soon realized was that schools had, very few, um, resources to teach kids about entrepreneurship, about inventing and about how money works, the kind of resources that I would have loved when I was a kid.
[00:05:07] Warren Wilson: So I started to develop programs in that to help kids out. I've never lost my passion for, for teaching kids. Teaching kids, the things that I wish that I knew when I was a kid, cause it would have made my life a bit easier.
[00:05:23] Warren Wilson: So that's really what I've spent the past 20 years on this developing, um, programs for kids. And it's really exciting cause I've kind of done a lot of my apprenticeships, so to speak. And now we're just looking at how we can get them into the marketplace, um, to help kids out. So it's gone from developing projects, developing products to helping develop kids, you know?
[00:05:46] Warren Wilson: So it's been a journey for me, Greg. It's been a journey.
[00:05:50] Greg Mills: Well, that's pretty cool. Now backing up just a little bit. Did you call them from an entrepreneurial or inventors background at all? Did anybody in your family growing up in Vinny thing or have their own business?
[00:06:03] Warren Wilson: I see that actually, that's a great question. I was fortunate enough to have a dad who was, who had his own engineering business?
[00:06:10] Warren Wilson: So he used to race motorbikes used to build his own bikes, and he was very well-respected here in Australia for, for what he did. He used to have a camshaft grow new business.
[00:06:20] Warren Wilson: So he used to grind camshafts and make rice cam shafts for motorbikes and for cars. He was the first person in Australia to do that. So I had that natural flair. He developed his own fuel injection system as well. So I had that natural engineering fleet. And my mum was a dressmaker. And again, she was quite well-respected in Australia.
[00:06:40] Warren Wilson: She made dresses in that for some very high profile people here in Australia at the time. So I had that, I had that inventive flare, but what happened was my mom and dad will so sole business people. So they worked very hard. I had four kids, I worked very hard, so I kind of, I, you know, there were some things that I definitely great things I learned from them about persistence and about other people and, and being creative.
[00:07:07] Warren Wilson: When it came to setting up like a business, uh, I didn't, you know, I didn't necessarily the way they did it wasn't necessarily the easier, the easier way to be honest. So it was, it was, I mean, you know, senior, since she retired or plus I, you know, my dad had a stroke when I was.
[00:07:25] Warren Wilson: Nine. And, um, he lucky eventually his business closed down and he was incapacitated. And then my mum passed away when I was 11. So, so I had this really great childhood and then it was like, it all imploded around my years. Uh, society provided a teenage, you know, teenage life. So we kind of, my dad was trying to look after me cause I was only a young kid and I was trying to look after my dad's. It turned into a bit of a, a bit of a fiasco really. The thing that I really regret is I could've done a better job of looking after my dad have been more respectful for my dad, but you know, when I was just becoming a teenager, I wasn't capable of doing that.
[00:08:17] Warren Wilson: So, so I grew up in my teenage years to be really introverted, like no confidence. Uh, and I was, to be honest, I was bitter and I was angry and I was like, And it wasn't until my late twenties that I realized that, well, Warren being a bitter arrogant guy, it's really not going to get anywhere. So I started to do a lot of work on myself just to change, just trying to become a better human being.
[00:08:45] Warren Wilson: And then that's really what I spent a lot of work on. It was an interesting different childhood, uh, you know, taught me a lot, but also it was, it was a tough thing for me to go through at the time, you know, plenty of kids, I know I've had worse childhoods than me then, but that was the way it was my unit
[00:09:04] Greg Mills: So you're out of school and you're working. What are you doing at that point before you invent better blocks, I
[00:09:11] Warren Wilson: What am I doing? I love motorbikes and I love motorboat racing. So in my late teens and early twenties, I was involved in motorbike racing. We had some of the quickest bikes, superbikes and Speedway bikes here, here in Australia and drag racing, you know, w we, we had some really. Bikes and some really fast bikes. Um, and AI used to ride them occasionally, but I was never much of a rider as far bit of building engines. That was my creative outlet, I guess.
[00:09:45] Warren Wilson: I had a little engineering shop so that I could build bikes for other people and build engines for other people.
[00:09:51] Warren Wilson: That was my creative outlet. I met some really wonderful people in, in motor racing in Australia. That was what I did up until probably my early twenties or before I invented better blocks is what I did.
[00:10:04] Greg Mills: How did the idea for better blocks come about?
[00:10:08] Warren Wilson: I developed a toy before that called the shuffle. It was a phenomenal, it was a toy that kids loved. Right. But at the end of the day, it cost me a hundred thousand dollars at toy because I knew nothing about business and I made some horrendous mistakes. What it did for me was I was over in Nuremberg, in Germany, the new and big toilet.
[00:10:30] Warren Wilson: What happened was, uh, this was near the end of the shift or trying to get the shuffle back off the ground. And, and of course, remember there was a, there was a guy called retarder is who was, who was a friend who was a friend of mine and Belgium guy. And he, and were sitting next to the Lego stand. And yeah, that in the nineties there was Lego and there was Lego and there was Lego because you couldn't call it yet.
[00:10:52] Warren Wilson: So, and he said, Warren, you're an inventor. He said, we really need something to compete with Lego. Who said, you're an inventor, you know what, or you come up with something and, and I kind of dismissed. And I go, I can remember I came back to Adelaide and it was still in the back of my mind.
[00:11:08] Warren Wilson: I had the worries of the shuffle bug business, not work and all this stuff, but I was driving down one of the main streets of Adelaide, past Adelaide over their main sporting arena. And I remember that the idea popped into my head, ah, why not build a building block that move. And that was how the idea for better blocks came about it.
[00:11:30] Warren Wilson: It all started from someone telling me their problem. Their problem was we need something to compete with Lego, and then it's like, it was in the back of my mind. And I just was modeling. I was subconsciously mulling over at Greg. I didn't set out to invent it. I was just subconsciously mulling over it, you know?
[00:11:47] Greg Mills: yeah, amazing what that subconscious can do. When it's unleashed.
[00:11:51] Warren Wilson: Absolutely. Right. Absolutely.
[00:11:55] Greg Mills: What was the shuffle blog?
[00:11:57] Warren Wilson: Ah, the shuffle bag was a kid ride on toy. It's a little bit hard to explain, but it's a triangular seat with a set of handlebars. It used to twist and it would kind of self it worked on the action of like a fish would self-propel along a fairly flat surface and kids did, you know, they, we took it to schools and tested it and kids and kids loved it.
[00:12:19] Warren Wilson: They really loved the toy. But I had no idea about marketing. I thought I did. I had no idea about failing. I just didn't have it. And then some of the people I brought in it wasn't, you know, they weren't quite the right people and it was just, it just didn't work. From a business, a financial point of view, it was a great product that didn't work.
[00:12:41] Warren Wilson: And in the end though, I was a hundred thousand dollars in debt and had to call it quits. So I started off better blocks. I was, I was a hundred thousand dollars behind, so I had a fair incentive to make better blocks work that
[00:12:54] Greg Mills: How did you validate the idea to make sure there wasn't anything out there? And then make sure that it was viable? Did you do any testing
[00:13:02] Warren Wilson: I guess I subconsciously validated the ID cause, cause I, you know, cause I, those days. Pre-internet days. And, you know, I just walked, you know, I'd be in toys shops and I'd see what was on the shelves. And there was nothing on the shelves that compete that would compete with Lego, particularly a block that would move, you know, there are other types of wooden construction, other styles of construction kits, but there was nothing like, like better blocks and having my little engineering business, I thought, all right, I need to, you know, maybe I need to make some of these blocks.
[00:13:32] Warren Wilson: So what I did was, was I made a really simple injection molding tool to mold plastic. I made up some really simple tools because there was five parts in the original and the original kit. So I made up some simple tools that I can mold the blocks so I could mold the blocks. And then, you know, I, I needed to perfect the clipping system because I clipped together like a better block skips together, like a press that on a period.
[00:13:57] Warren Wilson: Because it took me quite a, it took me a few months to work at how to clip them together. And in the end, the, the art, it was right under my nose. When I was clipping my genius together one day, that's how I complete my blocks together. So I kind of, I made some samples and I made about 5,000 blogs and it would take me around about a minute to make every block.
[00:14:18] Warren Wilson: And because it was, you know, it was a, it was a machine I'd made myself probably about every second vote was a reject. So you can work out how many minutes or.
[00:14:27] Warren Wilson: how many days it took me to fight 5,000 blocks. But once I had some blocks, then I could show kids and then I could show potential investors and then I could show potential matter and I could actually show people what I had and asked him if I wanted to be involved.
[00:14:46] Warren Wilson: So that was how I.
[00:14:48] Greg Mills: At that point, did you, bother with getting a patent or anything?
[00:14:53] Warren Wilson: I didn't initially, I didn't know something. I was only showing people in Australia and, and initially I didn't, but before I went. When I seriously started approaching venture capital capitalists and I was serious about it. I was fortunate enough to, to know one of the main Peyton attorneys here in Australia, a guy called Ken Madden, and who's since passed on many years ago that Ken gave me some priceless advice for, for, um, for the not, not often Peyton attorneys would give you this.
[00:15:29] Warren Wilson: He said, you know, you can apply for a full pate and all the rest of it. You know, it's probably going to wind up costing you a hundred thousand dollars and money I didn't have. Um, and you don't know if you're going to sell a product or I said, wait, you can do, as you can, you can apply for a professional paper or have a PPA provisional payment application.
[00:15:48] Warren Wilson: And it was, you know, then it only cost me, I think maybe 50 or a hundred dollars. It wasn't a great deal of money, but he said, what it does is it gives you, um, protection. When you go and show people. Because you can prove that, well, this is my idea. And I was, you know, I've got it before, you know, I've got it.
[00:16:06] Warren Wilson: So people tried to copy you, you have some protection on it and it's a reasonably inexpensive way to do it. So that's what can advise me to do. And that's what I did. I applied for PPI a provisional patent application site. So I did that and I was, you know, most patent attorneys like to lead you down the track of innate, or I'm not sure, sure about these days, but they like to lead you down the track of, of applying for full Payton's.
[00:16:31] Warren Wilson: Whereas Ken said, well, you know, I really think this is a, it's a really cost effective way to go. So then that was, that was how I did it.
[00:16:40] Greg Mills: I'm going to ask a stupid question, but were you applying to the Australian government for patenting, or were you applying to the U S assuming it would be sold there? Or how did that work?
[00:16:52] Warren Wilson: Actually, that's a great question, Greg. Um, I applied through the Australian, like in the U S you've got the U S PTO, the us patent and trademark association. You have the equivalent association government organization here in Australia. And what you'll find is most of the Western civilized countries have a treaty. So if I apply for a PPA or a Peyton in this apply for PPA in Australia, it gives me, it automatically gives me protection in all those other countries. Now, when, when I go ahead and file a patent, I do need to file patents in those other countries, but they kind of recognize it.
[00:17:35] Warren Wilson: It's like an association they've got and that's how.
[00:17:39] Greg Mills: So you got your patent now, what do you do next?
[00:17:42] Warren Wilson: Ah, got my, I got my blocks. I got my Peyton, what do I do next? That's a very good question because the easy part is coming up with the idea I found. Well, see, I say, I, like I say to people, I, you know, I said a mentor. I always, I had some reasonably good ideas, but that was all I was, I wasn't a marketer, you know, that was a a hundred thousand dollars in debt.
[00:18:05] Warren Wilson: I didn't have a lot of it was going for me. So what I did is I tried to find people who would like venture capital people. Who'd be interested in backing me, manufacturing, people, marketing people, anyone that I thought would be interested in better blocks and. I went all over. You know, I shopped around Australia probably for two to three years looking for people.
[00:18:26] Warren Wilson: And no one was interested in being involved in the business side of it, to be honest, no one ever criticized my product. They loved the blocks, but they business night that I didn't want to be involved. And here's how, here's how life works, Greg. This is why I decided when you got to speak to people about what you're doing.
[00:18:47] Warren Wilson: Cause you never know where the opportunities come up. I was talking to my sister's boyfriend, John Wilkey and I remember this still a day I pass on and John said, you know, Warren and remedy Johnson, he's a carpenter. He's a cabinet maker, knows nothing about the toy industry. Not much about sales, nothing to do.
[00:19:08] Warren Wilson: And he said why? And he said, why don't you ring up a mate of mine, Kelvin Claney you know, he he's actually in New Zealand, he's moved over to America. And he's doing pretty well at, of, at a direct response TV advertising in America. He just may be interested. All right. So that was this offhand comment in a conversation.
[00:19:30] Warren Wilson: So John gave me kilo and his phone number. I rang kill, went up and the end result of that offhand comment was a product that went on to sell for $45 million in sales. And we sold 2 million, right. We sold 6 billion blocks to 2 million kids. And this is how life works. Like, like you can't write that sort of stuff in a business plan, or you just can't, you just can't write that stuff or predict it.
[00:20:01] Warren Wilson: My best character traits where it really obvious at the time. Um, but if someone had said to me, when I was developing better blocks, Warren, you know, look, don't worry, mate, because you're going to sell $45 million worth of this stuff and you're going to sell 6 billion blocks.
[00:20:16] Warren Wilson: I just keep going. I would have said that way. Absolutely inside. There was no way I could have, I could have brought that into my reality at the time and yet that's what happened. One of my sayings is that obviously the universe has had far greater plans for me than my, um, excuse where then my piddly little crane.
[00:20:41] Greg Mills: So how did it get manufactured?
[00:20:44] Warren Wilson: Well, I was really fortunate with Kelvin because, um, actually she just sent me a couple of little interesting things that your listeners may be interested in. Like, like when I went over to see better blocks or to show Kelvin better blocks, he was kind of half interested in, you know, he was interested, but not he wasn't across the line.
[00:21:04] Warren Wilson: If you know what I mean. And Kevin was telling me the story afterwards was that here's what Kelvin made. This is why Kelvin decided yet I'm in better blocks. Was his wife Robin said to Kelvin, she said, Kelvin, you've got to be in this because. A lot of these blocks and kids will love them. You gotta be in it.
[00:21:26] Warren Wilson: So that was actually Kelvin's wife that I'm truly thankful for, because she was the one that, that kind of tip Kelvin over the line to say yes, not to saying you might not ever say yes. I don't know. So again, it's one of those serendipitous opportunities that, um, that, that kind of, you know, you, you kind of never know how that works, so I've just, you know, just thought that was another little interesting thing, but yeah, about manufacturing, um, Kelvin is what Kelvin said to me just before answering the manufacturing, Kelvin said to me, he said, look, Ron, what I'll do is I'll test.
[00:22:06] Warren Wilson: I'll put in $30,000. And for that, I'll make it, I'll make a direct response TV, commercial. We'll put it up on air we'll test. And we'll see how it works. If it works and makes money, we'll, you know, we'll do a deal. And if it doesn't work, we'll shake hands and walk away. And, and that agreement was all done.
[00:22:29] Warren Wilson: We came to that agreement. I was having breakfast in Florida with, with Kelvin and, and I remember I was eating grits for breakfast and I'll never eat grits again but I always remember that, but we right down at DLR.
[00:22:44] Warren Wilson: And we agreed to a roti percentage. We agreed to an upfront fee. And I think there might've been one other thing we put on the napkin and that was it. We shook hands and walked away. So that, that was so easy that the, that they do work. Kelvin had the financial resources to try it out.
[00:23:00] Warren Wilson: But fortunately he was dealing with, he dealt with some manufacturers in New Zealand before. So Kelvin, um, Kelvin said, look, give David a ring because I think David Williams would be really, you know, he'd be interested in this. So I gave David a ring and he was keenly interested. And I remember this, this is the sort of people that you want to do with when I was, you know, when I was trying to get people interested in better blocks in Australia, like they weren't that interest.
[00:23:29] Warren Wilson: When I, I rang up David, right? And then I said, look, you know, I've been speaking to Kelvin, Kelvin's interested in selling the blocks. You know, I need a bit of advice on the blocks is to define or design on that. Because from my prototypes to it to a proper production block is a, is a step, right?
[00:23:47] Warren Wilson: It's a step to take, to go from a prototype to a production blog. So I said to David, I said, look, I sent you across some sketches. And if you can just give us a bit of advice, it would be really appreciative. And within a week, David had fed me back some full plowing engineering drawings of my blog that would have cost him about a thousand bucks.
[00:24:14] Warren Wilson: And he, he sent, he sent them across by express delivery. They arrived on my doorstep a week later and he said, Warren, is this. And, and I thought, wow, like anyone who's this enthusiastic and is willing to do this for better blogs, they're my manufacturer. So that's how we, that's how we set up the manufacturing.
[00:24:39] Warren Wilson: That's how the manufacturing came about. And David was the best. He w he was a God sin to better blocks. And because it's, like I say, we had about 84 blocks in the range by the time we'd finished. I kind of thought of the first five. So that leaves 79 blocks. That weren't my idea might, , there were other people's idea.
[00:25:03] Warren Wilson: And part of it was David. David would look like we had our most popular blocks were actually the ones that would allow into. And they would magically change Kelly, a definitely more mortar and they'd change color. Right. And I can remember that they would, would ring me up every now and again and say why we got this new plastic that glows in the dark, you've got to make your blocks out of this.
[00:25:25] Warren Wilson: Right. So a whole new range would be, would come out simply because David said, you know, we've got this new material and yeah. And he'd ring me up sometimes and he'd say, look, warrant, we got this new plastic that you, that you dip it in warm water. And that changes color. You'd got to make your blocks out of it.
[00:25:42] Warren Wilson: So that was another whole new range. So that's the advantage of having a great people on your team? Is it often they'll come up with the great ideas and yeah. And they come in I'll unashamedly say, the best ideas with better blocks were not mine. I came up with the block and had a clip it together, but the really cool.
[00:26:03] Warren Wilson: Wasn't my idea. That's the advantage of having, having good people on your team has L expand your range and come up with stuff that I could, that I would have never thought of. So, yeah, that's kind of an insight into that, into the manufacturing side of it.
[00:26:18] Greg Mills: How did you get other members on your team? Obviously I guess Kelvin would have handled some of the marketing. Maybe not all of it.
[00:26:27] Warren Wilson: I kind of never been a real corporate person. I tend to find individuals who are very good at what they do. So I had Kelvin on my team, he had the marketing handle and they had enough money to, to do what we needed to do. Right. So he had the financial side of it handled at time handled.
[00:26:45] Warren Wilson: And then we had David Williams who had the manufacturing side of it, and we needed somewhere to produce the commission. So Kelwin again, Newson people who actually he worked with and he took charge of this side. , there was two people, John Miller and Derek's horse. They were the people who actually produced the commercials and how it would work is that when they produced, uh, they wanted to produce even the original commercial.
[00:27:13] Warren Wilson: Well, I flew over to America and I would make the models. Kelvin would handle the south side. He'd be like the director. And then you'd have John and Derek would write the commercials and we'd produce, you know, between us, we would produce the commercials and once Kelvin had a commercial, then he would go out and via time.
[00:27:31] Warren Wilson: And with a kids product, it was like genuinely, it was on Nickelodeon. And I always remember also, when Kevin made the decision to be involved in better blocks, all the so-called experts at the time were saying, Kelvin, you like, you'll never sell a kid's toy by direct response on TV. And because no one had ever done it before and people didn't believe you could do it.
[00:27:53] Warren Wilson: And they said, kids don't have credit cards. How in the hell are they gonna buy it? But what they forgot, what's the kids pestering, their parents come and watch this man come and watch this dad feed his convention. We need some of those. And we went on to be the longest running, um, the longest running direct selling product in America.
[00:28:10] Warren Wilson: We lasted for about nine years. That was unheard of in that industry. So, yeah, so we brought in, um, you know, John Miller and Derek, Derek sports became involved. And when it came to handling of all the, the distribution, because we, people would buy it off the TV, Kerwin would buy the product out of New Zealand, ship it into to the, like the east coast or west coast sports, like Los Angeles or New York, the east coast, west coast ports.
[00:28:39] Warren Wilson: He would have warehousing there because people would ring up. And buy it through the, through the telemarketing service, it would all be distributed from the warehouses where it landed. So we didn't, we had a, we had a large business, so to speak that, that we didn't necessarily own. If you understand what I'm saying.
[00:29:00] Warren Wilson: Well, plus we did pretty well on QVC as well. So QVC would purchase and stock the product and they would distribute it through their channels as well.
[00:29:09] Greg Mills: What surprised you about the inventing process and bringing a product to market?
[00:29:16] Warren Wilson: Now thinking about it, what truly surprised me and I didn't realize it until you asked that question. Thank you for that was the, was the willingness. Of people to help me out to support me and to be involved. It was truly, um, to be in there.
[00:29:38] Warren Wilson: I think about it was, it was truly a humbling experience to think that that people thought enough of me thought enough of my product, that they wanted to be involved in it, that they wanted to put money into it and that they wanted to make it successful. And that was, um, uh, like I never realized that about, about, about people and about humanity.
[00:30:03] Warren Wilson: I was an introverted guy who shut myself off from people. So the catch is when you shut yourself off to people from people, you don't get to see, like, you don't get to see how good people really can be because I shut myself off from it. It's like when I win bankrupt, um, one of the things that, that I really needed to learn was about humility because I had this kind of self-righteous arrogance about me, and I'm not saying that I still would, that I still done it.
[00:30:37] Warren Wilson: After being bankrupt, I learn about humility and about being humble and about that, I'm not better than anyone else. I may do. Some things, you know, may have certain skills that are pretty good and better than some people, but as a human being, I'm not better. You know, we were kind of all much the same.
[00:30:55] Warren Wilson: We just out there giving their life a bit sharp. So yeah, it was humility. And, you know, in part, part of when I went bankrupt and I had some friends, some really good friends who were involved were involved in that business too. And they went, we were involved in it because I was involved in it.
[00:31:10] Warren Wilson: Right. So they had confidence in. And telling your friends that, that lost their money was not an easy gig. Like I, you know, w when I, when I knew what was going on, I thought, well, I've got a face or with all my friends, right. I've got a face and face to face and challenge because I just couldn't back out of that.
[00:31:30] Warren Wilson: And again, it truly amazed me how some of these people are still my friends today. Cause I thought, are they going to hate me and over and apply me and all the rest of it, but they didn't. A lot of them respected the fact that I just went and told them face to face what was going on and, apologize for my part of the deal or bringing him into it, you know?
[00:31:51] Warren Wilson: It's interesting that the things that we learn and the things that surprises about people, you know, I, I think that if we, if we give people the opportunity to shine, often they shine. Why. Then I could possibly imagine them to shine, you know, and then it's been the case and, and Kelvin became a great friend of mine.
[00:32:11] Warren Wilson: He was like, I did a licensing deal that I've never heard of anyone else. It's like Kelvin Kelvin would pay me my role. When he paid David for the goods in New Zealand, he included my royalty in that payment. So I would be paid my royalty before Kelvin even had the goods, let alone sold them and let alone collected any money.
[00:32:37] Warren Wilson: Most people are, you know, when the person sells the goods, you've got to wait 30, 60, 90, a hundred and whatever it is, right. I was paid before Kelvin was. And then, you know, and I would go over to, to America when, uh, with, you know, cause Kelvin said, all right, look, I'll pay for all your, expenses and fees to go to America when we produce commercials.
[00:32:59] Warren Wilson: Because I had a young daughter at the time and my partner, I would pay for their air trip over there and Kelvin would pick up all our expenses at his cost. Now, the deal we had with Coban was to pick up my expenses. I want to bring my wife and my kids that's on me and I pay for the lot. Right.
[00:33:18] Warren Wilson: That's the way you could read the code. That's the way the contract was set up. But Kevin never did that. Like when we went to America, he would pick up all our expenses and we'd be treated low. One of the family. So like Kilman was a phenomenally good guy to me. He was just one of those good humans.
[00:33:34] Warren Wilson: I dunno if I had done a deal with Hasbro or someone, if I would have been so generous, I got, I got no idea, but I've never heard of invent, you know, I've never heard of inventive license out their products being treated like that, you know, getting more than they back at four.
[00:33:52] Warren Wilson: And I can even remember one that's right. David Williams. Cause I used to get on pretty well with David. David rang me up and he said, look, and he said, um, look, Kelvin, hasn't paid us for the, for the goods yet. But he said, I've got some money here and I'll send you across. I'll send you across your royalty.
[00:34:07] Warren Wilson: Now. Like David wants paid me before he was paid and it's like, it's
[00:34:16] Greg Mills: doing great there.
[00:34:17] Warren Wilson: Oh, I was, to think that I was involved with people like that is, is, like I said, it was, it was truly a humbling experience to think that people would do that for me. I got some wonderful stories about wonderful memories about the, about the people, you know, to me, it was never really about the money.
[00:34:38] Warren Wilson: And then it was about the people I met. Like you said, at the start being, you know, being told that story, about bringing dad in your son together for the first time in four years, like even Now,
[00:34:49] Warren Wilson: it makes me feel emotional. That was a true highlight. A bit of blocks on me.
[00:34:53] Warren Wilson: When I heard that story, it was a with,
[00:34:57] Greg Mills: can you tell that story for us?
[00:35:00] Warren Wilson: well, I wasn't there, right? It was, I was here in Australia, but Kelvin used to run a competition. Pretty much every year in Florida for a few years. And it was a competition and he had high one of the community holes. He'd promoted that, you know, kids build your models and bring them in. He had different sections for different types of models.
[00:35:19] Warren Wilson: We'd judge all the models in the best sections. The winners of each section when prices were better blocks and various kits and different stuff. And it was quite a popular competition. And, and Kelvin rang me up after this and he told me the story and he said, no, he said why?
[00:35:35] Warren Wilson: And he said, no. He said, I had this dad come up to me. And he thanked me really genuinely thanked me for bringing it up better blog. And Kelvin. So it wasn't just, you know, I just wasn't the normal thanks mate. And he said, he said, you know, there's a little bit more, you know, tell me about it. There's a little, it seems to be a little bit more than that.
[00:35:55] Warren Wilson: And that's when this dad said to him, look, it's the first time I've sat down with my son and played with him. And I sat down for half a day to build these models and it kind of brought tears to my heart and it almost starts to like it almost as male, but it's those kind of things that you can't predict, you can't write into business plans, you just get out there and do what you do and it's, uh, but yeah. that, that story, that incident, that's the most memorable thing that I've ever gone.
[00:36:29] Warren Wilson: And a bit of a loss in fact, wow. You know, made a difference to do this for this family flies. And to me, it doesn't get better than that.
[00:36:38] Greg Mills: I can just imagine at the end of your life, when you on and you meet your maker, him bringing that up and saying, well done, Warren.
[00:36:51] Warren Wilson: Actually I liked the way you say that Greg, I can only, I can ID, to be honest. I can only hope
[00:36:58] Greg Mills: No, I'm dead serious when I say that.
[00:37:00] Warren Wilson: Yeah. I can tell. And I've never looked at it like that. And I know I can only hope, but you know, like I said, I would've been a perfect human being and I was, you know, I've done some things that I'm definitely not proud of, but these days I try and do more things like that because yeah, it was, it was a gift for me.
[00:37:19] Warren Wilson: It was pretty, it was priceless neck
[00:37:23] Warren Wilson: me on in during the hard times.
[00:37:25] Greg Mills: Went direct to market for nine years. Why did it end after that?
[00:37:32] Warren Wilson: The simple answer was that it's, like I said, right. I was in Adventist, so I didn't know a lot about business. You know, this one was a hundred thousand dollars in debt because I didn't know a lot about business. Right. And I came across Kilburn and what I fought was was that Kelvin, because he was so good at selling stuff, he would be able to build this into a business. And I thought it was the same thing, but what I learned was, was looking back at it was that Carolyn was extremely good at selling stuff, direct marketing that's that's what he did, but just because he was good at selling product on TV and selling better blocks on TV didn't mean he knew how to turn that into a business.
[00:38:19] Warren Wilson: When you have a look at direct marketing people, often direct marketing people have a greater selling products. And then, two or three years, a lot, the lifespan of direct selling that product as is terminal. I finished as, so they're looking for new products to sell. Sometimes they can get them like they're really good organizations now.
[00:38:41] Warren Wilson: Use that as a base to get it into your, you know, into Walmart's and the bigger stores and open up other opportunities there, the people , that can turn it into a business or Kelvin wasn't one of those people, we had it in toys R us at the time and some of the big retailers, but there's a difference between selling a product on TV yourself, where you control the whole process or supporting a retailer to sell your product for you, where you only control part of the process.
[00:39:13] Warren Wilson: And that's what we didn't get. Right. I'm not saying any slide on Kelvin. I'm just saying that that was what he was good at. And because he was good at selling, I assumed he was good at other things. 'cause I thought there one on the side, but an actual fact, there, there, they completely different skills so that you, that was why better blogs, renters course after nine or 10 years.
[00:39:39] Warren Wilson: It was a journey it's like, I regret it for one bit because I can remember when I first went across, you know, Kelvin, we were selling well on direct response, Kelvin got better blocks into QVC, right? So they said, you know, Kelvin said, why don't you have the inventor on for your fear segment?
[00:39:58] Warren Wilson: You know, do a bit of nobody said it was, there was good out Warren Wilson, this, this little guy from Adelaide Australia. And there was Dan Hughes who was one of the presenters at QVC. Dan was a great guy and I can remember, so I went onto this, fear segment, we were selling blocks and this is a guy that, he just kind of graduated from his backyard.
[00:40:18] Warren Wilson: And we sold like a hundred thousand dollars worth of blocks in 12 minutes
[00:40:25] Warren Wilson: I just went, wow. I didn't even know it existed, Greg. And that's things that you can do like that you can find out. Ya know, there was a whole world out there that I never knew existed, but I'm so grateful that I got in the game.
[00:40:44] Warren Wilson: So certainly, we could have done some things differently and certainly could have done something differently. But there were opportunities that I was introduced to and that I can use now that I never, ever knew existed, you know? So, so it was kind of gold for me. Yeah.
[00:41:02] Warren Wilson: That was why better blocks , didn't sell anymore. After about 10 years,
[00:41:05] Greg Mills: let's talk about what are some of the opportunities that you got exposed to and that, you're doing now.
[00:41:13] Warren Wilson: Some of the opportunities I got exposed to was really, and you touched on it earlier was really, I seem to have the ability to get people involved in my projects. That was something that I never realized that I could do. And Kelvin was, was one of the first people to introduce me to that and a slight with my kids, entrepreneurial programs and inventing and goal-setting programs, you know, I've to, I've got some magnificent people involved in these projects and I seem to have the ability to do that.
[00:41:48] Warren Wilson: So that, that was a strength of mine That I can use to get my new projects off the ground. And it's not about really me getting my new projects off the ground. It's the, that effect that I reckon I can make a difference to more kids' lives and more teachers, you know, make teacher's lives easier and more parents' lives.
[00:42:06] Warren Wilson: And to me, if I've got the better the team around me and the better that I can kind of direct things, the more effective we're going to be out there with people. So it was really, um, it was, it was, it was the people skills that, that I didn't know that I had, that I've kind of developed that that's the real goal.
[00:42:29] Warren Wilson: For me and I'm over 60. So it's taken me. There's been a bit of a deer taken me a little while I can be a quick learner at times, and sometimes it's time to land stuff, but yeah, that's the one. Yeah, that's the light life. That adventure that's the way it is. But it's like, like the overnight success that takes 20 years to get there.
[00:42:53] Warren Wilson: The same sometimes with that
[00:42:56] Greg Mills: Let's talk about your kids entrepreneurial program that you're developing as well as the inventing program.
[00:43:03] Warren Wilson: I was saying before that I was fortunate enough because I was a successful inventor to get invited into schools, to speak to kids about it. And what I quickly came to realize was that teachers had very few resources to teach their students about inventing about entrepreneurship, about how money worked.
[00:43:28] Warren Wilson: Kids are naturally curious and then naturally creative and naturally entrepreneurial. And what I, what I realized was with the school system was that kids are born like curious and entrepreneurial, and they have great empathy for their friends and they born with these wonderful characteristics. And for some reason, the education system kind of educates that outta them and we get an educated out of it. Remember the education system was originally designed in the 19 hundreds to teach people for jobs, that to teach people, Dylan, how to do jobs, people like Henry Ford and, and the Rockefeller set up the education system to correct people for their factories.
[00:44:11] Warren Wilson: There's no problem with that. The problem is it's still much the same. I wanted to do something about it, , and my whole approach was not to try and turn kids into entrepreneurs or inventors, but, but try and foster kids to keep hold of their dreams and their curiosity and their natural love of learning to keep that.
[00:44:36] Warren Wilson: And to build on it. So that's why I developed some kids educational or an entrepreneurial program where we had, where we found these entrepreneurial kids and we build a program around it. Cause it was one thing , for Warren, to get up when he's 50 years old to share my experiences, but it's a whole nother thing for some kids to get up to a, maybe three or four or five years older than, than the, than the kids you're trying to change and to share their experiences that have ly was successful.
[00:45:06] Warren Wilson: Like kids take our whole lot more attention to that, to kids who've done what they want to do. So we found these, some of these kids and books, them build a program around it, teaching kids about entrepreneurship and that we did some testing of it and it's, it's really worked very well.
[00:45:22] Warren Wilson: Now it's a matter of, of how are we going to get it out into the marketplace? And again, some interesting opportunities have come. I read on that.
[00:45:32] Greg Mills: What are some of the opportunities? If you can talk about them,
[00:45:35] Warren Wilson: There's some people that I was speaking to. I, over the past few days, there called the global innovation field trip or gift
[00:45:44] Warren Wilson: The people behind this.
[00:45:46] Warren Wilson: uh, absolutely astounding, what they do is I run four times a year.
[00:45:54] Warren Wilson: Now they run these, I guess not necessarily workshops, but they invite people from all around the world, inventors and other kids in there to share about what they're doing. And to share about their ideas to share about the people who are involved in them. And there's been some really astounding relationships in that, that have come out of that.
[00:46:14] Warren Wilson: Now, interestingly enough, one of their strong points is the videos that the kids send in about what they're doing, or that's the basis of what I do. We videoed kids, entrepreneurs, you know, young entrepreneurs telling their story. And then we pulled the video apart and build a program around it, which was actually quite easy to do.
[00:46:36] Warren Wilson: And these people are kind of halfway there. So we're looking at how can we work together to, to make what they do more lbs. More powerful as a learning tool, more powerful, so that parents or teachers or parents, or teachers or grandparents who want to teach their kids about entrepreneurship, to make a program that they can go to, that's really easy for them to use.
[00:47:02] Warren Wilson: , I got some great partners involved in this project. Like one of them as a woman called Judas, the praying who set up, a, uh, kids mentoring program for an organization that she was involved with. It was about kids would go into this program . It was a program for, for underprivileged kids really.
[00:47:20] Warren Wilson: Kids would go through this program and some would come out the other side and they'd be like, you know, they're there, you can see that they were good leaders. So she set up a mentoring program. So the kids that, that came out of this program, who still wanted to be involved, could come back into the program as men.
[00:47:37] Warren Wilson: For younger kids and, you know, there's nothing more powerful than something like that. So that's the sort of thing we can bring into our entrepreneurial type programs as well. The kids that have really excelled at it, like can come back into what we do and they can work with, they can work with other young kids and the fact that you become teachers.
[00:47:56] Warren Wilson: There's plenty of opportunities out there. It's a matter of bringing on bringing them all together. And I don't know, I don't know how it's going to all come together, gray because sometimes I delude myself. Right. I think, I know how it's going to work out. Invariably. It never does it.
[00:48:12] Warren Wilson: It's like John Wilkey. I could have never predicted John Wilkey right in my life like that.
[00:48:18] Warren Wilson: One thing I do know is when I get clear on it, the universe tends to support me in totally unexpected ways. So we'll see how that works out. I have a good sense about, to be honest.
[00:48:29] Greg Mills: Back to the John Wilkey example, , if you were to write that into a novel, people would be criticizing you because it's so unbelievable.
[00:48:38] Warren Wilson: Yeah.
[00:48:39] Greg Mills: No life doesn't work that way.
[00:48:44] Warren Wilson: That's true. And then also you have other people would be criticizing me because you're telling some guy all about your ideas, you know, shouldn't you be getting him to sign a nondisclosure agreement first, or where are you?
[00:48:56] Warren Wilson: Where are you that is ripping you off, whatever, ? And I always go, no, I'm just, no, I just, I, I tell people all I can, because my thinking is if you want them to be involved or interested , in what you're doing, you need to tell them the whole story. Doesn't work, not telling him the whole story.
[00:49:13] Warren Wilson: When, when this guy ran off with all their money, that was for a whole different reason. And it didn't stop me from trusting. Because a friend of mine said to me, she, she said, Warren, if we hadn't have found, um, this guy to run off with their money, we would have found someone else.
[00:49:30] Warren Wilson: And I'm a great believer in that, you know, like I chose to put my money in this investment because of who I wasn't, where I was at the time. Whereas the Warren Wilson of today would never make that decision saying, you know, you just gotta be responsible for our lives. And that was a bit of a, you know, it probably would have been preferred not to happen, but that's where it was.
[00:49:53] Greg Mills: Let's get ready to wrap this up. Is there anything that I haven't asked or touched on that you'd like to cover?
[00:50:01] Warren Wilson: Thank you for the questions you asked you. You've made me think and made me remember times that I'd forgotten about and have insights into myself that I kind of didn't realize.
[00:50:10] Warren Wilson: But now I guess like inventing to me is like anything, you just gotta give it your best shot you don't have to, but, to be successful, like just have faith in your abilities that you can achieve what you want to achieve by may not work out exactly how you want them to work out, but they also may work out better. Just that having that belief in our abilities to make our dreams come true and to, and to share address, it takes a lot of courage to share your dreams and, you know, and being an inventor. Even these days, there's people that I'll talk about what I'm doing with, and there's people that I really won't bring it up with because I know that, you know, the reaction I'm going to get is probably not going to be that supportive, but, but have the courage to share your dreams with people.
[00:51:01] Warren Wilson: Because you never know how, how they may help, help you make them come true. It's like, you know, maybe with John Wilkey and, and QVC and all those things, they all happened because I had the courage to share, to share my inner dreams and my inner desires with people. My experience is people often are above my expectations of them and that's a really cool thing. Really cool thing.
[00:51:27] Greg Mills: So what piece of software or app do you find indispensable helping you today? Either in the invent and venting process or like, you know, or helping with your, um, you know, developing your programs for our entrepreneurial or, or kids inventing.
[00:51:48] Warren Wilson: Oh, ah, well actually, I, I must've been, I smile at myself, right? I'm not a, I love tech, but the thing is, I'm not a real tech person. And the apps that I find in my inventing are actually things like. Because, um, LinkedIn is a great way of connecting with people. It's a phenomenally good way. So, so things like that work for me, but see, I'm a, I'm a bit of the older generation.
[00:52:17] Warren Wilson: And what I do is whiteboards. I have, um, like five white boards in my space. And if you could see my space now you'd see them. And that's how I manage all my projects from whiteboards. And part of it is because on a white board, you can only fit so much so that what it does for me is that, is that it focuses me to get the important things , and the important things are there.
[00:52:50] Warren Wilson: So that when I want more details, then I can go into my spreadsheets or, or word docs or folders to find. So, yeah, I am probably when it comes to that using tech for inventors, I'm probably not the best person to speak to, but yeah, whiteboards for me. And as far as meeting people, you know, LinkedIn is, is a medium, is, is the, is what are used to meet people.
[00:53:13] Greg Mills: There's probably something too about that. The physical act of writing, helps reinforce something.
[00:53:20] Warren Wilson: Yeah. Actually there is actually, and that's a good point and that was not very, very, not many people I've heard say that it is for me when I'm doing a new, starting a new project or something.
[00:53:32] Warren Wilson: I ride because there's something about the thinking and the writing and that whole process. Joset all in for me.
[00:53:44] Warren Wilson: And it's like it writing is an extension of my creativity and that, and that's how I do it on white boards. I get a great, I don't know, I've got a lot of pleasure about riding on my white boards and what color am I going to write this scene? My wife's an artist and she kind of shutters the colors I choose, but, um, boards, if, I mean, but yeah, there is, it's, it's just something about the process.
[00:54:10] Warren Wilson: That for me, is part of the creative pro you know, cause I, I was a person who learns by, by making things. There was a great thing about having an engineering workshop. I could make stuff and that's how I learned and white boards and writing as a, as just an extension.
[00:54:25] Greg Mills: Okay. What's the best way for our listeners to check you out and get in touch with you, Warren.
[00:54:31] Warren Wilson: Best way as I got out a website, Warren Wilson invented.com. If you want to go and send me some messages or that through there, I'll be more than happy to accept or through LinkedIn. I've got a profile on LinkedIn, just look at Warren Wilson on LinkedIn yourself. You'll see Warren Wilson and you'll get to know which is probably the one with me.
[00:54:48] Warren Wilson: There's very few of us in Australia. So we're moving in Australia. Please, please join, join through LinkedIn. And you know, I love connecting with people through LinkedIn. And also I just remembered, I actually wrote a couple of books called, how to think like an inventor is one of them.
[00:55:03] Warren Wilson: And another one is better than the obstacles in inventors. Uh, that inventors face in my challenges. They they're really books about my, um, about my journey with better blogs or like I write them a while ago. So if anyone is interested, you, can go to Amazon. And have a look there for Warren.
[00:55:19] Warren Wilson: Wilson, have a thing like an inventor and see if anything there interests you.
[00:55:24] Warren Wilson: So, so yeah, I thought, I, I normally, I forget to, to, um, to give my books a bit of a subtle pledge plug, Greg, I hope you don't mind me taking the opportunity, but the books were written, but the books were written about, you know, the, you know, what did I learn from better blocks? You know, how did I do it? How do I get it off the ground?
[00:55:44] Warren Wilson: And then all the inside information, you know, Greg, you certainly covered a lot of it today, but I said, you know, it's what I learned about from, you know, going from a backyard shed to having a product that was pretty successful on, on an international scale,
[00:55:59] Greg Mills: Uh, one piece of advice that you can give for our listeners.
[00:56:04] Warren Wilson: never give up, never give up on your dreams. Never give up on your dreams. Like it never because. Yeah, my dream was to educate kids and I had that in the late nineties or so in that really first, really first became important to me. And here I am, it's 2022, 26, 27 years later, and I'm still gone and I've been through good times.
[00:56:32] Warren Wilson: I've been through bankruptcy. I've been through a whole lot. But it's, I'm still gone. Cause it's important to me say never, ever give up on your dreams.
[00:56:41] Greg Mills: Well, that's a wrap. Thank you Warren, for being a guest on entrepreneurs over 40.
[00:56:47] Warren Wilson: Thanks, Greg it's look, it's been an absolute delight