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July 31, 2023
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Inventor Susan Hansen Discusses Her Invention Process and Challenges | The CrittEar Creator

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It's my great honor guy for those of you that are better here already to introduce Susan Hanson. Susan is an inspiring inventor. We're going to hear her story today. But before we get to that, I just like to share an amazing video that shows her product. So give me a moment and I will should have that on

my ears and make me nervous sometimes, you know things that go boom, bang, bam, or at least they used to so my mom got some calm by prettier. They go in my ears, which for dogs are initially L shaped. So when she goes to put them in, she shared a pull up so the poem goes on smoothly. First, she cleans my ears and rolls up the comb when she pulls up on my ear, puts on the plug and holds for five seconds so it can expand. Once they're both in I can go about my day safe and calm. Mom takes them out she washes them and soap and warm water and gives them plenty of time to dry. So I want to thank my mom for making me feel so safe and loved by using calm by credere. Dogs can't fear what they can't hear.

Love it dogs can't fear what they can't hear. I love that slogan. So your hold the title for creating the first and only earplug for dogs. Susan's has successfully patented her invention, and she's overseeing right now the r&d growth and even expansion of Korea in two different fields. In a nutshell, Credere is a patented dog eater plug. And it helps prevent the dogs from panicking and being in fear, just as that slogan says. So it's currently only made for dogs. But the patent is broad and covers all kinds of animals. Susan, you told me even including elephants, and dolphins and dolphins. Wow. So this it's an absolute pleasure to have you here today. And I'd like to just start out and have you tell us a little bit about your background? Because you didn't start out life inventing devices for dog years. Right? Tell us how you got your start?

No, were close to it. Absolutely. Thank you for having me. This is such an honor, I really appreciate it. My background, I was a middle school teacher in Southern California. And when I moved up to the Pacific Northwest, I changed my career. And in there I started a company where I made human hearing protection using silicones and injecting them into the ear. So I learned a lot about hearing protection and and the importance of it. So I make them for people of industry, even autistic children, sleep plugs for people who need to sleep next to loud spouses and etc. So that's where that all came from.

Wow. So how did you go from hearing devices for people to thinking about pets?

So I have it's Coleman's fault. Coleman is my now 17 year old golden retriever. As he was getting older, his noise sensitivity was getting worse. And he was getting more and more anxious. And it just drove me nuts that he was fearing what he was hearing, basically. So I had to do something. And I had all this knowledge and all this material. And he is such a good boy, I started creating these plugs for his ears out of the silicone. And over time I realized it was working, he would almost come to me and ask for them to be put in so he can go lay on his little bed and design out because he doesn't want to hear any of those ambient noises that trigger him. So I know that I wasn't the only one with a Coleman. How hard could it be to bring it to market? So here it is.

Yeah, well, they say there's so there's truth to that saying that necessity is the mother of invention. Right? We didn't you set out. In fact, I'm sure you've probably looked for a product first. And when you couldn't find it. You started experimenting and developed it yourself. Or you're fortunate to have had a background in audiology and that certainly helped. And in helping create devices for human years you were able to transition but any particular market research that to focus on dogs or was that just because Is that was your because of Coleman because of your dog that you started in that industry?

Well, literally, it was just tripping over it with Coleman. And as I got deeper and deeper into it, I found that there really was nothing out there. And the public was really uneducated about how sensitive canine hearing is, and how easily it can be damaged. And we only get one set of ears. And once it's damage is irreversible. So just think about how loud our world is. And we take our dogs with us everywhere because their family and they don't complain. So then we don't think about it. Well, I'm trying to change the public. Educate them that yes, they do need protection, they need hearing protection. And in that, it has the calming effect, because it it closes off all those ambient noises, like I said, so they can stay focused at the hearing now they can hear you they can be with you. But none of that triggers going on.

Right. And I remember I don't know if they still do it in school now. But those experiments with you, they would have a whistle that only dogs can hear. And, and it's surprising because here you are. So that gives you at least a really high impact understanding of how much more sensitive their ears are than humans. Do you happen to know offhand what, how much more sensitive a dog's hearing is, say five times?

Well, five times more, if we put it into human terms, five times more sensitive than than humans. That's a lot. So if we're in the car with the windows down, and radio blaring, think about how loud that is for right, Fifi behind you. So

even gosh, I used to practice in Manhattan, in New York City, and you have you know, they have all kinds of restrictions on car horns at night, but nothing during the day. And you have all these people walking their dogs, like just feet from vehicles. And that's when you hear the car horn. So imagine that five times as loud. It's gotta be, it's gotta be tough. And then that's like, Coleman asks for the earplugs himself. Right? He comes up and he wants them? Yes,

yes. Because he's over time, he's learned that they're a positive thing. At first, of course, he was like, What the heck is mom doing? But I bribed him lots of treats, lots of loves. And eventually, he just sunk into them. And they're very similar to human hearing plugs, ear plugs, that if you just calm down enough, you'll hear your own heartbeat, your hear your own breathing, and it just relax.

Okay, if you had to pick one thing as the hardest part of making your idea, a reality, because like, just like all ideas, it starts just up here with nothing more than the concept. But as an inventor, you've got marketing, you've got financing, prototyping, all of these different areas. Where do you think your greatest challenge was?

I thought long and hard about that. And I'm sure a lot of people and inventors would come up and say capital is their first one. But not for me, I always have to be a little bit different. Mine is patience. I have the patience of the thoroughbred at the starting gate. And this overnight success is three years old, and it's still not successful. I mean, it's growing. And I don't have the patience. I know where I want to go. I can see it, I can feel it. But it just takes time, lots of time and lots of people involved. And so patience has been my hardest thing. And the best thing I've learned from this, just Yeah, and not

just from after it's launched, but even did you find even during prototyping that you had to go through and I always remember the story of and it's actually true of WD 40 be the lubricant spray. The WD stands for water displacement formula. And they started with WD one WD two w three and that's finally it was formula number 40 That that hit the sweet spot and that's what they went with. Do you did your prototype sometimes inventors luck out and they just get it right the first time. Other times there's multiple variations. So how was your journey? Well, ladder I can just Yeah.

I lost about a year we were dead set on this shipped a certain shape, and size, and we got to the molding stage. And it was just not possible. I, my engineer at the time, I did a lot of intern, hired interns, local interns, and he's amazing actually is a quadriplegic, and he had just limited use of his hands. And he does does amazing work as an engineer. So we learned with each other, that you, you can't have certain shapes in a molding environment. So after a whole year, we had to totally revise so it could be made. So I lost a year there that that was interesting. So but here we are.

But you didn't give up. Were there are times during that year when you felt like you know what I? I'm just gonna stop.

No, no.

comes in. You've definitely got patients and that's what inventors need.

Never, never stop. There's times where you scratch your head and say, What am I doing? And no, and then squirrel. Got to go and answer this email. And oh, I need to do this. And yeah, just keep going forward.

And we're there. Not so much you wanting to stop. But did you have naysayers along your journey that are you know, sometimes they they're well meaning spouses or family, parents, siblings, kids, that, you know, say like, Mom, what are you doing? Or? Or, Honey, what are you doing? You can't you gotta stop working on this creakier product. Did you face any of that sometimes it's even perfect strangers that are, you know, they can't see. They see their own limitations. And they can't imagine that that somebody else could could get out of their comfort zone enough and pursue something the way you have. Tell us about any of those that are maybe all of the above whatever applies.

Definitely, definitely have the naysayers. And still do today. I think that's just part of life. And that actually helps helps me grow because I try to see it from their side what. So I can learn more about my product, one in particular, in the beginning, and I love my husband dearly. But he just thought this was a hobby, you know that I was just doing another side of my hearing protection. And then a year into it. I'm still talking to him about it. And he's just Yeah, yeah. And then we were out to dinner one night, and his friend looked at him and said, Hey, what are you going to do when your wife is going to outgrow you? And he never even considered that this is viable. This is a real deal. So now he looks at me a little bit differently. And because now I may an entrepreneur and an inventor and everything. So I have his his admiration, which is really awesome. Because I admire him as a businessman. He's an amazing businessman. But now we're a power couple.

You come onto your own with this with this product. And it's it's always exciting, you know, looking back on the journey, and have you kept some of your Do you still have the original prototypes and you haven't stored away somewhere? I have a huge fan of Sara Blakely. And she's the inventor of Spanx. And at her headquarters, she has a you know, the actual original pantyhose that she had cut, I believe that that toes off of the pantyhose, and she has that there because that's where it all started today. She's the world's youngest female billionaire. And her product is in her company is everywhere. But it starts with that initial idea, that initial prototype. And in her case, she was selling fax machines door to door in the Florida heat. And that's what inspired you know you that there's got to be something more comfortable than the current pantyhose that were out there. So that's another example of necessity being the mother of invention. She didn't go out and say, Hey, let me create let me stop selling fax machines and create a new billion dollar company. It was more let me find comfortable pantyhose to wear and when she couldn't. She took it upon herself kind of like very similar to your story. Like if you had gone to pet supermarket or Petsmart or one of these specialty stores and found something that would work. That would be the end of the story. Right? You probably wouldn't go further

Yeah, absolutely. And yes, I have all of them and all my first molds that are like, super expensive paperweights now. Just I've kept it all. Because it reminds me it's the journey, you know, it's it's the journey.

And is there? At which point? Did you first start pursuing the patent? Was it before underwent all these changes? Or was it one of the first things that you you decided that you needed?

Actually, it was one of the first things. I, when I went in and started researching patents, which takes a lot of time and a lot of reading, as you know. And page after page, I wasn't finding anything, it was getting it kind of exciting. It's like, wow, I've actually hit on something in this entire world. That doesn't exist. That is just kind of cool. Kind of cool. So I went and found a good, a great local attorney who's now retired. And he, he just saw it right away as well. And all of the people along the way that I surround myself see it, and and that helps drive me. And now I have a patent.

Yeah, wow. And the interesting thing is, this is a beautiful part about patents that I that a lot of my clients who are inventors, they're surprised that your product might be very specific. But your patent can be way, way broader, your patents good for 20 years. And an example, in your case is that your current prototypes and your product are geared specifically to dogs. But I think it's the foresight of either yourself or your patent attorney working with you to realize that you know what dogs are not the only animals that have sensitive hearing that might be impacted, and that your ideas should cover because the heart of your idea is the same whether it's for dogs or cats or goats or any dolphins even for elephants, the heart of your idea, the basic premise doesn't change. And a good patent attorney can protect the overall idea without limiting your rights to just one specific field. And it's great that your patent does that because now you own the entire market. For this, regardless of what type of pet or not even pet it could be livestock, right? Yeah, horses, cows, anything that that would work. And you think about some of the impacts, I think maybe it would have an impact on like train stations or railroad tracks if somebody has that near their home and their pets constantly bothered. airplanes, airports. Have you used it on while traveling? Can your product be used on on a plane?

Well, that's part of the necessity as well as we travel in Alaska in a private airplane. And we put on these big hearing protection. And the dogs are sitting next to me, I take off mine, I can't even stand it. And they travel all the time in that plane. Damaging that's damaging. So that was another reason why I did it to help protect my inlaws dogs from the airplane. And And now that you've heard about it, you'll see that it kind of grows, everyone will go Oh, yeah. And then I can use it for fireworks and thunderstorms. And oh, what about what a therapy dog going to a concert when we can have concerts again. And just it just keeps growing and growing? I can't wait to help all of them. So exciting.

It's funny when you say so that airplane in Alaska, these are small like Cessna planes are so they're extremely loud. And the dog's hearing is five times as as sensitive as yours. So if you can't stand it without the that super hearing protection, I can just imagine how it would be for a pet and especially if I mean you see them even in you know, like open tight, like motorcycles. You see sometimes someone will have a carrier or something and the dogs back there and the motorcycles incredibly loud. The human has his helmet, which offers quite a bit of hearing protection even if they don't have anything separate but that the dog has nothing. Yep,

so I do I do a lot of motorcycle riders as well hearing protection for them at So, yeah, it just goes hand in hand. And it's just pretty interesting how it's not been thought of before. Because we all know that dogs have better hearing. They just don't complain about it.

So and it's funny when you say, I'm glad that this was not a roadblock for you. But for a lot of inventors, they think of a new idea. And their initial thoughts are, I cannot possibly be the first person that has thought of this was, you know, and then they give up, sometimes they don't even go, don't even take that next step of thinking, you know, well, maybe I am the first. But did you have a moment where you almost did not pursue it? Because you're thinking, you know, this is to there's all these experts in the pet industry. There's veterinarians out there, like why did a vet not think of this?

No, actually, there wasn't a time I just starved for information, more and more research. I have a good friend who was a veterinarian, and Dr. Laurie opened her office to me, and I went and stayed there for a week and did impressions on any animal that came in so I can understand the inner anatomy of the ear of animals. I've studied how it works. I've talked to people talk, talk, talk, ask questions, I was just starved for information. So I can make the best product there was out there not a gimmick. I real honest, good helping product.

Was there a point where you said that you had to explain your product to investors? And were there special challenges in trying to do that? I know you said that for a lot of inventors raising capital is one of their tougher challenges. But for you, you wouldn't rank that as the top challenge for you just having the patience to let this thing grow has been tough. But tell me about the pitches to investors and trying to get attention to your idea.

Which is really interesting. So capital is a close second to patients? Mind you, it is it's not their

right to meet the inventor where that's not because there's always more you can do, there's always you had more capital you would do. And this is not something unique to inventors, like even large companies, if they had a larger budget, they'd like we could advertise this further, we could make more of an impact. So the capital need does not go away. But um, no. Yeah. Sorry, I interrupted.

No, no. So what's interesting about this product is that I say it's similar to when electricity came out. peoples had natural gas, they didn't need electricity, they had light, they don't. And and, you know, here we are with electricity, everything. So this is a new product coming into a space where people don't even realize that they need it. So that's, that is a big hurdle. So I have to educate everyone on why it's necessary. And even the hunters think about the hunting dogs, and the canine working dogs, all of them are, are in need of hearing protection. It's not just a calming thing. It's a hearing protection. And then the calming was a wonderful secondary benefit.

Right? Well, gosh, you mentioned hunting, so hunters have a lot of hearing protection on for themselves. But the poor dog that's helping them typically has nothing. Right?

Absolutely. And they are, they spend a lot of money on their dogs, and they love their dogs. A lot of them are deaf by six years old. That's like putting a declawed cat out in the wild. You've now taken their hearing from them, you've done that, and it doesn't have to be that way. You got to protect your dog.

Right. One thing that I reached for earlier because you had mentioned, sometimes the toughest part about a new product is that there's always something in the category that exists. So for example, you said I'm picking up the post it note, like we've always had not always but way before the postage, we had tape and paper. And I can see an investor saying well why would you need this when you've got paper and tape? And then you have you know, and then it takes an the vendor has to educate the investors and even consumers to say listen, you tape and paper might exist, but how often do you find them like All together and convenient. And secondly, anyone that's ever put a post it on a piece of paper, or sorry, tape on a piece of paper and had to remove it and destroyed a contract or agreement by that would understand the benefit of having this removable glue. So we're there even though products not exactly like what you have, was there something in the pet industry or a hunting industry or anything for for dogs, like I'm thinking of maybe something that goes over the ear instead,

yeah, there are external muffs. But as you know, dogs all have different shapes of their ears. So it may be a false sense of security that you know, you have this external. But if there is a gaps that that doesn't do it, that's why I use the inner anatomy of the ear to help protect the dog, as well as create retention. So they don't come flying out.

It's funny you you mentioned that and this is completely different field. But this is what makes why I'm so passionate about inventors in advance. Because sometimes you get ideas from different fields, like here's because of this pandemic, like everybody knows what these masks are. Imagine if they were just one size fits all. And all you would do is you know, and they had no adjustability that the way they're made, they had this piece of metal inside that you bend. And that's what contours it to everyone's nose because everyone's facial. I guess structure is different. So you'd put it on and you'd adjust. So a lot of times that kind of goes hand in hand with what you're talking about, if it's an external device for for hearing protection for pets, the pet is not capable of adjusting it on their own. So and it may loosen up, it may change. Like there's things that could happen. Like a you know, human maybe can can adjust for those. But by putting it inside the ear, it's, it's, it's done once and done, and you don't have to adjust it. And I'm also thinking and of course you've studied this extensively, but the dog cannot do anything with it, he can't, or she the pet cannot take it out. It's not like for something external. I mean, there's they're smart, if it starts bothering them, they could rub their head against a wall or a door and shake it loose, they could hit something if they're a hunting dog, for example, it could get caught on a, you know, waived or whatever like these are, but the way yours is designed, it's completely inside the year and out of the way. And the pet can't remove it if you know, if you want it that's that's that's a huge advantage.

It was by design, I wanted something that couldn't get caught on something. So if military or law enforcement dog was wearing them, they don't have something that would get caught and hinder him from doing its work. I am coming up with and bringing out a type of a lanyard to connect to them. Because people are asking for these these products. So cuz it when you take them out, they're such small parts. Where do you put them? So a lanyard keeps keeps them together? I'm working on all sorts of different I don't know what you call them pinwheel products, I guess.

Okay, yeah, like, well, the legal term is a derivative work in copyright law. So it's like derives from the original. And in copyright, its use, you know, if you write a book, the movie is a derivative work off of the book. So the same thing here, you get this basic product, and then you'll have accessories that you can sell and and, you know, maybe Deluxe models and models that have other features. We're almost out of time, and I promise These days everyone is there kind of zoomed out because there's so many zoom meetings. So try to stick to the time we have. But I want to ask you two quick questions. And then I have an announcement for our inventor next week. And what we're going to cover then, but first is what would you consider to be one of the highest points in your journey like a thrill moment, as you were, you know, developing the product or even as you started sales.

Um, when I got my first positive review back, you know, somebody, it was a therapy dog and she said that she was in tears when she found these and and it helped her dog be more comfortable in the world. with her that she was so thankful that I have come up with that. That's humbling. That's, that's what it's about. It's helping them.

And that's, you know, that review would I think is going to stay with you for the remainder of your life and he doesn't matter how well creakier does. It's hard to get over the thrill of that first outside endorsement, that, hey, you've solved the problem that I had as well, from somebody else. And then finally, if, because for our viewers here, what advice would you have, we have a lot of inventors that are inventing for the first time, anything that words of wisdom for them,

ask questions, ask, ask, ask. You can never get enough information and surround yourself with people, good people. And what I mean by that I could never ever be here without my mentors and advisors. They have been amazing people to help me grow and be the person I am today because I had no idea of what I was doing. But they kept me real kept me going forward. And so surround yourself with people and ask a lot of questions.

Okay. And just before we, we quit, I do want to point out Bill has one of our viewers has a comment. He's got a background in equine therapy for horses. And he said he's comes across so many horse owners that don't want their horses startled by guns or other noises. So his request is that you expand the product line to horses. I just wanted to bring that up. Thank you, everybody, for being here today. Next Friday, September 25. I'm going to be speaking with Maxwell Cohen. And He's the inventor of peel away. And that's the bedding industry's first multi layer disposable waterproof, fitted sheet. His inventions appeared on Shark Tank. And we'll be releasing a signup link after today's webinar. Jenny, if you can post a link to the inventors mastermind, my private Facebook group, and we'll post an update and a link for Maxwell's interview next week. And then from October 28 to 30th. I have an inventors virtual summit where we're going to be interviewing several successful inventors, product developers, marketing experts to bring all this information to inventors on how to take the next steps. So in the meantime, Susan, I can't thank you enough for being here today. Your expertise is valued. And it's inspiring for inventors to hear from someone who's followed their passion and follow their dream and not given up and it hasn't been easy. I mean, I remember you mentioned a whole year's worth of changes to your prototype. But you stuck to it despite the naysayers and people that doubted whether it would ever come to fruition. So thank you and enjoy your Friday and the rest of your weekend.

Great. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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