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June 26, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Product to Market: How Warren Tuttle Began His Relationship with Inventors | Warren Tuttle

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00:00

Tell us about how did these inventors find you? Or did you actually walk tradeshow floors and find them? How did this come about? Well, we're probably over 20 million misters. Now.

00:11
But

00:13
good question, but just definitely back before I answer the question,

00:18
you know, I work on both the company and the inventor side. And like, I'm sure you do, but you probably work a little bit more than vendors because they may be paying the bill. But it is two different cultures. And translating those two cultures is what's really critical in the space that I'm in. So yeah, as far as, as far as we're how I got started. I, I graduated from college a few years ago,

00:41
celebrating a birthday tomorrow. So it's gone quickly. I'm telling you, but I,

00:47
yeah, February

00:50
26. So they say, Well, we certainly have our ways.

00:57
But

00:58
I went to work for a story you because you have a background in New York called Abraham and Straus. I don't know if you remember it, but we were Brooklyn based. So I worked on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, and I became a buyer there. I worked there for six or seven years, and I was a buyer. I came up through the house wares ranks. So that gave me sort of the background to get back out to Connecticut, start my own stores to complete kitchen, the good food store. And I didn't know I had a cooking school at a number of locations, and I had about 65 employees. And we were in the upscale products. I launched many new products in my store, to Nespresso coffee system, I sold the first 500 machines in America before anyone had heard of them, only because the head of Nespresso came over from Nestle's and moved to Greenwich. And I had a store in Greenwich, Connecticut. So you know, we were just in the right place at the right time, which is probably the generic answer to your question. But I launched many, many other products. So one day, an inventor came into my store in the fall of 1997. And it was Tom rish, and he had invented the misto. And this was an olive oil sprayer, he was showing it to people, mostly men who didn't cook, who didn't understand the the product at all. And he was getting a lot of rejections for it. And he showed it to me. And I said, that's the greatest thing I've ever seen, because we had talked a lot about in our cooking schools, the ability to spray oil, it's not easy because their oil has a heavy viscosity. So it takes a you can't just spray it like you spray water. So there wasn't really a device that could do that. And the only thing that was on the market was Pam, and Pam, which is about 100 million cans a year sold in food stores, unfortunately, uses a low grade vegetable oil has preservatives in it is not good around the flame because he uses a protein get protein gets to fire it. And when you're finished with it, you throw the cannon away. And there's enough cans of Pan thrown out every year to circumnavigate the globe. So Tom came up with this, the nozzles patented. And he showed it to me. And at this point, I had never really met an inventor before I sourced products from around the world going to trade shows, but they're always ready and packaged to go. So I said to Tom, I'll take 100 of them right now. And we'll start selling them. And he said, Well, we haven't actually made any there is a prototype the first time I heard the word prototype, this was in the fall of 1997. So I had a lot to learn. Obviously, you can tell from my book, I've learned a lot along the way. But the whole thing fascinated me. Eventually, I helped Tom

03:25
do the marketing sales to get it out. We actually made the product in Connecticut had to set up the tooling employees to make and so forth. And in the beginning, we were making you know, 2030 a day and then we were making 500 600 700, that type of thing. And it was the classic American success story, started selling in gourmet shops. Then because of my ans background. I knew all the buyers, bases, Bloomingdale's and around the country, and it was the perfect person sort of taken out. We sold 10,002 Bloomingdale's set up a big display. Took an eight foot tall misto right down the elevator stairwell it it Macy's Herald Square before this before 911 set up displays there. And we sold 1.2 million MS DOS the first year, made millions of dollars and it was like I was just you know, to me, it was like the most amazing thing that ever happened. So I got a little taste of the American dream. And the end of the day was Tom's company. He was the inventor I was there to help be helpful but I profited enormously from it. And then I we eventually he didn't want to do new products. He was ready. He didn't really have to work anymore after that. And I although he did.

04:37
So I went on other products. My next product was complete failure. It's called stir chef. I won't get into the details of that but it was an automatic steering device that

04:47
did not work. sell well. I didn't do my due diligence, took a lot of orders. Very successful a trade shows sold hundreds of 1000s in the stores, but it didn't sell on the floor so nobody paid their bill and when

05:00
through a very painful experience, people can read about that in my book and better confidential. Then I came back with Marsman. So all of these were projects.

05:10
I met people, the blue, but it basically evolved into my saying, I changed my business model. And I said, You know what, rather than chase down inventors split money with them take money from them, I could see already in my research that inventors are getting taken advantage of by people around the country, even though not by me, I actually supplied value, didn't take a dime till we made money. But I was seeing more and more this sort of platform out there. We're basically

05:38
a lot of what I call marketers, you can call them BS artists, whatever you want to call them. They're out charging inventors and telling them the path to gold mines and all this other nonsense. And I realized that this is a tough industry and hard and I realized that if I wasn't going to take money from inventors, where was I gonna go, and then ended up being companies and I ended up from my ans days, knowing a lot of the principles of a company called lifetime brands was a publicly traded company on NASDAQ, under l cut,

06:06
you know, 2000 employees and billion dollars in sales and so forth to 45 brands. We worked out this program to do an open innovation program. So that was my launch into that they paid me I started doing other companies so so I was able to have the bully pulpit and speaking honestly to people without having to worry about cash flow. Because when you have to worry about cash flow and doing sales in our business where there's so much failure,

06:32
then you end up telling whatever story is necessary to get people to send their money and so you get back to that personal injury you know, weight loss property flipping nonsense that the people that people chase down so that's sort of the the simple evolution of how and by the way along the way, I enjoyed getting involved in my nonprofit local inventor organization getting involved with the UAE which is the largest nonprofit national leader getting involved in Washington DC politics and giving a lot of my time back since I've been financially successful to the community in ways to help an advocate for their rights because inventors are under under a lot of pressure these days in a lot of ways from from large corporations that you know, started on the right track, but now that they're up in the tree Ford are trying to pull the ladder up and, you know, no girls allowed

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