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Inventions, Product Design, Product Development, and Podcasting

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Tom Hazzard is an inventor with 37 patents and an unprecedented 86% success rate for consumer product designs. He is the Co-host of the Forbes-featured, fast-growth WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast, as well as two other podcasts, Feed Your Brand and Product Launch Hazzards. They were born out of his core business for many years, Hazz Design, where he designed and developed over 250 products that generated $2 billion in revenue for retail and e-commerce clients.

Tom is also the CTO of Podetize, a podcast hosting platform used by thousands of podcasters to produce and distribute their podcasts.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • How Tom Hazzard has been designing and developing products for years
  • What Tom has learned about creating successful products
  • How decision-making process has changed for manufacturers
  • Tom shares a story of how a retailer’s demands dictated product development and production and what he learned from the experience
  • What inspired Tom to start a podcast and how his business has evolved because of podcasting
  • How Tom used his product design skills to develop Podetize
  • Where to learn more and get in touch with Tom Hazzard

In this episode…

As much as inventors may feel enthusiastic about how they want to design and develop their products, there are some key things they need to address for successful product creation. The main thing to consider should be at the forefront of your product: satisfying the needs of the customers. But, that isn’t to say that other elements of product creation should be ignored. There are also manufacturing constraints, the final products, as well as the economics of pricing.

For new inventors, having a second set of professional eyes to review or test the finished product isn’t just important — it’s essential. Why? Because having someone bring a fresh perspective helps inventors create commercially viable products that will help solve people’s needs and help the company achieve their business goals. It will also help prevent mistakes and possible lawsuits in the future.

In this week’s episode of the Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast, Rich Goldstein sits down with Tom Hazzard, an inventor and podcaster, to talk about inventions, product design, and product development. They also discuss the lessons Tom has learned from working with inventors, manufacturers, and retailers, as well as how Tom got started with podcasting.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Goldstein Patent Law, a firm that helps protect inventors’ ideas and products. They have advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 25 years. So if you’re a company that has a software, product, or design you want protected, you can go to They have amazing free resources for learning more about the patent process.

You can email their team at to explore if it’s a match to work together. Rich Goldstein has also written a book for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work, which is called ‘The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.’

Intro (00:09):
Welcome to innovations and breakthroughs with your host Rich Goldstein, talking about the evolutionary, the revolutionary, the inspiration and the perspiration and those aha moments that change everything. And now here’s your host Rich Goldstein

Rich (00:33):
I’m Rich Goldstein, ost of the innovations and breakthroughs podcast, where I feature top leaders and the path they took to create change past guests include Joe Polish, Roland Frasier, and Joe DeSena. This episode is brought to you by my company, Goldstein patent law, where we help you to protect your ideas and products we’ve advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 27 years. So if you’re a company that has software, a product or a designing, one protected go to Goldstein patent, where there are amazing free resources for learning about the patent process. And you could email my team at to explore if it’s a match to work together. You could also check out the book I wrote for the American bar association that explains in plain English, how patents work it’s called the ABA consumer guide to obtaining a patent. I have with me here today, Tom Hazzard, Tom is an inventor with 37 patents and an unprecedented 86% success rate for consumer product designs.

Rich (01:32):
Tom is co-host of the Forbes featured fast-growth WT FFF. Um, it’s 3d printing podcasts as well as two other podcasts feed your brand and product launch hazards, which were born out of what was his core business for many years has designed where he designed and developed over 250 products that generated 2 billion in revenue for retail and e-commerce clients. Currently, Tom co-created palletize, a podcast hosting platform used by thousands of podcasts to produce and distribute their podcasts. And in fact, it’s the largest podcast production company in the world. I’m very pleased to welcome here today. Tom Hazzard. Welcome Tom.

Tom (02:13):
Thanks so much for having me Rich pleasure to be here. Absolutely. My pleasure. And so you’ve, you’ve been involved in product design for a very long time, so there’s just a whole wealth of experience to share with people that are looking to develop a product, uh, looking to, uh, take a product idea and, and, and bring it to life.

Rich (02:34):
And so you’ve seen every part of that journey and you’ve been a part of every part of that journey. Um, so yeah. W where do we even begin speaking about that?

Tom (02:45):
Goodness, I don’t know. Yeah, I mean, I’ve been doing it my entire career, and even though I’m not fully doing product design development, as much as I used to be, I’m still doing it for myself in my own business. Um, but I’ve just always had a desire and an interest I’ve been designing, developing products, really my whole career. Um, and even in my current business, which is not specifically about product design and development, I I’m developing products for our own company. Uh, but it’s always been something that I just sort of dove in head first, even when I was still in high school and then college, uh, with creating products, I’ve always been a very creative guy and I sorta learned, yes, I was educated in industrial design, but I also just through experience, you know, developing products, um, learned every aspect, not only of product design development, but of a company, you know, as an industrial designer, which is sort of, I always described that as somewhere between sculpture and engineering and in a sort of in, in a, um, sort of simple sense, uh, cause you’re, you’re designing the user interface, the appearance, the function of a product, but you’re not really an engineer.

Tom (04:19):
Um, you are an artist, but it’s more commercial, but if you do it long enough, you see every aspect of a business from the boardroom to the factory floor, to being in sales meetings with big box retailers, dealing with every discipline in the company, marketing operations, advertising sales, you, you see it all. So that’s, that’s probably what I’ve enjoyed the most.

Rich (04:51):
Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. And, and, and I guess that’s a really important thing to, to recognize too, is that, um, product design, um, and, uh, kind of turning a product into reality is partially industrial design, but it’s also partially business. Um, you know, really at a certain point of it’s, um, the, the product just becomes a thing on your shelf of your warehouse. It’s designed, it’s ready to go. Now the big challenge is getting it out into the world. And to a large extent, when you’re doing, getting the product onto the shelf of your warehouse, you have to be thinking ahead at all of the stuff that’s happening, that’s going to be happening in terms of getting that out there into the world.

Tom (05:35):
You know, that is where reality hits you. Because as a creative person, you may have a vision for your product, something you want it to be, and that may be very personal to you, but in order for it to become manufactured and successful, there’s a lot of things have to consider that are beyond you. You know, you, you’re sort of having to meet the needs of the consumer, what they want and desire. You gotta meet the needs of manufacturing constraints. You gotta meet the needs of pricing, um, you know, the economics of it all. And it’s really, you got to find this sweet spot between the needs of you, the creator, the manufacturer, and the consumer.

Rich (06:25):
Yeah, no, absolutely. And that’s fascinating how any one of those things can have as big an impact on the final product as your initial vision, right?

Rich (06:35):
I mean, your initial vision shapes the product, but then when you get to a retailer who says, no, we’re, we’re willing to pay 30% less than, than you thought we would. And now all of a sudden you have to, to shift, um, a lot of how the product is manufactured and maybe even some of the design that leads to that level of cost. Um, in light of that one demand like you, when you envision the product, you never, you, you might never have imagined that that was going to be the biggest factor in the final product, that what the retailers are demanding, but, but very much so, right.

Tom (07:15):
Yeah, it is true. And you know, that’s something that’s very hard to come to terms with. And, and as someone in business, you have to make a really careful decision informed decision as to whether you’re going to agree to what that retailer might want, or if that’s, you know, gonna result in a product that’s not going to be successful.

Tom (07:47):
You know, do you, do you take that business in front of you or do you walk away from it? And it’s not just a matter of wanting the business. I think, you know, we all want the business, but you know, it, it doesn’t help if you’re going to spend an awful lot of money. And especially when it goes into a big box retail store, that’s a pretty big bet where you’re, you know, gonna make five or 10,000 units of something. You put it out there. If it doesn’t sell at the end of the day, that’s not going to help you that cause they’re going to come back on you. And, and what if it doesn’t sell and want you to buy it back or do something else that, you know, you, you may not be able to. So, and at the very least it’s going to cost you some credibility.

Rich (08:31):
Um, you know, even if they don’t demand, uh, the, the returns that, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s not going to help, as you said, in your words, if it doesn’t sell.

Tom (08:42):
Yeah. I mean the best products, the main, oh, what I always say is I want to create a product that’s going to be bought and used again and again and again, that’s going to last over a very long period of time. And the only way that happens is if you provide a good value for the price and it really meets a consumer’s need or desire. And the tough thing about retailers is a lot of the time they think they know what else sell. They have an idea of what will sell, but they don’t really know, you know, there’s been a shift, at least over my career. It used to be that a buyer at a retail store that was like a career.

Tom (09:26):
And they were really what I would call like a merchant, you know, knew their category. They probably, you know, in the beginning of my career, that type of person did know better than me. What was going to sell what I’ve found in recent years as buyers at retail chains, especially the bigger ones. It’s just, it’s a rest stop on the way up the corporate ladder. And they really don’t know. I mean, somebody who could be buying furniture today was buying office supplies, like, you know, copy paper and stuff the year before they don’t really know the category and know the market. And so when they make a request or if I might even say a demand that a product must do this, or it must cost this, or, you know, they, they don’t really have experience. And so that, that makes it a pretty risky prospect.

Rich (10:26):
Right. So, so it’s kind of like buyer used to me mean savvy decision maker. Now it means more like legwork, um, you know, of, of, uh, doing lots of research and lots of scouting, but not necessarily being the decision maker, kind of like a and R right. Like ANR used to be like the guy who went around and discovered bands, like discovered like the, like what was going to be the next thing. And then, and then, you know, kind of almost became like a manager of them, like, like just got deeply involved where now, like ANR is, you know, baby, just like a clerical thing and collecting information for the music company executives. So maybe that’s a little analysis.

Tom (11:10):
Well, no, I mean, you’re not, you’re not too far off because honestly, well, you know, in, in my career, which started in the early nineties, um, until now it’s really changed a whole lot because I’ve, you know, a lot more things were manufactured in the United States at the time, even though a lot of things had shifted overseas before I started my career, but there’s awful lot more products that used to be made in the United States that are not anymore.

Tom (11:37):
Or I’ve also seen that, you know, they’ve used to be designed in the United States, even if people manufactured things over in China or, you know, other Asian countries, there were at least designed in the United States. And then the factory was just given a, go make this, or give us a price on this. But it also, I’ve seen it shift a lot where factories, especially in Asia, in China, are making and developing products that they are thinking and hoping will be of interest to the U S market. And a lot of these retail buyers from the big chains, they’ll go over to China on buying trips and really just go shopping for products in the factories. They don’t actually put out like a brief of, Hey, we’re looking for this type of product that we want to, you know, sell to our consumers. They, they don’t, they’re not proactive like that.

Tom (12:38):
They’re a little more reactive going over there and seeing what they can find. Oh yeah. I think I could sell that, buy it, like they go to the Canton fair or something and they write, yes, Canton fair, or even at other levels, you know, big retailers like your Walmarts and targets, they’ll take groups of buyers and different departments and they will actually go on tours and, and go into factories. You know, there’ll be a week ahead of the countdown fair or after the camp town fair in addition to it. Right. Yeah. So it’s becoming more rare that companies in the U S will design and develop their own products and then just go have them quoted and made.

Rich (13:20):
Yeah. Well, yeah. I’d like to circle back to something, you said a few moments ago, too, with like we were talking about how a retailer might, um, uh, might dictate some things about the product and that it’s up to you to decide whether to play ball or not.

Rich (13:38):
And, uh, and I know you had told me a story about, uh, about an instance where it had gone particularly wrong. And, um, we don’t necessarily talk about that, that one, I don’t know if you, uh, are at Liberty to, but, but I guess the point is there’s that there was a strong demand by a retailer that ended up derailing, um, derailing the process for the, uh, for the, the company for that, uh, for the manual.

Tom (14:05):
Yeah. I mean, not actually, I can talk about it. I’ll, I’ll try to, not to make it too long a story, but, uh, yeah, it was a really good example, a big box retailer, um, who, you know, sells that has what I guess, 1500 stores across the nation was buying a product from my client. And we developed this product or designed it, I guess I should say, um, we contracted with a engineering firm to develop some electronic portion of this product and this, it was supposed to be a plugin product.

Tom (14:43):
You plug it in the wall only. That was always the scope and how it was engineered. And this was supposed to be a product that was going to debut and be featured for black Friday. And this was in maybe 2006, I think. And so black Friday, traditional shopping, I know so much that has gone online now to Amazon and all that. But black Friday in 2006 was still like one of the biggest shopping days of the year. And you would, uh, you know, retailers would bring in products as like doorbuster sorta thing, stacked out on pallets as you walk in and they’d want to move through all of a product on that day, if they could. And the retail buyer, uh, about a month before the product was supposed to be manufactured, came back and said, you know, we don’t want it to just be plugged in the wall.

Tom (15:36):
We want to operate on rechargeable batteries. And, you know, at the time I was very concerned about that. And actually, usually I would go to these meetings. I wasn’t at that retailer meeting I had, I had been there. I probably would have tried to steer them away from that push back on it. And yeah, but it was a meeting for some reason I couldn’t go to, I usually did go to them. So the main salesperson for the company was there and a junior designer, um, part of my team was there who didn’t have as much experience. And they came back and told me this. And I’m like, oh, you know, and I was nervous about it. And of course the sales person is like, well, we have to do this. The retailer wants it. You have to do it. You have to find a way I’m like, this really raises the complexity of the product by an order of magnitude because it’s gotta be engineered.

Tom (16:32):
And, you know, we gotta see, we don’t even know how many batteries it’s gonna take. And now the timeline we have, we can’t increase it cause we have black Friday, you know? So it was a lot to do bottom line company leadership required. Yep. We’re going to do it. And so we do our best. We go and do it. Um, we contracted with an outside engineering firm to do the electronics and they said they had the expertise and they developed it and we sent the spec to China and it was manufactured. But we discovered the hard way. The, I would say pitfalls of agreeing to change your products at the request of a buyer. And especially without the proper timeline to do it. When this product was on the retail floor, they had display models. So they would, you know, take one out of the box, put it on display.

Tom (17:27):
And we kept getting reports from stores here and there across the country that rechargeable batteries were exploding. And when I say exploding, I don’t mean like Kaboom, but, uh, you know, oozing, you know, chemicals spilling out onto the retail floor of these stores and this all of a sudden became a huge, huge problem. Ultimately it killed the product, it was all taken off the shelf and the product was destroyed and it ended up being like an $8 million loss for the company, um, that I was working for. And, um, fortunately the company was big enough to survive that, but boy, a huge lesson learned. And ultimately what we learned is the contractor we had hired to do electronics, who said they knew what they were doing really did a bad job. Um, the battery pack should have been engineered a certain way and it was not.

Tom (18:26):
And they were sending too much power in the charging circuit to charge the batteries. So, I mean, it was, it was doomed and had we left it a plugin product would have been just fine.

Rich (18:37):
Yeah. And I guess part of the lesson there too, is that, um, huge retailer doesn’t necessarily know best. Um, and, and their demand might not necessarily be the right path. Like just because they’re saying whatever, like, like let’s, um, let’s have this in multiple colors or whatever it is that they they’re saying. Um, it isn’t necessarily them knowing better. It could be a bad path. And that, like you said before, it’s something that you need to decide whether you’re going to follow whatever those demands are. Sure.

Tom (19:09):
I think that’s certainly one of the biggest lessons is not necessarily to, uh, you know, that that was a good example of where the company should, that we were worked for should have walked away from that sale said, I’m sorry if that’s what you want to do, we’re better off not having this business.

Tom (19:27):
You know, I, I don’t need the sale that badly. Now that, of course in hindsight is really easy to say in that moment. That was not so easy. But the other important lesson that I just want to share, because I think it’s really important if you are developing an electronic product and planning and manufacture that and your, um, you hire a third-party company who has expertise in it to do that work. You also need to have an additional company. Double-check their work. That was the big lesson for me and design and development is that, you know, somebody says, they know what they’re doing. That’s great. You know, these, you have a sample and it works, but there’s a couple of things you have to confirm. If you want to manufacture a product and make sure that it’s safe or it’s going to work properly. One is double-check that engineers work have a completely separate engineer, just who double-check it review it, cause this sort of stuff.

Tom (20:29):
I mean, it’s very black and white right. And wrong, right. I mean, either electronics do what they’re supposed to do or they don’t. So somebody else can review the work, the electronic circuit diagram, if nothing else, and say, yup, okay, that should do what they say it’s going to do. And the other one is obviously testing that the factory manufacturers, that the way that it was specified in that that’s correct. So all of just a few pieces in the puzzle, but very critical, especially when you’re dealing with electronics.

Rich (20:54):
Got it. Absolutely. And I mean, there’s so much more we could talk about in product design. Um, and uh, like I’d like to talk a bit about Potter ties. So, um, so that’s, uh, I mean, I could say that that was, uh, a pretty large sized pivot. Uh, although you had been doing podcasts for some time, so podcast is something that you knew, but, um, but where did the inspiration come from to create this platform?

Tom (21:20):
Well, that, that’s a, that’s a, that’s a, um, a fun story. So yes. Um, I mean, product design and development was my entire career, um, until just maybe five or six years ago and my business partner and I decided to experiment with podcasting. We had an area of interest in 3d printing, uh, desktop 3d printing had, you know, about what is it now 10 years ago, a little more, uh, become very popular as actually some patents expired. Uh, and then it sort of birthed this whole little industry and, you know, we were interested in that and experimenting with it. And we, as we’re, we’re looking for information on it, we realized, Hmm, there’s not a lot of information out there for people to, you know, a lot of resources, uh, to help people with, you know, desktop 3d printing. And, you know, we were podcasts listeners and there wasn’t a lot out there.

Tom (22:22):
So we said, you know, let’s why don’t we start a podcast and see if we can build a large audience. And at the time we were thinking maybe we wanted to start another company in the 3d printing market. And we said, Hey, let’s see if we can build an audience that we could market to. And so we just, we learned the hard way, how to start a podcast, research it for like six months before we started it. And then we did. Um, and as we did it, we had some really good success. We built our podcast up to having, um, over a hundred thousand monthly listeners. And we had advertisers wanting to advertise on the show because 3d printing is a pretty niche market. So if you were a company in that space, it’s a pretty good audience to advertise to. And, but we, we didn’t just leave it as an audio show.

Tom (23:14):
We built a whole website around the podcast. It became a resource website. We created a, we, we developed sort of a process because my partner is a blogger or was a blogger back then of creating a comprehensive blog post for every episode. And we found when you create that from a podcast that actually has so much SEO value, we got a lot more traffic to the website. So we had a process for sort of dialed in for how we were doing this thing called podcasting and having so much fun with, and as we did it, we had people in, we knew in business people we network with or go to events and would see that saw what we’re doing with the podcast. And they had seen, we got written up in like Forbes magazine for growing a massive audience really quickly that they said, wow, that’s great.

Tom (24:03):
What you’re doing with the podcast. Can you do that for me? Like if I start a podcast, could you, could your guys who edit your show and do your stuff, do that for me then at first we thought, well, that’s a neat idea. We can save some costs, you know, on these resources, we’re paying a lot divided amongst a couple of people. Yeah. Co-op. And so that it started that way, but after it got to be like four or five other, you know, podcasts, and we started having to hire more resources to meet that demand, it sort of started to change. And, you know, at the time it’s interesting. So my business partner is also my wife, Tracy, and she is the, actually the CEO of our company. Uh, I’m the technically the CTO, uh, as the way that works right now. Um, but what it was interesting cause we have this other business, I mean, we were making a full-time living and product design and development, and this podcast thing was an experiment and we were enjoying it, but we, and we were making a little money on it, but it wasn’t enough to live on.

Tom (25:07):
And you know, she’s saying, Hey, wait a second. This podcasting helping all these other people, it’s getting to be a distraction from our core business. And there was this decision point. Do we keep going down that road? Or do we focus on the core business? And I’ll tell you, it was at a very interesting time in our careers where yeah. We’d figured out how to make a living. I mean, the stats we have are amazing, right? 250 products and over 2 billion in revenue for our clients, it’s probably been more than that now because some of the products are still out there and Costco and places like that, but we figured out how to make a living, but we really weren’t generating a lot of wealth. You know, it was, it was a bit of a grind. I would, you know, either trace your, I would go to China every month.

Tom (25:59):
One or the other of us would go to China for like 10 days to two weeks.

Rich (26:03):
Um, so LOL you trading time for money.

Tom (26:06):
We were trading time for money. Exactly. And somewhere around 2015, we realized we wanted to stop doing that. We had to find a better way. Cause the other thing that would happen is we would, you know, create a product that would do really well for a client. They were really successful. They grew their business, you know, by many tens of millions of dollars, if not more. And then they would get bought by somebody else. And all of a sudden we’d be out of a client because the new ownership didn’t want to work with any consultants that the old company worked with, had nothing to do with us. It was all about them. And so we’re like, well, you know, we can’t keep sort of getting ourselves out of work here.

Tom (26:48):
And then, you know, it takes such a long time to get a new client. It’s like we have to change something. So around that time, the podcasting business that wasn’t a real business yet was growing. And you know, Tracy says, well, we’re putting too much focus on this. I’m like, you know what? I see an opportunity here. I think we need to follow this through and see where it can go. And then it became an, uh, a different kind of experiment in growing a business and said, I said to Tracy, you know, if we don’t do this, I kind of, I’m sort of wondering what kind of entrepreneurs are way, you know, what kind of business owners are we, here’s an, uh, uh, a instead of designing a product, we’ve got a business here that we can design. There seems to be a growing market.

Tom (27:33):
It’s pretty exciting. And let’s see where this goes. And so she, she agreed even if reluctantly a little, but we, um, but she felt stayed focused more on the core business. And I focused more on the new podcast business. It stayed that way for a couple of years, but in 2017, you get to the point where you’re doing this for, you know, about 50 or 75 podcasters. And you’ve got, you know, 20 full-time employees. We’re like, all right, now we’ve got to stop operating this out of has designed our consulting business because that was all operating out of that let’s start a new entity. So in 2017, about this time of year, we did, uh, started new entity. And then about a year later, Tracy came on full-time as the CEO and, and really we’ve the, the design consultancy has, is dormant became dormant and, uh, still have some revenue, but we were deciding, okay, we’re proving it, that this is, and this is something Tracy and I always did with product design.

Tom (28:41):
We wanted to get market proof in a product that’s part. You know, you mentioned the success rate of the commercialization rate of all our patents. That’s, that’s largely because, well, number one, we don’t patent things. We aren’t pretty confident are, you know, worth patenting, but it also has to do with sort of putting your money where your mouth is and, and getting market proof on a product, making sure the dogs are going to eat the dog food, so to speak right before you go too far down the road. And, um, so with, um, with this business, we, we were seeing, we had market proof, you know, it was proving itself in the podcast business. So we knew we were moving away from product design and development. And maybe that was a little, a little disconcerting because our entire careers thus far had not been in that area.

Tom (29:32):
But, um, oh, and, uh, so to get to part of what, as Tracy’s podcasting and interviewing, that has an interesting story about sorta why, well, two things, why we developed some tech in this business that really differentiates us, um, and then a new product that we’re developing related to it is, is interesting. Another interesting story, but let’s start with the tech. Um, we had, I told you that we had this 3d printing podcast, WTF IFF. We had a hundred thousand listeners and we’re selling, you know, advertisers are wanting to buy ad space and, and promote their products or their brands to our audience. And, you know, we’re, we’re selling that to them. And Tracy is says to me, Hey, we’re only selling that ad space on the new episodes we’re publishing in a given month. Like somebody will buy for the month of June, our new episodes based on those.

Tom (30:37):
But what we found when with our statistics is 60% of our plays of our episodes on a given month were coming from episodes. We published in the past. Yep. And is like, well, people are listening to those. Now those are new plays now, but they’re not hearing our ads for the new stuff. So our advertisers only getting value out of a portion of our plays. We’re only making money on a portion of replays. That’s a problem. What are we going to do about that? And so, you know, Tracy sort of drove me to figure this out and we developed some SAS texts so that we could, without having to re edit every episode every month, we have software that can put ads into all the episodes and take them out or change them at any time on demand. And that’s what we developed. And that’s a big part of our tech with the palletized platform that really, um, started to put us on the map and give us a lot more revenue opportunities.

Rich (31:39):
Got it. Yeah. So, so you could dynamically substitute, um, ads, um, in, in older episodes. And, uh, so that was part of the tech that, that you rolled into it, right? Yeah. I mean, before that, if you wanted to put ads in old episodes, you had to have an actual audio engineer re edit the old episode and republish it. I mean, it’s really involved and not worth the time or the expense. Right, right. Yeah. But if you could do it with software, it doesn’t involve any labor and it happens in minutes. Right. Then now you can monetize all those plays and give a sponsor a lot more value. You can make more money. It’s really win-win quote the godfather or the third godfather, just when you thought you were out, they pulled you back in. So, so essentially like you ended up using your product design, um, savviness to, to solve this, the software problem, this ad placement problem.

Rich (32:39):
Um, but now like you’ve come full circle where you’re developing an actual product to support, um, what you’re doing in productize. Um, and this, this microphone that you’ve created, um, it’s the brand, um, brand cast or self recording microphone.

Tom (32:57):
That’s right. Yeah. And that’s really, that’s the second story I was mentioning, which is actually a more fun story. And there’s actually a video that we created that to tell that story, I’ll have to send you the link so you can put it in your show notes or whatever you have there. But, um, so, so at this point, it’s, uh, gosh, it’s gotta be two or three years ago. Now, Tracy was in Las Vegas at a cryptocurrency conference and that’s an area of interest of hers. And she had a podcast and we start a new podcast every year, each of us, so that we’re constantly experiencing what’s working today and not just what we did when we started the first podcast so that she had a podcast and she had the opportunity to interview a lot of, uh, celebrities at this, this cryptocurrency conference in Las Vegas.

Tom (33:43):
And one of those was Gary V, um, who, you know, probably most podcasters have heard of. Um, and then she got to interview some other people like common and, oh, she got to interview Steve Wasniak. I mean, a lot of really big people, but it’s during the interview with Gary V that, um, she’s backstage cause that this, there was a stage at this event and she had very little time to be able to interview Gary V there’s a lot, all kinds of crazy noise going on. Cause common is rehearsing for a piece going to perform at this thing. So she had like five minutes interview and was going to be the shortest interview ever. And she had some equipment. And to record somebody unlike what you and I are doing now, connecting over zoom. And we’re each in our offices and using the internet. That’s, that’s how a lot of people do it.

Tom (34:31):
But if you’re going to interview somebody in person, you need different equipment. You know, you have a microphone for each of you that is long cords connected to them. And she had a digital audio recorder. That’s recording to an SD card, actually a very high quality recording, but it’s a lot of stuff to deal with. So she, um, had just a few minutes to interview him. She pushed record on the recorder, but she had too much she’s holding in her hands was kind of clunky. So she put the recorder on the floor. The chords are long enough. That’s fine. Has this interview with gravy? It was awesome. She nailed it. He complimented her. Wow. That was a great interview, you know, and he does a lot of them and he walks away and then she picks up the recorder only to discover that the batteries ran out on the recording and she missed the whole thing.

Tom (35:22):
And she didn’t have awareness that the batteries ran out as she’s talking to him because it was on the floor. Right. I get this phone call from her. I rate phone call. She’s like hopping, mad, not mad at me, but sorta mad at the universe. Right. Because took place and she had this wonderful interview that she’s lost. And she was like, Tom, and tells me the whole story. Here’s what happened. You need to do something about that. There’s gotta be a solution. And this is how a lot of things that we developed actually, who was my chief technical officer over here. Oh, wait. Yeah. That’s me. Right? Yeah. Actually a lot of the things that we’ve developed have happened that way. One of the very first products we did early in our career was another thing that Tracy’s sorta had this need, that I figured out how to solve, but this one, I was like, all right.

Tom (36:09):
So she’s like, I need a way that I can have a microphone and I can give one to the guest. And I can see if that battery is running low. Something’s indicating that it’s going to let me know. And when it’s recording, I know it’s recording and I don’t want to hold all this equipment. I don’t want all these cords can’t you just do it in the microphone. And so, you know, I start to figure that out and, um, designed what is the brand caster, self recording microphone, um, that it records to an SD card, right? In the microphone. It runs on two AA batteries. Um, and it actually records a really high quality. It’s got a built in pre-amp and you know, one of the things that if you do enough audio recording, you know that aren’t, you have your microphone, you have these cables, you might have a mixing board or some other interface that goes to a computer.

Tom (37:02):
And every time you have a cord or a joint between a coordinate device, you have the opportunity for noise. You have the opportunity for signal loss. So it, I really found, wow, this is pretty cool. We’re recording right. To an ISD or the dusty card within the microphone. We don’t really have any of those problems. And we can record a higher quality by doing that. Uh, but of course, then it’s all, self-contained, it’s like a podcast recording studio right. In your hand. So, yeah. So I’ve developed that. Um, and then of course, with the electronics, I practiced what I preached and I hired a really high quality third-party company to do that and then double check their work. And this one’s not as complicated because it doesn’t have rechargeable battery. So I wanted to, for the use case, I don’t want a rechargeable battery to run out in the middle of an interview and you have to plug it in to charge it.

Tom (37:55):
I want to be able to change disposable batteries and immediately continue that interview in seconds. So when you don’t want to be interviewing Gary V and be like, um, Carrie visa, what’s that tripping onto your shoe? Oh, wait. Yeah. That’s my rechargeable batteries. Yeah. That’d be very bad. Well, so yes, that’d be very bad. Gary V by the way, was actually really, uh, understanding about the equipment problem. And, you know, he invited Tracy to interview him again. He just couldn’t do it right then. And, and it’s actually a good story that, uh, you know, we continue to talk about sort of the mother of the invention, if you will. Yeah. Um, and then of course, we also built some other interesting features into the microphone, just as a product design, uh, aspect. We built in a, uh, what we call a mic flag, which actually I can show you here, like this, where you have, you know, your podcast name or whatever is right on it.

Tom (38:54):
So that if you’re doing live streaming video or something with it, you’re can promote your brand logo right. On the microphone. Kind of like you see the news crews, halves, you know? Yeah. Like weather channel and yeah, yeah, yeah. But the way we designed it out of styrofoam for my Halloween costume, I was a weatherman styrofoam block for weather channel. But yes, that’s, that’s what I learned, what it was called, because I was Googling all over, like, what are you take the microphone label thing? And like, I finally found that it was, uh, quite a mic flag, but a little piece of it, you know, before I knew that’s what it called. I called it a mic block. I didn’t know any better, you know, a Mike block, it looks like a block right on the microphone. Sure. We’ll call it a mic block, but now it’s commonly called a mic flag.

Tom (39:44):
Yeah. And we make it so you can customize it. Obviously you put your logo on it pretty easily. We have a way to do that. So, so yeah. So that’s, that’s, uh, that’s how I’m still utilizing some of my skills of product design and development with this podcasting company. Um, but honestly I’m a creative person and it sort of doesn’t matter to me if I’m creating a physical product or an info product or a software product, a lot of the principles all apply. And, um, having, you know, the great thing about podcasts industry is it’s hip it’s new. It’s, there’s always something exciting happening in it sort of modern tech and it growing in popularity. So a lot of the other products I did in the past were kind of in older industries that there wasn’t a whole lot of cool new stuff going on.

Tom (40:38):
So I’m having a lot of fun with that. So in certain ways that you finding yourself more in the center of innovation than when you were in, in product design in some ways, yeah. Yeah. There was, there was a time when we had a whole business that was in the personal digital assistant, um, market remember way back the Palm pilots and all that, that was pretty cutting edge at the time, but then it died. I mean the modern smartphone killed it.

Rich (41:07):
Yeah. Even the acronym doesn’t exist anymore. Like you say, PDA known knows that public display of affection. Yeah. Right. Yeah. That’s a good point. You’re right. I think anybody under 25, I don’t remember exactly that. All I know is that right before my iPhone, I had a trio. That was the last Palm device. It was a, so when the, when the iPhone came out, um, in June of 2007, I waited online for one.

Rich (41:37):
And that was the, that was the end of my Palm, um, my, or my PDA journey. And I think for many other people too, I agree a hundred percent. And I’m right with you there. I was in line that same day in 2007 to get my first iPhone. Yeah. So, um, awesome. Well, I appreciate all the, all of the great experience that you’ve relayed here. Um, if people want to learn more about you or get in touch with you, how do they go about doing so?

Tom (42:06):
You know, the best way is to go to my current company website, Um, that there’s on the about page is some information about me and the other members of the company. But, um, there’s that, I’m also, um, I am on LinkedIn. Uh, it’s not my primary social platform, but I’m certainly there and I’m happy to connect with people and let’s see, um, there’s contact in fraud. I should on the website, the app card product is the brand cast or self recording microphone. That’s the new product it’s in development. It’s not quite available. We are, um, manufacturing it here in the, uh, summer 2021. It will be out probably in September. Awesome. I’m looking forward to seeing that. That sounds super cool. And, uh, Tom, I really appreciate you coming on the podcast, sharing all your expertise, sharing your journey and some awesome stories. So thanks again, Tom. Well, thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Outro (43:14):
Thanks for listening to innovations and breakthroughs with your host, rich Goldstein. Be sure to click, subscribe, check us out on the web and we’ll see you next time.

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