Leaving the secure walls of employment to satisfy your inner entrepreneurial spirit is one thing, but to close the door on a business to pursue a new venture is quite another.
David Ranger, carpet cleaning business owner come inventor of the WAYO digital sandwich board, tells Dynamic Business how he did exactly that. What’s the relationship here? There is none – and why should there be.
While many of us deliberate how we can use existing skills to gain independence and fortune, David identified an opportunity and set about gaining the skills to pursue it.
Walking along typical street littered with A-Frame sandwich boards, David’s daughter questioned why advertising hadn’t been brought into the 21st century.
“And that gave me an idea. I set my mind to reinventing the A-Frame, lodged a US patent for an innovation and started working out how to do it,” said David.
Many fixed signs have moved to LCD displays with static content but David didn’t find anything offering mobility and real time content.
Some may be dissuaded from pursuing ideas they know nothing about but while “turning an idea into an innovation was far from easy,” the challenge was simply part of the bargain.
After securing funding from Commercialisation Australia, David initiated the development process for the WAYO digital sandwich board. Some time later, he captured the interest of electronics manufacturing company, Elexon Electronics who agreed to partner with David to make WAYO a reality.
“Elexon immediately understood the WAYO concept and its market potential. Within a week, they agreed to work with me to make WAYO a reality,” said David.
“My brilliant idea collided with their world-class design and manufacturing expertise, and WAYO was born.”
The WAYO sandwich board has been adopted by a number of organisations in the B2C market across a range of industries. Now, the product looks set to take off with Virgin Australia as trials take place across several major airports.
“I connected with Virgin Australia via a friend who put me in touch with Virgin’s head of innovation and development in the terminals. When I met with Virgin, they saw how WAYO could solve communication challenges they were having in both the check-in and lounge areas,” David said.
“We developed a prototype for their Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane terminals. Virgin Australia is trialing the product, placing a WAYO in airport lounges to promote their own services to club members.”
From a grain of an idea, WAYO now employs two business managers, a marketing manager and a team of engineers dedicated to taking the product to the next level.
“We have lots of ideas to adapt and further enhance the WAYO technology, making sure the enhancements are actually needed by our customers.”
Laying down a pathway in a new industry with no experience is risky business but with the right ethos, you might just do it. Realising the potential for the product and continuing the process of perfecting knowledge and expanding ideas has been crucial to WAYO’s success.
What advice would David give to someone else hoping to turn an invention into a reality? He said:
“Partner with people who understand your vision and believe in your innovation and its market potential.”
“Look at your innovation from your customer’s perspective and don’t be afraid to make changes. Listen to what they are telling you.”