To start this story at the beginning, please go here and follow the links. And thanks for reading!
To recap, M went to CHA and on day one inadvertently caused a major glitter bomb to descend on the convention. At the end of the day, she hears that the fire department wants to talk with her.
"The fire department wants to talk to me? Why? All I did was demo the Big MoMo. It's not my fault that that thing is defective. The plates shot out of there like my money on a stamp release night. Furthermore, the folks running the AGA booth must be crazy to put so much glitter in the chamber. Maybe I should talk with my lawyer first."
Francie and Susan both said at the same time, "You have a lawyer?"
"Yes, I do. It can't hurt to protect yourself. I needed some tax advice once and really, this guy is a genius. He has saved me so much money. Plus, we needed him to file a claim when our home was damaged by a storm."
They didn't need to know about the MAN and how it almost destroyed our house.
Susan said, "Well, you have nothing to hide. It wasn't your fault. You should just call them and explain."
Francie piped up. "I disagree. It's a jungle out there. If I were you, I'd call your lawyer first."
I was so tired. "Oh, I'll call them. This is crazy. I just want to get this over with."
Three firemen came over to the hotel and I met them in the lobby. I explained what happened and they started laughing! They said that as far as they were concerned, the whole thing was the fault of the AGA people. The plexiglass used to make the big booth was an inferior grade of plastic.
When I got back to the room, Francie and Susan were getting ready to leave.
"How did it go?, Francie asked. Did you get arrested?"
"No, I did not get arrested. Actually, it was fine. Susan, you were right. The firemen said it was AGA's fault. I'm good. And where are you guys going? Dinner?"
Susan said, "Not exactly. Some folks at CHA sent an email. They are looking for volunteers to go back and clean up the place so that it can reopen in the morning. Want to come?"
I didn't want to go back there. I wanted a steak and an ice cold Diet Coke. Plus, I was beginning to be afraid of stamping supplies. But, under the circumstances, I figured I had better go back.
When we got there, the place was buzzing with activity. People were sweeping or wiping down the place with micro fiber cloths. Every once in while, a glitter fight broke out. It turned into a big party. A few companies got together and ordered pizza and cupcakes for everyone. What a great group of people. I loved stamping.
I cleaned up near the Clearly Superior booth and met the owner, Beth, who was enthusiastic about her product, but frustrated that no one else seemed to appreciate what a great product she had.
"I don't understand. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fill all the orders. I haven't sold a thing."
I was honest. I told her that I didn't see a future for clear stamps. Did they stamp ok? Would they tear? And wasn't it expensive to buy a block for every stamp?
Beth looked upset. "They stamp perfectly! And, you only need a few blocks. You reuse the blocks."
Oh. I hadn't thought of that.
Beth asked me if I wanted to see a demo. I didn't want to hurt her feelings any more than I already had, so I agreed. I watched as she stamped a flower and then stamped a sentiment right next to it. Interesting. Very interesting.
"Do you want to try?"
"Sure," I said.
So I stamped a few images with her clear stamps. I had assumed that you needed special ink, but you didn't. They stamped great. I couldn't believe how easy this was. Beth was right. These were fantastic.
"Beth, do you have a patent for this?"
"A patent? No, I didn't even think of that. It took all the money I have to start this company. Why would I need a patent?"
My head exploded. I could see that Beth was clueless.
"Beth, you are right. Your clear stamps are Absolutely Amber Amazing. You are sitting on a goldmine. But, anyone walking by could take your idea. If you have a patent, you are protected. Otherwise, you are just giving away your idea for nothing."
"I didn't think of that," said Beth. "How much do you think a patent would cost?"
"I have no idea, but I know a lawyer. Do you want me to ask him?"
"Ok. I guess. But I don't have the money to pay him. Maybe I could get a loan?"
"Well, I'm just thinking out loud here, Beth. What if we became partners and I paid for the patent?"
"I don't know. I've been working for two years on developing my company. I'm intrigued. But, I don't even know you."
"I totally understand. I don't know you either, Beth," I said. "But listen. Why don't I find out how much it would cost to get a patent and then we can talk more?"
Beth replied, "No harm in that, is there? Wait a minute. Here's a thought. Let's have breakfast tomorrow and get to know each other better. Do you want to work the booth with me tomorrow?"
"No!," I practically shouted. "I mean, yes, let's have breakfast, but let's not work the booth. I don't think you should let anyone else see these stamps until we've talked to my lawyer."
Beth didn't look convinced. "Really? But CHA is my one chance to sell my stamps."
"You said yourself that you sold nothing today. Why will tomorrow be any different? I've never run a business, but it seems to me that your clear stamp idea has the potential to make millions. But you need to protect it first."
"Ok," said Beth. "Let's try and talk to the lawyer tomorrow morning and see what he says. If this isn't going to work, I can get back to CHA in the afternoon."
"Great," I said. "It's a plan."
But, I couldn't sleep that night. So, I shot Andy a quick email around midnight.
Subject: $$ to form a partnership and get a patent
Thinking of going into business with a woman who has a new product to make stamps. It's legit. How much to get a patent and form a partnership? I need an estimate ASAP. M
Andy must live on his email because he replied right away.
Re: Subject: $$ to form a partnership and get a patent
I need to know more. There are two kinds of patents, utility and design. You may need both. Not sure. Expect to pay at least $25K to form business and get the patents. Let's discuss BEFORE you do anything. Andy
I could swing $25K. I just had to convince Beth to join forces. I wonder how much she put into the business? Maybe I could buy her out? Or maybe she'd get a loan on her own and move on without me? I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but I had a feeling it would work out. I liked Beth and I think she liked me. I only had one more obstacle.
I had to convince John that this was the real deal. But, after Vermont and the MAN, how?
Next: Chapter 19