Case Study: Handi-Vice

Client: Simon Stepniak

demonstration on YouTube

Patent has been granted in the UK and the design is in the process of being registered in other countries, including across Europe and America.

The Project

The Handi-Vice is a user friendly, portable handheld clamp/vice which is designed to enable ease of cutting, drilling, sanding and other DIY and building tasks. It saves having to buy or carry around a heavy workbench and is suitable for securely holding a wide range of materials of different size and shape, fitting neatly into any drawer or tool box.

The Process

Like many inventors, DIY enthusiasts and builders, finding a secure platform to cut, drill or carry out other manual tasks on can be dicey. A slip here or there can cause damage to furniture and areas where cutting or drilling is being done. While Simon was working on another invention, he managed to damage the table in his kitchen. It was when he looked at this mess and stared at the squeeze mop head he had used to clear it up that he stumbled on the idea for the Handi-Vice.

He thought that the simple hinge design on the mop head would be ideal for offering maximum purchase with minimal pressure. So he dismantled the mop and added a few extra bits to make a usable vice that can could be placed on any surface and could hold the material being worked on securely.

It was only when Simon was helping a friend who had a similar problem with a DIY job that he remembered the vice he had invented. According to Simon:

“I went home and got my new invention, returned and said: ’here, try this’. Next day he returned my tool, saying: ‘How come this isn’t in the shops to buy? It is so simple to use. Why would anyone need to buy a workbench when this handy piece of kit does 99 percent of what a workmate does but can fit in a toolbox or kitchen drawer.’ He went on to add ‘Get it made before someone else does.’’ So I looked into whether such a thing did exist, which is when I called on Innovate to help me navigate this minefield.”

Like many inventors and designers, Simon was great at producing new things but not so focused on selling and developing those innovations. His major challenge was to keep things simple and get the basics right. Innovate helped him to apply for the patent and then it was just a question of trying to find the best partner to manufacture and produce the design on a mass scale.

The one major problem that he encountered was that he needed a manufacturer with a big name that retailers would trust and be prepared to get behind. He did his market research and spoke to the main buyers of UK tools and several retailers so he knew there was a lot of interest out there. Next it was a question of knocking on the door of established tool manufacturers and getting in front of buyers and in-house designers to see if a partnership could take the product forward.

Simon has some sage advice for those who are going through the same process:

“There will be times when things go wrong. It happens, learn from your mistakes, better still, learn from other’s mistakes. Believe in it. Don’t take short cuts, be methodical. Don’t let it take over your life, keep a balance. If you do everything by the book and it is a good product, then you have nothing to worry about.”

The Results

Simon managed to attract the attention of QEP, an international company with products all over the world and entered into a licensing agreement with them. The Handi-Vice has been nominated for an award alongside more prestigious multi-million pound brands and is now available to buy from Screwfix. It will soon be available from other retailers and hopefully overseas as well.

Testimonials

“I found Innovate to be a great help and service. The staff were very professional and informative, keeping me up to speed with proceedings and explaining the jargon which can be confusing. I would use their help again on future projects and recommend their services.”

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