An Invention Story
June 4, 2014
By Milan Rafailovich
Evolution of the RoboSnail: From Idea to Reality
The saying that necessity is the mother of invention actually is more true than you may imagine. In fact, this especially true when developing tools or new process methods in order to achieve a desired end result to already existing or potential problems. This necessity to develop a better process was the driving force when it came to the development of my current item the RoboSnail, the world’s first and only automated aquarium glass cleaner.
Coming Up With the Idea
The “ah-ha” moment came while I was attending San Diego State University, pursuing my degree for international business. I used my aquarium as my outlet for stress and a way to escape the day to day drudgery of everyday life. But with everything life sometimes has a way of creeping into your tranquil zones or escapes and reminds you that with everything there are equal and opposite forces keeping the world at balance. In the case of a salt water reef aquarium the reality was that it needed a lot of maintenance in order to maintain a living slice of ocean in your living room. So after putting hard days at work and school sometimes the aquarium would become neglected and so that became a job. It was just another thing added to the list of things to do before I could have some me time. The biggest noticeable obstruction to enjoying my hobby was not necessarily the water parameters, but the green blanket of algae that had coated the entire surface of my main viewing glass within just a few days. Now I would have to clean that before I could enjoy the tank. More neglect meant more intensive cleaning sessions which sometimes led to accidents like scratching your glass by scraping too hard. This led to the necessity question: Is there a better way? On that day, the idea for the RoboSnail was born. So what was the next step? Was it possible to make such a device? Who would do it, how much would it cost, where would it get done, and the list kept growing. These are fundamental questions to consider when creating anything new and can be applied to any “widget”.
Developing a Working Prototype
The first step was simply to discuss the process with an engineering firm. After some careful searching I picked some firms whom would meet with me for FREE and were willing to discuss it. I did not speak with any firms who wanted money just to listen. This is a red flag in my opinion as it is an indicator they will only nickel and dime you to death throughout the process and generally will not go the extra mile for you. They want your ideas and money, but generally do not share your passion. It is critical to work with a team which shares your passion. After finding a firm that proved that the concept could be transformed into reality and after doing some work on the item, I sourced the project through a successful manufacturer of Robotics. They were impressed with the concept and the first prototypes where then developed overseas in Asia. The total process took about 3 years and we had to go through a dozen iterations before we found something reliable. There were plenty of days where it looked like this thing would never work or that it would not be practical for the mass market but this did not get the better of me. We knew we had something good and we just needed to be patient. Finally we had a prototype successful enough, but had to further refine this item and make sure it was something that was able to be mass produced. This required further improvements to the manufacturing process and additional patience. When you work with good manufactures, they often only use the latest and highest quality methods and materials in order to produce an item. However, they should also take responsibility for any sort of defect (design or manufacturing-related) and stand behind their items. If you cannot find a manufacturer with principles, then it is better walk away. Achieving great things can take time, effort, and patience, but rushing the process may quickly lead to failure.
Launching the RoboSnail
Once the manufacturing process, testing, and methods were completed the next step was product launch and continuous improvement of the item for future generations. After years of data collection and thousands of hours of trial and error, the process of developing new items or improvements would progress at a much faster pace. You can be proud of yourself when reaching this stage considering all the uncertainty you have to go through wen developing a product from scratch. Indeed the development process may feel overwhelming at times and will test your determination.
Product launch may seem like the final step, but is also a whole new undertaking. Finding the right partners, negotiations, placement, branding, and price point will also take much time. In the case of RoboSnail, we are in a very unique position: we have a one-of-a-kind patented item with no direct substitutes and that takes time to convey to the market place. Many people want to know more information than what is available before they feel comfortable purchasing the product. As a consequence, we do our best to reassure the public by standing 100% behind what we created. We are very proud in what we created and if you have done everything the right way you can also feel proud in offering these assurances. This is a nice old fashioned mentality which will help build long-term success for a company.
The whole story of AquaGenesis and our product – RoboSnail – started all the way back in 2004. It took a lot of time and investment to finally transform an idea into reality – I am glad we did it. By writing this article I truly realized how much has been accomplished. You will also have your own stories and struggles but the key thing to remember is to be patient and persistent.
We hope our story will encourage you to follow and realize your dreams. My name is Milan Rafailovich and I am the inventor of the RoboSnail.
You can buy the RoboSnail at http://wellbots.com/aquagenesis-robosnail/