We recently chatted with Shane Vermette of Fremont, Calif., about his experience taking his product, Right Shears, from idea to market. Read on for the Q&A below, check out the website, and follow the startup on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to keep tabs on the growth of Right Shears.
Q&A with Shane Vermette, creator, Right Shears
Tell us about your product and what makes it stand apart from the competition.
Scissors come in many varieties, but they have relied upon the same basic design principle for almost 2,000 years! And just because something is the way we’ve always done it, that doesn’t mean it’s the way we should always do it! It’s the unique design of Right Shears that sets them apart.
Pretend you’re holding a glass of water — that’s the position of your hand when you’re holding Right Shears. It’s much more comfortable.
But also I’m excited to see how they can help people with conditions affecting hand and arm movement; I have a friend who has severe arthritis and he loves the feel of these scissors!
Because of the unique design, which gets your hand out of the way of what you are cutting, you can cut all the way through a variety of materials, including more heavy-duty materials. You can actually cut through wrapping paper without your scissor hand even touching the paper.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I came up with the idea for Right Shears while cutting wire mesh with my father-in-law — we were trying to fix the covering on one of those vents for the crawlspace beneath his home. He held the mesh apart while I hacked at it with a regular pair of snips — and, as you can imagine, the wire mesh hacked away at our hands!
I kept thinking that there had to be a better way. This really was an “a-ha moment”… it came towards the end of 2014, and I started the company in 2015.
I thought this idea must have been done before. So I started to search on Google and did a patent search to find out what existed. I spent a lot of time searching and found out that it hasn’t been done! Then I went to an attorney and started my own patent process. I contacted a prototyping firm because, at that point, I only had a cardboard prototype. This firm did 3D printing, so I have a box full of bizarre and interesting prototypes as we worked through the design issues. We went through, I think, at least 30 prototypes before we came up with a design I could use to start working with manufacturers.
What obstacles did you face as a startup, and how did you overcome them?
It’s expensive. And, marketing is extremely hard. I come from an engineering background. My first Kickstarter campaign was not successful and that was a huge blow for me. You find out if you really believe in something when you face a big failure … and maybe it’s good to experience that. In the end, my wife and I had some hard decisions to make. Belief in Right Shears was not the issue, but you should never sacrifice your ability to provide for your family.
We decided we could do it and decided to put more money in and move forward.
Also, it’s a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg problem. With a revolutionary new type of scissors, people want to try it out, but there are a lot of costs involved in getting into production When my first volume batch gets here, I’ll have the ability to send out samples for review. I need to get product into people’s hands.
What strengths do you bring to the table as an entrepreneur?
Definitely having an engineering background helped a lot because of the type of business this is. There are a lot of little details and technical design decisions that would be expensive to prototype if I didn’t have a clear picture of what I wanted — such as how to deal with left and right handedness (the handles are ambidextrous so lefties like myself can use Right Shears).
I think it’s important to leverage your experience, because there are enough difficulties in starting a new business even without adding in starting from scratch on how to build your idea.
My weakness, I think, was my lack of business and marketing experience — so I’m learning as I go.
As far as marketing goes, have you jumped on social media?
I’ve tried, I’ve tried. But you know, to be honest, everyone else is doing that. There’s a lot of noise out there. So when you truly have something that needs to get out there, what do you do? I put up the video of me cutting the very same wire mesh that my father-in-law and I were cutting.
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What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since starting the business?
Patience and perseverance. Things don’t always happen so fast, but you can’t give up. You have to be willing to wait, and work smart, and grind when it’s time to grind!
Thanks for taking the time to tell us about your startup, Shane, and best of luck as you bring Right Shears to the world!