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Live webchat TODAY with 'Inventor Tom', winner of The Apprentice series 7, Friday 26 July, 1-2pm

(61 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 25-Jul-13 10:45:46

Tom Pellereau, engineer, inventor and everyone's favourite Apprentice winner, is joining us at Mumsnet Towers for a webchat on Friday 26 July between 1 and 2pm.

Since winning The Apprentice in 2011 and gaining investment from Lord Sugar, Tom has been busy creating a host of beauty products that aim to make everyday chores easier.

His 'curved S-file' was the top-selling beauty accessory following its launch last March. Since then, he has gone on to launch six more products, including the S-clipper and, most recently the Nipper Clipper, the world's first baby nail clipper, which allows parents to trim nails safely and correctly. Having read Lottiegarbanzo's contribution to the #TipsforKate discussion thread, perhaps a useful purchase for a certain pair of new parents?

Join Tom tomorrow (Friday 26 July) to quiz him about life after not being fired or post a question to him in advance.

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 26-Jul-13 14:13:10

Thank you to Tom for all his great answers. We wish him all the best with his future inventions and will look out for the Nipper Clipper on the Kentish Town high street.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 14:12:01

Unfortunately I think time's up. I hope my answers have been helpful and I'm sorry to anyone who asked a question that I couldn't get round to.

Do feel free to tweet any additional comments or questions to @inventor_tom and I'll try my best to get back to you.

Every week we do a #FileFriday giveaway on Twitter. Today we're giving away the entire Stylfile range to celebrate the birth of the royal baby.

Visit www.stylfile.com if you want any more info or to see me on the screen again demo-ing the products.

Thanks for having me Mumsnet Towers!

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 14:06:25

YoungWildandFree

I know it's cheeky to ask another question BUT are there any inventions out there that you wish you invented?

Which inventors inspire you most?

Feel free to act like you've seen my sneaky 3rd question grin

The light bulb, that was a pretty bright idea ! Not to mention the guy who invented the window sill, what a ledge !

#NewDadJoke

PseudoBadger Fri 26-Jul-13 14:05:10

Ah you've got lots of fans wink

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 14:04:27

Hi - Fingers on fire here. Fortunately I've been given a fan !

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 14:03:51

DinoSnores

What made you interested in nails in particular? Or was it something like came to you as an idea out of the blue?

Hi, think I asnwered this in: UnsureOfOutcome Qu. Hope it helps.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 14:01:32

TJTierney

Tom. What's the best way to get an invention patented? I've seen load of web based companies but they all say they will send a pack out and I send my idea back. What's to stop them from stealing it (if its any good)

I'd be interested to talk to you as to how you got started. Could you email me? Thanks

Patents have 4 costs.

1. Writing: a good patent attorney, will charge £1000-2000 to write a patent.

2. Submiting: official patent costs. For a UK only patent this is about £300

3. International costs: After about 30 months, if you want to protect your idea in other countries, like USA, EU ... you have to pay for each region seperately. This costs about £4k for USA, £3k for EU ....

4. Annual fees: after about 3 years you have to pay annual fees to each region. These start small but get bigger.

All in all a world patent will cost min £15,000 !!!

My advice, which is very different to most IP Attorneys, is to learn how to write your own simple patent. Submit this for £250, then start talking to people about your idea. Your patent will not be published for 12 months.

Use this to judge how successful the idea is and then get a professional to write a better patent. Bearing in mind that you could have costs of £15,000 to cover.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 14:00:38

Mudness

Thanks for answering my questions Tom. Can I also ask, how have you ensured that your 'niceness' in business hasn't been perceived as you being a pushover?

Not a problem! I think its a bit of misconception that you have to be mean to get ahead in business. While it works for some, I prefer to take a more gentle approach, although I am no less passionate about my work because of this.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:56:41

oohaveabanana

Hi Tom - you one of favourite Apprentice winners - and congratulations on the birth of Jack smile

My question: the interviews week is always brilliant viewing, and usually, gives the clearest clues to the likely winner - how do you interview when employing new staff & have you learnt any techniques from the fabulous Claude?

The interviews do make for good viewing but are terrifying to go through, especially the one with Claude. I hope that I'm not that scary. When I interview I look for the right qualifications but also how they will fit in with my team.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:53:30

Katn

Sorry to ask another..I know I'm not meant to smile did you keep in touch with any of the other contestants after the Apprentice ended? Was it hard to go back to normality after appearing on a reality TV show?

Yes it was difficult. Especially not having a car waiting for you whenever you walked out of a building. I stay in touch with Helen and Jim, as we spent a lot of time together

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:51:54

strangerwithmyface

Hi Tom,

Welcome to Mumsnet. Following your back chair proposal on The Apprentice, how are you finding the chairs in Mumsnet Towers? What would you rate them?

Also - and more seriously, is it a viable policy for the government to encourage more young people to forget traditional jobs and encourage them to start their own businesses?

Hi - nice question, I've already tried out 3 of the chairs here. This one is good. The first, had what i call a negative rake which puts pressure on the lower lumber and L5 S1 disc, so I had to get rid of it ;) Chairs are really important to me.

Your serious question is indeed a serious one. Everyone is different and starting your own business is not for everyone. But young people should know its a viable option. Programs like the Apprentice show what is possible. In many ways when you are young is the best time to start a biz as you can live cheap!

Starting your own biz is incredible difficult, can absorb every second of your time and means you do miss out on other things.

Possibly a crucial thing, we need to encourage is to help people discover, what they want from life and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to get it.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:51:17

Katn

Was that really depressing café that you all had to go and sit at when you lost a task really that grim, or was it just shot that way?

It really was that grim (although the staff were lovely!).

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:49:15

CharlottebritishFlatShoes

Hi, I have started a new business manufacturing ladies high end flat shoes (ballerina style.) The emphasis is on the quality, workmanship and comfort in a classic elegant shoe. They are being hand made on the last, machine cut then hand finished. High end suedes, leathers and foil uppers with comfort soles. I have a principle in that the shoes and materials are all from British companies and the product is made from scratch here in UK using a factory in Northampton. I am keen promote British manufacturing, provide jobs and income for British workers. The shoes will retail around £130 which for a British hand made product is fantastic value. The question is: I do not have very much money in which to market, advertise and promote my product. Can you suggest where I start with publicising the product bearing in mind the lack of funds?

This sounds like a really good venture, I wish you all the best with it. My advice would be to never underestimate the power of bloggers and word of mouth. If you are able to spare some samples to give to bloggers to try out, this is well worth doing so they can appreciate the quality of your shoes for themselves. If you manage to win over these people, word will soon spread of your business (as I'm sure you're aware, as a Mumsnetter!) and may even reach the ears of a potential investor...

TJTierney Fri 26-Jul-13 13:45:14

Tom. What's the best way to get an invention patented? I've seen load of web based companies but they all say they will send a pack out and I send my idea back. What's to stop them from stealing it (if its any good)

I'd be interested to talk to you as to how you got started. Could you email me? Thanks

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:39:37

UnsureOfOutcome

Hey Tom! V exciting to see you in the Towers. I'd like to know how you first got into the whole style and beauty thing with the Stylfile - what gave you the idea? And can we expect anything else in this line from you?

I first had the idea, whilst watching my sister file her nails with the straight nail file. When she tried to file the nails on her other hand it looked really awkward. I thought, you've got curved nails why not use a curved nail file! A few days later I bought every nail file on the market and used my oven to make the first ever prototype.

The S-File was born. www.stylfile.com/s-file.php

The beauty market really interests me as there are a lot of complex problems to solve. Like making a Nail clipper that doesn't ping nails across the room. You would not believe how complicated it was to solve this. There are 35+ stages to make every S-Clipper.

I'm working on a few things at the moment, please watch this space.

oohaveabanana Fri 26-Jul-13 13:37:17

Hi Tom - you one of favourite Apprentice winners - and congratulations on the birth of Jack smile

My question: the interviews week is always brilliant viewing, and usually, gives the clearest clues to the likely winner - how do you interview when employing new staff & have you learnt any techniques from the fabulous Claude?

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:36:28

Duplogiraffe

Hi Tom, just wondered if you have any more inventions in the pipeline you can tell us about ? Thanks

I'm hugely fortunate in that I'm regulaly asked to solve problems for people. I get a lot of Tweets to @inventor_tom asking for things. For example tweezers that really grip, bath dams that work ... There are lots of things I would like to work on. However every idea has to pass the Lord Sugar Test!

Now that I have Jack I've got first hand experience of the many challenges of being a parent. I hope to develop more products like the Nipper Clipper, which make being a parent easier.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:35:35

YoungWildandFree

Hi Tom,

You proved that a nice person can exist in business - so well done for that.

You seem like you have a quirky personality, would you consider doing a children's science programme? I think you'd do a great job of engaging young children to love science, and to not think of it as boring or geeky.

Wow, thanks for your very kind words. If I had the time I would consider it as I'm definitely in support of anything that gets kids excited about science, but everything I have going on at the moment keeps me so busy I wouldn't have the time. However you never know what might happen in the future...

I think there are some great programmes already out there though and I would love to see more on TV!

YoungWildandFree Fri 26-Jul-13 13:35:18

I know it's cheeky to ask another question BUT are there any inventions out there that you wish you invented?

Which inventors inspire you most?

Feel free to act like you've seen my sneaky 3rd question grin

Katn Fri 26-Jul-13 13:32:30

Was that really depressing café that you all had to go and sit at when you lost a task really that grim, or was it just shot that way?

CharlottebritishFlatShoes Fri 26-Jul-13 13:27:53

Hi, I have started a new business manufacturing ladies high end flat shoes (ballerina style.) The emphasis is on the quality, workmanship and comfort in a classic elegant shoe. They are being hand made on the last, machine cut then hand finished. High end suedes, leathers and foil uppers with comfort soles. I have a principle in that the shoes and materials are all from British companies and the product is made from scratch here in UK using a factory in Northampton. I am keen promote British manufacturing, provide jobs and income for British workers. The shoes will retail around £130 which for a British hand made product is fantastic value. The question is: I do not have very much money in which to market, advertise and promote my product. Can you suggest where I start with publicising the product bearing in mind the lack of funds?

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:27:48

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans

Hi Tom

You've had a big success on one reality show. If you were invited to go on another one, would you consider it?

What like dancing on ice?! Not sure Jack or my wife would appreciate that. Whilst I'm sure being on ice or in the jungle would be an amazing experience. I think I'm better suited to trying to solve problems and inventing great products. So I'm more likely to spend time in my Inventor's Shed than I am on ice!

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:25:10

Katn

Hello, I remember you rather fondly from the 2011 Apprentice!

My question is, does Alan have a loo behind his door in the boardroom?

You'll never know. Unfortunately Lord Sugar has sworn me to secrecy.

Mudness Fri 26-Jul-13 13:24:19

Thanks for answering my questions Tom. Can I also ask, how have you ensured that your 'niceness' in business hasn't been perceived as you being a pushover?

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:22:45

VelvetStrider

Hello Tom. smile
How much help have you had from Lord Sugar since winning The Apprentice? Did he just bung you the money and let you get on with it, or did he set you up with contacts, mentors, sales opportunities etc and support you in getting your products to market? Is he quite hands-on with your business or do you hardly see him?

Lord Sugar is actually very hands-on. It's great to have him on board. He gives really good (and honest!) feedback on my ideas and is always quick to offer help. We work out of his office in Loughton and while of course he's not there all the time, when he is he makes time to talk to both myself and Ricky (2012 winner of the Apprentice, who works out of the same office as me).

If I have any questions and he's not there I can email him and almost always get a reply within 30 mins or so.

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