Meet The Inventors: Dan Cass of The Liddle Speaker On How To Go From Idea To Launch

Authority Magazine
Authority Magazine
Published in
12 min readMar 11, 2024

--

Marketing and branding is so critical to launch a new product. You need help launching the product with traditional and digital marketing strategies. Hire a reputable PR firm that can show you their statistics of success. We met a lot of smart people and they cannot move the product because they just cannot keep up with all the changes with social media algorithms. It’s critical to create your own social media content as you are the brand ambassador and outsource the traditional PR. That works for us.

As a part of our series called “Meet The Inventors”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Cass.

Dan Cass, Inventor & Founder — D3 Products/Liddle Speaker

Dan Cass also known as “inventor Danny” is the President of D3 Products, a leader in innovative, space-saving products that disrupt the market, D3 Products was named one of the 10 hottest start-ups at the 2020 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) and won the ibt award at CES in 2022. The company was awarded multiple patents for its engineering and design capabilities utilizing patented Intellectual Properties (IP) in consumer electronics. Danny’s latest product innovation is a magnetic wireless “Liddle Speaker” that can magnetically attach to any surface including the magsafe charging area of an iphone. Inventor Danny holds a masters in electrical with a reverse engineering mindset in consumer product development.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I grew up in a small town in Michigan, where the pace of life was slow, and the community was close. From a young age, I had an innate curiosity and an uncanny ability to see things differently while building things in shop class. I had a teacher/mentor who let me design and build something out of nothing was the beginning of opening up to the creativity of a young mind. The shop class taught me not just about tools but the basic applications and processes that are used in working with wood, metal, and plastic that are used in today’s products.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

In school, while my peers followed instructions without hesitation, I was always the one who asked, “Why?” My teachers, initially frustrated, soon realized that my inquiries were not disruptions but invitations to explore more deeply in my own thought process. My approach to life was simple: if everyone went right, then I wondered what I might discover by going left. This philosophy led me to embark on adventures that others deemed unconventional or risky. Despite the occasional skepticism from peers and adults alike, I remained undeterred. My unique perspective and relentless curiosity opened doors to opportunities beyond the small town’s borders. Yet, no matter where my adventures led me, I always carried the lessons learned in those early days: the value of mentorship, the importance of asking questions, and the courage to follow one’s own path, even if it meant going left when everyone else went right.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. What was the catalyst that inspired you to invent your product? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

The catalyst that inspired me to create the Magnetic Liddle Speaker was during the pandemic. As the world shut down, our startup company was falling apart. Our access to capital stopped, our product tooling we started was incomplete because everyone was stuck at home. Out of nowhere, a new customer reached out and asked if we could make modifications to our design. This moment of realization is when the ah ha moment struck to develop a magnetic portable bluetooth wireless speaker that can be used to magnetically attach to anything! The frustration of the pandemic pushed us into a new direction to develop the Magnetic Liddle Speaker.

There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

We watched a lot of shark tank tv and it was said if you ever invent a product and you want to know if it will sell, don’t ask your friends and family if they would buy the product because they will not be honest with you. Take the product to a trade show and see if customers will buy or place orders. Well, we took 1K pieces to a show in Atlanta, Georgia. The show opened and it was crazy busy with people wanting to see what we had because we had this long line at our booth. We sold the 1K pieces we brought to the show in 6 hours on the first day. By the time the show ended, we wrote up eighty additional purchase orders! We went home and had orders stacked to the ceiling. That’s when we knew we had a product that customers would buy.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

Researching whether your idea has already been created involves a systematic approach to ensure you cover all bases. Start with a Basic Internet Search, use search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) to look up your idea using various keywords related to your concept. Try different combinations of terms that describe your idea’s features, benefits, and potential applications. Check the patent database, patent search engines like Google Patents, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). These platforms allow you to search through millions of patents to see if there is anything similar to your idea. Search platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo where many new ideas and products first get introduced. Searching these sites can help you find if someone else is already working on or has funded a similar idea. Search on social media platforms and forums related to your idea’s can be good sources to find discussions about new products, technologies, and trends. Niche forums dedicated to specific industries or interests can also provide insights. If you’re serious about your idea, it might be worth consulting with industry experts or hiring a professional patent attorney or an intellectual property (IP) consultant. They can offer valuable insights and help you navigate the complexities of patents and IP.

Did you have a role model or a person who inspired you to persevere despite the hardships involved in taking the risk of selling a new product?

I was trained to be a reverse engineer / technical sales manager while working for an automotive company. My colleagues were the best mentors that helped identify my weakness and guided me into looking into the future of technology. I learned how to build products based on futuristic concepts. Building something out of nothing involves a blend of creativity, technical skill, and strategic planning. When we designed the Liddle Speaker we needed to consider what problems it solves and does it touch the mass market from kids to adults to generate sales quickly.

For the benefit of our readers, can you share the story, and outline the steps that you went through, from when you thought of the idea, until it finally landed on the store shelves? In particular we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

To build a product you need to define the vision and roadmap. Start with a clear detailed description. Consider the problem it solves. Do your research on the concept and technologies. Next, do a feasibility study, identify the challenges and what is the life expectancy of your product idea. Look into regulatory safety testing of your product idea. Once done with the basics above, begin with sketches or digital concepts. Whoever you work with on your design put a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in place to protect your idea for a minimum of 5 years. Depending on the complexity of your product design try to build a prototype with a 3D printer to show the concept. Test your prototype to identify any design flaws or improvements. Once you feel comfortable with your prototype contact a patent attorney and file a provisional utility patent. Once you have everything in order you can look around for tooling manufacturing in the states or overseas. Ask others who have worked overseas to help you navigate with manufacturing. If you have no experience with international manufacturing you will definitely need help. We see entrepreneurs make costly mistakes by not having a clear understanding of the manufacturing process on an international basis. Once you are satisfied with your manufacture, develop a business model and plan on scaling your product with distribution, marketing and customer support. To get to market with your product utilize traditional marketing, digital marketing, PR, and trade shows. Buyers will attend trade shows looking specifically for new products. Retail buyers are also scouting social media pages for new products and it’s important to create all the social media video content based on the problems your product solves.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

During a team meeting while discussing our trade show conference schedule, I asked Hey Siri a question and not realizing the speaker was turned on it spooked us because the voice was coming from another room where the speaker was located. After that another ah ha moment struck where we knew we could have voice control commands on the Liddle Speaker.

The early stages must have been challenging. Are you able to identify a “tipping point” after making your invention, when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

We had challenges designing and building the Liddle Speaker during the pandemic. Once we were able to launch online and at trade shows we were very lucky to generate sales. Our tipping point was when we were invited into Lowes for the into-the-blue-pitch-your-product to Lowes to see if you will be our next big winner to get your product into Lowes stores nationwide. We pitched the magnetic Liddle Speaker and won the top prize in our category to be in Lowes stores for the holiday season.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Invented My Product” and why?

Great question!

1) the importance of finding your laser focused market to start pre-sale marketing.

2) tooling on any project can be expensive and I had my shares of making changes on the product design after the tooling mod was complete. We have old tooling that has never been used because we made changes to our design. We should have done more 3D printing before our final design.

3) Intellectual patent filing with our attorney 1st. We made a mistake filing with an international attorney first not really knowing the process during the pandemic. With offices shut down during the pandemic we tried filing our patents a different way that ended up costing us more money.

4) be prepared for manufacturing challenges, the cost of tariffs and shipping issues and customs devanning that adds extra cost to your bottom line.

5) Marketing and branding is so critical to launch a new product. You need help launching the product with traditional and digital marketing strategies. Hire a reputable PR firm that can show you their statistics of success. We met a lot of smart people and they cannot move the product because they just cannot keep up with all the changes with social media algorithms. It’s critical to create your own social media content as you are the brand ambassador and outsource the traditional PR. That works for us.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

I have multiple utility patents in audio, video and electronic charging technologies. I share all my lessons learned with people who see me on talking panels at trade shows. If you develop something, you need to be open to constructive criticism and if you think you can do everything you will fall apart. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses. Hire others to do your weaknesses, your time will be consumed by your strengths to launch your product. My old saying still holds true, “There’s a whole ocean out there but you can only drink one glass of water at a time”

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

Oh this is a good question, Yes hiring a consultant is good if you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Hiring the right consultant is the tricky part. We met people that wanted to work with our brand and used all the right buzzwords and fancy presentations to make them look like a big successful outfit. In the end they were nothing but Google smart people. Run for the hills when you meet one of these guys. If you want a solid consultant, ask them to show you “their patents” and ask them how they got their product to market. What were their sales? How much equity do they want to take from you or what is their royalty for working with you? I believe there are more resources today that talk about a big game and cannot deliver because of Ai and Google smart people. Bottom line it’s all about success. If someone is saying they are the best fit for you, I would run to the hills. I helped companies and will never put the pressure on like I see others do. It grinds my teeth when I hear the horror stories of people with a great idea being taken advantage of. Do your due diligence and go with your gut.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

We bootstrapped our company in the beginning and once I secured my first utility patent, we applied for catapult competitions within our local state’s economic development for grant funding. We won three catapult competitions to kickstart our company with grants. Once we proved we had a product that was accepted by customers we went out to angel investors and grew the company by attending multiple trade shows across the country.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Another great question, we continue to design our products where we watch the end of life of components. For example, we are in the process of eliminating the power cord and going with wireless charging on our products. We think about all of the power cords that get thrown into landfills. Did you know it takes 500 years for plastic to decompose. By eliminating the power cord we can reduce our manufacturing cost, lower our Co2 emissions and prevent plastic and metals from entering our landfills.

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

We are in the process of developing our Liddle Speaker Pro model set to come out in 2024. We believe the “Pro” model will trigger a movement by leveraging our future technology. The Liddle Speaker Pro will empower individuals with knowledge and skills needed to improve their quality of life with the most advanced tech features in a portable Liddle Speaker. Exciting times are right around the corner, watch for the Liddle Speaker Pro coming soon.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Wow, it would be an honor to meet Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. Our latest product, the Liddle Speaker Pro is revolutionizing the way we interact with technology and sound. We believe technology should be unobtrusive, and enriching to our daily lives. The Liddle Speaker Pro is not just another speaker, it’s a gateway to a more immersive and interactive digital experience. We can integrate Ai-driven personalization features, making it a perfect complement to Apple’s ecosystems of product and services.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

--

--

Authority Magazine
Authority Magazine

In-depth interviews with authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech