Patrick Noel Daly On 5 Tips for Accelerating Product Ideation & Innovation

An Interview With Rachel Kline

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine

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Encourage Innovative thinking and make Innovation Mindset a part of the fabric of your business.

In a world where the pace of change is faster than ever, the power of great ideas has never been more crucial. And yet, developing these ideas into impactful, market-ready products can be an immense challenge. The best products are not born overnight, they’re the result of dedicated ideation and innovation processes. These processes aren’t always easy, but they’re necessary and can be catalyzed with the right strategies and approaches. How do you foster a culture of creativity within a team? How can one rapidly translate ideas into prototypes and eventually finished products? How can roadblocks be anticipated and managed effectively to avoid unnecessary delays. In this series, we’re eager to explore insights, stories, and actionable tips from those at the forefront of ideation and innovation. As part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Patrick Noel Daly.

Patrick Noel Daly, a global entrepreneur from Ireland now in New Jersey, has created and sold products. He wrote a business book for startups when he moved to the US in 2018 and just launched his second book, a children’s story called “Noly.” Fluent in five languages, Patrick combines business and storytelling with passion and flair.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before diving in, our readers would love to learn more about you. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an entrepreneur who has spent the last 20 years building products, technologies, and businesses with a strong focus on the medical, healthcare, sleep technologies, and aerospace industries. My current ambition is to establish Entrepreneurship Academies to share the wealth of knowledge I’ve accumulated over my many years of experience with young entrepreneurs worldwide. This goal has already taken shape with the publication of my new book, “Just Start Up: A Guide to Building Startups from An Entrepreneur Who Has Learned the Hard Way.”

What led you to this specific career path?

My journey as an entrepreneur started when I was 14 years old — selling burgers and fries in a food van in Southern Ireland (a one-man business endeavor that, ultimately, ended up being a great learning experience for my younger self.) Not long after that, in 1996, I founded AutoLink, which was a search engine company (that was developed two years before Google launched!) In 1998 I launched and scaled a medical product company. In 1999 I was awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Ireland. And so on.

By the time I was 18, I started traveling the globe — and haven’t stopped since! I consider myself a global entrepreneur as much as I am a global citizen. And, for over 20 years, I have been developing products that are for the people and put “new age” business structures around them to make them work better than ever. On the side, I mentor both entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs around the world. And I’m in the process of setting up entrepreneurship academies around the world to help entrepreneurs make it through the precarious “Year One”.

I recently wrote my first children’s book. A Story to help kids to think entrepreneurially from the youngest age.

Noly is a friendly and helpful Triceratops who loves his family, and they love him back. Dad, Mom and his three older siblings are always there for him. They live in an ancient valley full of wonders and dangers alike, and they must always be careful. But when Dad injures his leg, and no one is left to gather food, Noly decides to be a young hero and sets out on a journey to search for some. Join Noly on his adventure and learn with him that no obstacle is too great when you’re willing to give your best!

Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?

There are so many great stories that I could share. My first real breakthrough was when I launched Autolink. This was a search engine business. That was one year before Google launched and the words “search engine” weren’t even around back then. I called Autolink, a “search and find program” which I set up to make finding a car to buy easier and faster. I loved and still love innovating and innovation of any type. By thinking of new and innovative solutions and products we make the future.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am developing a range of products that will change the way we make mattresses and the way we sleep. We should be able to adjust our sleep surface to suit our unique shape. Most of the time we have to wait months for the standard mattresses to mold and shape to us and in fact the mattress never really adapts to us because we twist and turn while we sleep, or try to sleep. I am making a cost effective mattress product that can go inside a mattress top at manufacture or the customer can buy a mattress topper.

Healthy sleep and a healthy sleep environment are essential for wellness.

Different individuals have different sleep surface comfort preferences (Firm/Medium/Soft). One type of mattress is unlikely to suit both occupants of a bed. With our DreamCair surface adjustment mattress toppers, each side can be customized.

Conventional mattresses cause pressure points at the deeper immersion points. This discomfort will cause a person to move more frequently, leading to less healthy sleep. Existing adjustable sleep products are powered, expensive and complicated with pumps and motors.We will develop our DreamCairTM Topper for the consumer and hospitality market. DreamCair Topper is a version of the medical SimCair® Topper.

Our DreamCair allows the user to adjust the comfort of your bed with no need for pumps, motors or power.

Traditional mattresses are impossible to clean inside and out. Being able to clean and easily disinfect every surface in the home/hotel/cruise ship etc. has never been more important since Covid 19.

Our range also potentially includes integrated “iCON Technology Inside” cores which we will supply to global mattress makers. This is like the “intel inside” sales model and would allow us to supply globally to every mattress maker. We are currently searching for mattress makers to team up with and also we need sleep product sales partners to collaborate with.

You’re a successful business leader. What are three traits about yourself that you feel helped fuel your success? Can you share a story or example for each?

Innovation — thinking outside the box. Looking at what’s already available and creating a new version or a new innovation. I was one of the first, if not the first, to introduce memory foam mattresses, toppers and cushions in health care settings to help prevent pressure sores and help minimize cross infection. SimCair was and is an innovation along that product spectrum. I also designed and made it so it is more affordable for healthcare systems, as cost effectiveness is super important, as well as clinical effectiveness of course. That’s a win/win for both patients and for the healthcare systems buying our type of products.

Sales focus — I always start by evaluating the commercial reality of what I am launching and the ease of making the product available to customers. That initial phase needs a sales mindset. For example, I have seen people invent stuff that would never sell or sell in very low volumes. For me, I take a look at the market. Pick an ideal price target and provisionally map out sales channels before I spend a cent or a minute developing a product or new innovation. Just one of my examples in this regard is a school book bag for kids which was specifically designed to help redistribute the weight of books to help kids to carry sometimes heavy loads of books. Before I designed this product I knew it would need to sell for no more than $25 at retail. If we could make it and sell it for that, we would succeed. So, we did. That was and is a key step.

People — I think a key factor in every aspect of life is the “people” factor. We cannot achieve or progress without people. Good people are key. Just one example of that for me was my first medical product business. I grew the team from just me to about 50 people. I could not do and cannot do what I do without other people who are as enthusiastic as I am and have the complementary skills to help get where we need to be. In a social setting also, we need good friends and good partners. Taking time and care in finding those people is very important in my view.

It has been said that our mistakes can sometimes be our greatest teachers. 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?

Honesty is the best policy! I remember when I was starting Autolink, I had no money, a car that was more or less stuck together with band-aids haha. I thought when going to my first sales meeting with a major car dealership business that I could not park this beat up car outside the big glass building because they’d see that I didn’t have a cent and they’d maybe refuse to work with my business. Also, to add to the dilemma, I had a most awful looking green suit that looked like something from a “Borat” movie 🙂 Anyways, I decided to park the car about a quarter mile away and walk back to the meeting. As I got some experience in sales I quickly realized that people bought from me because they trusted me and liked my product. That car or suit was not a factor in a purchaser’s mind. Lesson learned. There were many more mistakes that I made, particularly in the early years. So, last year when I had some time while traveling I wrote a book named “Just Start Up — A Guide to Building Startups from a Guy who learned the hard way”. I wrote the book to help entrepreneurs to avoid the mistakes that I made and to help them navigate the maze to success a lot faster and with an easier route. If anyone reading this want to purchase a copy, contact us through my website www.patricknoeldaly-pnd.com

Do you have any mentors or experiences that have particularly influenced your approach to product ideation and innovation?

I admire the approach taken by Steve Jobs. Again Innovation and Sales driven thinking. Always try to stay at least one step ahead of the competition. Focus on choosing your customer and sales channel carefully. Nurture those channels. Turns out that many great ideas and/or product suggestions come from customers and end users of your product and services. I keep a kind of “read between the lines” radar on when I’m in meetings or having chats with customers. Great ideas or adaptations are sometimes generated by those customers and end users. Also, give your team every opportunity to suggest new innovations as often as they want and don’t forget, not everybody is vocal and wants to shout out their idea in a group of people, so leave a suggestion box at the door and encourage the less vocal people to write down their idea and drop a note in the suggestion box if they’d prefer. And finally, Reward and acknowledge good ideas. In my businesses and with my team, good input was and is always rewarded, both financially and in terms of acknowledgement

In your experience, what is the anatomy of a strong product idea?

I believe the best ideas are the ones that fit for the time they are conceived of. I’ve seen good products and services being introduced just at the wrong time or not at the right time. Launching a business or commercializing an idea is tough, so it’s important to get the timing of launch tuned in.

What approach does your team use for coming up with new ideas for products and features?

Mainly brainstorming either in structured meetings or just having more casual everyday chats. I try to encourage people to think about innovative and new ways to do things. In my view, Innovation is a mindset that needs to be nurtured and encouraged in everyday business.

What is the story behind the most successful product or feature idea your team has ever had — what was the need, how did the idea come about, and what was the outcome?

I’m pleased to say that there were alot. I think the SimCair mattress topper for hospitals was and is a true innovation. We engineered the outer materials to ensure that pathogens cannot get through the outer layer. It’s therefore a 100% barrier to nasties such as bugs and viruses. As well as that, it’s super easy to clean and disinfect and that enhances infection control and in this post covid era, that’s a huge bonus.

How does your product team manage new product and feature ideas?

I try to guide businesses now as a mentor and advisor. I wrote a book called “Just Start Up” and as I mentioned earlier that’s a guide book. I talk a lot about ways to capture ideas. So many people get ideas and then forget them or don’t follow through on exploring and maybe launching that idea/product. I encourage people to write down their ideas and look at them again a few days or a few weeks later, either alone or in a team. If they still make sense after a few weeks of review, they are worth exploring further.

What, in your view, is the biggest challenge with respect to innovation?

Putting systems and structures in place that do not encourage and/or limit innovative thinking. This, in my view, creates barriers to new stuff. In order to create, we first need to conceive of the idea. If the mindset of the organization or management is not encouraging innovation on every level, great ideas and innovations can be lost.

Based on your experience, what are your “5 Tips for Accelerating Product Ideation & Innovation”?

1 . Open Mindedness.

2 . Encourage Innovative thinking and make Innovation Mindset a part of the fabric of your business.

3 . Stay in touch with the market, both supply chain and sales channels.

4 . Hold regular brainstorming meeting.

5 . Applaud and reward innovation.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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