The master of YouTube (500 million views) guerrilla public relations came to town today.
At Thanksgiving Point today, the crowd was wall to wall (220+) to seek connection and instruction on entrepreneurial ventures. With the promise of prizes the tweet-fest began, smart phones flashing in the sunlight streaming in The Garden Room’s panoramic panes. After welcome messages by event sponsors UTC, UVEF, and Wayne Brown Institute, Tom Dickson of BlendTec “Will It Blend” fame took the stage. He did not disappoint.
Tom first shocked some in the audience, revealing his ADHD and dyslexic and claiming theme as a entrepreneur’s “blessing.” He then regaled the entrepreneurs with stories of his career, starting with his early jobs working for others in product development. He shared his key role in the development of patches for motion sickness, as well as a highly prescribed IUD. One of his early entrepreneurial ventures was in the food storage industry. He accidently got the idea for a home electric wheat grinder when his vacuum cleaner ground wheat as he vacuumed it from a mess he made on the floor. From that he produced his first electric wheat grinder which sold 43,000 units under the Magic Mill label.
Tom admits marketing has always been his weakness and he has sought partnerships over the years to make up the gap. Tough, and not always wise decisions including the sale of his wheat grinder company and subsequent lawsuits brought Tom’s adventure to its knees. He discussed candidly the legal challenges to his patents. He says he has learned to “smile” through these problems.
Post wheat grinder, Tom took the 28,000 RPM motor used therein and decided to make a blender. Jamba Juice came calling when they caught wind of Tom’s powerful blender. He made a deal to take five cents for every smoothie blended using his blender. A roller coaster relationship with various large customers ensued. Tom continued making improvements to his innovative design. Continued patent defense regularly strained company coffers until this summers $24 million judgment against Vitamix found in favor of Blendtec…and the people rejoiced!
Tom continues to innovate. His new Twister Jar blends nut butter in under a minute. He predicts this new innovation will soon be seen in smoothie shops near you.
Tom wrapped up his fascinating entrepreneurial adventure by blending a rake, perfected on the Jay Leno Show, in his BlendTec blender. “Will It Blend?” YesShare