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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.

JeanBillie Thu 25-Jul-13 11:09:06

Hi Tom,

Congratulations on being an Apprentice winner who didn't take the Katie Hopkins approach to success (ie you were a nice bloke) smile

So what is so good about your baby nail clippers then? I ask as the mother of a 2 year old who resorts to clipping her fingernails in her sleep...

PseudoBadger Thu 25-Jul-13 12:05:53

Loved your announcement on 'You're Fired' that you've recently launched your new baby - congratulations!

Congrats on the baby too Tom!

Do you think that winning the apprentice made the difference to your career? IIRC you had already launched into major retailers before winning, did you really need Lord Sugar or would you have made it anyway?

And do you get to have boozy meetings with the other winners/contestants? or Nick and Karren

Ghostofsplash Thu 25-Jul-13 17:21:19

Hi Tom, how are you finding juggling the demands of a new business with the demands of a new baby?!

Mudness Thu 25-Jul-13 19:40:31

Hello Tom, my now 11 year old and I were huge fans of yours on The Apprentice. You broke the mould of the usual Apprentice contestant by being both commercial and a decent bloke. The 11 yr old wants to know: what is the best thing about a career in inventing? (and how in the bloody hell do I get him to do his Science homework? had to sneak this bit in while he wasn't looking!).

Do you have any speaking engagements in the West Country anytime soon?

Nosleeptillgodknowswhen Thu 25-Jul-13 20:18:25

Beauty may be a large market but it's not changing the world. As an engineer, do you not want to invent/commercialise something that really changes people's lives?

macpherson1 Thu 25-Jul-13 20:33:12

Can you invent a bath baby dam that doesn't leak only found one available but its rubbish. With every one trying to cut costs its a must for mums when bathing their young saving on water bills and heating hot water please

heathergreig Thu 25-Jul-13 21:00:13

Hello Tom - I am based in Northern Ireland and I have an idea for a product (similar to a hair claw/clip) but am having great difficulty in sourcing UK manufacturers of plastic/acrylic products - I don't want to have to outsource to China - can you suggest any alternative? And what do you think of organisations such as www.kickstart.com ?

It's quite scary thinking about creating something - a bit like you must be feeling with your new baby!

MarmaladeTwatkins Thu 25-Jul-13 21:10:34

Hello Tom! We are massive Tom fans in the Twatkins house. grin

Nick or Karren?

TinyDiamond Thu 25-Jul-13 22:54:13

macpherson1, I read your comment and had to google what on earth a baby dam was. Why you wouldn't just place a baby bath inside a normal bath and then just fill it is beyond me. I am astounded I have never seen this product before. Of course it will leak!

Mudness Fri 26-Jul-13 00:31:09

I know we're meant to ask only one question, but you don't have many yet so I hope it's OK to ask who you wanted to win this year's Apprentice?

sakh Fri 26-Jul-13 08:01:46

I love the nipper clippers having just bought them but i find it hard to spot the nail through the spy hole as it is camouflaged by the colour of the steel. If the clippers were non metallic in colour it would be better though not sure if possible?!

Duplogiraffe Fri 26-Jul-13 11:29:04

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

VelvetStrider Fri 26-Jul-13 11:29:18

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?

Katn Fri 26-Jul-13 11:32:25

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

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

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Fri 26-Jul-13 11:34:26

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?

strangerwithmyface Fri 26-Jul-13 12:53:27

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?

Katn Fri 26-Jul-13 12:53:45

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?

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 26-Jul-13 13:00:21

Tom Pellereau is now here in the Towers. He's settled into his (not quite ergonomic chair). So over to Tom.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:01:22

Hello, very happy to be in Mumsnet Towers. Looking forward to answering your questions, please don't be shy. I will try and answer everything I can.

Tom
ps Sorry about my spelling !

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:02:44

JeanBillie

Hi Tom,

Congratulations on being an Apprentice winner who didn't take the Katie Hopkins approach to success (ie you were a nice bloke) smile

So what is so good about your baby nail clippers then? I ask as the mother of a 2 year old who resorts to clipping her fingernails in her sleep...

Thank you so much, you're very kind!

I invented the Nipper Clipper exactly for parents like yourself, who find cutting their little one's nails really tricky and often have to resort to biting them or, as you say, waiting until they nod off! In inventing the Nipper Clipper I wanted to improve the ordinary nail clippers to make cutting nails a much less scary experience for parents.

It has a unique spy hole so you can actually see what you're cutting, comes with a baby S-file to file off any rough edges and a distraction app called Timmy Tickle Baby, which we worked on with a child psychologist, designed to distract kids while keeping them calm (and not too excitable!).

Hopefully all of this will make for a much less stressful nail cutting experience.

heathergreig Fri 26-Jul-13 13:03:46

Hi Tom - it's great that you have given your time to come over and chat to us. I posted a question yesterday for you - I guess you will work your way down the list?

Heather

DinoSnores Fri 26-Jul-13 13:04:30

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

UnsureOfOutcome Fri 26-Jul-13 13:05:26

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?

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:06:03

PseudoBadger

Loved your announcement on 'You're Fired' that you've recently launched your new baby - congratulations!

Thank you. Not sure my wife is ever going to let me forget that one!!

UnsureOfOutcome Fri 26-Jul-13 13:06:15

oh and isn't it totally nerve-racking to approach a baby with a pair of nail clippers?! I'd have been FAR too scared ...

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:06:21

PseudoBadger

Loved your announcement on 'You're Fired' that you've recently launched your new baby - congratulations!

Hi PseudoBadger - Good question. The Apprentice has super charged my career and whilst I would like to think I would have made, I'm probably 10 years ahead of where I would have been without the Lord Sugar and the BBC Apprentice.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:08:10

Ghostofsplash

Hi Tom, how are you finding juggling the demands of a new business with the demands of a new baby?!

Ghostofsplash

Hi Tom, how are you finding juggling the demands of a new business with the demands of a new baby?!

It's certainly difficult as I work very long hours and I would love to help my wife more. However there are advantages on thursday night I finished working at 3am, perfect timing to then feed Jack, allowing my wife to sleep through !

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:12:08

Mudness

Hello Tom, my now 11 year old and I were huge fans of yours on The Apprentice. You broke the mould of the usual Apprentice contestant by being both commercial and a decent bloke. The 11 yr old wants to know: what is the best thing about a career in inventing? (and how in the bloody hell do I get him to do his Science homework? had to sneak this bit in while he wasn't looking!).

Do you have any speaking engagements in the West Country anytime soon?

Mudness

Hello Tom, my now 11 year old and I were huge fans of yours on The Apprentice. You broke the mould of the usual Apprentice contestant by being both commercial and a decent bloke. The 11 yr old wants to know: what is the best thing about a career in inventing? (and how in the bloody hell do I get him to do his Science homework? had to sneak this bit in while he wasn't looking!).

Do you have any speaking engagements in the West Country anytime soon?

Thank you. For me the best thing about being an inventor is solving everyday problems for people. That look on someones face when they try an invention and love it. Sometimes when they change from sceptic to believer.

We really tried to capture these moments when we were filming the Nipper CLipper video. www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP7XV_3Jh_w Sometimes it really does feels like magic. (filming with babies was certainly a fun experience)

Getting anyone to do homework is tricky. I was personally a very hands on learner and if he's interested in being an inventor I imagine he is too. Maybe try and take it off the page with making challenges of games. I used to love the science museum which got me really excited.

I also had a grandfather who loved woodwork so I was able to make things at home. THis is probably impossible, however it's amazing what you can do with simple tools. For example all my inventions start with a glue gun and card.

Unfortunately I don't have any engagements in the west country at the moment. Baby Jack and Lord Sugar are keeping me pretty busy !!!

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

Mudness

I know we're meant to ask only one question, but you don't have many yet so I hope it's OK to ask who you wanted to win this year's Apprentice?

In the Office Sweep Stake I had Luisa, who did very well and almost won me £25 !

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

Nosleeptillgodknowswhen

Beauty may be a large market but it's not changing the world. As an engineer, do you not want to invent/commercialise something that really changes people's lives?

Excellent question. Hopefully the Nipper CLipper is an example of how as an engineer I'm trying to really help people. This is also very much the begining for me. I really hope to build a business based on solving real problems for people and create a company we can all be proud of.

The world is changed bit by bit, Rome wasn't built in a day. Fingers crossed I can continue to help people in their day to day lives.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:15:37

heathergreig

Hello Tom - I am based in Northern Ireland and I have an idea for a product (similar to a hair claw/clip) but am having great difficulty in sourcing UK manufacturers of plastic/acrylic products - I don't want to have to outsource to China - can you suggest any alternative? And what do you think of organisations such as www.kickstart.com ?

It's quite scary thinking about creating something - a bit like you must be feeling with your new baby!

Hello fellow inventor! Yes, it is scary creating something (as I well know!) but just go for it and have confidence in yourself.

In inventing new products, the protoype is the key and can be made from materials you can source yourself from eBay etc. I made the first S-file in my own oven!

I think organisations like Kickstart.com are very interesting, and rapid prototyping is signalling the start of the third Industrial Revolution (as written about recently in the Economist). Definitely something worth considering.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:16:17

MarmaladeTwatkins

Hello Tom! We are massive Tom fans in the Twatkins house. grin

Nick or Karren?

Thank you. I couldn't possibly chose between them. They were both fantastic in their own way. Nick was like a Headmaster watching over us but allowing us to make our own mistakes. Karen was always very caring and made sure we were being properly looked after. She has the most amazing insight and eyes, nothing got past her.

YoungWildandFree Fri 26-Jul-13 13:18:50

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.

TomPellereau Fri 26-Jul-13 13:20:27

sakh

I love the nipper clippers having just bought them but i find it hard to spot the nail through the spy hole as it is camouflaged by the colour of the steel. If the clippers were non metallic in colour it would be better though not sure if possible?!

Hi, thank you so much for your feedback. I'm so glad that you 'love' the Nipper Clippers. It means a huge amount to me. Developing and launching a new product is really nerve wracking. I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if anyone will like it! It makes you feel really vulnerable.

Improving the visibility through the spy hole is certainly something we have been looking into. We've had some great feedback on the Nipper Clipper. In my opinion inventions are never fully finished, there is always a way to improve. By listening to your feedback I hope to create better and better products!

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.

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 13:25:10

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.

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!

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?

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?

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

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!

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.

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 13:39:37

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.

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 13:49:15

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...

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 13:51:54

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 13:53:30

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 13:56:41

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 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 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 14:03:51

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 14:04:27

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

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

Ah you've got lots of fans wink

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

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!

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.

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