Having filed his #HardTech water treatment innovation with the US Patent Trademark Office in January of 2022 and patiently awaiting the year-long process of patenting, Aquatell’s founder and General Manager, Reid Thornley, sat down to chat with TechAlliance about his patenting experience; the process, the pains, and everything in between.
Aquatell was built on entrepreneurial innovation at its core. An eCommerce retail experience for water treatment and improvement solutions, Aquatell was the first of its kind in the water purification and treatment industry to focus heavily on an eCommerce and at-ease experience for its customers. Since 2006, Thornley has been operating Aquatell in London, Ontario, helping homeowners learn about and purchase water treatment and improvement solutions through valuable resources and a simple purchasing process that helps demystify the details of at-home water treatments.
Through this process, Thornley developed a deep knowledge of the systems and treatments that he sold and used every day, and as most entrepreneurs do, began to imagine problem-solving innovations to make a big splash in his field of expertise. TechAlliance spoke with Aquatell’s Reid Thornley for a tell-all interview to dive into the details of his lived experience of entrepreneurship, innovation, and his current pending patent.
Tell us more about the innovation that you are patenting
“The dream of any entrepreneur is to be able to say that you recognized a problem, and that you have an idea that is going to solve it. I did that once when I started Aquatell, because building my services on an eCommerce platform was new to this industry. When I had this idea to make something that would provide my industry with life-changing innovation, I knew that I had to make it work.”
Thornley’s newly soon-to-be-patented product is a device that acts as a control valve for varying tanks needed for widely used water systems. The product conceived will allow for the use of an infinite number of tanks, with previous innovations maxing out at two tanks. The drive for the creation of this innovation came from Aquatell’s previous experience of the expensive and heavy shipping costs involved in running an eCommerce business. The tanks used in these systems are often heavy and shipping costs impact the overall sales and ease of the eCommerce platform that Aquatell is built on. Being able to make smaller tanks, therefore shipping in smaller boxes with less weight and in turn, lower costs, would make a major profit difference for Thornley’s venture. The problem, however, lied in this one small invention that had yet to be built – the tanks couldn’t be made smaller and still have the same effect unless you could serialize as many as you needed – hence, Thornley’s creative process began, and the Tank Serializer was invented.
This innovation will save consumers money and be an active part in generating further revenue for Aquatell, and its impact will be felt much farther than Aquatell’s London, Ontario home-base, as the innovation could be used for varying purposes by people who have been looking for this smart solution.
How did you get started on the process of filing a patent?
“I went to the first place I always go to – my network. I looked around at who I knew and figured out how and if they could help. I was able to engage early on and get my answers before risking too much of an investment, and then I spent all of my time and energy on engaging with my network about my idea.”
Engaging early on moved the needle forward for Thornley in more ways than one. Firstly, he had to research and recognize that his innovation was patentable; it had to be materially different to cross the threshold of being patentable as a new innovation. Understanding that his ideas are only contractually sound once the patent is pending, Thornley worked quickly to utilize his network, answer important questions, and get the ball rolling on the official paperwork. The timeliness, accuracy, and research-based understanding of the niche market he already knew so well set him ahead in his ability to move forward with confidence and support.
Do you have advice for other entrepreneurs looking to patent #HardTech?
“I look at entrepreneurship as business art. It is a Venn Diagram with an overlap between the creative side of life and a business mindset. After starting and building Aquatell to where it is today, I realized that I had been missing the feeling of being creative. I realized that I want to be spending my time on what drives the most value in business, and it is creativity and innovation”.
Entrepreneurship is a career that takes tenacity, grit, and dedication. It takes a learner’s lens and a flexible mindset, but most of all, it starts with innovation. Conceptualizing how to solve a problem is one thing but building a venture or patenting a product with the goal of solving a problem is a whole different challenge. Thornley encourages entrepreneurs, young and old, brand new and seasoned, to never give up on the purpose of their entrepreneurship and what started their successful journeys – good ideas. Relying on your network, trusting your ideas, and ensuring a deep understanding of your target market and consumer needs are all part of the venture journey. These skillsets and experiences flow laterally into the process of patenting an innovative product, with the same dedication and skill, any entrepreneur can do it.
“With Intellectual Property being a key focus of TechAlliance, the generation, commercializing, and protection of Made-in-Ontario IP is important to our region’s innovation ecosystem” says Christina Fox, CEO of TechAlliance, “Being witness to the advancement of IP development is exciting, and it is important to tell the stories of innovators and entrepreneurs who are making patenting and intellectual property a priority in our region”.
Now in the stages of aligning manufacturing and commercialization, Thornley continues to juggle the entrepreneurial lifestyle with a successful eCommerce business, the growth of his team, and new patenting and product creation ahead. Moving forward with the possibility of international jurisdictions once the patent is approved, Aquatell is expected to make waves in the world of water purification and improvement solutions because of its founder’s admirable dedication to the core of entrepreneurship and innovation, creation.
To learn more about Aquatell’s products and services, go to www.aquatell.ca
Not sure where to start with your innovations? Book a call with one of TechAlliance’s Venture Growth Advisors to ask your questions and get to creating.