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How we became inventors

In the first post we promised to keep the egocentric content to a bare minimum. But first things first, so let's introduce ourselves:

Today Lolle & Nielsen Inventions is essentially a company who invents stuff. To name a few we've made moving 250 kg bricks easy with our motorized SmartMover. We've made our own workspace more dynamic and healthy with OPLØFT. And we've made installing windows fast with UPCLIMBER. All by getting our team of bright engineers in touch with bright partners of different kinds.

We've been working on numorous products and projects since the company was founded in 2010, and today we're a team of six engineers in our office in Copenhagen. But to tell the truth, we didn't see Lolle & Nielsen Inventions as a company working exclusively with inventions, Research & Development and Intellectual Property when we first started.

The Startup Pivot

Back in 2010 Andreas and I graduated from The Technical University of Denmark. We did our master thesis project together: a scissor lift for plasterboards called LiftAssist. After graduating we wanted to turn the scissor lift into a business, and this was the reason why we connected our lastnames and founded the company Lolle & Nielsen.

The LiftAssist-concept aimed to make it easier to install plasterboards from a scissorlift

We started out the classic startup-way: we had no money, no partnerships, no experience, no office - no nothing. Just this great idea for a product that we wanted to release into the world.

In the beginning we sometimes worked from the university, sometimes from Andreas' appartment. We fought hard to get the project funded, and at the same time we put a lot of effort into getting consulting jobs to support the startup financially. But we kept facing the "we-have-no-contacts-and-no-pratical-experience"-issue, which meant we barely got enough money from consulting for bread and butter and we couldn't find any investors for LiftAssist.

After a few months the LiftAssist-projects hadn't really made any economical progress, which made us change focus to multiple other projects in the pursuit of creating a fundable one.

Despite some promissing prototype tests we wasn't able to get funding for LiftAssist back in 2010.

Inventing multiple projects

One of the project we came up with after our pivot into multiple projects was SmartMover.

Long story short we got in touch with some of the partners from our masters thesis project, who had identified a problem on the construction site: Bricks are shipped to the site in 250 kg per pallet, but without a suitable way to haul the heavy load around, which meant workers did more than their fair share of lifting during the day. And the partners badly needed people like us to solve the problem - someone who could look at it with fresh eyes, and had the skills to design and construct a prototype. And for that reason we became a partner on the project.

The solution was a motorized wheelbarrow with tipping forks called Smart//Mover. On the left is Andreas with the first mockup. The final product is on the right.

The project already had some funding, which meant SmartMover was the first project we got funded in the beginning of 2011.

It didn't make us a lot of money at the time, but enough to dedicate ourselves to the project - and it essentially meant Lolle & Nielsen could survive for a while. And long term SmartMover turned out to be an idea, that is still running and part of our business today, where it generates income from a licensing agreement.

Figuring out what we love

Early on we were forced to realize how important it is to get the projects we do funded fast. Either by public or private foundations og by doing partnerships.

But more importantly: We thought our business had to revolve around a product, and we might have gone all-in on LiftAssist, if we hadn't been forced to bet on multiple projects. Doing multiple projects made us realize, that the fun part wasn't the one project - it was inventing and kickstarting all the products and projects.

This is what we still do. We conceptualizemultiple projects at the time. At the moment we have 10 active project in all stages from early prototypes to nearly finished - and we still love doing it.

#liftassist #startup #smartmover #opløft #pivot #bootstrapping #inventing

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