It started out as the spark of an idea in a Kiwi bloke's garage; now it's gone worldwide and shows no signs of slowing down.
EverEdge IP, an Auckland commercialisation firm, has signed a licensing deal with Danone, the world’s largest dairy manufacturer, to launch the CrushPak in Canada and Argentina. The CrushPak, which recently won a packaging prize at the 2011 iF Design Awards in Dusseldorf, enables consumers to consume viscous foods in four different ways: with and without a spoon, as a dispenser and as a packing for spreads.
EverEdge chief executive Paul Adams says its accordion-like design is a world first.
“Consumers love CrushPak because it’s convenient, requires no spoon and is fun and easy to use.. Manufacturers like CrushPak because their existing machinery can be easily adapted to produce the packaging, it uses up to 35 percent less material and—most importantly—its popularity with consumers provides a strong market advantage.”
This is the company's fourth licensing deal with Danone, which had previously launched the CrushPak in Mexico and the US. Further contracts are in the pipeline for countries in the Middle East, South America and Africa. Last year its American arm Dannon named CrushPak winner in the innovation category in its 2010 Supplier of the Year Awards. Dannon has around 6000 suppliers in the US alone.
"It’s pretty phenomenal, because its pushed our technology out onto the world stage. We’re now in the hundreds of millions of units, essentially and should be shipping half a billion by the end of the year," says Adams.
“It’s easy to think small and stay small, but putting in the hard work to access large international players offers huge potential gains.
He says the CrushPak was brainstormed by a Kiwi who has now gone on to bigger and better things.
"We originally bought the technology from an individual inventor some years back and spent quite a bit of time on the R&D," Adams explains. "It was developed literally by a guy in a garage ... Now he has a much bigger garage and is inventing further."
While he can't go into too much detail at this stage, Adams says the inventor has a "pretty amazing" track record and has a new design he's looking to take to market; EverEdge has already commercialised two of his ideas.
“As a nation we pride ourselves on Kiwi ingenuity but often there’s too much focus on the idea itself, rather than the commercialisation process,” he says.
"There's a real lack of knowledge in NZ around how to actually take your idea and turn it into money, by either selling it outright, licensing it or running it through traditional product and manufacturing channels."
Adams says that's what led him to start EverEdge, and that since its inception four years ago, revenues have doubled every year. It's now a seven-figure business that employs 15 people and advises innovators in sectors from biotechnology to viticulture and aviation, as well as investing in its own technologies.
"We realised that there was a real gap in the marketplace for people who were providing independent and objective advice around intellectual property. Attorneys provide a critical role btu it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you’ve got an idea and you go to one, they’re probably going to tell you to patent it."
The firm has attorneys on staff, he says, but it doesn't patent or trademark on behalf of clients.
"We give advice to everyone from guys in garages right through to the largest companies around the globe. We've got Fortune 500 clients and we represent three of the five largest companies in New Zealand."