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My name is Warren Tuttle and I am the President of the Board of Directors for the United Inventors Association.
It is my sincere pleasure to donate a considerable amount of volunteer time and effort to the pursuit of non-profit inventor education. For those who do not know me personally, I have never accepted a dollar of upfront money from any inventor that I have ever assisted…and there have been many thousands with whom I have helped one way or another along the way. I have been incredibly blessed to participate in the launch of some highly successful and innovative products over the years. I also direct a cutting edge Open Innovation Program for a dynamic, inventor friendly company. Perhaps this will help explain why I have never charged an inventor a fee for my time or advice. I wish only the best for every aspiring inventor in this country, and like many other professionals in the industry I do whatever I can to help.
I am writing this column because there are a few things you may not know about the UIA and in particularly Mark Reyland, the Executive Director of the United Inventors Association.
I am here pledging my support and personal reputation within the greater inventor community to help explain several behind the scenes things about Mark that many of you may not be aware of, and the tremendous accomplishments he has initiated during the past two years as our Executive Director.
First and foremost, Mark is the most purely dedicated and passionate supporter of inventors that I have ever met. Hands down. Period. I have met many folks who might qualify as finalists for such an honor, but Mark certainly gets my personal vote.
I have spent hundreds of hours speaking with Mark about inventor issues. We speak during the day, late in the evening, Saturdays and Sundays; we even find time to talk when either of us is on extended travel around the US or the world. There is never a time when Mark is not 100% up for the call. This does not mean that we always lock-step agree on every topic that we debate. Sometimes I learn from Mark, and sometimes he learns from me. But, we always dissect the issues and arrive at the place we both know we need to be …what’s best for the inventor. This refrain ultimately guides our course of action in everything we do in this community.
Sometimes Mark’s passion is expressed in unique ways. He is not always a politician. Sometimes people misunderstand his directness. Mark can be very charming, but on occasion, people who do not know Mark inadvertently misinterpret his passion and tremendous focus on getting the task at hand accomplished. For those who know him and see him in action on a regular basis though, we all admire his candor and are always amazed at his knowledge, work ethic and drive. Please know that Mark regularly puts in 60 to 80 hours a week at the UIA and spends upward of 200 days a year traveling between inventor clubs, Washington DC (where he leads the UIA effort to strengthen inventor protection legislation and enforcement ) , meetings, and tradeshows…never complaining.
When we hired Mark as the Executive Director of the UIA two years ago, he was by far the best candidate for the position. I am not just referring to his resume, though in fact his resume is very impressive. Where Mark truly stood out was in the personal interview process. He was screened several different times by the hiring sub-committee of the UIA Board. I then personally spent almost two hours speaking to Mark. I could tell from the opening discussion that he knew the inventor community very well. He had extensive experience in the commercialization of products and a plethora of great ideas about how to improve our organization and help inventors.
It was a critical time for the UIA to get back on track performing the mission it was designed for when originally founded as an extension of the USPTO over 20 years ago. We all agreed unanimously that Mark was the right person to lead the revival.
Mark has not disappointed. He first set about getting our UIA fiscal house in order. He streamlined and cut unnecessary expenses, while immediately setting and executing a course for increasing necessary revenues.
This came at a critical time when the Board had additionally voted to eliminate all fees for UIA inventor memberships, placing greater pressure on Mark to raise working capital through private donations. After two years, the UIA is today in sound fiscal shape. Our corporate membership criteria have been strengthened and many terrific new outside supporters have been generated.
I might add that Mark is now setting our sights on even more non-profit donations, and implementing a grant program that will eventually help diversify overall UIA financial support. By the way, our individual inventor membership has grown by over 260% since Mark came on board, so we must be doing something right.
Mark’s next task was to strengthen a supportive relationship between the UIA and the almost 100 UIA certified inventor clubs around the country. These are real inventors attending club meetings monthly, so this is an incredibly valuable mission. Mark has extended the hand of friendship to these clubs by supplying speakers to the clubs, purchasing Skype kits to allow speakers to present long distance, organizing DRTV product review sessions and traveling himself to over 30 clubs each year to personally thank the club leadership, and make sure the clubs know about the educational tools and the many efforts taking place on their behalf at the national level.
Next came strengthening our UIA Inventor Showcase programs with inventor booths and educational programs at industry trade shows; an incredibly daunting and valuable effort. The UIA had hosted the National Hardware Show Inventor Spotlight Pavilion for several years when Mark became ED and the Board wanted to expand the template. In less than two years, Mark has lead us to host inventor programs at The Chicago Toy and Game show, The PGA Golf Show, International Housewares Show, The SPREE show, The Global Pet Expo, The Craft & Hobby Show, and expended the Hardware show inventor area from 60 to 125 booths with a goal to host Inventor Pavilions at a dozen major industry trade shows.
These trade show deals are very complicated to negotiate and execute. Anyone who has ever experienced one of these events knows how valuable they are to inventors, connecting them with industry leaders and getting actual licensing agreements signed. Today the Inventor Spotlight Trade Show Program is a bell weather asset for the UIA and a successful educational program for inventors.
Here are a few other UIA projects Mark has put a great deal of passion and leadership into over the past two years.
He organized the UIA’s involvement in the current QVC Sprouts program; a big time effort to allow inventor’s easier access to one of America’s finest TV retailers. He has arranged with Auburn University a college level accredited course in inventing that, after initial testing, may be rolled out to universities around the country. He has researched and supported efforts to expand crowd funding financial models to assist inventors in raising capital for start-up ventures. He has helped improve UIA relations with the USPTO and other inventor dedicated non-profit groups and individuals. He has initiated inventor friendly PR campaigns around the country and advised on developing virtual internet inventor clubs to reach more rural communities. He built the UIA Inventor Education Forum, The UIA Education Linkedin Groups, and, he writes a daily inventor blog 5 days a week, in a continuing effort to educate those folks new to the inventing process. These are just some of the things Mark has been responsible for developing.
So, the next time you hear something said, or written, about Mark Reyland, please take a moment to consider all Mark does for the inventor community. These are Real projects, productive initiatives, and results oriented endeavors. I can assure you he is putting his time, day and night, into helping aspiring inventors. He has my respect and that of many other professionals in our industry.