Interview: Connie Inukai, Tip ‘n Split Solutions

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Meet Mom Entrepreneur Connie Inukai, Tip ‘n Split Solutions

Interviews BMP Magazine (9)

 

“Learn about accounting. Get organized. Find mentors!  Surround yourself with like-minded entrepreneurs.”

What does your business offer?
Tip ‘n Split is a handheld LED magnifier that allows diners to read the small print on menus/bill, even in dimly lit restaurants. It also figures out tips and splits the bill, if desired. It’s handy and lightweight and is great for people who prefer to keep the smartphone away from the dinner table.

Now you won’t need your reading glasses to see the bill.
Illuminate the menu or bill when you need extra light.
Enter 15%, 18%, 20%, or any amount you like. You may then split the bill, if desired.
Split the bill between any number of diners, and find out exactly what each person should pay.

My market is the under-served Baby Boomers, and people who want to buy gifts for them. Few manufacturers make products geared for Baby Boomers even though

•Baby boomers make up a $750 billion market.
•80 million baby boomers (approximately 42 percent of the population) hold 77 percent of all personal assets and account for half of all discretionary spending.
Total disposable income for people over 50 was more than $3 trillion in 2010.

What is your target market’s biggest problem or frustration?
Eyesight gets worse as we grow older, and small print is hard to read, especially in dimly lit restaurants.

I am currently reaching out to them by on magazines such as AARP, Woman’s Day, Better Homes & Gardens, etc. Just getting started on this. I also attend expos for senior citizens.

What was your AHA moment?
Had the idea and just went for it

How has PR and Marketing helped your business?
I first worked with Chic Exec.com, who got me some excellent reviews on my products. (see reviews on www.tipandsplit.com)

I tried to work with Mr. Checkout for distributors to convenience stores, but they got me nothing.

I went to a BabyBoomer expo, and was approached by The Beacon Newspaper, for readers 50+ in the Washington DC area, to advertise in their newspaper. I couldn’t afford it, so they did a feature article on me last November!

I am currently working with Sarah Shaw, SarahShawConsulting.com, to get my product into the hands of celebrities. Sarah Shaw is great, and I am waiting for the results.

Jennifer Blanc-Biehn is an actress and movie producer, and she loves my product. She is producing two movies this year that will include Tip ‘n Split in them. Can’t wait.

What’s your greatest success to date?
My product won the Gold Medal for “Best New Gadget” at INPEX, trade show for inventors, leading to an appearance on QVC.

My story was featured in the Lioness Magazine and the Beacon Newspaper for people over 50 in the Washington DC area as an inspiration to other Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomer Entrepreneur Finds Reinvention In Retirement

http://www.thebeaconnewspapers.com/select-stories/features/take-tip-entrepreneur

Podcast by Lisa Vogt, on Everbetteru, http://www.everbetteru.com/about-the-podcast/the-inventor-connie-inukai-s-second-career-and-debut-on-qvc/

I get positive feedback from people who see and buy my product. Many are also inspired that I am reinventing myself after retiring from the teaching profession. (I’m still new at being an entrepreneur.)

What’s been challenging and how did you overcome it?
The over 50 population is sadly often overlooked.

Most investors invest in high tech businesses; mine is low tech. My product has similar apps, but no handheld devices that provide light, magnification, and calculations all in one. An app is not a gift.

Most Baby Boomers are just not “into” apps, and use the smartphone mainly for calls, texts, and emails–but not at the dinner table.

Biggest challenge has been finding the money for manufacturing and marketing. I’m actively seeking investors.

I’m going to INPEX, trade show for inventors, next week to seek investors and licensing.

I am also getting positive feedback from celebrities over 50 who like my product. This is something I just started. So far Betty White, Olivia Newton-John, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Kris Jenner, Kirstie Alley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Liza Minelli, Lynda Carter, Carol Alt, Allison Janney, Julianne Moore, Brook Shields, Christina Applegate, Mark Harmon, Michael Biehn, and Madonna are enjoying their Tip ‘n Splits!

What steps are you taking to achieve your goals?
Working on an Amazon account.
Working with Sarah Shaw, SarahShawConsulting.com, to gain exposure for my product.
Seeking an investor.
Seeking licensing fc agreements.
Currently on QVC, and hoping to get on air again.
Working on enhancements to my product, such as a stronger battery and new colors.
Hoping to get on Shark Tank.
Applied to Billion Dollar Buyer because my product is great for restaurants that cater to diners who have difficulty reading small print.

What are your best tips on managing family and business?
After supporting three children as a divorced mother and on a small teacher’s salary, I barely managed paycheck-to paycheck. Now I am retired and my kids are grown, and I don’t have those struggles, which always came first.

Now I am spending my retirement on ME!

What are your favorite tools and resources?
Shark Tank Entrepreneurs Facebook group–for constant inspiration.

Sarah Shaw, SarahShawConsulting.com, for all of her suggestions to me.

If you could wave a magic wand right now, what would you wish for?
Investor with sound advice and connections.

Where can readers go to learn more about you and your business?
www.tipandsplit.com

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