Like most inventions, Dr. Keith Beauchamp’s duck decoy motion spreader was born out of necessity.
Beauchamp, a podiatrist by profession, is an avid duck hunter who hunts on a pond near his residence in Macon, Mo., about 150 miles northeast of Kansas City. He was looking for a way to simplify the deployment of hundreds of duck decoys he used to attract waterfowl.
After trying different materials and concepts, he thought of creating a central hub with radial arms hooked onto springs that would move the decoys as if they were swimming in the water.
It worked. Close to five years later, Beauchamp now owns the patent to his device and just signed an exclusive licensing agreement with TangleFree, a California-based waterfowl company.
His success is due in part to working with Kansas City-based R&D firm R2Fact, who helped him develop his homemade device into a market-ready product.
From ‘homemade contraption’ to market-ready
After his initial success, Beauchamp met with patent attorneys in St. Louis to see if his intellectual property could be protected. Stepping into Armstrong Teasdale, he felt like, well, a fish out of water.
“I come into this highly secure building with a Hefty garbage bag, decoys with rods and springs and crap hanging out of this bag,” Beauchamp jokes. “These guys in suits and ties are looking at me like, what is this guy doing?”
His device was patentable, and the attorneys referred him to Steve Pope and R2Fact. R2Fact guides established businesses and startups looking to create new products or expand a product line through the designing, prototyping and engineering process.
Pope said that he saw Beauchamp’s “homemade contraption” needed work.
“We really took what he had and started from the ground up, from engineering and design requirements and user requirements,” Pope said.
R2Fact spent close to 10 months building prototypes, iterating every aspect of what Pope called a “fairly complex device” so that it would be market-ready. Pope said he was impressed with Beauchamp’s drive and determination to see the project through to completion.
“We can draw similarities from one development to another, but because this hasn’t been done before, that was the challenge. His desire to make it function perfectly helped drive” the project, Pope said.“I would give him all the credit for being extremely assertive and engaging with the companies to go license his product.”
Beauchamp said he was impressed with Pope’s technical acumen and his ability to work on such a specialized machine.
“I was talking to a guy who never spent a day in a duck pond,” Beauchamp said. “I had to increase his working knowledge, but he was a quick study, and he tried real hard and developed things based on what we’re attempting to do. It was a great experience.”
‘You can’t do this halfway’
With a marketable device with R2Fact and a video presentation co-made with Rob Fanning of CVP Productions, Beauchamp attracted the interest of TangleFree. Beauchamp’s device — which doesn’t have a new name yet — will be available to the public during the next hunting season.
Beauchamp knew early in the process that working on his device would take a lot of time and resources. While he and his family were prudent with expenses, they were fully committed to the journey.
“We’re looking at a significant investment to get this new product off the ground. Are we going to make this commitment now or pull the plug? It’s either all or nothing. You can’t do this halfway,” Beauchamp said.
While he is happy with the new patent and the licensing agreement, Beauchamp isn’t resting on his laurels.
“Keep in mind, we still have a ways to go. I haven’t sold the first one yet,” he said.