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The Expert: In his own words, Scott Bushweller ’96 had a “simple idea for a common complaint.” Hence, the Bookbrella was born, Bushweller’s answer for the backyard and beach-going reader in search of some page shade. Produced and marketed through Antioch Publishing, the compact, clip-on umbrella hit the shelves at bookstores and gift shops this spring.

The Question: Lots of us have flashes of invention; few of us see them through to market. What’s your secret?

The Answer: Patience and perseverance. (Cue Homer Simpson: “D’oh!”) Bushweller is a full-time physical therapist and his wife, Sarah, was in physician assistant’s school while the family was brainstorming the Bookbrella. Like most inventors, they didn’t have the luxury of long days tinkering in the workshop. First came an 18-month wait to receive a utility patent, then Bushweller put in another year shopping the idea on his own. “Companies get lots of submissions from people like me, so common responses were ‘We don’t deal with inventors’ or ‘We have our own product line.’” Bushweller realized he needed help and launched an extensive search for a marketing company with the connections and resources to find a taker for the Bookbrella. He cautions being careful on this step, while Bushweller found an effective and trustworthy outfit, many aren’t so fortunate. He has another invention brewing, an idea that could help recovering patients in physical therapy improve strength and range of motion. Beyond that, Bushweller isn’t talking, modeling a fundamental bit of wisdom for wannabe inventors: until you’ve met with your patent attorney, keep that light under a bushel.