Trevor Baylis (Inventor) gives expert video advice on: Have you always been into inventing?; Do you remember what your first invention was?; Who were you influenced by? and more...
Have you always been into inventing?
When I was a child, I always used to play with my mechano which I think is important for kids. I think all kids should learn how to use a mechano. What's so handy is from the age of about four or five, and I couldn't write my name, but I could do the most amazing things with my mechano. I knew what a nut and a bolt was. How to use a screwdriver. How to use a spanner. Do you understand me? In other words I could do structural things and I could make mechanical gizmos and gadgets.
Who were you influenced by?
I was influenced by my Mom and Dad. My mother was a fantastic artist and a thespian. My father was an actor as well. They did the most extraordinary things. My father actually taught me how to use the lathe, this one behind me here, and a number of other gizmos and gadgets in the shed that we had in Southhall. In fact I made my first diesel engine by the time I was fourteen with the help of my Dad. It actually worked. I've got some of the bits that are left of it out here. So that was part of growing up.
How did you father help you in the beginning?
Well, my father was not just my father, he was my mate, which was rather nice. We used to share, he used to show me how to use all the tools, how to cut things properly. This was done in the days before the Health and Safety people came in. I think if they'd seen him and I working together, he'd have been locked up, never to be seen of again. But, I mean, in those days, we could make our own fireworks, our own bangers. We could go to the chemist and buy any chemical we'd like. We used to play with mercury on the floor. All the bench tops were covered with asbestos. All the Boy Scouts had pen knives and knives. These are things that are completely unseen now, or allowed. Even when you went to buy a pair of shoes, we used to spend hours with our foot in the x-ray machine just to see if the shoes were fitting properly. I think that Health and Safety would have gone absolutely ape in my day, but then that was part of growing up.
What do you think of Dragons Den?
Well, it does not get my full approval and the reason why is that I don't think that it should come down to that eleventh hour for somebody to make a decision or be humiliated on prime time. Look, lets say you have a great invention, lets say you are an unmarried mom, and you have very good idea, and you have gone to the bank, you have this thing going. And now you are into the bank for lets say for twenty thousand quid and you are going to feed the kittie. You going to patent, a jolly good product and now the bank is going to foreclose on you. What am I going to do, what am I going to do? You get a chance to get on the dragons den. So all of a sudden this heavily pregnant lady gets a change to go onto the dragons den. Now she unable to express herself, why?. Because she has not got a business plan because she is not good at business plans, but she has come up with a very very good idea. Then on prime time she might get that 25k that the bank has demanding from her at the expense of giving up her company to the so called loan sharks, and then that lady's name disappears out of the front. The only time she is ever going to be on television again, if these guys finally allow it, is when she is on the dragons den, that's five minutes of fame. I don't agree with that. I think a lady like that should be given the best possible option to bring it though and, if she is into the bank for 25k, we;re going to try and find a way of easing that debt in the best possible way. We have to salute those ordinary men and woman who have the guts to get off their back sides and put it up without humiliated it or being ripped off.
Have you won any awards for your inventing?
Lots and lots of awards, yes. I mean, it's almost embarrassing really. I've got, I think 8 doctorates, and I've got about 5 master's, so about 22 degrees in all. And this is the way of society of saying, "Well done, Trev." But I've received all sorts of other awards, but the list is so long. But it's the way of society of saying, "Well done, Trev." And I'm immensely proud, and of course all those certificates are on my wall over there. And every time someone says something nice about me, you've got things called scrapbooks, I'm sure. I've got things called ego files, you understand me. So every time a nice little comment is made about me, I cut it out of the newspaper and put it in the ego file. Now if you had someone like Max Clifford looking at my files, 9, 10, however many it is, files, possibly more. And said to him look, "How much would it cost to generate this publicity?" You couldn't put a finger on it, and yet the very people who turned me over missed out on all that publicity, and I'm glad they did. And it would be very nice if that company that ripped me off go belly-up. I would be so thrilled! But that's me.
What is the best invention since sliced bread?
Well, of course I've said the jet engine, but there are newer things out there, things you've come to depend upon, like the microwave for example. A perfect tool for the single man, you see. Perfect for me because I can go over the road there and I can virtually have ten different meals of different origins in my frig. And I can say, "Thai, no I'll have Indian today." Then you just take it out and you whack it in there and five minutes, six minutes later you have your grub, with very little washing up. Now that is perfect for the confirmed bachelor, you understand.
What advice would you give to wannabe inventors?
Well, first things first. If you have a good idea, then don't, don't go down to the pub and tell everybody about it. I think I mentioned this to you before. Because once you've told everybody, it's disclosed, you've lost it. Right? Now, in my case, the reason why I started Bogus Brands is that I genuinely believed that there has to be a safe haven for an inventor. Now there are other organizations out there that purport to help inventors, but I've been working very closely, I've just started to work with the British Standards Institute. Now if you were to get a phoney plumber into your house, and he wasn't registered and he wasn't, you know, he had an accident or made a dreadful job of your plumbing, what can you do about it? You have to be codely approved. In other words, you have to know what standards they are working to. Now in the case of an inventor, academies, organizations, clubs, societies, they, I believe, all of them, must form to a British standard. In other words, when you go there, you know these people will lose their license should they rip you off, or indeed, be sued by you for breaking the code of practice which is put in place by the British standards. And I'm trying to get them to listen to me is like me trying to talk to government. Do you understand? So, what I'm saying to you is basically we've got to try to put some pressure on people like the BSI to listen to what I'm saying. I have no trouble with you having a club or society as long as it conforms to those standards and of course I'd like Bogus Brands to be double oh one or 007, do you understand me? I'd like us to be the people that got this going with the help of the patent office and the British Standards Institute.
Are you working on any new inventions?
Yes, I have one or two that are coming through. But it's for me to know and for you to guess, do you understand? Now, laughing and joking apart, there are a few things. But the thing is, you see I don't get up in the morning and say "I am going to invent something." It doesn't work like that. There's that expression I think I used before --"chance favors a prepared mind." In other words, use it as an accident or something that makes it happen. Something completely unforeseen. And that's usually what happens. It doesn't necessarily follow, you know, that the invention is going to relate to what you do for a living. Sometimes it's completely outside the square but unless there's a safe haven for the invention to go to, then why invent?
What is the ideal environment to invent in?
Well obviously it depends on what you do, you see. Because obviously your invention may not relate to mechanical or electrical engineering. It could be medical, in which case obviously the best place for that is probably in a surgery, or in that sort of environment.