James Dyson: How to successfully develop and launch a new product invention

I’ve been wanting to write an article about this chap for a while, a man responsible for revolutionising the vacuum cleaner and most notably for me the best hand dryer ever; James Dyson, now worth an estimated £1.45 Billion.

A product designer, engineer, inventor, visionary however you describe him he definitely did a good job. A lot of people don’t know the story behind the creation of Dyson and how the success came about.


Vacuum Cleaner

Like most people James Dyson’s idea came from his frustrations when using an existing product; the Hoover. It kept clogging the dust bag thus loosing suction and performance. It was in 1970 whilst James was studying at the Royal College of Art when he came up with a solution after visiting a local sawmill and being inspired by the yard’s giant cyclone as it collected dust from the air.

Whilst being supported by his art teacher wife, took it James over 5,000 prototypes (Ranging from paper mock ups to plastic proof of concept) before launching the ‘G-Force’ in 1983. At this time dust bag replacements were big business so finding a willing manufacturer to produce his product was impossible. This force James to set his sights further afield and launched the product in Japan through sales catalogue, in pink and costing the equivalent to £2000.

Hill Leigh Sawmill Cylinder inspiration

One of many product prototypes

The G-force

His very first patent was actually granted in the US; U.S. Patent 4,593,429

The Dyson vacuum cleaner then had a breakthrough in the UK market 10 years after. This was through a very successful TV advertising campaign promoting one of its key unique selling points, not loss of suction but the fact you wouldn’t have to replace dust bags. Consumers were willing to pay more for this! The slogan “say goodbye to the bag” proved far more attractive to the UK market.


Product Failures

Whilst James had great success with the vacuum cleaner, a product he didn’t have great success with was his dual drum washing machine: The contrarotator. It cost £1,000 and had two drums which span in opposite directions to mimic the action of washing clothes by hand. I personally think whilst the product did a good job it was way too expensive for consumers and the aesthetics of the product was an issue especially for those people like I who have our washing machines in our kitchen. I would definitely not have this in my Kitchen!


Most Recent Inventions

The most recent invention to come from Dyson HQ in Malmsbury is the Air Blade tap. This builds on one of my favourite products Dyson has produced. It’s basically a tap which also dries your hands. I say basically very loosely here because this tap is epic and very intelligent, most notably for the new motor inside this beast. Watch the video below for more details

Sir James Dyson is a great example of an inventor who truly believed in himself and his product. With a lot of hard work and successfully using the design process he realised his dream. I’m a firm believer of James’ ethos and never be afraid of making a mistake as long as you learn from them, and this applies to the process of developing a product. It’s a iterative process.


What would you say to entrepreneurs or inventors who feel afraid to fail or worried that they’ll be judged? 

That’s a sort of lesson in life, isn’t it? You mustn’t be worried about what people will say about you. If you want to do something different, you’re going to come up against a lot of naysayers.

Big companies tend not to take risks, so there’s a big opportunity for entrepreneurs to take them and march on competitors. Business is constantly changing, constantly evolving. You’ve got to try things out.

I wanted to give up almost every day. But one of the things I did when I was young was long distance running, from a mile up to ten miles. They wouldn’t let me run more than ten miles at school – in those days they thought you’d drop down dead or something. And I was quite good at it, not because I was physically good, but because I had more determination. I learned determination from it.”

A lot of people give up when the world seems to be against them, but that’s the point when you should push a little harder. I use the analogy of running a race. It seems as though you can’t carry on, but if you just get through the pain barrier, you’ll see the end and be okay. Often, just around the corner is where the solution will happen


If you think you have what it takes to be the next James Dyson but need the technical helping getting there get in touch here with our expert team who are on hand to lead you through the same process James had taken.