IP protection the secret sauce for growing online retailer

Unlike most retailers, Ian Pasalich doesn’t worry too much about product categories, price points or the competitor down the street.

Instead, the owner of Reno’s NexGenStore.com is largely focused on one question: What’s the patent protection?

The online retailer, which rolled out its first national advertising campaign last week, sells a grab-bag of products — several kitchen appliances, a board game, a heated palm rest to reduce wrist problems for folks who work on computers.

The common element in the seemingly unrelated products, says Pasalich, is that each is unique, and each has strong global patent protection to keep competitors out of NexGenStore’s space.

For instance, The Masha, a $39.95 hand-held potato masher, carries patent protection on its cornerstone technology — a low-speed rotor that forces potatoes, guacamole, cookie dough or other foods through a mesh.

Meanwhile, the Whacky Whiddles, a word-based board game developed by longtime Reno resident Kenneth Eymann, who died last month, is covered by copyright that provides 70 years of protection.

“I don’t care what category it is,” Pasalich says of the company’s product strategies. But he wants to make darned sure that no one can knock it off.

The company’s reliance on small appliances — its line includes a mixer, a blender and a frother in addition to the masher — reflects the background of Pasalich, former president of Sunbeam New Zealand.

After leaving Sunbeam, Pasalich and two partners created a company that specialized in design, manufacturing and distribution of small kitchen appliances for major brands worldwide.

Looking to get out of the hassles of dealing with the brands and their big-box customers, Pasalich launched NexGenStore last year as an online retailer. Its headquarters, distribution and marketing operations are in Reno, although it relies heavily on contractors to provide most of its support services.

“We invented it, we manufacture it, we patent it, we own it, so no one can beat our price value,” he says. It works with inventors and product designers worldwide to keep its pipeline of new products filled.

The company’s business model will be put to the test in coming weeks as it launches a series of 15-second ads television ads on platforms such as Food Network and Cooking Channel.

The spots, Pasalich says, are designed entirely to drive traffic to NexGenStore.com.

His worry: The capital of the little company, almost entirely self-funded by Pasalich, would be stretched thin if it needs to carry substantial inventories to fill the orders of online shoppers.

Not surprisingly, Pasalich’s priority now that the television spots are completed is the search for investment money to position NexGenStore for sales growth.

Over the longer-term, Pasalich says the company might launch a modest brick-and-mortar operation — small company owned stores that stock and sell only its products.


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