DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: Edward Bermingham and Nexchess

Edward Bermingham explains the issues he has had in getting Nexchess, a chess set using soldiers, fighter jets and presidents, off the ground.
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We are now at the distribution stage, having spent the last five years developing it.

l have a limited quantity remaining which l intend to use for marketing, about 300, although l would like to sell some to retrieve some of my investment back.

The whole object of creating Nexchess is to license it to a major international board game manufacturer. I have contacted most of them around the world, the standard reply is no reply at all, not even an acknowledgement of your original e-mail.

The other reply, which l felt was extremely conceited, is 'whatever your idea is for a board game, we have probably already thought about it'. These firms are impossible to deal with unless you know of any back door routes, which l don't.

As far as retailing Nexchess, it is available on eBay, Gumtree and Amazon. We are selling a few and our customers have been very happy to date with their purchase of Nexchess. Most parents are happy to see their children away from the TV and their Xbox machines, which only teach our youngsters how to kill, assassinate, blow things up, etc.

The general reaction from almost everyone that has seen Nexchess is 'it's brilliant, a fantastic idea, why hasn't someone thought of this before?' l had one adult visitor to my stand at the NEC who did not play chess and after viewing Nexchess he expressed a wish to learn the game.

Regarding reaction from interested parties, l have had three offers of investment to date, each offering quite substantial funds, but they required 51 per cent of Nexchess. These offers were declined. Of course, l could take the money and run, but l did not develop Nexchess with this intention in mind. The intention is to license it and along with this format comes worldwide distribution, that is my goal.

Two recent world chess champions have told me that anything that promotes the game of chess is a great thing, unfortunately due to current sponsorship commitments they could not officially endorse my product, not just yet.

The road to product development has been a long and difficult one.

Due to my previous work experience l knew which roads to take, only this time it was with my own funding, not an employers. From idea to actual finished product is a wonderful achievement, a great feeling of self satisfaction, but with this you are also leaving behind you a trail of financial hardships. I will be up to my eyeballs in debt for a few upcoming years yet.

The total cost of design, development and production has run in to thousands of pounds. l utilised what savings l had left, l blew all my credit cards and borrowed what l could from friends and family.

My biggest hurdle now is the marketing and distribution of Nexchess. l am no expert when it comes to social media, l have no idea what Twitter is or does, I'm a complete novice. l am also at the stage due to financial restrictions where l cannot recruit anyone to help me with this next phase either.

My target now is to try and obtain as much publicity as l can for Nexchess, in the hope of interesting all chess players and non-chess players around the world.

The standard game of chess was created in 1849, by Harold Staunton, l really don't think that even he thought that his version of chess would last until 2014. After all, l believe just about every popular board game of our time has been modernised at some stage, except chess. There are many versions of chess in the market ie Star Trek , Harry Potter, Simpsons etc, but these are all character sets and will only last as long as they keep broadcasting the TV shows. Nexchess is not a character set, it is the way chess should be played today, in the 21st century.

The problem l have with selling Nexchess in toy stores is the double margin which has to be attached. l appreciate that all stores need to make a profit, but with the internet now, a single profit margin can be applied, benefiting the consumer. At the moment l am selling my product at £39.95. If it went retail it could reach £59.00 depending on each companies operating margins. There would also be VAT to be considered.

At this present time Nexchess UK Ltd has three more products in development, all at the design stage, all based upon the first design but with changes. There is a camouflage version of which the designs are almost finished. There is a Battle of Britain version which should attract the older players, where l change the pawns to Spitfires, Messerschmitts and the Kings become Winston Churchill and Hitler.

But the most controversial set yet to be finalised on the drawing board is Family Nexchess. This is mainly to attract the female players, as chess is dominated by male players. This particular set will be aimed at families, using playing pieces connected to everyday family life, like a policeman.

These planned versions of Nexchess will not be released until the basic Nexchess is well on its way to full distribution.

If you are an inventor or designer and you'd like to share your story, email us at Billy.Langsworthy@intentmedia.co.uk.

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