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Innovation(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 04,2005)


Cool Business


Cool Business

Fridge-to-go sells in some 14 countries and markets and is available in more than 45 models
Hong Kong inventor Jackson Chan, chairman and CEO of Kado Industrial Co Ltd, took just 15 minutes to come up with a prototype for the next generation cooler bag - a product that has won a slew of international awards and put Hong Kong on the world's inventor map.

The portable Fridge-to-go, "which looks like a cooler bag but performs like a fridge", works on a patented chilling technology. It does not require electricity to keep its contents cold for 12 hours, is 100% reusable and environmentally safe.

Recently, at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva - the biggest show of its kind in the world - Kado picked up a Gold Medal Award. It repeated its success at INPEX, the largest invention exhibition in the US, winning a Grand Prix Award as second-best-in-show from a field of 1,000 entries.

Fridge-to-go also won the Inventors Community Award, and was chosen by the Taiwan Inventors Association as the best invention to improve family lifestyles.

"We take common, everyday problems and solve them," says Chan. Indeed, Fridge-to-go was born out of necessity when an international airline client of Kado's asked the firm to come up with a product to stop beverage trolley ice from melting inflight. That was in October 2001.

Soon after, Fridge-to-go appeared as an exhibit at the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair, Asia's largest trade fair of its kind, and the response has been overwhelming ever since. At its Hong Kong retail launch in October 2003, for example, some 670 units sold in just 10 days.

Fridge-to-go, now sold in over 14 countries, including North America, the UK, Germany, South Africa, Australia and some Southeast Asian markets, is available in more than 45 models.

Brent Simon, Kado's vice-president, worldwide sales and marketing, believes all great inventions require a well-researched and focused marketing plan. "We have a five-year sales and marketing plan leveraging on three key segments: retail, gifts and premiums and commercial," he says, adding that premiums clients include names such as Coca-Cola, Emirates Airlines, FedEx, Eli Lilly and Samsung.

Kado also sees its value as an incubator and vertical integration specialist, helping other inventors in Hong Kong and around the world take innovation from the early concept stage to global marketing.

"We're focused on educating and informing the inventor of the realities of taking new product ideas to market, which could include design, patent, trademarking, prototyping, manufacturing, production, sales, marketing and worldwide distribution strategies," Simon says.

Five years from now, he adds, it is hoped that Kado will achieve total annual sales of about US$90m - with Fridge-to-go accounting for one-third of that - from just US$5m currently.

Meanwhile, CEO Chan, also a professional member of the Hong Kong Invention Association - a non-profit organisation of 300 members drawn together by a passion for inventing - says Hong Kong is an ideal place to hold an inventors' trade show.

"It would be very beneficial to promote Hong Kong as a centre for inventors," he remarks. "Hong Kong is the perfect gateway for inventors from the Chinese mainland and all around the world to meet. Along with the meeting, there could be seminars on intellectual property protection, patent rights, manufacturers' best practices and how to evaluate a product for sales and marketing."

Chan may be an inventor but insists that above all he is a businessman. "When we do an invention, we must be aware of the overall market viability. I'm an owner-operator who is very hands-on," he says.

The CEO is a pragmatic inventor who supervises a team of mainland engineers at a factory in Dongguan on the southern mainland. He has also come a long way from his first inventions - ice cubes with logos and disposable salt and pepper shakers that sold more than 180 million sets to airlines ranging from American Airlines to KLM.

"Kado is a rare company among inventors as it has the monetary resources, ideas, infrastructure, marketing expertise and worldwide partners who can make an idea come alive," says Simon. "The opportunities and possibilities are endless and exciting, and the future is bright."

Kado Industrial Co Ltd

Flats 1-3, 5/F,
Fonda Industrial Bldg,
37-39 Au Pui Wan St, Fotan,
New Territories, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2605-7730
Fax: 852-2691-0848
Email: info@kado-icl.com
Web: www.kado-icl.com

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