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Drive, Curiosity and Light
03 January 2022
Interview of Marco Bozzola and the story of Relio²
Marco Bozzola is the kind of inventor who talks with a contagious excitement about the present and the future. For him entrepreneurship didn’t come from a business ambition, but from a childhood obsession: light. He always loved the way lamps work and this is why, when he thought about working on a personal project that could combine the diversity of his interests, there was no doubt it had to be a light-emitting device.
He has done many things in his own way, like creating the product, Relio², before thinking of a specific problem to solve. This is the reason why his product is modular and very minimalistic; the possibilities are endless and he’s receiving enquiries from a variety of industries that are finding Relio² useful for very different reasons.
Below Marco tells us more about the journey that has led him to win the Design Europa Award in 2021 for Relio².
Marco Bozzola, inventor and founder of Relio²
When and why did you decide to start working on your own project?
When you work as an employee in a company, your employer values efficiency. Our current society has the tendency to create and reward highly skilled, highly vertical professions. If you are really good at something, of course they want you to do it!
This is a situation that many employees appreciate: their learning curve starts to level-off and their efficiency increases. A win-win for both the employer and the employee.
The issue with this kind of efficiency pressure is that it leaves little space to professionals to ask themselves "Do I actually like what I'm doing?".
Very few companies encourage their employees to experiment in new fields of knowledge, because they fear that the new wave of excitement while learning new, totally different skills may drive these employees away.
If you're really lucky to work in an open-minded company, they'll understand that to retain good employees, you have to set them free and give them the freedom to express themselves. It's not easy, and almost impossible in small companies where money, time and resources are limited.
So, my story began exactly like that.
Relio² Cinema Lighting
I was quite satisfied with my job in the IT sector, but there were no resources for me to experiment in other fields I am deeply passionate about: engineering, electronics and consumer products.
For a brief period, I continued to work as an employee while developing my own products. What I earned during the day, I was spending at night, working on my very own ideas. As soon as I launched them on the market, orders began pouring in and I left my job.
I am still friends with my former employer, he understood that the urge to find yourself is a source of unstoppable energy that must be embraced.
What would you say makes Relio² special?
It's a very honest product. Made with heart and with the ingenuity of my very own passion. Engineered with great attention to detail and durability.
"After all, I made Relio² for myself, so it had to be the most solid product… ever!"
Relio² Kit Box
And it's very modular, maintainable, extendable. All features that a modern product should have, because they make it environmentally more sustainable (because of its durability), educational (because of its extendability with 3D printed, open-source parts) and highly future-proof (because of its modularity, it can be improved over time without needing to buy a new version).
After all, I made Relio² for myself, so it had to be the most solid product… ever!
What was your experience when first registering the design?
After a bad experience with my first designs and trademarks, I decided to learn by myself how to register my IP, and the EUIPO website was really helpful. It is really well-made and so user-centric, everything is explained properly, leaving no questions unanswered.
"It's important, however, to know enough about IP to make the right decision."
Before approaching new IP registrations, I delved deep into the EUIPO website and, when the time came, I felt confident to do them on my own.
It doesn't mean that this is the right path for everyone, it worked for me but there are also good IP consultants that will make sure you don't get into serious IP incidents. It's important, however, to know enough about IP to make the right decision.
Scientific Research with Relio²
What was the first commercial use for Relio²?
Relio² began as a product for myself! I love tinkering, reverse-engineering things, soldering, working with micro-parts, and these activities require a reliable, tiny and powerful source of steady light.
My friends saw the early prototypes of Relio² and started telling me that in their working fields, photography, arts, restoration and archaeology; Relio could become a hit.
So, day after day, we started working together to broaden Relio²'s marketing audience. This is the power of friends!
Crafts Lighting with Relio²
What other Intellectual Property does Relio have now?
Relio has registered trademarks, mechanical patents, designs and also has a very good, more intangible asset: a very powerful – albeit niche – brand recognition!
During the years I learned how to register trademarks, logos, designs and even complex mechanical patents. Everything can be learned, but it requires time, effort and, above all, mistakes will be made.
Always place yourself in a position where the damage from such mistakes is limited (not zero, otherwise you are not learning anything).
What would be your advice to other entrepreneurs?
Learn to do everything by yourself and then decide what are you going to delegate.
Delegating work will be the hardest part of an entrepreneurial adventure where great, personal passion is involved.
Learn from your mistakes and from the mistakes of others.
Do not fossilise on a single product or service. Differentiate.
Learn to let go of things that may hamper your business.
Even better, learn to re-shape and re-purpose failing ideas.
Everything, at its core, is good and profitable, but you must grow the ability to cherry-pick the good parts and let go the bad ones.
Never, ever work alone.