Shed (Sheridan) Simove, heard the laughter track on Friends and wondered if you could live your own sit com. It started the process which brought about the novelty sound machine. Retailing at £8.99, it paid his mortgage.
Shed has very shiny shoes, is fairly diminutive (enabling him to disguise himself as a 16 yr old at the age of 30) and has a winning manner.
The author of ‘What Every Man Thinks About Apart From Sex’, a book of 200 blank pages, has sold over 80,000 copies and been translated into four languages. “All it is is one joke and once you’ve seen the joke once it’s not funny after that” he says honestly. “But it shows you what can happen when an idea captures people’s imagination and takes off. I could have done so much with my life, global warming, I could have tackled that, had a go at cancer.” But instead he’s making rubbish, but popular, novelty gift items.
His self published title took him to the Madrid Book Fair. “I was there next to a woman who took eight years to write her book. I had a massive queue for my empty pages and I sold out in an afternoon. She was still flogging away. It’s terrible isn’t it? But I have written another book (that didn’t sell) so I don’t feel so bad.” The book outsold Dan Brown and Harry Potter at one stage and made it to number 44 in the Amazon sales bestseller list “not bad” Shed says, “for a blank book.”
His ‘inotepad’ – a note book – drew attention from Apple’s lawyers who insisted he drop the ‘i’ and change the ‘nice pear’ logo. It’s now called the ‘not pad’ and sold thousands over 6 days in the run up to last Christmas. He’s working on a ‘High Tea’ cup – a tall mug for the Diamond Jubilee.
Shed travels with a wheely suitcase full of cheap, novelty gift items. Tragically, they did make me laugh. He made me laugh. The key to his success? He’s persistent rather than pushy. He firmly believes you can talk your way out of law suits – and he has done. His prototype ‘scare your parents kit’ complete with syringe, foil and a positive pregnancy test . He agrees “That shouldn’t be made.” His home made currency he uses as a business card and a coin. “I said to the guy in Ohio did he really need a picture of MY bum. So there I was dropping my trousers for my brother to take a picture for a stranger in the US.” Shed put his newly made currency on ebay and it’s currently worth £1.52 – a better exchange rate than the Euro or the Dollar.
Life for Shed is an experiment, one that leads to adventures. He clearly likes to get things done “an idea grips me and I just do it.” He feels there is opportunity all the time, just twist things that already exist, find out what the successful competition are doing “not copying exactly”.
Knowledge is no longer power because of the internet. The competitive edge, he believes, is now in creativity. “The internet enables you to access resources and an expert within minutes and an audience in a few hours – so the potential at the moment is very exciting. “ He’s simply doing what any of us could be doing.
His inspiration is often the Argos catalogue. He’s sold over a million units of his products. He’s bursting with new ideas. His latest ‘I love you mum’ is on a billboard in Tottenham Court Road and he has lots of others in production. How to define success? Having a good time, doing things you love, creating things and selling over a million units of them. Doesn’t sound bad does it?
One word of warning, always avoid the negative magnets. “Those people who crinkle their eyebrows” says Shed. “The people who hear your idea and say ‘that’s not very good.’ I get that a lot. The crime is not having a rubbish idea, your brain will let you know that soon enough. The crime is in other people, or yourself, stopping you from doing something with their negativity.”