By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter , RPCN Communication Committee
The RPCN's current president could be said to have a patent on being an entrepreneur - his consulting business helps people patent their inventions.
Dave Bassett, president of Bassett IP Strategies and Bassett Business Strategies in Macedon, NY (operating under the umbrella of Bassett Statistical Company LLC), worked as a chemical engineer for about 16 years in a wide range of areas - environmental design and compliance (air and wastewater), mixing, blow molding, screen printing, process control, and plant utilities - before starting his own business. He also has developed software for petroleum exploration and has a background in biomedical, reactions and semiconductors.
Bassett's business, he said, helps inventors "in several areas but is primarily focused on patent application development and patent prosecution. BBS helps companies with business plans and strategic planning." He launched the business in 2005.
Here is a video interview with Bassett. Find out how the RPCN has been beneficial for his business and his own professional development.
Looking for a change from engineering, "I obtained an MBA in 2004 - I finished first in Simon's EDP program - and several of my classmates asked me to help them with projects at their companies," he recalled. "I started out focusing on business strategy and shifted to a focus on patenting." He had some experience in that activity: "I'd taken the patent bar exam in 2003 and had done some work for a local attorney as well." Originally, 75 percent of his business involved strategy; now, patenting makes up about 80 percent.
"I specialize in working with small businesses and individual inventors - the sorts of clients that really can use assistance but often don't have the resources to work with the 'big boys,'" Bassett explained. "My company has very low overhead and that, combined with my being a patent agent rather than a patent attorney, can really help keep project costs down. For matters between an inventor and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (such as developing and submitting a patent application and prosecuting it to issue), an agent is equivalent to an attorney. Agents don't get involved in third-party matters; for example, we don't draft contracts for licensing agreements."
Bassett retains a love of learning, and his consulting business makes it possible to indulge that. "If given my druthers, were I to hit the lottery, I would probably become a professional student," he said. "The nice thing about my job is that, in a way, I already am. A large part of my job is to have an inventor describe his or her invention to me and for me to learn about it well enough to describe it on paper to a patent examiner."
Bassett would be glad to hear from anyone in the RPCN with an inventive streak. "If you think you may have a patentable idea or would simply like to know more about the patenting process, I'd be happy to meet and discuss it," he said. "Due to my background as a chemical engineer and having worked in many areas of the field, I have a broad range of projects with which I can help clients."
Like many RPCN members, Bassett works from a home office and is the sole member of his company, although "I do work with other small business owners when projects exceed my expertise and/or bandwidth," he said. "How that work gets divided will depend upon the project."
Also like many colleagues, Bassett finds clients, and clients find him, primarily through word of mouth - through associates and client referrals. "I do get some from the Internet," he said. "I typically present two to three times a year at seminars, which also helps. I expect that I will upgrade my website and marketing efforts when my current term as RPCN president is completed."
Bassett joined the RPCN in 2007 or 2008, and has found it to be beneficial for his business and his own professional development. "I've gotten to know many people across a wide range of professions," he said. "I have worked on projects with several RPCN members; I have also used the RPCN as a sounding board to help solve issues that come up in my business. The RPCN has been a source (both direct and via referral) of new clients for me. I've also had several opportunities to give presentations, which have helped hone my speaking skills."
Becoming president of the RPCN didn't happen overnight for Bassett. He's been active in the organization since he first joined. That's part of his makeup, in fact. "I'm not really sure how or why, but since I've been in Rochester (19 years and counting!), I've always gotten involved in the organizations I belong to," he said. "I've been secretary and treasurer of the Rochester section of the AIChE (chemical engineering society); I'm going into my seventh year as treasurer for a campground I belong to; I've coached youth hockey for over a decade; and I was treasurer of the RPCN for four years before becoming Michael Van der Gaag's VP. I've been helping out these groups for so long, it tends to feel very strange not to be helping out."
It might seem as if running a business and being so involved in the RPCN would be enough for Bassett, but he also is involved with a small group of local entrepreneurs - the Independent Entrepreneur's Council - is a member of the National Association of Patent Practitioners and recently rejoined the Wayne County Business Council.
Being so involved in the RPCN has had plenty of rewards for Bassett. "I've met a lot of interesting and accomplished people that I wouldn't have met without being a part of RPCN. I believe in the mission of RPCN and it feels good to help it accomplish the goals that support it," he said.
The organization helps its members in a myriad of ways. "The most readily visible are our tech and business forums," he said. "They are de facto think tanks, and members (and guests) get a lot of good insight from them. Our morning speaker programs provide relevant current information that people need to run their businesses. Our TrendTalks give people opportunities to meet community leaders in various important sectors. We have educational events such as the Consultants Boot Camp and full-day conferences; the next ones are scheduled for this spring.
"We also provide members access to other members who have complementary skills that might be necessary to land a client or complete a project. Our website gives members the opportunity to post opportunities for members. We have alliances with other organizations and are working to expand those alliances to give members more exposure and a greater network of people to help our members meet their own professional goals. And that's just off the top of my head."
The RPCN also recognizes that consultants can feel cut off from the social aspects of the business world, Bassett noted. In response, "we provide people who have lost that 'water cooler' that is found in a big company the opportunity to network and socialize, both at our regular meetings and at events like the Surprise Thursdays and picnics and other primarily social events."
In short, Bassett said, "with RPCN, you get a tremendous amount of value for your $95 annual membership fee. The more involved you get with RPCN, the greater value you will get back - your personal network will broaden and you'll demonstrate how talented you are to our 100 or so members. If you'd like to become more involved, let us know; we'd love to have your help."
To see how to get more involved, check out Bassett's column in this issue of the RPCN newsletter.
Ruth E. Thaler-Carter (www.writerruth.com
) is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader and speaker whose motto is "I can write about anything!"™ She is also the owner of Communication Central (www.communication-central.com
), which hosts a conference for communications entrepreneurs in the fall.