Matthew Buchanan of Buchanan Nipper
Meet Matthew Buchanan, co-founder of Buchanan Nipper
, an intellectual property law firm that works with startups and established organizations to establish portfolios that meet defined business objectives.
What is Buchanan Nipper?
Buchanan Nipper is an intellectual property (IP) law firm based in Perrysburg. We help businesses protect their inventions and brands by prosecuting patent and trademark applications before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and by assisting foreign counsel to do the same before intellectual property offices around the world.
How did you come up with the idea?
After practicing patent law in other firms for many years, I realized I had developed a passion for an approach that was different than that taken by others. I've always disliked volume-based "patent everything" approaches to building a portfolio, and enjoy more strategic and focused efforts that are guided by defined business goals and objectives. Eventually I realized that, to be able to implement that approach with every client, I needed to start my own firm. So I launched my own shop several years ago and have been building it ever since.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
The biggest surprise for me was the freedom it provided. When I started the firm, I had a vision for the approach I wanted to offer clients. I immediately set out to apply that to the big picture items in a law firm - counseling and work product. Over time, though, I was surprised to realize the number of day-to-day things that I was now free to rethink. We threw out several old school approaches that just didn't make sense and implemented our own ideas. We questioned everything from the types of file folders used for patent applications to the way we bill our clients.
Where did you find your first employee?
I didn't have to look far. Family members were and still are my first two employees. My sister-in-law is an accountant who has worked inside law firms over the years. She was a natural fit for bookkeeping and office management roles. My wife has a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology, so she was a natural fit for a scientific advisor and paralegal.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
The docket guides us on most days. We've got hard deadlines that have to be met or our client's legal rights can be lost. I spend every day making sure our team is doing the work necessary to be ready before the deadlines arrive. I spend a significant amount of time each week meeting with clients in our office, theirs, on the phone or virtually to discuss IP strategy and helping them make decisions in light of their strategies.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Toledo?
One advantage of having our firm in the Toledo area is the relatively low overhead it provides. We typically compete with firms from the biggest cities in the country. Their cost structure is, necessarily, always different than ours. Another huge advantage of working in the Toledo area is the quality of life. IP law can be a stressful practice; removing things like hour-long commutes and outrageous parking fees goes a long way toward lowering the stress.
What resources or organizations in Toledo did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Toledo has a tremendously energized technology and startup community that is gaining momentum like never before. I've had the good fortune to meet a lot of the folks in that community and to get involved in some of the wonderful work they're doing, like Startup Weekend Toledo
and the recent TedX
That community has helped me tremendously, perhaps in an unexpected way. They've reminded me of my love for Toledo and passion for its strong history of innovation. I'm proud to be in and from the Toledo area and am excited about its future. We have amazingly talented and passionate people here.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
One constant in my career is an amazing company that is now our biggest client. I'm always amazed when I look back on my relationship with them over time. I began doing work with some of their researchers while I was in graduate school at the Medical College of Ohio (MCO). After leaving MCO, I worked at a local testing company as a scientist and was eventually asked to handle incoming work from this client. After law school, I started working for a Chicago-based firm and, again, was eventually asked to handle work for this client. When I set out on my own, they didn't hesitate to follow. Time and time again, they've taught me an invaluable business lesson. It always comes down to relationships between people.
What inspires you?
I'm lucky to work with amazingly bright and talented inventors and entrepreneurs every day. I'm constantly inspired by their willingness and ability to ask the big questions. Why? Why not? What if? We need more people like that.
What founders do you admire and why?
People that know me know that I'm a huge fan of Apple and the late Steve Jobs. I admire his track record of thinking different and introducing disruptive innovation.
I also have great admiration and respect for the founders that give Toledo its amazing history of invention and innovation: Stranahan, Owens, Libbey, DeVilbiss and many more. These folks literally launched industries from right here in Toledo. Products ranging from spark plugs and plastics to bicycle wheels and fountain pens are connected to Toledo through innovation. That's amazing when you think about it.
I also admire the current generation of founders here in Toledo. There's a vibe that is gaining energy and momentum, and these folks are giving it shape and impact. The good folks behind Seed Coworking
-- Gene Powell
, Jamie Wright
and Don Miller
-- have been a lightning rod for the startup community and have literally given it a home. Lindsey Danforth
and Will Lucas
have moved mountains to bring high caliber, worldwide events, like Startup Weekend and TedX to Toledo. Matt Braun
is doing amazing things in an industry not typically associated with Toledo.
What’s next for you?
I'm actually following the advice of some of my clients and helping my oldest son launch a startup. He is, we believe, the world's youngest iOS developer to have an app in the App Store that he coded entirely on his own. His next project is Daystream
, a social journaling platform that allows you to easily document and share the stories that make up your days through statuses, photos, audio recordings and more. Unlike the major social networking sites, Daystream makes it easy to revisit and remember the stories you've shared and those that have been shared with you. He's coding the iOS app while we work together on the website during the evenings.
Interview by Joe Baur