Tuesday, September 2

Now what can we do with this?

We see them all the time - great ideas people come up with for solving problems that then get turned into great products.

Many times these great ideas are born from the frustration of everyday life, mixed with a bit of experience and education. The result ranges from very simple solutions to much more complex solutions depending on the background of the inventor.

In this video is an example of a great solution turned unto a great product developed by someone who obviously had a significant background and education in chemistry.

Don't get frustrated when you see these complex products being developed and compare them to your more simplistic efforts. You are the norm, not them, and while your contribution may not be the chemistry behind this hydrophobic concoction - it very well could be an application for it that only you envision.




Mark Reyland

Friday, August 29

What are Pantone colors?


 
As inventors we are forced to think of many issues dealing with the conversion of our idea into a consumer product. Color is just one of those issues - but it's a big one.

Have you ever thought about how colors are generated and communicated? Maybe not, but if you ever want to communicate with a factory about color you had better start by understanding the Pantone system.

PMS (Pantone Matching System) is a color matching standard used in the Printing Industry for selecting colors, similar to how you would select a paint color in a hardware store.
 
PMS colors are used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, though sometimes in the manufacture of colored paint, fabrics and plastic parts.At its core, the Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system.
 
By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.
 
One such use is standardizing colors in the CMYK process. The CMYK process is a method of printing color by using four inks—cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The vast majority of the world's printed material is produced using the CMYK process, So by assigning a code (Pantone number) to the colors everyone stays on the same page.
With 1,114 different PMS shades to choose from, there are plenty of options when selecting color for a product or packaging design.


Mark Reyland

Thursday, August 28

Hot for teacher.....

There are only a handful of “Inventor Forums” on the internet – thank goodness. Not that all the people posting on those forums are bad, they are not.
 
However as much as the internet has given our industry in terms of educational outreach, it has created places that new inventors should either stay away from or at least understand the context of the information and opinions provided.
Enter Mr. Smith’s second grade class. You have Mrs. Smith, who took the time to educate herself on the lesson plan for the second grade, attended school herself to achieve the industry standard for teaching, and proudly stands at the front of her flock prepared to impart great knowledge and wisdom.
Also in the room of course are a bunch of second grade students eager to soak up this knowledge like water to a sponge - and so it goes - Mrs. Smith teaches, the students learn, and we have an effective process for education. 
Then suddenly Mrs. Smith leaves the room. Immediately the child with the strongest personality takes over and starts running things – they pick up the lesson plan and start teaching the students – or maybe they just start making things up and offering opinions.
What was an effective form of education has now degraded to the unknowing teaching the unknowing.
Such is often the case on inventor forums. A strong personality takes over and starts’ feeding their ego by spewing out information that in its best case is wrong, and in its worst case is harmful.
Some of the “class” will follow every word like sheep. While others will engage in the conversation simply to break the loneliness of their existence, and still others will bravely attack from behind that little avatar and cute screen name that now has become their identity to the world.
The ones we really worry about are the ones you never hear from. The hundreds of people reading those forum posts who don’t ever say anything. They often just sit and read, and while they may be able to see the big picture and factor in that Mrs. Smith has left the room, they rarely end up with the information they came looking for - or worse they walk away with what they think is the answer when in fact it’s just some idiot spouting off about something they think they know.
So next time you jump onto an “Inventor Forum” just remember the people you meet there aren’t always what they appear to be, and the information they are dolling out is most often just more garbage left by the side of the Inventor super highway.
Mark Reyland

Wednesday, August 27

Would YOU use this?

I recently ran across this image. As social experiments go it's pretty unique in that it has nothing to do with bathrooms and everything to do with courage.

I found myself thinking, as a answered the question "Would I have the courage to use that?", about how we as inventors often ask consumers to have courage. Not normally public embarrassment courage, but the courage to have faith in our inventions.

Of course by the time the invention has made it through the labyrinth of process that is product development, much of the consumer risk has been controlled. Not all of it mind you, and the question still remains in the mind of the inventor - how much courage am I asking the consumer to have in adopting my invention to solve their problem?

Interesting question... do you ever ask it?



Mark Reyland


Tuesday, August 26

Meeting Announcment


WE'RE EXCITED!
We are excited about this week's meeting of the Charleston Inventors Association for two reasons
One - Because we will be joined by Alex from Evo Prototyping (www.evoprototyping.com) who is traveling all the way up from Florida to teach a class on Prototyping and 3D Printing. Alex is an inventor himself who created one of the best shops in the country for inventor prototypes so you DO NOT want to miss this!
Second - Because we are moving into our new meeting space. That's right, the nice folks at InnoLabs (1007 Johnnie Dodds Blvd - Mount Pleasant, SC  29464) have agreed to let us use their conference space as the new Charleston Inventors Association meeting place. InnoLabs is a one story white building located on 17 just behind the VW dealership.... plenty of parking, and a very nice facility. http://innolabscharleston.com/
So JOIN US Thursday night at 7pm for the August meeting of the Charleston Inventors Association!
Mark & Greg

Do you have an inventor group or an announcement about a "non-commercial" inventor event you want to get out? Then send it to me here at the Daily Inventor Blog - I'm happy to post it for our almost 20,000 readers a month!   

Monday, August 25

Now that's funny....

We've all seen them....ASOTV spots on television. They show us the greatest new product - the thing we just can't live without - and for an unbelievably low price.

These spots are designed with a very specific product profile in mind and they each use a very specific format in their execution. If we watch closely we start to see the common formula used in each spot for showing us both the problem, and then the benefit of the product being sold.

But wait....there's more!

One of the cornerstones of that formula is the "problem". Each spot starts by showing us, the viewer, the problem we're having that needs to be solved. This sets the stage for the contrast to the "solution" they will show us just seconds later.

Having worked with lots of these projects I was always aware of that critical part of the formula. However, recently someone sent me a clip from YouTube that compiles all the ways these talented directors have come up with for showing us how we're doing it all wrong. Enjoy!


 

Mark Reyland

Friday, August 22

American Inventors Protection Act of 1999

You may not have heard of the Inventor protection Act, much less read it. But you should - it's the prime piece of legislation that protects you as an inventor and explains your rights when dealing with an Invention promotion company.
 
TITLE IV--INVENTOR PROTECTION
Page 113 of Public Law 106-113 United States Of America
 
SEC. 4001. SHORT TITLE.
 
This title may be cited as the ``American Inventors Protection Act of 1999''. Subtitle A--Inventors' Rights
 
This subtitle may be cited as the ``Inventors' Rights Act of 1999''.
 
SEC. 4102. INTEGRITY IN INVENTION PROMOTION SERVICES
 
(a) In General.--Chapter 29 of title 35, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
``Sec. 297. Improper and deceptive invention promotion``

(a) In General.--An invention promoter shall have a duty to disclose the following information to a customer in writing, prior to entering into a contract for invention promotion services--

``(1) the total number of inventions evaluated by the invention promoter for commercial potential in the past 5 years, as well as the number of those inventions that received positive evaluations, and the number of those inventions that received negative evaluations;

``(2) the total number of customers who have contracted with the invention promoter in the past 5 years, not including customers who have purchased trade show services, research, advertising, or other nonmarketing services from the invention promoter, or who have defaulted in their payment to the invention promoter;

"(3) the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received a net financial profit as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter;

``(4) the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received license agreements for their iventions as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter; and

``(5) the names and addresses of all previous invention promotion companies with which the invention promoter or its officers have collectively or individually been affiliated in the previous 10 years.

``(b) Civil Action.--(1) Any customer who enters into a contract with an invention promoter and who is found by a court to have been injured by any material false or fraudulent statement or representation, or any omission of material fact, by that invention promoter (or any agent, employee, director, officer, partner, or independent contractor of such invention promoter), or by the failure of that invention promoter to disclose such information as required under subsection (a), may recover in a civil action against the invention promoter (or the officers, directors, or partners of such invention promoter), in addition to reasonable costs and attorneys' fees--

``(A) the amount of actual damages incurred by the customer; or ``(B) at the election of the customer at any time before final judgment is rendered, statutory damages in a sum of not more than $5,000, as the court considers just.

``(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), in a case where the customer sustains the burden of proof, and the court finds, that the invention promoter intentionally misrepresented or omitted a material fact to such customer, or willfully failed to disclose such information as required under subsection (a), with the purpose of deceiving that customer, the court may increase damages to not more than three times the amount awarded, taking into account past complaints made against the invention promoter that resulted in regulatory sanctions or other corrective actions based on those records compiled by the Commissioner of Patents under subsection (d).

``(c) Definitions.--For purposes of this section--

``(1) a `contract for invention promotion services' means a contract by which an invention promoter undertakes invention promotion services for a customer;

``(2) a `customer' is any individual who enters into a contract with an invention promoter for invention promotion services;

``(3) the term `invention promoter' means any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other entity who offers to perform or performs invention promotion services for, or on behalf of, a customer, and who holds itself out through advertising in any mass media as providing such services, but does not include--

``(A) any department or agency of the Federal Government or of a State or local government;

``(B) any nonprofit, charitable, scientific, or educational organization, qualified under applicable State law or described under section 170(b)(1)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

``(C) any person or entity involved in the evaluation to determine commercial potential of, or offering to license or sell, a utility patent or a previously filed nonprovisional utility patent application;

``(D) any party participating in a transaction involving the sale of the stock or assets of a business; or

``(E) any party who directly engages in the business of retail sales of products or the distribution of products; and

``(4) the term `invention promotion services' means the procurement or attempted procurement for a customer of a firm, corporation, or other entity to develop and market products or services that include the invention of the customer.

``(d) Records of Complaints.--

``(1) Release of complaints.--The Commissioner of Patents shall make all complaints received by the Patent and Trademark Office involving invention promoters publicly available, together with any response of the invention promoters. The Commissioner of Patents shall notify the invention promoter of a complaint and provide a reasonable opportunity to reply prior to making such complaint publicly available.

``(2) Request for complaints.--The Commissioner of Patents may request complaints relating to invention promotion services from any Federal or State agency and include such complaints in the records maintained under paragraph (1), together with any response of the invention promoters.''.

(b) Conforming Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 29 of title 35, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``297. Improper and deceptive invention promotion.''.

SEC. 4103. EFFECTIVE DATE.

This subtitle and the amendments made by this subtitle shall take effect 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
 
 
Mark Reyland

Thursday, August 21

Listen up people....

Some basic requirements when approaching a retailer with your product.

I once asked a retail buyer what the most important advice they would give an inventor trying to bring a product to them. What they said was short, simple, and telling. "If you don't come prepared, then don't come at all".

Here are some of the basic requirements you will have to have if you want to sell your products to major retailers:

- Effective sell sheets that tell the story of your product in a visual way

- Complete spec sheets that contain all product measurements, weights, UPC codes, freight information, lead times, colors, styles....

- Comprehensive wholesale, distributor, dealer, and suggested retail pricing (MSRP) for each type of customer segment - supported by actual data from your audit of the market.

- Retail ready product samples. Remember, you can NEVER change a product once you show it to the buyer. The sample they see better be the product they receive.

- High res images of product and product in packaging, logo ...

- Display and packaging options you offer

- Product materials such as instructions for use, warranty card, customer service contact information, and safety statements

- A fulfillment and/or distribution plan. You must be able to show the buyer every step between your factory and their shelf.

- Product Liability Insurance (PLI) every major retailer is going to force you to add them as a rider on your PLI

- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) capability. All major retailers require you to be EDI compliant so you better know what that means and what you will need.

- The ability to finance an order. The retailer may give you the order but they will only pay for it 30, 60, 90, and yes, even in some cases 120 days after it's in the store.


I know you think you may be the only one calling this poor buyer, but the reality is you are one of hundreds that week alone who wanted their great new product on the shelf - and most of those calls came from professionals who know what is expected of them. If you hope to compete you had better step up to the plate knowing how to swing the bat.

Like the man said - if you don't come prepared, don't come at all.

Mark Reyland

Wednesday, August 20

What is an MSRP anyway?


If we think back the first time we heard the term “MSRP”, or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, was probably when we purchased our first new car. In retail we don’t really think of MSRP in the same terms as in new car sales because in retail you don’t customarily negotiate price for the product like you may if you were buying a car.
Make no mistake the MSRP is every bit as real in a standard retail product. Sure, sometimes you see it placed just above the store’s own price tag to show the savings. Other times it’s simply a random number the retailer asked the manufacturer to place on the pull tag so they can illustrate that difference to you the consumer – showing you what a great savings you are getting with the store price.
But in almost all cases of a retail product the MSRP starts off as a very real number presented with the product to the buyer. It’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to do the research in understanding what the market will bear by taking stock of all the similar products already on the market.
This exercise is part of what we call a “Market Audit”. In a market audit we’re finding every product that can functionally accomplish the task of our product and mapping out the price structures. We then calculate the median price in the market and add or subtract value based on the things our product functionally does better or worse than those already being sold.
This process will tell us both the high and low end of the market, and allow us to mathematically find our place. In the end we have a well researched MSRP to present to the buyer. That doesn’t mean they will use it – but it does mean we at least did our job in researching it.

Mark Reyland

Tuesday, August 19

What is a “Crossover” anyway?

In the retail product game 'Crossover" means multiple places for a product in multiple aisles.
 
Think of it this way. You have just designed a great new flashlight. It’s really cool, it works great, and it’s sure to sell like hotcakes (I have no idea why everyone always says that) it’s a great new product and the retailers will love it.

Where in the store should it go? To understand that and to make sure you maximize the product exposure you need to first understand how a buyer works.

Retail buyers are responsible for categories within the store – a buyer for Health & Beauty, one for Pet products, and so on.  The buyer’s worth (and their paycheck) are often judged on two things – First, the “profit per” (Profit per hook, profit per square foot…) and Second “throughput” more often called movement (how many units of the product moved through the register in a given time period). The mechanism the system uses to track that movements is a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) more commonly known as a Barcode.

So back to our flashlight - The buyer wants it, and everyone knows it will sell. But we want to maximize the crossover and get it into as many aisles as we can to increase the throughput. (or like we said what retailers call the ”movement”)  The first thing you need to do is figure out what area of the store is likely to move the most product.
 
In this case I’m sure there is a large flashlight display in either hardware or camping. So you would likely have to start with that buyer. Once you have that commitment you are pretty much locked into that buyer. However, understanding that the SKU for the product is now assigned to the flashlight buyer, and only that buyer will be credited with movement, you can ask them to allow you to approach other buyers in the store and see if you can get some crossover space.

Admittedly, there is little motivation for a buyer to give you space in their category knowing those sales are tracking to another buyer - but it does happen.  Often if you have a product that is designed to take up space the buyer isn’t using like a floor display, or clip strip, the other buyer may allow you to place it there knowing that they may need a favor later, or out of a sense of overall good for the store.

The bottom line is this – crossovers mean exposure, they mean movement, and in the end they mean money.  However, if you don’t think about them way back in the design and packaging stage you may not be able to use them when it really counts.

Mark Reyland

Monday, August 18

Oooops.... don't do that

A very sweet lady I know named Julie invented a nice little product called the E-Zzz Sleep Pillowcase.
Like many inventors, she developed this product from scratch all by herself, simply feeling her way in the dark as she maneuvered the labyrinth of product development.

Several years later – and now reflective about the process, Julie felt compelled to email me some thoughts she feels could help other inventors traveling down the same road.
Here are some MISTAKES Julie made – and YOU should avoid:

- I hired a professional artist for both the booklet/brochure when I could have saved a lot of money doing it myself and using stock art.

- I had a booklet made in an odd size so it cost more to have it printed, cut, and folded.

- I would not have trademarked the original name if I had understood trade marking at the time.

- I ordered way too many product labels (because I was SURE that EVERYONE would want a pillowcase) – I actually could have saved about $500 if I had been realistic.

- I had too many manufactured for first run (3000 units) – when they didn’t sell as I thought they would, I had to rent a storage unit and purchase about 100 boxes to store them in.

- I hired three different marketing companies (even checked references) and they all ran away with my money – about $8,000 total.
- I changed the name of my product twice, which meant new labels (didn’t use about 6,000 of the original labels), new booklet, new logo, new website, etc
As you can see – none of the mistakes Julie made were earth shattering, but when you add them all up it’s a significant amount of tuition in the school of hard knocks. A little less emotion and a little more research and Julie could have saved a lot of money. 

Friday, August 15

HEY...where am I going to park?

Most inventors know there are two main ways to get your product to market - Licensing and Manufacturing. We also know when an inventor chooses to manufacture goods themselves they find out the distribution process is the hardest part of the entire process.
 
Don’t get me wrong, many inventors successfully take products to market every year, and some do very well. However, there are many who don’t. The reality is there are inventors out there who have a garage or storage locker full of merchandise and no active plan for recovering any of their money.
So, on behalf of your wife or husband who wants to park their car in the garage again, I asked Donnie Lewis to talk a little about the secondary market where stock like that often gets converted to cash.
It’s a New Year, and time to clean out the closet and finally move that product you invented but never sold. Whether you are a Wholesaler, Distributor, or an Inventor I am quite sure there is some overstocks or excess merchandise sitting around that needs to be moved.
I have found many people think the 288 Bicycle tires and horns they have will ultimately sell. That magic customer or big box retailer is going to ride in on the white horse and save the day. However the reality is there comes a point in time where the value of the good’s is diminished as newer and better products are always being introduced and those tires and horns become obsolete.
It really doesn’t matter for the most part what the product you are holding on to is, it’s going to happen and you will sooner or later have to write it off, throw it away, and chalk it up to experience.
That’s where I come in. Having sold closeouts, excess, packing changes and overstocks for over 21 years my experience has shown that everything will sell at a price. From a single pallet to a warehouse full of goods, the process of selling into the secondary market is the same. It starts with a phone call and a decision to make it happen..
Who knows the next new deal may be just around the corner.
___________________________________________________
Don Lewis is a professional broker of closeout merchandise 
Lewis Associates of Ohio, Ltd.
lewisassociates@gmail.com

Thursday, August 14

Great story.....


Michigan inventor lands retail deal with Walmart
DETROIT — Wal-Mart agreed last month to sell the portable, reusable trash holder invented by a Michigan man online and in stores nationwide.
John Cundy, a 49-year-old clay sculptor for General Motors, came up with the idea for the invention about three years ago when he was helping cleaning up a mess left behind at a high school track meet. Walking around toting a garbage bag, he said he realized there had to be a better way.
"I was thinking, 'How can I not do this again?'" said Cundy. "I went home, thought about it, and,

honestly, I woke up at about 2:30 in the morning and started making some drawings."
Later that same day, he said, he bought a piece of wire, bent it into shape and created a simple garbage bag hanger.
He took the prototype camping and the next thing he knew, people were asking him where he got it. One person offered to buy it from him.
Cundy's invention — which he initially sold through camping stores and credits his wife, Barbara Ann, with naming it Trash-Ease — is one of hundreds of American-made products that Wal-Mart agreed last month.
The Trash-Ease, which is being manufactured in Ferndale and Traverse City, has gone through six iterations. It hangs a 13-gallon trash bag just about anywhere, on bleachers, picnic tables, even kitchen counters.
Wal-Mart selected it in its "Made in the USA" open call on July 8 in Bentonville, Ark., and put in an initial order for 50,000.
"It was a no-brainer," said Cindi Marsiglio, Wal-Mart's vice president of manufacturing, who added that as a retailer and a mom, she envisions all sorts of uses for it. "The Trash-Ease is a great product."
Cundy, a father of four, said the success of his invention has shown his kids that hard work pays off.
The invention also is, as Cundy put it, proof-positive that dreams can come true.
"I've got four kids, and your kids, they dream a lot," he said. "As you get older, you don't have as many dreams. But, my kids have seen first-hand if you work hard enough your dreams can come true. That's a cool lesson: You can do it."
He said over the years he has tried — and sometimes failed — to make money on various inventions, and many people turned him down. When he did sell some, initially, he didn't make any money. But, he said, he didn't lose faith, and he didn't quit pursuing his dream.
"In business, when people say no, that just means regroup," he said. "I tried knocking on the door for Wal-Mart so many times. You hear, no, no, no. It just means approach it differently. It means keep working hard. Never give up."

Mark Reyland

Wednesday, August 13

I think I'm going to puke.....


I received this email from the UIA today and it made me sick....
Look... me of all people know how destructive the rock throwing in our industry has been. In fact, you could say I've been hit on one or two occasions. But come on.... I left the UIA because the board under Warren Tuttle's leadership was selling us as an industry out for both professional and personal gain.

Set aside the fact that when I left, the UIA turned functional control over to one of the slimiest board members in the group, giving the entire membership list to their marketing department and letting their sales people field your calls and Emails.

Set aside the fact that they sold out the membership to some DC lobby group for a piece of legislation they themselves said had little effect on you as inventors - then tried to convince you it was in your best interest.

Set aside the fact that they now hired a career government guy who is neither an inventor or a business person, a guy who in my opinion built a career at the USPTO selling out the inventors he was charged with supporting in favor of every promotion that came down the pike, building that career in bed with some of the biggest crooks in our industry.

NOW... they want you to celebrate the UIA as Warren and his merry band of opportunists allow the crooks and scumbags we worked so hard to get rid of take back the ship. If they want to be "Our UIA" we need to hold them accountable for the decisions they make and the people they associate with.

Warren always told me that "if the time comes when I'm not helping the UIA anymore I'll leave" of course he didn't really mean it.... but after selling us out over and over, and associating the organization with one crook after another - I think it's time.


Mark Reyland

Tuesday, August 12

The 7 Mistakes Inventors make

My good friend Ryan Grepper sent this over and asked that I post it here on the Daily Inventor Blog. Ryan is great inventor, a tenacious educator, and a true friend to inventors.

Successfully bringing a new product to market is something that requires persistence and patience, yet too often people rush ahead and make the same mistakes as others before them. While anyone can have a great idea, almost everyone can benefit from learning where others went wrong. Here are the top seven mistakes that inventors tend to make:

#7 Falling in Love with Your Invention

It’s not easy to remain objective about that brilliant idea you just came up with, but you need to force yourself to look at things through the eyes of others.

We all have biases for what we have created (yes, your baby is the most beautiful!), but only by recognizing our biases can we proceed. That new idea may truly be great, but let’s take it one step at a time.

Your solution may be new, but is it really better? Is it really different? You need to ask other people for their opinions, and those people should not be related or friends with you. Often your friends and family are not in a position to give you honest, objective opinions. It’s likely they will say only positive things in order to avoid conflict or simply to show their support.

You need honest, objective feedback, so make sure to get feedback from potential customers and take their comments to heart. If enough people don’t “get it” or don’t see the value in your new idea, consider going back to the drawing board. Or save your time, energy and effort for your next great idea.

#6 Failing to Research the Market Early

The phrase “rushing blindly ahead” could have been coined to describe what often happens to people when they come up with their first big idea. They run out and spend money and time building prototypes, hiring patent attorneys, and creating sales sheets without ever checking to see if something similar already exists.

Just because you haven’t seen it at Walmart doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. Before you impulsively spend your time, energy and money, make sure to thoroughly explore the market. This means going to actual stores, as well as looking online using every search description you can think of.

If you discover a product that’s similar to your idea, that isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. The more significant the improvement is, the better your chance for success. Just be sure to determine if the other product has a patent, and that your solution doesn’t infringe on it.

#5 Doing Everything Yourself

Because there are so many hats to wear in launching a new product, inventors frequently make the mistake of trying to wear all of them. Sometimes it’s because they want to save money, and other times it’s because they think no one else can do it better.

There’s a time and place for both mindsets, but you won’t know which is which until you objectively analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. Different aspects of the invention process are more right-brain or left-brain tasks, and while most of us can do a good job at some aspect or another, very few of us are good at both.

The last thing you want is to have all your worthwhile efforts undone by a shabby looking logo or an ill-conceived marketing plan or an incomplete patent search that you tried to do yourself.

#4 Rushing to Get a Patent

Do you really need a patent for your invention? The answer depends on many things, including your idea, your goals, your path to market, but most importantly, timing.

Before you rush to protect that idea of yours, make sure you have something worth protecting. Do your research. Understand your market opportunity. Refine your design.

At a cost of $7,000 to $10,000, a patent only gives you the right to stop others from copying, producing and selling your invention. The only better way to stop others from copying is to have a product idea that has no market or just isn’t profitable.

#3 Inaction

Countless times each year, I’m introduced to people who, after learning that I’m an inventor, want to share their idea with me. Often these ideas aren’t earth-shattering (six minute abs!), but frequently they sound pretty good.

Then I ask the question, “So what have you done with it?” The answer is almost always, “Nothing”.

Remember, you can’t be the first to market if you never start the race.

#2 Worrying about Others Stealing Your Invention

Worrying about others stealing your idea is the biggest reason people make the last two mistakes I outlined above.

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that coming up with a great idea is only the first of many steps to being successful and profiting from it. And those other steps take a commitment to your idea that, in most cases, only you are willing to make.

As we discuss in Inventors Blueprint, there are some simple, inexpensive solutions to help protect your idea early on before you get to the point of thinking about filing and paying for full patent protection.

I’m sure that there are people out there who are trying specifically to steal other people’s ideas, just as I’m sure there are people who get hit by lightning every year. But if your idea truly fills a need, then there are guaranteed to be others who are trying to invent similar solutions.

So, forget the worrying. Spend your time taking action and beating the other solutions to market.

#1 Not Learning How Others Have Succeeded

Every other profession has apprenticeships or schools that teach you how learn a new trade. But for some reason, people constantly try to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to creating a new product.

The single biggest action you can take to improve your chances of having success with your idea is to study how others have succeeded, then follow a proven path to the market. Please take the time to learn what works from the successes and failures of others.

This list only talks about the top seven mistakes that inventors make, but there are countless other tricks to know as you learn how to invent. The School of Hard Knocks is a good teacher, but the tuition is pretty high in terms of lost money, lost time, and wasted energy. The tragedy is that many good inventions are lost and many creative people get discouraged after learning one too many lessons the hard way.


Mark Reyland

Monday, August 11

Well there's the problem....

Recently I had a discussion with a corporate client (I work with large retailers building programs that help you get on their shelves) about the dynamic of a retail product.  I was explaining to them how powerful the creative properties of the collective citizenry are and how a rapidly increasing number of retailers are turning to a process we call Adjunct Innovation to create paths for those individual inventors to reach store shelves.

To understand the reason this is happening you must first understand what's happening in the process itself.
People have problems (some more than others), they turn to their local store for the solution to those problems in the form of a product. That's right, all a product is a wrapper for a solution to a problem.
When the solution can't be found in your local store, and the problem is persistent, the person often turns to homemade solutions using a variety of items in a way their original manufacturer never intended - the net result is they often find both functional and creative solutions.
Retailers are starting to understand that when a problem is large enough (in terms of the number of people experiencing the problem) it makes good sense to wrap a product around that home-made solution and sell it to everyone else having the same problem.
This is the genesis of the rapidly growing Adjunct Innovation movement.
Below is a picture I ran across of a homemade solution to a common problem. The question is, will the process pick up this solution, refine and design it, and present it to us, the consumer, in the form of a product.
I guess we'll see.....

Mark Reyland

Friday, August 8

Well...Roger says


I recently read some great advice my friend Roger Brown (http://www.rogerbrown.net/) gave and inventor when asked by a new inventor that age old question "How do I get my product idea to market". I thought it was well worth repeating.

To start, let me address a common misconception with many first-time inventors who start with an idea but are unsure of how to actually make money from their invention (i.e., they don't understand the options for taking their idea to market). Many inventors believe that they need to personally spend tens of thousands of dollars developing and manufacturing their ideas in order to succeed, which is why you read so many stories about inventors who spend their life savings chasing an invention. While manufacturing is one option for certain inventors, it is not the only option, and certainly not the least risky.

When deciding how to proceed, you should first evaluate your ultimate goal. Consider the following two options for developing your invention 
 

Option 1 - Manufacturing and marketing your invention on your own


Do you want to build a business around your idea and become an entrepreneur? If so, then you might choose the manufacturing option. Make sure that you consider all that’s involved with this option, such as: design, prototyping, finding a manufacturer/factory, building inventory, warehousing, shipping, marketing, etc.

Over the years, I have worked with thousands of inventors, and a common misunderstanding that I see is the belief that one must develop, manufacture and market the invention on one’s own in order to succeed. As a result, these inventors spend a small fortune developing prototypes and setting up manufacturing capabilities before they ever receive a single “interest” or purchase order from a company.

Note: If you elect to develop and manufacture your idea on your own, I would recommend that you try and secure interest and/or purchase commitments before you pull the trigger on manufacturing. There is a big difference between developing a prototype and setting up the manufacturing infrastructure for your invention.
 

Option 2 - Licensing for royalties


Are you looking for a way to minimize your costs and time commitment by finding a company to pay you for your idea? If the answer is yes, then consider licensing your invention for royalties. In my experience, most inventors end up going this route, which means that rather than manufacturing and marketing the invention on their own, they try to find a company to license or purchase the invention’s patent rights in exchange for a royalty or cash payment. The idea is to have an established company develop, manufacture, and market the invention alongside their existing product line. The key to licensing success (aside from having a great invention) is to adequately and professionally prepare and protect your idea for presentation to relevant companies. This can range from simple designs all the way through fully developing your invention.

Mark Reyland

Thursday, August 7

Hello.... it's me, the inventor



HELLO!...It’s me – I’m an inventor. I’m brilliant, and creative, and I have the next HUGE product the world is going to fall in love with. Why wouldn’t you want to talk to me?  
Because you are a nut case…that’s why
Well, maybe not you personally, but that’s the reaction most of us get when we approach companies and tell them who we are. It’s not their fault really; after all, we as an industry come by it honestly. We have some real nut jobs amongst us and we have to own them the same as we get to own the success stories like Edison, Fuller, and Marconi.
Over the years industry has formed a not so good opinion about inventors and been forced to erect processes for dealing with us. Non confidentiality agreements, black hole submission process, and of course voice mail, have all been very effective tools at insulating the corporate world from the inventor - But why?
It doesn’t really matter why – because to answer that means we have to look back, and the inventing industry has spent far too much time looking back. What matters is that we recognize its happening and we resolve ourselves as an industry to changing the perception companies have of us. How you ask? Well it starts with a few simple realizations you should always remember when dealing with companies.
1.    You are not “entitled” to anything. You may be smart, you may be creative, but you are not entitled. The people in that company have worked hard to get where they are and they expect you to as well.

2.    You are a guest in their world and you want something from them – be humble

3.    Industry respects people who have done their homework and presented the results honestly – you don’t have to know all the answers, but you do have to have at least tried to answer some of the questions.

4.    I don’t care what your dog told you – your wiz-bang idea is not really worth a trillion dollars, everyone is not really going to buy 10 of them, and the corporate world has no idea how well hotcakes sell. Set reasonable expectations.

5.    Respect that they are working within a process and give them the time to do it. Don’t call every day, or email them incessantly – just let the process work. If you are as smart as you think you are, and your product is as good as your family told you it was, the system will work for you.

6.    Rejection is not failure. There are a lot of reasons a company may not take a product idea from an inventor. Most of them are simple, like, they have others they devoted resources to developing. It doesn’t fit with the direction they are taking their product line, or even it simply can’t be made the way you invented it. Take the information and use it to become a better inventor.
So when you call a company with your great idea, and they dodge you, or lie to you it’s the long term effects of the industry as a whole. We all earned it at some point or another, but the question is what did you do today to change it?

Tuesday, August 5

Who REALLY invented that?

As is the case in most historical accounts and passed on stories - there is often a huge difference between what we grew up understanding and what actually happened.

In the inventing industry we have a phenomena I refer to as "Last guy gets it" what that means is often many people will have worked on an invention over a very long period of time only to be lost in the glow of the one inventor who solved the issues that had kept the invention from being adopted by the masses.

We see this situation throughout history, notably in the airplane, the stapler, and even the light bulb.

As you can see from this timeline of the process, to say Thomas Edison invented the light bulb is inaccurate, in fact to say the Wright Brothers invented the airplane is also inaccurate. What is accurate is to say they each invented a critical component of the process, building on the hard work and dedication of many people who came before them.

History has a tendency to paint with a broad brush, and we all know the broader the brush the less detail you can accommodate.

1809 -Humphry Davy, an English chemist, invented the first electric light. Davy connected two wires to a battery and attached a charcoal strip between the other ends of the wires. The charged carbon glowed making the first arc lamp.

1820 - Warren De la Rue enclosed a platinum coil in an evacuated tube and passed an electric current through it. His lamp design was worked but the cost of the precious metal platinum made this an impossible invention for wide-spread use.

1835 - James Bowman Lindsay demonstrated constant electric lighting system using a prototype lightbulb.

1850 - Edward Shepard invented an electrical incandescent arc lamp using a charcoal filament. Joseph Wilson Swan started working with carbonized paper filaments the same year.

1854 - Henricg Globel, a German watchmaker, invented the first true lightbulb. He used a carbonized bamboo filament placed inside a glass bulb.

1875 - Herman Sprengel invented the mercury vacuum pump making it possible to develop a practical electric light bulb. Making a really good vacuum inside the bulb possible.

1875 - Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans patented a light bulb.

1878 - Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914), an English physicist, was the first person to invent a practical and longer-lasting electric light bulb (13.5 hours). Swan used a carbon fiber filament derived from cotton.

1879 - Thomas Alva Edison invented a carbon filament that burned for forty hours. Edison placed his filament in an oxygenless bulb. (Edison evolved his designs for the light bulb based on the 1875 patent he purchased from inventors, Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans.)

1880 - Edison continued to improved his light bulb until it could last for over 1200 hours using a bamboo-derived filament.

1903 - Willis Whit new invented a filament that would not make the inside of a light bulb turn dark. It was a metal-coated carbon filament (a predecessor to the tungsten filament).

1906 - The General Electric Company were the first to patent a method of making tungsten filaments for use in incandescent light bulbs. The filaments were costly.

1910 - William David Coolidge (1873-1975) invented an improved method of making tungsten filaments. The tungsten filament outlasted all other types of filaments and Coolidge made the costs practical.

1925 - The first frosted light bulbs were produced.

1991 - Philips invented a light bulb that lasts 60,000 hours. The bulb uses magnetic induction.


Mark Reyland