I requested that Cathy VerSchneider, the source person for Inventors News, the newsletter of the Inventors Society of South Florida and their website, contribute an article for posting here at The Working Inventor because she thinks very clearly and as you’ll read she gets straight to the point and her observations will help you make some of the most important decisions you’ll have to make as an inventor.
I didn’t want to edit her message so I left in the kind words at the beginning! 🙂
“Scott Evans’ website is on my top ten list of most valuable websites for the independent inventor. Why? 1) The various faces and phases of inventing are well represented. 2) Personal experience trumps theory. 3) The information reduces research time (abandonment) or improves the opportunity for financial success (circumvent the potholes).”
Too many independent inventors spend too little time doing research to ‘prove’ their invention — that it will be perceived as beneficial to a customer, that there is a market, that it has an acceptable price point, etc. Over more than ten years, I have researched on the Internet for websites offering helpful information to inventors. There are thousands of virtual locations for bits and pieces of useful information. The goal of research is to find the path to financial success and include the possibility of abandonment as an option.
The reason that only 2-3% of patents on file are financially successful is lack of research. The inventor just knows his widget is the best and everyone will buy it. Did they buy their home sight-unseen at the price they paid? No. Then why would an investor throw money at them with no proof of sales or team behind it? Why would a customer buy a widget for $20 when they could spend it on food!
I have observed that most independent inventors have no understanding of business methods. Even if they worked for a big company, they perhaps only experienced one area of that business. The inventor has to wear many hats and think like a business person, because they are creating a business with their product….whether it becomes their business or they sell it or license it to someone else.
I suggest that the inventing world is changing dramatically, not only for funding, prototype development and demographics, but more importantly for what a consumer is willing to exchange their money for. In recent years many people have had to cut back on expenses — in serious ways. Fundamental expenses are largely intact, but discretionary includes all the retail items and postponing the replacement of things that wear out predictably. I suggest that we are on the edge of game-changing inventions that impact the global community.
Clearly, Cathy’s message stands on its own. Consider the comment she writes – “The goal of research is to find the path to financial success and include the possibility of abandonment as an option.” (My emphasis). The word abandonment isn’t a bad word, it simply means that after you’ve performed your due diligence and have found that your idea is worthwhile or not, you either push forward or you don’t.
Throughout my posts and other writings I refer to Dr. Linus Pauling who said “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” And my patent attorney asks potential clients a pretty simple but direct question – “Is it a worthwhile idea or invention?” But what does he mean by worthwhile?
Is It Worthwhile?
Worthwhile, in this case, simply means can it be manufactured and sold a a profit. Of course the other considerations are in place as Cathy writes. Is it need or wanted? How do you know there is a market demand for you idea/invention? Why would a potential customer purchase your product over another, or opt to buy food or pay a bill with that same money?
Here are a couple posts that may help you make some of the important decisions and maybe help cultivate in you, what I like to refer to as, ‘a more objective mindset’ as you set out to develop your next idea.
Image courtesy of thaikrit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net