Saw this inventor in half

Things in life are not always as they appear. Take magic for instance. We know the sharp dressed man on stage doesn’t really saw the pretty girl in half. We believe what we see (if only for a short while) because the story our mind has created is far more interesting than reality.

magic-and-the-brain_1For inventors that same logic often happens as we sit excitedly by the phone, or impatiently checking our email, our mind spinning yarns of riches and acceptance far removed from the reality at hand.

After all, that ring of a phone or ping of an email is often a watershed moment for inventors – the exact second in time when someone other than ourselves is willing to invest emotionally in our dream – to lift part of our load and walk beside us on this long and terrifying journey to retail.

We placed the call, we sent the package, and now much like the magician our mind has created an alternate reality, a vivid image of that person on the other end excitedly rushing to their desk to pluck the only invention that they actually care about from a pile of thousands – ours.

Remember how I told you the woman never actually gets sawed in half? Well the person on the other end never actually jumps for joy, never rushes to their desk, and never actually cares about our invention any more than the others.

The reality is that to the company ours is just another invention, one of hundreds they may have seen that week alone. And you? well depending on how you act you may be that nice guy from Iowa, or just another crazy inventor.

So what’s the problem here? Well it’s simple. We live in two different worlds so be patient and don’t take any of this personally – it may be your dream, but to them – it’s just another day at work.

Mark Reyland

Tune your product like a radio

Can an inventor really tune your product? Sure, in fact you must.

Try as you may, you can never actually control the overall product itself as a single entity. The product you end up with is actually just a byproduct of your ability to tune the variables in it’s development.

Think of it this way.

You have a radio, it has knobs for Base, Treble, Balance, and so on. No matter what song is playing, how well you adjust these knobs will dictate the sound you hear.

Developing a product is a process of tuning the knobs.

You can adjust things like Quality, Size, Cost, Color, and Functions to achieve the result you see in your mind’s eye. Most product people realize very quickly that achieving that result is a game of tradeoffs in turning those knobs, and that you may never achieve what you set out for.

Believe it or not tuning the knobs is the easy part. The harder part is to understand that no one cares what you like. You’re tuning the knobs for other people and not everyone is going to like the selections you made.

In the end all we can really do as product inventors is attempt to tune the product to its widest range of audience by understanding each knob and what effect it has on the final sound.

Mark Reyland

Join the Inventor Education facebook Group!

imagesDid you know you can ask questions on the Inventor Education facebook group? Well you can. Join hundreds of members in discussions, feedback, fellowship, and education as we talk about issues facing inventors and answer your questions about inventing.


Click Here to join the Inventor Education facebook Group

Keep Inventing SIMPLE stupid

Ideas about medical devices, grand illusions of creating the next big energy source, even bar napkins full of sketches of new transpiration devices. For some reason novice inventors always want to make inventing so complicated.

I’m not saying that people don’t have the mental fortitude to invent these things, or even that they shouldn’t. What I am saying is one of the hardest parts of this process, and yes, inventing is a process, is to stay focused. We all know how hard that is for most inventors.


But fear not – I have three tricks I’m sure will help.

First: Always work in an area of inventing you know something about. For example, if your hobby or job has given you a fair amount of experience in the kitchen you may want to start by inventing a food related device.  Starting close to home if you will, can give you a leg up since you already know what the most common problems are. After all, inventing is about problem solving and if you’ve never been in a kitchen it would be difficult to understand the problems related to cooking, and thus difficult to invent a useful solutions. So for your first invention pick an area you know.

Second: Keep it as simple as possible and work your way up. Find a nice everyday problem to tackle and invent a solution that addresses that problem. Sure, you may have the brains to invent a nuclear powered stove, but for your first invention maybe focus on a new measuring cup, or a dandy new soup ladle.

Third: Always make one invention pay for the next. While documenting your ideas in an inventor’s notebook is a great idea, carefully choosing which inventions to pursue is an even better idea. I assure you that you will have far more ideas then good ideas, and many more good ideas than ideas worth chasing. So develop a standard. I recommend making one idea pay for the next.

To accomplish this I ALWAYS recommend to new inventors that they start by inventing ASOTV products. This low cost, low risk approach to product inventing requires nothing more than a homemade prototype and a simple sell sheet. After you have created a few bucks on a successful ASOTV invention move on to developing an invention that can be licensed to a main stream manufacturer. A little more difficult than ASOTV licensing, it’s still a lower risk approach to product inventing. Then, and only then, after you have created enough revenue from your previous efforts should you even consider taking a product to market yourself.

Remember, and this is very important; by starting simple and using a structured process to your inventing you commit yourself to picking only your strongest ideas. This makes sure you stay on a track of progress, not just flail around from idea to idea spending money.

In the end your family is supporting you both emotionally and financially. Be a good steward of their support and invent responsibly.

Mark Reyland

Never forget inventors who came before us

If you’re anything like me you have been fascinated with the process of inventing since you were a small child. That fascination isn’t always just about how things work, or the challenge of creating a new invention, sometimes it’s about the historical inventions our industry gave the world.

Here’s a look at some of the inventions normal people created in their effort to solve the problems of the day.

Can Opener, 1858

invent_01_photoBritish merchant Peter Durand made a huge stride in food preservation with his 1810 invention of the can. Canned rations provided to soldiers and explorers saved legions from sure starvation. So grateful for its inner contents were the hungry recipients that no one really complained about the sweat and toil often required to simply open the can.

In 1858 Ezra J. Warner of Waterbury, Connecticut, patented the first can opener. An intimidating combination of bayonet and sickle, Warner’s invention was nonetheless eagerly adopted by the U.S. military during the Civil War. Household use of the can opener increased when William W. Lyman’s more user-friendly model was introduced in 1870. No longer did opening a can of peaches mean risking one’s fingers.

Blue Jeans, 1850s

invent_02_photoWorking as a canvas salesman in San Francisco during the California Gold rush of the 1850s, Levi Strauss made a keen observation. He noticed that pants of prospectors and miners could not withstand the wear and tear of their profession. Strauss decided to stitch some canvas together and sell them as pants. What they lacked in comfort, Strauss’s pants made up in durability. When he discovered that using denim — canvas dyed blue to better conceal stains — produced even more popular and comfortable apparel, an American fashion mainstay had been established. Once the workwear of cowboys, miners, and ranchers, blue jeans are today worn by people of all walks of life, at work and play.

Feather Duster, 1876

invent_04_photoSusan Hibbard’s patent of the feather duster in 1876 was hard fought. In fact, it came down to her squaring off against her own husband, George Hibbard, in patent court before she was justly awarded ownership of the patent. It was not the first time a man had claimed a woman’s invention for his own. Often times a woman, ignorant of patent law and schooled in subservience, willingly handed over their creation to a man. In other cases, ideas and inventions were stolen outright.

Susan Hibbard’s notion of turning discarded turkey feathers into a duster may not rival the invention of the locomotive engine or the light bulb, but her fight for recognition went a long way in bolstering the spirits of other women inventors.

Blood Bank, 1941

invent_07_photoA car crash on April 1, 1950, brought an abrupt end to the brilliant career of Dr. Charles Drew. Drew, an African American physician and surgeon, gained notoriety for his techniques for processing and storing blood plasma for use in transfusions. Because of the existence of “blood banks,” accident victims were far less likely to bleed to death.

In 1941 Drew became director of an American Red Cross program for the U.S. armed forces, developing methods for using dried instead of liquid plasma. Disheartened by the military’s decision to store the blood of Caucasians and non-Caucasians separately, Drew resigned his post after only three months. He went on to become a professor of medicine at Howard University.

I hope you are as inspired as I am by these everyday folks. The ingenuity, creativity, and struggle they gave the world was truly a gift.

Mark Reyland   

My family thinks my inventions are crazy

I was reading an inventor forum some time back and noticed a thread about how family members often react to those of us who always have an idea for how to do things better.

The level of support is often driven by their tolerance, the funny stories they can tell their friends about out inventions, the hope we instill, and of course success. But as inventors we all know “Success” is a hard word to

Read through these thoughts from people just like you and I – maybe you’ll find some words of wisdom in what they wrote.

On Family….

“I have to say that I get great support from family and friends, when I tell them they do give me their opinion and sometimes it’s not good, but that’s ok…funny, when I tell someone what I do in my “not so spare time” they go “really, wow, how do you that??” And then the questions start…I like to talk about my experiences and always ask them if they ever had an idea…most have, funny, they never do anything about it…what makes us different here is that we are executing on the ideas, where most people sit on the ideas”

“Everyone has the light bulb go off in their head at some point (or more likely – many points) in their life. Most (I would say 99%) people don’t do anything about it. They don’t have time, don’t know how, or don’t think they could ever put it all together to commercialize that idea.”

“My family tells me I have a ZERO percent chance to succeed!!! One can never anticipate the pressure to give up!!”

“My family thinks I’m sitting on my butt doing nothing, which in a way is better for me. I never disclose what I’m doing until I am successful. It is easier to explain success, then attempts”

“I have received everything from laughter to the “that is an awesome idea” to the usual look of “that’s another one of his ideas”. I finally decided to try and prove myself to myself.”

“My parents have always believed in me; my in laws believed me until my inventions actually brought finical loses to my family, then they think inventing may not be the best path for me and their daughter. However they manage not to say anything strong to against it.”

On Success…

“THAT is what separates us as creators from just thinkers…”

“SUCCESS is the proof in the pudding. Until we have achieved it, inventing is just a hobby to others. I think that success is in the eye of the beholder.”

“Success for me some days is getting up and facing the frustration of waiting another day and then other times it is reaching another rung on the ladder. I set my goals in reasonable increments (hour, day, week, month….) and when I reach that goal, I consider it a success even though no one else would be able to see any improvement or progress. And, once in a while, the ‘thing’ I worked on just doesn’t get any further: in that case, I consider success to be that I was smart enough to quit and not beat my head against the wall.”

“Success for me is getting through the day without doing something stupid. Like the time I blew the vent off the microwave while trying to heat up a hard boiled egg. I’ll never forget the explosion.”

It’s interesting to read the wide variety of impressions people have about inventing. It is after all an individual journey, so I guess it should be expected that we all do it for different reasons.

Mark Reyland

Are you an inventor talking to yourself?

Are you an inventor talking to yourself?

Maybe not while you’re inventing, but while you’re shopping you sure do. It’s true.  What starts out as a quick trip to the store turns into a full-fledged conversation between you and a product in some lonely retail isle.

You know you do it, we all do.888

What I’m talking about is the conversation we all have in our mind with the package or product we’re about to purchase.

I’m not crazy, think about it for a second.

You: Hmmm….what one do I want?
The group of products: Me, you want me, and me, no…me!
You: Hey….this one looks good
The product: That’s right, I do look good. I appeal to you. I have your favorite colors. I used your favorite words. I even look strong and durable.
You: but what can you do for me?
The Product: I can solve your problem that’s what. You know, the one you came in here for. Whatever it is I can solve it, and when I do it will be more valuable to you than the money you have to leave behind. 
You: So if you’re right, if you keep your promise, my problem will go away and I can get back to what I was doing?
The product: That’s right Captain Obvious….so put me in the cart and let’s get out of here.

You get the point.

As consumers we have these conversations weather we admit it or not each time we enter a retailer. It’s the conversation itself, the “words” your product screams at us through it’s packaging and intrinsic value that eventually get our attention.

Once it has our attention, every printed word, every assumption we make about value or quality, every emotion evoked by color or childhood memory becomes it’s voice.

This interaction is a vital part of the purchasing cycle.  By realizing this conversation is unavoidable, and how to hold up your end of the discussion, you will greatly increase your chances of not only getting the consumer’s attention, but gaining their trust and endearing them to your product.

What about you? If your invention were a product, what kind of a conversation would it be having?

Mark Reyland

1 2 3 202