That’s just an inventor myth

I hear inventor myths all the time.

We all know a myth is something you hear that simply is not true. Unfortunately myths tend to propagate through popular culture to a point of acquired credibility, simply because of the number of times they are repeated without challenge.

mythWell, the inventing industry is no different. Inventors have myths just like everyone else, and they get repeated over and over again until we as a community swear they are true.

Two of the most popular myths in the independent inventor population have been allowed to propagate simply because they appear to make sense. They are to most inventors “intuitive” allowing us to quickly replace the facts with what we assume makes sense. The issue here is that not everything that makes sense is true, and even know your intuition may tell you it’s true, sometimes it just isn’t.

So let’s look at these loch Ness Monsters of inventing one at a time.

Myth one: You can’t license an unpatented idea to a manufacturer.

This statement is total garbage and a mathematical impossibility. With less than about 20% of all retail products on store shelves enjoying any level of patent protection the shelves would be empty if this myth were true. Inventors license ideas and product inventions to manufacturers all the time, many of them completely unpatented. That said (and before my inbox fills up with crazy emails) you should always try to obtain what protection you can on every invention. File a PPA, use an NDA, or just practice discretion with who and when you talk about your invention. These are common sense actions that can hedge your bet against any unforeseen issues. However, simply because you couldn’t obtain a patent on your idea makes it non licensable is just a silly myth.

Myth two: A fully developed product is worth more in a license deal.

Again, just a myth. In fact, it’s a myth that can get you into financial trouble quickly if you actually believe it.

Inventors license inventions to manufacturers not retailers. So this is the deal. We call these companies manufacturers because that’s what they do. They design, develop, test, package, and manufacture retail products. Knowing this, why would you want to go into that front door already having done their job for them? You wouldn’t.

What you would want to do is to bring them a functionally proven product, in a simplistic form, and the market data that will motivate them to have faith in it.

The fact that you spent tons of money “developing” your product means very little to them. They will use their significant experience and expertise to do what you, with your limited experience and little expertise, attempted to do – and my guess is they will do it better.

These are not the only myths in the inventing industry to be sure. However they are two that come up the most frequently and appear to effect the most inventors.

Mark Reyland

He’s not the only lost inventor

I was forwarded this email from my good friend Roger Brown. For those of you who don’t know, Roger is another professional inventor in South Carolina who works with me and a handful of others to help inventors get the education they need to achieve their dreams.

I am an inventor in need of some expert advice!!.I have gone from website to website trying to find ways to submit my invention to companies and cannot find the right companies or the companies that are looking for new ideas.

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I have been doing this for about 4 months now, everyday, for at least 2-3 hours. My wife is really getting tired of me being on the computer. I really believed that I would find that right person or company to help me. I have been contacted by many offshore companies that are willing but I don’t know who I can trust and what their intentions are.

So as I was doing my search today I came across you and you had mentioned that you would go into stores and pretty much do this on your on instead of going to an invention firm. Well that is where I had started and they milked me for $22,000 or more, I did get my patent though. so this thing means a lot to me and I have lost all support from everyone, without saying it to my face they just gave up on me.

I know that this will work out, got to have faith, I have been in the US Air force for 10 years and am wanting to get out and enjoy my life with my wife and 4 beautiful kids. Can you help me?

Thanks,

Mike

People like Roger and I often get asked why we’re so passionate about helping inventors – people like Mike are the reason.

You see, it’s Mike’s dream to provide a good life for his family. Without the help of others their chance of success goes very quickly from “unlikely” to “no chance in hell” and Roger and I both know in the end that could cost his family everything they have.

It’s ironic really, because we often help people in the face of so much criticism, and like Mike, our family and friend don’t really understand why we put ourselves out there to help people we don’t even know.  The answer to that questions is simple really. Like Mike, and many of you, we know deep inside it’s what we should be doing, and it’s how we can use the gifts we’ve been given to help those around us.

Roger will make sure Mike gets the help he needs – and without ever knowing, Mike’s sincerity has recharged the batteries of hope for people like Roger and I.

Mark Reyland

As inventors we need to understand graphics

As inventors we need to understand there is a huge demand for the graphical communication of the ideas and concepts we are presenting to the world – a world who may not share our ability to visualize those ideas in their mind.

When it comes to product graphics, just because it’s available doesn’t mean we need them or that when we do, they are telling the right story.

So what’s an inventor to do? Educate yourself on where you are in the inventing process and then figure out what the graphic needs are for that particular place on your journey. Don’t just run off and get graphics because they make you feel good, or because they are cool looking. Make sure they’re what you need. For the vast majority of inventors graphic needs will fall into two main groups of need. Licensing and manufacturing.

Graphic designer at work. Color samples.Illustration picture

Understanding Inventor Graphics

All I really want to do is license my invention to a manufacturer, what kind of graphics will I need?

You need a Manufacturer’s Sell Sheet. This simple one sided 8X10 sheet contains a basic illustration of your idea along with some benefit claims and contact information. This form of sell sheet isn’t fancy. It can be printed on your home computer and the illustration can be anything from a simple sketch to a full color rendering, or in some cases even a photograph of your prototype. I recommend you have a template for your sell sheet created by a professional graphics person and then simply cut and paste for each of your inventions.

I want to build a company around my idea and present it to retailer. What are the different types of graphics I’ll need in that process?

Product Illustrations: Early in the process you can use these renderings of your idea in its final form to find investors, or to see how the final product will look, but make sure if you invest in these drawings that they show enough detail to be able to explain the manufacturing processes to a factory.

Glamour Shots: Once your product is retail ready you will need good product photography. We call these glamour shots and use them in the retail sell sheet. It’s a good idea to have a graphics person “place” your image graphically into a retail setting to give the buyer an idea of how it would look in thier store.

Identity Graphics: In communicating with a retailer it’s very important to look professional. Take some time to build an identity for your new company that includes a nice logo, a basic website, and even a professional sounding name.

 Retailer Sell Sheets: Nothing like the sell sheet used to present an idea to a manufacturer. A retail product sell sheet is traditionally 8.5×11 inches, double sided, glossy. It includes the “Glam Shot” showing your product on the front page. The “Use Shot” showing your product in a store environment on the back page, and of course product information such as display, sizes, and variations.

Product Price Sheets: Most inventors think you put your pricing on the sell sheet, but you don’t. You see prices change and printing high quality sell sheets is expensive. For that reason we use seperate pricing sheets that can be printed on an office printer. They include information such as – the number of units in a case, the number of cases on a pallet, the UPC code, and of course the unit, case, and pallet pricing.

Product Order Form: You want the retailer to place an order, so you have to give them a way to place the order. This form includes the contact information for both the retailer and the fulfillment company. It also included the payment terms, references, and order volume.  You should understand that in 2015 paper order forms are used primarily by small retailers. Most larger retailers use an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system to place orders. However, you don’t want to lose a sale, so have a good old fashioned paper order form ready for the smaller companies.

As with most things in this business there are always more than one way to do things – but when it comes to graphics don’t scrimp. Use a professional who knows what they are doing and make sure you do your homework so you can guide them on the proper information needed to make sure the entire story gets told – not just the pretty pictures.

Mark Reyland

Can we clone inventors?

Can we clone inventors? I don’t know, maybe, but after working with inventors for 30 years now I’m not really sure we should…. just sayin.

What I do know is that the wacky Australians who created the “It Goes On” DNA time capsule are pretty creative people with far too much time on their hands.

women-clones

No doubt inspired by Walt Disney freezing his head, or King Tut and his pyramid, this little plastic sphere offers us all a chance at immortality. Okay, maybe not actual immortality, but the theory of immortality, and for less than a hundred bucks what more could you expect?

It’s simple really – just take some body part like a toe nail, a clump of hair, or maybe even a booger. Place the DNA laden specimen into the vial provided, seal it into the super duper protective DNA sphere and you’re done.

But what do I do with this super duper protective DNA sphere full of boogers you ask? Well, that’s a good question actually.

As they suggest in the video, you can place it on your mantel as a conversation piece, or you could bury it in the backyard for some future explorer to find millions of years from now.

Heck, you could even drop it in the ocean, or simply throw it away in the garbage and wait out the next thousand years in the local land fill – think about it, what could be more relaxing than the solitude of a garbage dump as you patiently await technology to bring you back to life.

Obviously the super duper protective DNA sphere isn’t for everyone, but just in case, take a look at their web site (http://timecapsulesdna.com/) after all, this could make a great stocking stuffer.

Mark Reyland

Is Target scamming inventors?

I can safely say that Target is not scamming inventors. But that doesn’t mean organizations in our industry with hidden agendas don’t use retailers like Target to give themselves an air of legitimacy as they pick your pocket.

Take for example this email I received yesterday about a “great opportunity” to present my inventions to Target. You may have received this email as well, in fact you may have even taken the bate.

“Then today is your day! If you are in production with an innovative dry goods product, which hasn’t yet made it to the mass market yet, then Target may want you to present to them!

scammer

snacks, healthly, local to Chicago or LA are some areas of focus, big ideas like “method” that they can wrap a story around. Testing in 400 stores for some, others will be localized and online

HUGE push in this category for them, so don’t miss your chance!

It only takes $50 to join the best connection platform, Inventorz Network and post your virtual trade show booth in our pavilion!”

The email was sent by a group called Inventorz Network out of Chicago.

When the organization started years ago it was run by a nice lady named Melinda who focused on women inventors. Melinda did a great job helping woman inventors get resources. That is, until she teamed up with another lady who has literally destroyed the reputation of this organization. In part by associating with some of the bigger crooks in the industry, and by attempting efforts like this “search” which appears to be just a mechanism for getting you to give them $50.00.

You see, there is no doubt Target wants new products. However, what Inventorz Network has done here is convince Target they have access to a great treasure trove of product inventions, and they can hand deliver you, the inventor, to Target’s front door.

Inventorz Network has no clue how the industry actually works. They make wild promises to Target because it’s what Target wants to hear. Then they use the leverage to drive their membership fees.

The problem is, in all the years I’ve been doing this I have NEVER seen an inventor working on a dry goods food product, and you can’t put a “method” on a shelf. In fact, not a single inventor of the tens of thousands I’ve met was working on a food item of any kind. It’s just not an area of inventing that independent inventors migrate towards. (in all fairness, I’m sure there is someone out there – but I’ve never seen them)

The real issue is not that this search has a chance in hell of producing anything worthwhile for Target, it doesn’t. The real issue is the negative impact it has on you the inventor when you spend your money and get your hope all spun up, only to experience yet another let down.

Obviously I feel bad for you, or I wouldn’t be writing this piece to warn you. But I feel equally as bad, and a little pissed off, that Inventorz Network is going to leave a retailer like Target thinking our industry is full of conmen and crazies – because I assure you when it fails, and it will, Inventorz Network is going to throw the inventing industry under the bus instead of admitting that they had no clue, and that all they really wanted was your money.

Mark Reyland

Are inventors really that intelligent?

Inventors are generally intelligent people. So how is it such obviously intelligent people can be so susceptible to the snake oil of a few invention submission companies who will eventually separate them from their money?

It’s simple really – they want so much to believe, they want so much to achieve, that even well educated people suspend logic and travel down roads that to most of us would be obvious dead ends.

Image1Take for example, a guy I call the Architect. I’ve seen him bouncing from one submission company to another for several years. A very creative guy to be sure, obviously intelligent, but so full of hope that he buys into every hair brained invention program available.

He started an “invention” on Quirky, got so many votes he was sure they would make it a hit, but nothing. Then it was off to that Shark show (it’s just entertainment people…don’t take it too seriously) they offered him a bag of money (at least when the cameras were on they did) and he turns it down. Then to Edison Nation where for a 50/50 net split (net means AFTER they subtract all their costs) they’re going to achieve great success – or not. Several years and who knows how much money, he still has nothing to show for his efforts.

Do you see the pattern?

The Architect isn’t alone by any means. There are thousands of would-be inventors flailing around with their wallet in one hand and hope in the other. Just trying to make something work that isn’t likely to work no matter how much money they spend, or what sham company they get involved with.

Please understand this – If the product is a great idea you would not be having such a difficult time getting the market to respond – it’s that simple. Companies fight over great products and ignore bad products.

You have to find your center, get back to the basics, find the root of the problem, and be prepared to be honest with yourself.  When you’ve done all that, find your way to market using real companies, not these fly by night hope peddlers who prop up the façade of success with investor money and slick PR.

Mark Reyland

A thought from inventor Roger Brown

A thought from Roger Brown….

Have you met an Inventor that has an excuse for everything? Or at least a double standard. The rules only apply to you , not to them, because they are special.

No matter what the truth is about their product it is always someone or something else that caused themRB to not get licensed, not get the funding, not start that business, not get the deal they had in hand, not get calls returned from companies, not get it in front of the right person, not get the opportunity to pitch their product, not win the product search and on and on.

These same Inventors think every company is out to get them or steal their idea, because the company knows their idea is worth millions, even though the company hasn’t seen it. I see this attitude daily in a number of Inventors.

You can show them in black and white that there are better products on the market than their idea. You can send them links to products that are exactly like theirs on the market now and they deny they are the same. They tell you there is nothing out there like this and they have had a professional search done, yet within a couple of minutes there it is on your computer screen. I have even had an Inventor send me a product for review that they claimed did not exist anywhere and I had that item in my house, I bought them at Target.

What causes an Inventor to have that type of tunnel vision and denial?

You would think they would want to know it is out there so they don’t waste their time and money on a product they have no chance of bringing to market.

I feel that it is the hope of becoming a millionaire that blinds them to the truth. As far as they are concerned if they believe it hard enough and say it over and over that will make it true. Unfortunately it does not work that way in the real world, but because of their unrealistic expectations of how the inventing industry works they have conned themselves into believing their own hype.

Well, those are my thoughts anyway. I’m Roger Brown, a professional inventor who has been helping inventors figure out how to help themselves for more years then I can remember.

www.rogerbrown.net

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