Wednesday, April 4, 2007

International Home and Housewares Show 2007

My brother rented a booth and exhibited his industrial design services at the 2007 International Home and Housewares Show. The show ran from Mar 11 - Mar 13 at McCormick Place in Chicago. He invited myself and a mutual friend to come and help him at his booth. We got a chance to meet a lot of fellow inventors as well as several companies that are doing good things for inventors such as Evergreen IP and Idea Tango.

Many housewares aren't really new inventions, but rather they are new designs for old inventions. These new designs still contain the creativity and awareness to make things better and challenge the limits of imagination.

Of course, there are also new inventions in the housewares field every year. One of the people that my brother met at his booth was the original inventor of the Powersquid. My brother is a huge fan of this product, so he was thrilled to meet its inventor. The Powersquid is a powerstrip that has numerous "tentacles" that allow you to plug in many bulky power transformers and other cords into one power strip.

There were also a number of inventors in the Inventors Corner area of the show. Many of the inventors exhibiting had patents or at least were patent pending so they were excited to show you exactly how their invention worked and why it was made. I got to talk to some and encouraged them to get more involved in their local inventors groups and look into branding and the like to add more value to their invention offering. Many inventors find themselves pigeonholed, and keep trying the same strategy to get their invention to market. The fact that they got a booth says a lot about their commitment to getting their idea out there and on the shelves.

Some inventors were just looking to utilize the traffic to gain input on their invention and see what people liked or disliked so when they improved upon it they could incorporate those insights to create a better product.

The Electronic Retailing representatives came around and gave a few inventors a chance to pitch their ideas to a panel who decided if they thought their product would be appropriate for direct sales. Direct sales include infomercials, home shopping, catalog sales, etc. If you didn't appeal to the panel it was usually your price point or the fact that your invention didn't fill the need of a wide enough market segment to justify airtime on QVC and the like. Also, when you are inventing for sale on television, you must have something that is "demonstrable". Products that need to be seen to be understood sell well on TV.

My brother's company had a ton of interest from both inventors and big name companies alike so the trip was well worth the effort. We all came out of it with a positive take on the International Home and Housewares Show.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

How to use the Internet to sell your invention

I have been asked to present to the members of ICGC Inventors Connection of Greater Cleveland, Inc. later today on this very subject. To preface I have started many ecommerce companies and have first hand knowledge of building fully enabled online stores. Since building the store is just the first step I also have intricate knowledge of marketing and selling of which I hope to pass on and, in turn, relate it to effective strategies Inventors can use to market their creations over the Internet.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Your Average Inventor" What do I mean by that?

Well first off, I have to admit, "Average Inventor" is an oxymoron. In many respects, the life of an inventor is anything but average. Inventors need to think outside of the box and imagine what has not been done before. Secondly, they take great risks (both personally and professionally) and go head to head with large companies to get their dreams realized. Lastly, they require an adaptive psychology to allow for the ups and downs the inventing process inevitably contains.

On the other hand, I want to debunk the stereotype that Inventors are stuffy guys in lab coats at 3M. [Of course, those guys in lab coats at 3M have invented some mighty fine things.] Many life enhancing products were invented by average people with a real need for something that did not exist. "Your Average Inventor" may be the nice elderly woman down the block, your uncle George in Peoria, or your eight year old daughter. Invention is a form of problem solving. Problem solving is something we all do everyday. Inventors define a problem that needs a solution, they test and refine, and then they find a means to bring that product to market. Thus, Inventors may be average in many respects, but they all have that spark that makes them want to create something new.

I consider myself "Your Average Writer", but hope to make up for it by bringing together exciting ideas and stories that will inspire the budding inventor. My belief is that anyone who has a great idea should do their best to make it a reality. I firmly believe in the philosophy "if at first you don't succeed. Try, Try again!" Most inventors fail horribly many, many times before they succeed. So if your first invention doesn't make it to the store shelves don't treat it as a failure. Treat it as your first try. Each time you invent a new idea or product you will better understand the process of getting the invention to market. As management guru Tom Peters says "Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast."

In this blog, we will be focusing on the stories of "your average inventor". We will find out what makes them tick and learn about their passion for inventing. I think you'll find that "your average inventor" may be down to earth, but when they put their mind to it, what they can accomplish is anything but average.