Inventing Series One: Guide to Inventing
Do You Have An Idea?
Everybody has ideas but not every idea is worth capitalizing right? The truth of the matter is that no one really knows how much an idea is truly worth; how much the consumer will need or want it; or how successful it will make YOU, the inventor or should I say innovator. Companies, industrial designers/engineers, product developers, marketers, and YOU (the innovator) often rely on consumer trends, opinions and market research to decide whether or not the idea or product has potential. Yes, people in the industry (consumer goods, technology, etc) can gauge with a certain level of accuracy how they think/feel a product will do/be received in the marketplace, but these experts rely on more than just their thoughts/feelings, they have data (sales, market research, etc) to support their theories. However, data isn't everything, in a world where consumers dictate which product they like and which will succeed in generating sales, one thing is certain: there are no absolute certainties.
So, where does that leave YOU, the innovator? Well, I say that it leaves you in an interesting gray area that, if you tread carefully, could make you very successful. But success isn't something that often comes overnight, it's something that requires a lot of risk, ingenuity, perseverance, a bit of luck (in other words timing), and faith/hope. So, back to my initial question, is every idea worth capitalizing? I would say that is the wrong question to ask, the right question is: How much are YOU (the innovator) willing to invest in pursuing your idea or ideas?
"Great success is built on failure, frustration, even catastrophe."
The Many layers of Innovation
What People Don't Realize About Inventing
Ideas that bring about great products or technological innovations that help consumers in some way or propel humans to greater scientific depths/triumphs are wonderful, but the interesting thing about the invention process is that consumers don't often know that they need the invention! Sometimes consumers aren't aware that there's a problem or that there's a solution (YOURS) to THEIR existing problem. And sometimes YOUR invention/product could be so unique, novel or even light years ahead of what's currently available that consumers aren't knowledgeable enough to fully understand, appreciate or utilize it. Whatever the case may be, part of the inventing process requires finding a need-based solution for something, but the other part involves proving to others that they need YOUR solution.
Countless inventors throughout history have faced this interesting conundrum: solving some sort of a problem and trying to convince others to use their solution. One of my favorite historical innovators is Thomas Edison who made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps." Edison's ideas/ inventions were often ridiculed by many even though they lead to many technological breakthroughs. Why? Think about it this way, the world still spun, the sun remained high in the sky, and human beings got quite along without the light bulb for thousands of years. There's an interesting saying that goes: inventors (and artists) die before their works are recognized, appreciated, or put to use.
Luckily, that's not always the case but it highlights the overall point: don't get frustrated when people don't embrace your idea initially or over time, merely accept the fact that they don't know that they need it yet! When I presented one of my product ideas to an individual who had, not only industry connections but a history of selling successful products, and while he offered his assistance, I was a bit disappointed with his lack of enthusiasm for my idea. He sensed my disappointment and told me point blank: no one will care more about your invention more than you do, so it's up to you to make it succeed. While I agreed with him on the latter point, I found it strange that someone who had devoted a significant portion of his career (and livelihood) to helping other aspiring innovators to tell me that he simply didn't care enough about my product (by then I had completed the mechanical drawings, and was near the prototyping phase). Why would a person offer to help another person whose product they do not care enough about? Our partnership didn't work out but I learned a valuable lesson on, not only finding the right partnerships, but also the underlying factor about the invention process: you must convince people they need your idea/product/solution, once you do, they will ultimately love it and use it!
I hope that you have enjoyed part one of my five part series! Please stay tuned for my other entries!