Venture Inventor

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Two choices for an inventor:

Venture your invention or let someone else make it. The wise choice for most inventors is to let someone else make it. A few take the venture path and fewer still succeed.

 

Venturing an invention means that the inventor is in the business of making and selling the invention.

Inventing is a learned art, like music, sculpture, and writing.  Like art, it is not enough for the inventor to have good craft skills. The great inventors display talent, inspiration, and vision.

An invention without a business case is like the phone without service. The great invention turns into a brick.

Read: One of the best books for venturing new products is written by Robert G. Cooper and his team.   

“Cooper, R. G. (2011). Winning at New Products: Creating Value Through Innovation. New York: Basic Books a Member of the Perseus Books Group”.    

The business case includes thirteen elements: Voice of the Customer, product definition, comparables, launch plan, product plan, development plan, competition, numbers, product expansion line, operations plan, market analysis, preliminary sales price, the size of the market, product justification, and risk assessment.

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Planning involves resources, time, and money.  Sophisticated tools like open source Project Libre provide comprehensive planning opportunities, paid programs (Eg. Basecamp, Zoho) provide interesting, non-traditional, intuitive project planning.

Project Libre and other traditional project management tools (Eg. Microsoft Project) offer good communication with industry.  See the “user examples” from the Project Libre site.

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Development requires management skills.  The inventor conducts the music of the inventive process.  Disparately located teams test and make components of the invention without face to face interaction.  Mikogo and other screen sharing programs are vital to making communication of the inventor’s vision.  Real-time understanding of mechanical processes is available via Skype, Facetime, and other video software.

Sales work best with thoughtful product launches.  The twelve considerations of product launches:  website, boots on the ground, pricing, salespersons, creative deliverables, prospecting, social proof, directories, strategy, advertising, public relations and technical matters.

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Categories: Inventor

Inventions with Family and Friends

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Three new inventions last week.

Two of them from family and friends.

They want the “idea” to be drawn and the specifications written “good enough” for the patent attorney to edit.  No money exchanged hands, it is night work without hard deadlines.  On one, the offer was 25% to take the concept to the invention with drawings and specifications and is a consumer product.  The second, being family. a 10% offer to a family friend for his expertise and keep 90%.  Like Mark Cuban says, “you only need one”.

These new inventions are surprising.

Never thought that people would come  with their ideas and ask for help for “good enough” drawings and specifications, ready for legal review. So far, one item complete and two to go. Check out the sell sheet for the “Walk with me” cup – an attractive multi-purpose item.

When an invention achieved patent pending status the percentage is earned but the work continues.  Sell sheets, negotiations, contacts and other support is offered to the inventor.  After all,  no one makes any money until sales.

If you have a good idea but need help with drawings and specifications that are “good enough” and are willing to pay by giving up a percentage, then feel free to email at pjwellnessgp@gmail.com.

 

Categories: Tools

Should Provisional Patent Pending Products be on the web?

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Patent Pending Products on the web

 

Searching on the web for instances of patent pending products for sale without pictorial or detailed narrative descriptions was unsuccessful.  Google Searching for patent pending heat exchangers yields 82,400 results.  A lot of the information on the web is detailed as shown in a few examples in the appendix.

Google searching patent pending oil and gas products yields 7,400,000 results. Large publically traded companies and the tiniest of companies depict their patent pending products on the web.  Veolia has patent pending products on the web.  General Electric publishes videos about their new patent-pending technologies: http://youtu.be/fnjhVbaPS1Q.  Small companies put their patent pending products on the web too.

http://dragonskinproducts.net/dragonjacket.pdf

Adrian Zettell  puts his patent pending product directly on the web.  Adrian Just made a sale to Schlumberger too.  It is simple stuff he has on the web.  Adrian describes the materials in his invention and illustrates the hose clamp assemblies holding it together. He describes well enough that making his product from the pictures and descriptions is not difficult.

Large and small companies put their patent pending products on the web.  A general Google search for patent pending products shows more than six million results.

It is clear that our rights are not enforceable until a patent is issued.  However, we have no assurance that a patent will be issued, and if it is not, any protection is gone.  I read that a provisional patent application is excellent protection from poachers because it is secret, and being secret, a potential competitor does not know the extent of the claims and could be infringing.  Companies with anything to lose (goodwill, money, reputation) are unlikely to steal our patent pending ideas and products.

A review of the online articles about publishing and marketing patent pending products:

“Before outlining some strategic options, I should mention that the magnitude of fear of showing others an invention at this stage is often overblown. In my experience, it is rare that a company will knock off an invention at this stage[1]

Before the patent issues, however, a competitor is always in doubt about how much coverage the issued patent will give the patentee. The competitor must weigh the costs of developing a competing product with the risk that his or her product may directly infringe when the patent issues. In many scenarios, the “patent pending” moniker is more effective as a business tool than the actual issued patent.[2]

When your competitors see the words “Patent Pending” at a trade show, on your new product, on your web site, or in your sales literature, they will naturally wonder about the scope of your patent application. But if that application has not been published its contents are confidential, as long as you maintain them so. Your patent application will not be discoverable for at least eighteen months or more, and even then, prosecution could impact what ultimately may issue. So your competitor’s fear of the unknown may provide you a temporary but substantial advantage in the marketplace. Use it well[3].

Filing a provisional patent application that adequately describes the invention will establish priority and satisfies the need to act swiftly under first to file rules. A well prepared provisional patent application is your best friend in a first to file world.[4]

Assuming you have filed an appropriate provisional patent application you can market the invention without fear of losing patent rights, generating cash to proceed with development or further patent activities.  In other words, the provisional patent application is an interim step along the road to a patent.[5]

All this is not good for the offending company.  By the time the infringement case is over, that company may have to pay triple damages, have to quit selling the product, and lose all its development and marketing costs.

For this reason, you are likely to find that most companies are not likely to rip off your “patent pending” invention if they believe you have a good chance of eventually getting a patent.  These companies will recognize that it is better business to simply buy or license the patent rights from you than steal the idea from you and face the consequences.[6]

As good practice, you should only publicly disclose your invention after you are patent pending. However, it is important to remember that the patent application only “protects” the invention that is disclosed in the patent application. If you change your invention design and that change is not disclosed by the patent application, then that modified invention is not protected. It is possible for you to file another patent application to protect the new design.[7]

In summary – the short answer – go ahead and show it.  If you have any more questions please contact me at elliot AT patentauthority.com[8].”

Google searches yielded no attorney blog or article that supports our attorney’s position of not disclosing the invention on the web.  For a bit of gentle fun:

One can make a case against anything. Like making an argument against walking across the street for fear of an accident. The odds of a pedestrian getting hit by a car: 000232[9].  Patent litigation[10]  occurred in about 3000 cases in 2013.  There were 600,000 patent applications in 2013[11].  One-half of one percent file a case.  Only 3.6% of these go to trial.  96% settle[12].  Extrapolating; .00036 of the cases require the full cost of court litigation, a slightly bigger risk than crossing the street.

90% of an invention’s success is marketing it and getting it out.  “[T]he idea is about 10 percent of this exercise; 90 percent of it is the marketing of it, getting it together, getting it out.” (Richard C. Levy, inventor of Furby quoted in Liane Hansen,  All Things Considered (NPR), “Profile: Independent toy inventor Richard C. Levy,” June 18, 2002)

We cannot stop the Chinese from knocking off our invention, but we can keep knockoffs from our shores.  Chinese patent protection is getting more robust[13].   It seems unlikely that the Chinese or another foreign knock off originators become interested in our product until we make a market.  We have international patent protection.  Chinese patent applications are not expensive.  So, perhaps we get one in China in a couple of years?  We have the Chinese law (I think treble damages are in the works) and US law to protect ourselves.

My preference is to use Adam’s approach.  It is simple, inexpensive and it works.  He is getting orders.

 

 

Appendix

 

Figure 1http://baseloadgeoenergyblog.com/tag/heat-exchanger/

 

 

Figure 2http://www.moontrail.com/msr-reactor.php?mes=apper

 

Figure 3 http://mepca-engineering.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/mepcanews1-720×480.jpg

 

http://basicconcepts.com/products/products_rigid_lock_fail_safe_quickberm-asp/

 

http://www.veoliawaterstna.com/vwst-northamerica/ressources/images/40/64482,silica_sorption_diagram_11-13-14.jpeg

 

 

[1] http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217211

 

[2] http://krajec.com/advertising-and-marketing-uses-for-patents-and-the-deterrent-factor/

 

[3] http://www.patent-innovations.com/documents/200705limitedmonopoly-patentpending.pdf

 

[4] http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/09/14/the-benefits-of-a-provisional-patent-application/id=45156/

 

[5] http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/09/14/the-benefits-of-a-provisional-patent-application/id=45156/

[6] http://mlwise-law.com/articles/is-my-invention-protected-when-it-is-patent-pending

[7] http://www.edisonnation.com/forums/patents/topics/am-i-protected-when-my-invention-is-patent-pending

[8] http://patentauthority.com/2008/12/patent-pending-without-nda/

[9] http://www.ask.com/math/odds-getting-hit-car-8153e02f5ac36140

[10] http://www.patstats.org/Patstats2.html

[11] http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/us_stat.htm

[12] http://www.wolfgreenfield.com/files/albert_is_patent_litigation_worth_it_.pdf

[13] http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/04/04/chinas-great-leap-forward-in-patents/id=38625/

 

 

 

Categories: Sales, Strategy

SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

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Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

SWOT – Free template

SWOT Template

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunites and Threats

Strengths

Sometimes people refer to a business as an organization.  Organized business is a healthy business.  People make a business.  Without people, there is no business.  The people on hand are a strength, the people needed are a weakness. The business elements in hand are the strengths.  Tangible assets like machines, office equipment, and inventory are a component of strength.  Intellectual Property and the plan for using it are also part of the strength of the company. Cash and financial strength count.  Add up everything including marketing, advertising, sales, web, and manufacturing capability.  Be thorough. The strengths carry the business.

Weaknesses

Unfortunately, weaknesses are not as easy to perceive as strengths.  Fundamental errors can carry on and crush a business at an alarming speed.  The easy weaknesses to list include not enough sales, money, projects delayed, and other missed metrics.  But – what needs to change or iterate before the business runs into a weak position?  The good kind of self-criticism and accountability comes into play.  Various heads find their own and company weaknesses and put them down for corrective action.  Brave work to find the missing or weak business elements

Opportunities

The venture inventor invented to meet a need or niche in the market.  The opportunity is to fill the need or niche.  There is more.  To hone in on the opportunity the Voice of the Customer work, the market segmentation, and the value of the opportunity is known.  Is this a “family” product?  What are the adjacencies?  New applications for the invention?  Correctly understanding the opportunity drives the expectations for the bottom line.

Threats

Threats speak to, why not?  Too much competition? Not manufacturable? Founders arguing?  Cash low? Market segment too small?  Invention incomplete?

Summary

The SWOT analysis was invented by a management consultant named Albert Humphrey in the 1960’s. It has stood the test of fierce business and time.  Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a company is fundamental to knowing how to manage the business.

Categories: Planning, Tools

Values

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Values

Values before principles

Values set the stage for everything else.  Common values hold venture inventors and their teams together.

Boldness

Venture Inventing points to a bold path.  It is not for the faint of heart. Airplane pilot tradecraft says “there are bold pilots and old pilots, there are no old, bold pilots”.  Inventing is the opposite, “there are bold inventors and old inventors, the only old inventors are bold”.  New inventions necessitate boldness.  Capital of all sorts and risk are put on the table.

Bravery

Or “facing the music” is tough for many inventors who believe that their project is without competition, is the best thing and that the world will beat a path to their door.  Bravery is putting the work at risk and allowing it to fail if the invention is not commercially viable.  Some say the odds are astronomical, others say better than even.  None say “no risk”.  All say “check it out and make sure it passes muster”.  Bravery is putting it all on the line.  From the teammate who passes on negative feedback fearing for his job, to the investor who sunk money, to the inventor who realizes that the prototype did not perform in the field like the computer model said it would.  Facing the music – risking ones job, income and invention takes bravery.

Honesty

Intellectual honesty takes work.  Inventing around the intent of another invention is not as satisfying as inventing a new invention. Honesty of all types is fundamental to business and life working.  For accountability to work, people have to be honest.  Sometimes honesty is painful.  When work was promised and golf is what happened, being honest gets uncomfortable.  Clear honest communication is burn-out preventive medicine.  Example: If a teammate is tasked with making calls, and management is as interested in the negative calls as the positive ones but the teammate does not know this, and instead views negative calls as a personal failing, the teammate is tempted to cover up the high incidence of negative outcomes.  If the honesty prevails, the worried teammate presents the actual responses and receives positive feedback for the report.

Care

New projects are fraught with possible failures.  Care eliminates many risks and minimizes others.  Is the business case for the invention accurate and useful, was it made with care?  Are the drawings thoughtful so that affordable manufacturing is feasible?  Is the prototype made to exacting standards?  Baking the cake of a new invention, by definition, has new parts to the recipe.  Only careful and thoughtful work allows the invention to taste good.  Caring about deadlines, projects, team mates, customers, stakeholders and the myriad details that go into any new invention is fundamental to success.

Diligence

inventions that are not diligently prosecuted end up as good ideas that someone else is doing.  The effort of creation is remarkable, time stopping, engrossing, and difficult.  Focus and persistence are the keys to the act of creation.  There is more.  Just because one had an idea, should this idea be prosecuted?  Due diligence, finding out if there is indeed a market and that the market is profitable for the costs comes right after the idea.  Some inventors figure out the market first and then invent to the market.  Either way, diligence include careful expenditures, checking twice, legal in order and everything else.  The attribute of diligence is necessary for success.

Privacy

Public or casual presentation of inventions and their derivative ideas cause messy ownership of the new intellectual property.  The wrong publicity can lead to crushing competition.  Without publicity, marketing and advertising, the invention is unlikely to leave the shop.  See more on this topic.

Kindness

Not everyone sees the use of a new invention, or the future it suggests.  Lack of kindness impedes work from all perspectives. See http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_compassion_in_business_makes_sense

 

 

 

 

Categories: Strategy

Cold Calling – The Odds – Industrial Sales

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Cold Calling

Cold Calling, what is it good for?

Cold as Ice - Is life underneath?

Cold as Ice – Is life underneath?

The purpose of a cold call is to make an introduction of the company and machine or product, find out if the product has interest to the Industrial customer, and start a sales conversation. Go from a sales conversation to brochures.  From brochure to visit. From the visit to a close. Cold calling is part of the marketing arsenal.  When used correctly, the economics make sense.

How does cold calling work in real life?

(Caution – Unscientific results based on in-house CRM notes).  The accomplished caller gets to a useful person, 33% of the time.  The good caller gets to a useful person 25% of the time.  Less good sales people get less.  Great sales people get more.  Not a lot of difference between good and accomplished.

Salespeople are good at their job.  If the new product has any relevance at all (80% of the time on good lists) the potential customer asks for more information.  Most of the time 80% the additional information satisfies the customer who may or may not open  up the email with the attachment. (Note – see about an email widget that lets you know when prospect opens or deletes the attachment).

Math update. 600 leads = 200 connected calls.  160 brochures sent. 10% = 16 prospects with an interest somewhere between curiosity and seriousness.    Of the 16 prospects, 4 have interest and set an appointment.  One out of 4 appointments with prospects that take appointments ends with a purchase. Calling 600 people with skilled consistent sales people on a good list means that one sale is made.  One-third of one percent of the calls ends up in closed transactions.

The call is important because it sets the stage for the relationship.

Too pushy and sales orientated, and the caller makes his reputation, no matter how good the information, the person is dismissed from relevance.  Too weak a call and the salesperson is dismissed as rambling and unfocused.  Either end of the extreme is unattractive. The correct tone is focused on the job at hand, delivered as an authentic human being.  Everyone takes this sales person seriously except for the front desk receptionist who has been told to reject any and all sales people.  Ever wonder why these instructions come to the front desk?

The brochure is the calling card.

It reaches beyond the point of contact of the sales person into the company.  Does the brochure explain the entire product?  Is it a teaser?  One page chock full of facts? Is the brochure a sample? The answer, “it depends” is unsatisfying.

If the product is part of the COGS (cost of goods sold) then a sample is frequently the right “brochure” to send.  If the product is a new robot, perhaps a teaser and an invite to the factory is best.  If the product is this year’s version of a commoditized product (electric motor, diesel engine, tools, gears, boilers, heat exchangers, etc.) then a detailed spec sheet and a link to an iges (three-dimensional drawing) file is in order.

Send out too little and the brochure is pitched in the trash or deleted.  Send out too little and the sales person is pitched in trash or deleted for not recognizing what to send.

Making the appointment might happen on the first call, but probably not.  More like six or seven calls.

Remember, each cold call leaves an impression too.  Be sure to be sure before burning through your lists.

PS: For fun, check out Scratch Ticket odds

PPS: Check out the post regarding the CRM we use.

 

 

Categories: At Work, Sales

Print Screen

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Show Info Page for free Gadwin Print Screen

An excellent print screen program is essential to fast workflow.

See what you like, grab the picture of the screen you want and keep going with your document, presentation, email or report without slowing down.

Free Gadwin Print Screen

Free Gadwin Print Screen

Venture Inventor recommends the free version of Gadwin Print Screen. It is simple, fast and accurate.

Gadwin Print Screen lives here.

Gadwin Print Screen lives here.

Right mouse click, select “show info”.

Show Info Page for free Gadwin Print Screen

Show Info Page for free Gadwin Print Screen

Show Options

Select the same options as shown.  While not necessary, the camera shutter confirm the action. Shift print screen is a good shortcut to select.  When the shortcut key is activated a red, cursor adjustable window appears.  Select the area to clip and clip it.  A confirmation window appears.

Gadwin Print Screen

Gadwin Print Screen

Check the green check mark at the top left of the window and the capture is completed. Gadwin Print Screen is a configurable program and preferences vary from user to user.

It provides quick, satisfactory, targeted screen clips.  Gadwin Print Screen automatically names the file and saves it to the designated file.

While screen clips (without OCR) are not searchable, they are viewable as large icons in Windows 10 explorer.  A library of Gadwin Print Screen images is reviewed in seconds with the explorer.

Set up the Explorer as below.

Screen Shot 01-12-16 at 10.48 PM

Copy what you want and insert or paste into the document.  If desired, processing the captured image in programs like Photoshop is simple too.

http://www.gadwin.com/printscreen/

 

Categories: Software, Tools

Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)

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Cannot let sleeping dogs lay.  Have to get up and know customers with CRM,.

Customer relationship management software (CRM)  is a tool with two primary functions.

It enables salespeople to track and close customers within the sales strategy of the company. CRM gives management insight into the customers and extracts information that is used to increase profits.

CRM is a balancing act between these two needs.  Sales people do not like to track and be tracked.  From a management perspective, the information is too valuable not to track. Management wants to know everything, sales for the most part, resent the seemingly non-productive data entry.  The easier and more useful to sales, the more the CRM gets used.  A fancy CRM that is hard to learn, but captures everything management wants falls flat because of sales resistance to being data entry clerks. Conversely, too little information means that everyone might as well be using their paper diaries.

The biggest problem with Customer Relationship Software is adoption.

A web-based product that works on all devices seems necessary.  Venture Inventor prefers Pipeline Deals. Pipeline Deals is user-friendly CRM (Customer Relationship Management).  None of the CRM’s are fun to use in real time.  But, without customer information at fingertips, calls and followups get missed.  Emails are automatically routed to the right deal, so the headache of keeping up with correspondence is minimized.

It has a nice feature for management.  On the home page is an activity box.  Managment can look at the activity box and see who is doing what.  So, if one of the sales people is not logging in and documenting their work, the lack of activity shows.  This feature allows the executive to understand how long calls and meeting take and the data collection process.

The Pipeline deals browser based program is configurable.  Open a drop-down and select the information to view. Keeping thousands of companies, a hundred leads and prospects organized is easy.

Bear in mind that this is a simple interface.   A person of moderate computer skills can operate it immediately without training. It has simple, configurable privileges.  It is easy, reliable and reasonably priced ($25 per user per month).

Pipeline Deals is in the Venture Inventor’s Toolbox.

Categories: Software, Tools

Invention to Investor

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Lonely Window

Investors like making money

The lawyers say that an inventor should not collaborate because the act of collaboration creates co-inventors.  The inventor should not perform market testing of their inventions before filing for a provisional patent because sharing the idea before it is protected makes it public, and un-patentable.

More “inventors”  mean more “mouths to feed” and the investor finds this less attractive and potentially open for litigation.  No one, especially the investor is interested in litigation the rights to the inventors ideas.

Investors want clean work as described in the seven items below.

Inventors lonely work

These are strict requirements and the inventor has the unenviable task of creation without feedback (unless a rock solid, derivative ideas protected NDA is in hand).  The corporate inventor has resources to invent, but the sole venture inventor has to perform the following:

  1. Is there a market?
  2. Is the invention a good idea, feasible to make?
  3. Does the prior art cover the invention?
  4. Is it reasonable to think the invention is patentable?

Once the provisional has been filed, the inventor performs these tasks

Inventors Housekeeping

  • Budget
  • Voice of the Customer
  • Business Case

With the provisional patent application completed, and the seven items addressed, the inventor may speak to partners and financial sources with confidence.

Is there a Market for the invention?

Googling is one of the best ways to find out if there is a market for competing products. (Always there is competition). If there is a market for the competition, there is a market for a new invention.  Judging a market for a new version of a known commercial item is easy (the market is big).  Judging the market for a niche item is difficult without interviewing customers.  Unfortunately, at the invention stage, it is verboten to talk and the inventor has to use personal judgement.

https://www.google.com/advanced_search is a good tool for this research on inventions.

Is the invention a good idea, feasible to make?

A successful invention is practical to make, fulfills a need and follows economic sense.  If the new hairbrush only works if it solid gold, it is unlikely to sell well, even if it is easy to manufacture.  Yes, this is an extreme example to make a point, but make sure that the invention makes sense from a cost of materials and production viewpoint.

Downloadable Budget Sheet Coming Soon

Does the prior art cover the invention?

Search the internet for your invention.  Then search google patents. (https://patents.google.com/) before you bother with a paid patent search.  Diligent informal self-directed patent searches have as good a chance of finding relevant patent material as most paid searches.

Is it reasonable to think the invention is patentable?

More to follow

 

 

Categories: Funder, Inventor

Confidential Agreements/ Non-Disclosure Agreements

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Screen Shot 11-05-15 at 11.30 AM - Copy - Copy (2) - Copy

Confidentiality Agreements

Non-Disclosure Agreements or Confidential Disclosure

Confidential Agreements are found in various corners of the internet. You will have to modify the agreements below to suit your needs. Confidentiality agreements come in many flavors. It is important to protect the inventor’s invention. Lawyers say that an open discussion where the people on the phone are brainstorming leads to added inventors who, because the information was not kept confidential from the contributors are now co-inventors with inventor’s rights.  Suppose the call is with the customer’s engineers and the engineer suggests a modification.  The engineer has just become a co-inventor.  If the confidentiality agreement is written properly with words like:

“receives the Confidential Information of INVENTOR, and CLIENT makes improvements to technologies described in the Confidential Information of INVENTOR or makes inventions based on the technologies described in the Confidential Information of INVENTOR, CLIENT agrees to grant and assign, and does hereby grant and assign, to INVENTOR or its nominee, CLIENT’S entire right, title, and interest in and to any such improvements or invention…”

Confidential Agreements Download Section

The University of Utah Publishes two short ones:

CDA-Two-way

CDA-Oneway

Here is another one from ilinventor.tripod.com/nda1.doc

nda1

The theory is that NDA’s provide protection.  Some say they do not provide protection.  See article http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/189/Startup-Reality-Distortion-3-The-Fallacy-Of-the-Non-Disclosure-Agreement-NDA.aspx

Some say they do provide protection.  http://corporate.findlaw.com/litigation-disputes/it-s-only-an-nda.html

Some have a policy of not signing NDAs.  Angel and VC investors frequently do not sign them.

There are two schools of thought about disclosing information.  One is to disclose as little as possible, even at the cost of a few sales.  The risk of theft is greater than the risk of insufficient sales to sustain the business.  This school is practical with home run inventions.  Otherwise, less than one out of one hundred inventions succeed in the marketplace. The other school is that the risk of not haveing sales trumps the fear of piracy and that details that could be risky are shared to increase the odds of selling the product.

Nearly all inventions fall into the second category if one considers that over 99% of them fail.

99.8% fail.  Only 3,000 patents out of 1.5 million patents are commercially viable. “In truth, odds are stacked astronomically against inventors, and no marketing outfit can change them. ‘There are around 1.5 million patents in effect and in force in this country, and of those, maybe 3,000 are commercially viable,’ [Richard Maulsby, director of the Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office], “Avoiding the Inventor’s Lament,” Business Week, November 10, 2005)  excerpted from http://www.inventionstatistics.com/Innovation_Risk_Taking_Inventors.html

Categories: Sales, Tools

Is it better to License, to Sell?

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cropped-Gearbox-g1.jpg

License or Sell? Quotes worth reading.

“500 billion Annual patent licensing revenues forecast for the U.S. for the year 2005.  “In 1990, it is estimated that in the United States alone $15 billion in revenue was derived from patent licensing. In 1998, that shot up 700 percent to $100 billion. It is [predicted] that by 2005, patent licensing revenues will top half a trillion dollars annually.  Amazingly, most American businesses are ignoring an astonishing $1 trillion in intellectual property asset wealth. This is thought to represent the most fertile, yet most ignored, ground for development by corporate chief financial officers.  An increasing number of business leaders at companies such as Microsoft, Lucent, Intel, Dell and Dow Chemical are regarding intellectual property as the new core of the modern business enterprise and a major factor in their success.” Patent licensing statistics.  Intellectual Property (IP) licensing revenues statistics. (Arlen L. Olsen, Contributor, 518-220-1850, “Patents are big moneymaker these days for companies,” The Business Review – Albany, Friday, August 11, 2000), obtained via http://www.inventionstatistics.com/Licensing_Royalty_Revenues.html

“We believe that ideas are valuable. Everything that we do—whether partnering with our worldwide network of 4,000 inventors, purchasing patents from individuals and businesses, or creating our own inventions—is aligned to building and growing an invention marketplace. Learn more about us.http://www.intellectualventures.com/ ” http://www.intellectualventures.com/

Click here for our directory of over 1600 companies that are looking for ideas. There’s never been a better time to be an inventor, because more companies than ever before are looking for inventions. As open innovation continues to grow, we think there will be even more companies that want ideas from inventors. Here are just a few: http://www.inventright.com/

Inpama
Marketplace for your ideas.

inpama.com is the marketplace to sell inventions and patents. Our goal is to provide inventors a platform to sell and market their inventions on their own. We do not charge any commission or fees from inventors or invention seekers. It’s risk-free. http://www.inpama.com/

Statistically, the odds of venturing a new invention is low. 99.8% fail.  Only 3,000 patents out of 1.5 million patents are commercially viable. “In truth, odds are stacked astronomically against inventors, and no marketing outfit can change them. ‘There are around 1.5 million patents in effect and in force in this country, and of those, maybe 3,000 are commercially viable,’ [Richard Maulsby, director of the Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office http://www.inventionstatistics.com/Licensing_Royalty_Revenues.html

Think about it.

Categories: Strategy

How to File a USA Provisional Patent Application Online

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Screen Shot 12-08-15 at 10.46 AM 002 - Copy (2) - Copy

Once familiar with the steps and requirements of filing a USA provisional patent application, the act of filing is quick. A few minutes and your application number is in hand.  For those unfamiliar with filing at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) the filing process provokes frustration.

This is a “familiarization” post.

The basics for provisional patent applications are explained by the patent office: http://www.uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/patent-basics/types-patent-applications/provisional-application-patent

The requirements are:

  • the application as a provisional application for patent;
  • the name(s) of all inventors;
  • inventor residence(s);
  • title of the invention;
  • name and registration number of attorney or agent and docket number (if applicable);
  • correspondence address; and
  • any U.S. Government agency that has a property interest in the application.

There is more.  Before the application is started online https://efs.uspto.gov/EFSWebUIUnregistered/EFSWebUnregistered  have these three documents ready for submission:

  1. Drawings
  2. Specifications
  3. SB 16 Cover page.

Download the cover page http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/forms/ProvisionalSB.pdf

The cover page does not work properly in Chrome and other modern browsers.  A message appears.

SB16 Message from Chrome Browser

SB16 Message from Chrome Browser

Download the file and open it with the free Adobe reader – it is a big file – 781 Megs.  https://get.adobe.com/reader/download/ Try a different PDF program first. Be sure to uncheck the box for the free stuff.  Some think McAfee acts like malware, slowing down the computer and offering annoying messages.

Free Adobe Reader Download

Free Adobe Reader Download

The cover page becomes fillable.

Clip of SB16 Cover page for Provisional Patent Application

Clip of SB16 Cover page for Provisional Patent Application

Fill it out and save it.  It is needed soon.

Drawings

For the first (or second) time filer, the drawing requirements are difficult to meet.  Layers, embedded fonts, and other requirements make it simpler to print out the drawings and re-scan them as 300 DPI images.  If you don’t have the ability to print, the next option is to download the “joboptions” file and install it.  It is easy to install.  Double click and it installs itself. Or, you can follow the instructions from the Patent Office.

Link to document guidelines: http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/ebc/portal/efs/pdf-guidelines.pdf

Link to the file that automatically configures your Adobe printer: http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/ebc/portal/efs/uspto.joboptions

Link to the instructions for using the joboptions file. http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/ebc/portal/efs/joboptions.pdf

Be sure your file name is short and has no spaces.  The file size cannot exceed 5 megs.

Before the drawings are “printed to PDF”, the drawings themselves should follow the guidelines of the patent office.  One of the simpler ways to make drawings in compliance is to use Sketch-up free version with this style applied   Pen Black Patent2 – Copy.style.  For security reasons a .txt was appended to the end of the name, remove the .txt so that the end of the file name is style.

Draw at will and then apply the style. Print the result, scan and the drawings are good to go. Any CAD program will work for drawings.  Sketch-up is just an idea for those that do not have ready drawing expertise.

The requirements for non-provisional drawings from the patent office http://www.uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/patent-basics/types-patent-applications/nonprovisional-utility-patent#heading-24.  Requirements for provisional drawings at the USPTO (Patent Office) were not found.  Draw as closely as possible to the non-provisional requirements.

 

Turning to the Specifications

For provisional patent applications, the drawings and specifications are the important items. Writing claims, background, and the other elements of the Utility Patent applications are not as important for provisionals.  Stanford University publishes a user-friendly application template.

provapptemplate

Download and fill in the sections. Once complete, if feasible, ask a patent attorney to look it over and provide comments.  Typical attorney comments include:

“Remove this information. This information should be included on an Application Data Sheet instead. At least, remove your e-mail, website, and telephone numbers. Omit any references to trade names, etc., throughout the document. You will want to refer to the system using a generic name if it isn’t already. Omit references to trade names, etc. This section should be a “BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS”. In this section, introduce each drawing by Figure #, then provide a brief description of what is shown in the figure. Move this description to the “DETAILED DESCRIPTION” section. Because no claims are added, omit “CLAIMS” section entirely.

These comments came from a brief edit by a qualified patent attorney.  Other comments include requests for expansion of detailed descriptions on drawings, truncating brief descriptions, omitting the word “invention”, covering as many variations as possible – called embodiments.

The attorney points out flaws, missing components and provides ideas about embodiments.  It is not trivial to write specifications.  Expect a lot of red ink over your first few attempts.

With the drawings, specifications and cover page completed the applicant is ready to file electronically via https://efs.uspto.gov/EFSWebUIUnregistered/EFSWebUnregistered

The first page is easy.  Fill out the blanks.

Ready to file a USA Provisional Patent Application?

See what happens next.  Click on an image to see it larger.

EFS 1

Page 1 Above and below continuation screenshot.  Straightforward data entry.  Note that the provisional is a subset of a Utility patent.  Click on utility to see the provisional patent radio button.

EFS 9

Page two below.  If the application, drawings and specifications are correctly formatted, this is easy.  If not, go see the previous post.  The Patent office is particular about formatting.

EFS 10

Choose the appropriate entity and then calculate and the fee submission sheet is calculated online and automatically included in your submission.

EFS 8

EFS 3

Select, pay now and an easy pay by card menu shows next.

EFS 4

After payment receive email or print receipt and you are done.  EFS 6

 

Categories: Patent Filing

Principles

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"Grand canyon of Yellowstone and Yellowstone fall" by Brocken Inaglory - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

The Seven Principles for the Venture Inventor

We can predict the future and change it. Inventing requires prediction.  

If a rising tide lifts all boats, perhaps a falling tide is not much fun.  Astutely separating the fads from the trends, the venture inventor sees the trends and invents to better the future that’s coming.

2016 predictions.

Climate change is here to stay.  Inventions that reduce greenhouse gasses are well received.  About 3,900,000 babies born last year. Immigration is significant too.  The millennial population exceeds the baby boomers.  Inventions that help the baby boomers and track the millennials do well in 2016.  Desperate nations need oil revenue.  The USA team in the shale oil plays has disrupted the “Peak Oil” thinking and now the USA team can export to the world.  The days of $100 oil are gone – for a decade.  Perhaps forever as the world shifts away from carbon fuels.  Lucky to see $60 a barrel.  The French cry of “liberty, equality, fraternity” is being echoed by found again socialist democrats. That didn’t turn out so well for the “let them eat cake” crowd.  Upward mobility inventions (nano degrees, new teaching methodology, simplification) that educate and lift opportunity do well. If it can be automated, it will be – see more jobs disappear – any rote job, and some fancy ones will be augmented.  More long range medicine, fewer receptionists.

Birth_Rate_in_USA_1934-2004

Live Births, USA

Accountability

The “Oz Principle” lays out the case for and explains accountability.  It is difficult to diagnose and repair problems without accountability.  Accountability means taking responsibility for ones part.  Accountable people make things happen.

Inventions fail because:

doesn’t work very well – (inventor)

poor quality – (maker)

too few buyers – (un-disciplined marketing)

poor margins – (cost accounting forecasts)

legal restrictions -(lawyers)

and many other items, from the details like web design failure to the big picture of wrong strategy,

Sharpen the Saw.  A term borrowed from Stephen Covey.  Learning is life long.  Inventors cannot stop learning and continue to invent.  Fundamentally, inventing is about learning. Learning what is needed, what works and does not work is fundamental to the invention process.

Best idea wins. 

Founders disagree.  The best course is to take the best idea(s) and implement.  Which is the best idea?  Perform SWOT analysis on the variations together.

Give. Inventors give.  

Planning works.  No road map is difficult.

Execution. Get it done.

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Categories: Strategy

Tools

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2000px-Tools_blue.svg

The reviews, “how to”, and recommendations in this section help the venture inventor get the job done. The categories under tools:

Software

Computer and Internet Services

Books

Travel

Coffee

Treats

Pens, Paper

 

 

Categories: Team, Tools

Software

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Modified. Original from Iwan Gabovitch, Flickr

Image: Modified. Original from Iwan Gabovitch, Flickr

Some make the invention and then draw.  Others draw, and then make.  Either way, hiring someone else to do the work means that part of the vision making is left to the non-visionary.

A topological understanding of the tools of the trade.

YouTube

Lynda.com

Microsoft Office Professional

Quickbooks Professional

Sketchup Professional

Gadwin Print Screen

Pipeline Deals

Adobe Creative Cloud

Chrome Browser

FEMM 4.2

Grammarly

Ring Central

Matlab

Duet

VideoScribe

Various Open Source Programs

Categories: Software, Tools

Team – Asked and Answered

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www.lumaxart.com_credit to
www.lumaxart.com_credit to

www.lumaxart.com_credit to

Team members have questions about their assignments.  This section addresses team member questions.  The team member section contains “how to”
guidance. Its purpose is to save time.  Instead of repeating themselves, management points to a particular post.  Team members assimilate company values and expectations quickly by reading the posts.

Categories: Team

Sales

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Sales – Without them, nothing else works.  Be sure that the runway is long enough for take off. Get out of the building.  Talk to customers. Know your value proposition.

Many drill the idea that the voice of the customer, (VOC) is important.  The drillers are correct. Until actual customers are interviewed and seen, it is well nigh impossible to pin down the marketing, the product launch or make sales.

If a founder (or inventor) is calling, expect one in six calls results in an interview.  If a team member is calling expect one in twenty calls to set an appointment for the customer to speak to the founder.  Of these calls expect three out of four to consummate.

Make the calls.  A good invention is an awesome idea to present and the Customers quickly get engaged.

Categories: Sales

Voice of the Customer Emails for setting appointments – comments

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Voice of the Customer

After an inquiry about a study, (give your email address and get the table of contents) the study provider started emailing.  Every single day the creative, hopeful marketing / sales guy would find a new way to say the same thing “please buy my study” with the implied subtext ” I’m starving for sales”.

As one of the presidential candidates would say, “It was a disaster”.  Response rates for unsolicited emails are low, really low.  One article http://www.magillreport.com/Email-Response-Rates-Pathetically-Low/  pegs responses at 1 per thousand or so.  It is better than the lottery, but no way to make a living.  In the same article, direct call responses are over 12%. Creating a script and learning the phone and how to make calls work is best.

Better to offer a friendly direct, customized email than to do nothing.

First name,

Please forgive me for writing you out of the clear blue sky.  I tried to call, but no one answered at the front desk.  The reason for my call (and this email) is that (company name) is bringing (product name) to market soon. 

(Product name) offers a new to the (industry) way to (name chief benefit).  Like all proud innovators, we believe our product to (the names of other benefits).  

Because you are (compliment, and industry) [do homework on customer] a potential customer that we will eventually market to, we would like to have a brief call to hear your thoughts on our new (product name). 

During this call, our (inventor, and one of the founders) will present the invention and ask you for your opinion about (product name)’s relevance, benefits, and price.  

If a new way of (main product benefit) is of interest, perhaps we can set a call later this week (name a date and time).

Thank you!  (product name) is a great product; your comments will make it better. 

Kind regards,

 

 

An argument for Business Planning

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Planning - Word TOC

Strategyzer created the Business Model Canvas.  It is a practical one-page overview of the business model.   For some, the business model canvas might suit the need.  It is important to think through the enterprise.  A few get into “paralysis by analysis”, but most charge ahead.

Charging ahead is not always leadership.  Sometimes charging ahead is hubris.  Common mistakes made by those without business plans:

1) Acting too few, or one data point.  A customer purchases a widget.  Venture Inventor heuristically assumes that the widget is the next big thing and commits a lot of resources. The one customer was an individual purchaser, a fluke. People lose their jobs.

2) Ignoring a vital corner of the business.  The inventor purchased a one year plan on a domain, missed the renewal date, and the inactive domain held hostage for thousands of dollars.

3) Over 75% of the business comes from one customer.  The customer went bankrupt.  The inventor went bankrupt too.

4) Sale closed. The customer uses the equipment.  Equipment causes a loss due to a product malfunction.  Product liability insurance was not structured properly.  Inventor went bankrupt.

The business plan looks at all aspects of the company and determines who, what, when, where and how.  The business plan is the action plan for the enterprise.  Operating without one is like driving to an unknown destination without a map.

 

 

Categories: Planning

Research – Deliverables

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Research

Fast and good internet research requires skill and thought. It is a pressure cooker job because no one in management wants to wait and it takes hours of time to be thorough.

The basics: Start with https://www.google.com/advanced_search. Searching from the search bar is too vague and provides too many results.  Wikipedia for additional search terms.

When looking for a thing, select the images tab to find a photo of a thing close to the research target.  Click the link, open up the page of the “something close” image and use the description of the image and item as a library of terms for new searches.

Keep records of the sources.  The AP Stylebook  is useful for bibliography styles.  AP Stylebook citations are the common tongue of clarity.  The citation widget that comes with Microsoft Word or a variety of free and freemium browser add-ons are useful.  Some companies require other styles.

Once the initial pass through of the information is done, this information, along with the research assignment is sufficient for a working outline.  MS Word and other programs have long document features that include headings.  The headings automatically insert  into tables of contents.  Navigating the document using headings becomes second nature.

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The outline or headings of the document inform the author and keep the document on track.  Stephen King wrote “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”.  The great reviews are well deserved.

If the task is too large for the time allotment it is good to speak up and modify the assignment so that it is doable.

 

 

Categories: At Work, Team

Meetings and Phone Calls

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Image Credit Yellow Telephone by Billy Brown on Flickr

garage band

Ever play with the app “Garage Band”?  It offers a variety of ways to lay down instrumental tracks.  In the drum section, a simple clapping hand, or a syncopated beat with the full section playing is available.  Coming to a meeting or a phone call unprepared is like coming with a simple clapping hand to a jam session with a garage band.  A hand might be well played but how much better is the meeting or phone call with the assets of research, organization, analytics, thoughtfulness and an agenda?  (A lot better).

Research: At a minimum understand the subject’s topology.  Where are the mountains to climb, the valleys of death, the easy parts, the hard parts?  Do not come to a call or meeting without understanding the space, or the “room” or expect to look unprepared, or worse, foolish.

Organization:  Some Millenials and nearly everyone else inscribes what they know into hand-written entries.  Today’s tools (One Note, Evernote, etc.) offer instantly searchable on any device ways of keeping notes.  It isn’t possible to organize hand-written records and index them for immediate retrieval across years of work and multiple projects.  Find an electronic note keeping application and use it.  Not finding data when the moment is nigh is like asking to get engaged, but forgetting the ring.  Forgetting the ring and information are hollow acts, demonstrating a casualness that belies serious engagement (pun intended).

Analytics: Regurgitating data at a granular level and expecting someone else to make sense of it indicates (pick one or more): 1) A lack of ability to understand the information, 2) Laziness, 3) A taker position (vs. giver). It is better to understand the data and give a high-level perspective to keep the conversation flowing.

Thoughtfullness: Think about the meaning of the information and analytics about the subject.  Perhaps, on the face of it, sales are great, but in reality, the product is priced below cost.  Whether or not the idea is the winner, thinking demonstrates focus, caring and attention to detail.

Agenda: Announced or casual agendas each have their place.  An announced agenda is the one that is presented to the meeting, frequently a formal meeting.  A casual agenda takes place in informal settings.  The best casual lists are achieved in the natural flow of conversation without stress or striving.  The leader might have a list and check off items on the list as the natural conversation encompasses them. The leader may direct the conversation if needed, but the feeling is collaborative and not “stiff.”  Other casual agendas are those held by meeting goers, not leaders.  The goers agenda comes up with nudging, still in natural speaking.

Example: In a staff telephone meeting, George says: “I talked to twenty customers and here is what each one of them said, please be patient while I find the notebook (s) and some of the information is scattered so, hold on while I run to the truck to find it”.  Collective groans.  Nancy says: “I spoke with twenty customers too.  The prevailing sense is that our offer is attractive because 15 of the people I talked with gave me their credit card with 50% deposits.  In my opinion, a 75% close rate is too high.  There might be an opportunity to raise the price.”.  While George off the call in his truck is searching, the president says: “Nancy, nice observation, I can tell you are thinking.  Walk us through a typical sale please”  Nancy: “Of course …”  George gets back on the line as Nancy finishes.  The President says “Thank you, Nancy.  Listen, guys, I got to go.  Before I do, Nancy, please see HR about a promotion, you have earned it.”  George says “Hold on, I got my stuff”.  But the President has already hung up and on to his next meeting.

 

 

Categories: At Work, Team

VOC Setting Appointments

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Down the Middle 1000 wide

Voice of the customer, setting appointments.  Straight down the middle.

 

  1. If not entered, enter the customer information into the database
  2. Research less than 10 minutes put the information into the database along with relevant links
  3. Call.  If you know who to ask for, ask.  If you do not know, briefly explain the call and ask the telephone receptionist to direct your call.
  4. When connected introduce yourself with your name and company name
  5. Give the headline, and if they have a minute:

“Hi, this is Nathan with Gears Unlimited (replace with your company and invention). We have a new product in the works and are in the customer discovery phase.  From our research, our company, Gears Unlimited, has selected your company as one of the main companies in your market segment that benefits the most from better gears.

Our company has learned that it is best to hear what companies like yours thinks about our new patent pending invention.  Since you are the “put title here”, and face the problem of gears every day, do you think you might have time to talk to the inventor or one of the founders?  We sincerely want to build great products that solve the problem of gear failure and your thoughts, and other customers thoughts go into the design, so what is presently good becomes great.

I’m setting up the initial 20 calls and if you would like to be on this short list, perhaps tomorrow at ___ PM Central?

Great.  I’ll send you and the inventor, Michael an invite.  What is your email?  I’ll be on the call to make introductions, and after the introductions, I’ll get off the phone and continue to tackle my to-do list.”

Categories: Voice of the Customer

Voice of the Customer

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Setting appointments, who to call, what not to do.

By the time that Voice of the Customer work starts, the hypothesis is made.  The customer segmentation is complete.  The founders and the team know which customers to hear.

The chart has an industrial focus; other product types vary the chart format. To save time, a team member sets interviews, the principal

To save time, a team member sets interviews, the principal investigator (PI) or founder holds the interviews.  Fifteen to twenty site visits are best.  Secondarily, telephone interviews.

Before interview appointment calls to the hypothetical customers, the customer contact data is discovered by purchasing a list, social networks, web searches, present customers and experienced, connected sales people.

It is a good idea to cold call some of each customer segment. Fundamentally, the new invention has to sell to unknown customers. The team member assigned to the task of setting appointments has a vital mission.  The member sets the appointments without tainting the thinking of the customer.

“Taint” is an interesting word.  Tainted meat is spoiled meat. Tainted customers are contaminated with the notions of the venture or team member.  For example, if the product was a “smart” gear that provides wear updates, and the member asked the customer if he would pay “x” for a smart gear, then the customer is tainted because now the customer has the venture’s price in his head, instead of thinking about the value to his business.  On the other hand, If the member asks if the customer used gears in their business, the customer remains untainted.

Data is important from the member cold calls setting up appointments.  The team member should document how long it takes to perform each task.

  • How long does it take to find a customer to call?
    • Eventually, the sales persons need assignments.  How long it takes to find a customer affects quota requirements.
  • How many customers are called before an appointment is set?
    • Speaks to innate interest.  If the invention does not solve a pressing problem, more approaches are necessary.
  • What is told to the customers that don’t agree to an appointment?
    • Beginnings of the elevator pitch.
  • What was the conversation when customers do agree to set an appointment.
    • Discovering hot buttons.

Regarding the call itself, it is important to start with smaller customers (so as not to burn through the large ones) and of the small customers, talk to middle management.  It is better to practice with the less important accounts first.

 

Strategy – Product Launch

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Skimming, the choice of many.

Venture Investors typically shape their strategy around:

I predict the future, and I change it.

My resources are constrained.

Some say that underfunding is a noble thing. An inventor, starting a company with a thousand dollars and growing it to make millions is laudable. This route is feasible for venturing smallish inventions.  If the invention is sizable, the capital requirements are greater.  A good strategy includes the costs of building the prototype and professionally launching the product.

By default, part of the business strategy is “pioneering”. Pioneering is introducing a new product to the market.  Typically, pioneering strategies include trials for the user.  In addition yo pioneering, the new venture has one of two strategies to pick. The venture inventor engages in skimming or penetration.  Skimming is for those with shallow pockets.  Deep pockets have a choice of skimming or penetration.

In addition yo pioneering, the new venture has one of two strategies to pick. The venture inventor engages in skimming or penetration.  Skimming is for those with shallow pockets.  Deep pockets have a choice of skimming or penetration. Skimming is fewer sales at the richest markets.  Penetration is all out marketing.

Skimming requires precision.

The inventor knows the market segments, has talked to the customers and is precisely targeting the invention to those that need it the most.  Lack of capital forces sales in the direction of low hanging fruit.  If the fancy version of the invention has a long lead time, the inventor may choose to market to those that need the simpler version (minimum viable product). Skimming comes in shades.  Some have next to no money and others have more resources.

Penetration is fine for seasoned manufacturers, deep pockets and finely engineered products. Since most venture inventors do not have the assets, savvy and skills required to perform and execute a penetration strategy, the default strategy is skimming.

To find the right market segment the inventor has to get out of the office, go see customers, call customers on the phone.  With rich information and a creative mind, the offering is crafted to match the customers.

Example: One invention, a device that adds gasses to industrial tanks to promote convection sounded great in the office.  The customers didn’t agree because the gasses meant that the cover had to open.  Open cover and the contents are “tampered”.  Tampered products and some not friendly emissions made the sale an up hill proposition.  Nimble focus on smaller users with less onerous restrictions made up the difference.

Calls are ok, but physically being there is better.  Seeing the body language, the plant, and generally, the environment offers richer information than phone calls.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Strategy

Work Product – Team Members

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Work

Fortune smiles on team members because the work team members do is meaningful and critical.

An example assignment: Build the business case for a new venture invention and deliver it in 7 days.

If the assignment is well-made, it matches and stretches the capabilities of the team member(s). For example, consider the work of building a business case.
Screen Shot 12-25-15 at 09.51 PM

Management reserves product definition, development plan, launch plan, operations, and budget items.  The relatively new associate or team member gets comparables, the size of the market, competition, risk assessment, product justification and a guess at the sales price.  The management and team members share talking to customers.

The team member guards time to avoid getting lost in the research by first reviewing the resources available to the work and coming forward with a thoughtful action plan.

One way to make a thoughtful action plan is to prepare a document outline with time estimates.  Use a template with a cover page.  Add a table of contents, a bibliography, and appendix.  Snip out the table of contents.  Ask for a minute to review with management.  Management can see the direction, the expected deliverable, and have a serious conversation about expectations. Talk about the sources you have found and expect to find. Offer to take on some of the work in the yellow boxes on the management side of the work too.  Set up the voice of the customer schedule and assume responsibility for the calendaring.

  1. Summary
    1. Voice of the Customer
    2. Product Launch Plan
    3. Sales Price
    4. Sales Plan
    5. Product Justification
    6. Product Definition
    7. Risk Assessment
  2. Research
    1. Competitive Analysis
    2. Size of Market
    3. Competition
  3. Appendix
    1. Operations Plan
    2. Detailed Development Plan
    3. Budget Numbers
    4. Bibliography

If management wants more, it has a choice: put in more resources or allow more time.  If management wants less (almost never the case), management can balance the workflow. Expectations about seven days work are realistic.  On the fifth day, give an update.  Describe accurately the “good, the bad and the ugly”.  Crunch time and the manager still has time to react and keep the project on track, or add depth and color to key, new points.  For example, you may find that a multinational is still using legacy equipment and particularly ripe for the new invention.  The more the associate keeps his head in the game, the better the presentation.  Result?  The manager’s performance works flawlessly, and the project funded. The associate contribution is high, noted and rewarded.

 

Categories: Team

Business Case

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Bottom line – if the invention venture is going to make a lot of money, the money to get started is easier to find with a business case in hand.

The thirteen elements to the business case: Voice of the customer, product definition, comparables, product launch plan, development plan, competition, gross sales / net income, product expansion or one off, operations plan, selling price, the size of the market, product justification, and risk assessment.

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The components interact and form a detailed business case.  The venturers know what is at stake, the cost and the rewards.

 

Categories: Funder, Inventor

Inventor’s Ideation

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Two paths for invention ideation.  One, incremental.  Two, new.

Incremental inventions include a better tire tread, a faster USB port, a better smartphone.  New inventions are first and they change things.  Dr. Cooper, in his book “Winning at New Products” studies bringing inventions to market, and his counterintuitive analysis shows that new products have a higher success rate than incremental products and earn more money.

Invent to a small need, a niche that no one cares about and the invention is of no or small impact.  Invent to a great need, to a robust market and the invention supplies income for the duration of the patent life and beyond.

 

 

The human mind can find inspiration from anything.  Three common sources for ideas that lead to inventions: a necessity, customers and macro problems. The statement “Necessity is the mother of invention” holds truth. Necessity ideation expresses itself when a user (typically the inventor) has a problem without a solution.  The inventor invents a solution. In the course of interaction, customers talk about their business problems.  Some of the problems are worth solving. Concerns about climate change, poor water, lack of internet, and housing spawn thousands of new ideas and inventions.

An inventor that is not inventing or ideating with useful ideas and inventions has something like “writer’s block”.  Unsurprisingly, the solutions for writers block work inventors too.

 

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