Inventions That Didn’t Happen
The USPTO (United States Patent Office) is full of patents for inventions that did not launch. At Synthesis we’ve seen some amazing ideas that have not materialized in the marketplace. Why?
This is a tough question to answer, and in many cases the reasons are as unique and as diverse as the product ideas. To understand the “Why” we must also look at the “What” and the “How”. From our experience with product development through engineering services, these are the top reasons that the inventions don’t make it.
5 Big Reasons Inventions Don’t Get To Market
This is the obvious one, but it gets the blame more than it should. Everyone says “If I had the money, then I could develop and sell my product.” Is that really true? In some cases, yes, but in many cases, if the money was available then it would just end up lost.
That might be mean to say, yet I see better decisions made when money is less plentiful. Of course it takes money to develop a product, and it takes even more money to start production. That’s true. And, many great ideas starve for a lack of money. However, even when the hurdles are large, successful inventions find a way. In our experience, most often that means giving (or selling) huge parts of the rights to get the help.
Sometimes it’s more about allocating money in the right place and time. For instance, going back to the beginning of this article, patents are expensive, so maybe you leave that until you’re ready for launch. The USPTO will be OK without your money.
Money may make the process easier, but lack of it is not the end to possibilities.
Maybe this one should be #1. It’s sometimes hard to draw a line between healthy confidence and destructive ego.
The confidence that brings us to work hard each day on the idea is healthy. The blinders that make us feel like EVERYONE will want our widget sets us up for failure. Careful evaluation of the idea (and pivots with the idea) — even careful optimism — bring step by step results. Paranoia that everyone is out to steal our inventions and ruin us is hogwash.
Ego is a teeter-totter requiring a successful balance of confidence with humility. Of optimism by analysis and listening to others, then for knowing when to discard careless comments. It’s flirting with NIH while listening carefully to what the markets are saying.
There are a lot of great ideas right now rattling around in the brains of regular folks like you. They sit and mull and fester trying to germinate. The operative word is “trying”, because if we don’t plant the idea with some attention, it won’t germinate.
If I only had a dollar for every person that said “Well, I’ve had this idea for years and . . .” Don’t do this to yourself. Decide and act, or discard it.
The other aspect of attention is giving the areas surrounding the inventive ideas the attention they deserve. Has someone else already come up with the idea and patented it? What about market research and understanding what the market really wants in your area of creation?
What if I spend money on a patent and I can’t sell the idea? What if people don’t like it? My neighbor said …. (this or that). What if someone steals my inventions? Then, what if I just can’t find the time to do it right? What if I make a mistake and waste a ton of time and money?
These are all the words of Fear. Yes, fear is related to Ego, and it’s a strong factor in giving things the proper attention. Fear paralyzes far too many ideas. And though you should ask yourself some of the fear induced ideas, you have to get beyond the fear in them.
The antidote for Fear is Faith. I’m not talking religious faith (though that can certainly be part of it), I’m talking about developing a confidence like that discussed above. Nothing will go just as planned, so taking one step at a time with the guidance of someone that’s been there, is the way to conquer fear. Also, keep in mind that without risk, there is little reward. Just be smart about it.
With every good intention there is a scam waiting to take advantage of it. And, if you don’t know where to turn, there are always plenty of hands outstretched to “help”. Some are genuine and honest, yet there are always those that wish only to take you for a ride. Get help from reputable folks that keep you at the forefront. Companies like Synthesis can help you with design and development, and a good attorney is important. Marketing is probably another place you’ll need help.
Invention Centers, or Invention Promotion Companies are mostly scams. Yes, I said it with a broad brush. They claim to do it all, and they promise to get you first rate royalties. Basically they promise things that are not in their control to promise. There may be one that is sincere, but I have not found it. Just stay away.
One thing certain, no one cares about your idea (your inventions) more than you. Please make sure you are firmly in control of the decisions with your invention. Pick carefully and they will help leverage your possibilities. In general, stay far away from Invention Promotion Companies.
I know it’s a dangerous question, but Do you fall into any of these categories? Ask those around you. Some of these are things that are better spotted from the outside rather than from the inside.
Useful and Creative Inventions
Please note that in all the discussion above, not once did we mention inventions that are not worth doing. We believe that if you find the invention to be super useful and wonderful — enough to sink your heart and pocketbook into it — then others will too. As for how much is another story, and much of that depends on how and when the item is positioned in the marketplace.
From our perspective, great ideas don’t become bad just because they didn’t make it to market. There is just so much more to it than the great idea.
Finally, After Launch
To be complete in the discussion about inventions that don’t make it, we have to also mention, even if just in passing, the ones that do go to production, but somehow don’t really go anywhere. This has to be the worst position.
For those products, the single biggest reason for failure — from our perspective — after all the product development and prototypes and testing and even production launch is marketing. Some comes from not doing market research in advance, some is positioning in the market space, and part is just plain not getting the word out. We’ve already discussed these things so for continued reading see Screaming From The Mountain Tops.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The skills to invent are very different than the skills for success in business.
Good luck with your inventions! Let us know if we can help.