Tuesday, February 19, 2008

YII member story - "How I went from idea to patent pending"

Read how Erik Groset, a student at California State University San Marcos, Co-Founder of D&G Solutions, and inventor of LiveSpeakR.

The invention process is quite possibly the biggest adventure on which one can embark. It requires a large amount of ambition, even though shows like CNBC’s “The Big Idea” with Donnie Deutsch might make the process seem easy. As an inventor, however, I can assure you that the process is very arduous –and yet also quite rewarding!

I recently submitted my first patent, but this was certainly not my first “big” idea. In fact, it’s not even what I consider my best one. The patent was for the invention that I strategically determined would help get me to where I want to be to achieve my future goals.

As a fellow student, I want to share with you the first steps that I took in my very rewarding journey.

Step 1: Think

Think HARD about your potential invention. Question everything. Everything! Weigh the benefits against the negatives. Try to poke holes in your own logic. For example: Why wouldn’t this invention work? What could possibly go wrong? What are costs associated with the invention? What is the value a consumer would gain from my invention? Is it worth pursuing this invention and all the costs and time associated with it? It’s very important to think through your invention before pursuing it. This step can save you a lot of time and many headaches. You’ll know you’ve asked enough questions when you have little or no doubt about proceeding with your invention, while also recognizing potential limitations.

Step 2: Do Your Homework

Research, in every way you know how. The internet is a VERY small step in the research process. Think: Library, databases, observations, trade shows, etc. You should research similar inventions, related industries, marketing materials, essentially anything that could possibly be helpful in your understanding of your consumers and your competitors. Be very detail-oriented here; keep meticulous files on all of your research. Research is your most important step because it will show you whether your invention has potential to become a marketable product. Sometimes you might find that the invention has been done already and that’s fine – back to the drawing board!

Here are some of the resources I found most helpful for invention research on the Internet Google Patent Search, USPTO, Google, LexisNexis, Emerald Fulltext, Factiva (some might require subscriptions, but you might have access to them through your school’s library).

Step 3: Internal Feedback

What do you really feel about your idea? Are there better ideas out there? Should you maybe save this idea for later? Don’t just think your thoughts – write them down and analyze them.

Depending on what you’re inventing, timing might be everything. This is why you must be very strategic in how you approach developing your invention. Apple Co-Found Steve Jobs created NEXT an advanced computing company that was ahead of its time. Because its computers were so advanced they were too expensive to become popular. Needless to say the business failed and was eventually abandoned. The stage of the technology in the industry and its adoption is one reason for why the timing needs to be very strategic in your invention process. There are ways to objectively realize that some inventions are better than others. For an exercise in this, you could analyze a group of inventions yourself and determine the level of importance for each one.

Take a deep analytical look at the industry. Some things to consider during this stage might be market share, advancement opportunities in the field. Now reflect and prepare to get some external criticism.

Step 4: External Feedback

Ask a few select TRUSTED people what they think of your idea. Use your own judgment here – sometimes your own mother might not be the right person to ask. It is VERY important that you get external feedback. Obviously, you would ask everyone with whom you share your invention to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which would legally protect your invention. You should also document people with whom you talk about the invention, including the name of the person, the date, the time, and what was discussed. This way you can reference in case something unfortunate happens. Ultimately, you get to decide with whom to tell about your idea; just be sure to exercise caution.

Step 5: Reflect

Be realistic: Is the process really worth it? Are you really ready to dedicate money, time, blood, sweat, and tears into this project? Think about it again.

Hopefully, you’ll find my experience helpful in your own journey to inventing! Currently I’m going through the next stage on my product (LiveSpeakR) and I will keep you updated on my progress and how it can apply to you.

Good luck!


At 10:02 AM , Blogger Carrville said...

Excellent work. Your comment on CNBC’s “The Big Idea” with Donnie Deutsch making the process seem easy, is a welcome reality-based perspective. The odds are steep and it takes persistence and networking to overcome the odds. Just how steep are the odds? You can find that at http://www.inventionstatistics.com/innovationrisktakinginventors.html along with a wealth of other inventing statistics. This blog provides interesting insights into overcoming obstacles. You can also find some terrific advice from seasoned successful inventors about how they overcame the odds and obstacles at http://www.inventorinsights.com/TipsForInventorSuccess.html


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