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The ABC’s of inventing your dreams

If you want to make it in the world of invention, you’ve got to know and talk the lingo to communicate with the right people to prove you’ve done your homework and are ready for the big time.  The invention process may seem daunting and even confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.  In addition to the invaluable resources and information you’ll be sure to find on Quirky, we’ve provided below a rundown of the need-to-know terminology in the industry and why knowing this information will be critical to your success as an inventor.

3D modeling and printing – the process of printing three dimensional products from a digital file or a virtual blueprint.  The digital design is created from a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file while utilizing either a 3D modeling software or a 3D scanner – the first is for the creation of a completely new object and the latter is used to make a 3D copy of an object/invention already in existence.  From expensive services offered by 3D printing companies to smaller and more compact home 3D printers, it should be fairly easy to understand why this magical technology is so influential to the success or failure of an invention, depending on the object and industry.  The opportunity to see even just a rough model of your invention brings your vision to life and may illuminate new ways to further improve your design.

Abstract – A basic summary of the invention included in the patent application process.  In order to have the best chance of any invention making the journey successfully from conception to reality is the ability of the inventor to see the big picture and to describe the idea as a whole, feasible concept.  Providing an abstract will help the patent office to better understand what your product does and will also aid in the patent search process.

Collaboration – meaning, “To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.”  Yes, we would say that the process of bringing an invention to life is most definitely an “intellectual effort!”  And sure, your idea is YOUR idea, and we’re not asking you to trust your creative genius with just anyone.  But, we are suggesting that you consider collaborating with others who are passionate about your idea, trustworthy and bring valuable and necessary skills to the development of your product.  Quirky’s online community is ripe with designers, writers and engineers who are just itching to help with the world’s next best thing, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help and input.

Entrepreneur – “person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks to do so.”  In a previous blog post, we talk about how fearlessness is a trait commonly found in successful inventors and for good reason.  You may not think of yourself as an entrepreneur at this very moment, but if you’re hoping to strike gold from an invention, you will want to incorporate best business practices utilized by successful entrepreneurs – like taking risks when necessary, or like an article on Forbes.com says, “Define, invest, build, repeat.”

Innovation – a new idea, device, method, or the use of said new idea, device or method.  All successful inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs know that innovation, creative thinking, using new perspectives and always learning – is absolutely critical to success in any industry.

Marketability – “A measure of how well your product or service is perceived or purchased by the consumers.”  In other words, you may have the greatest idea since the light bulb, but if you can’t sell the importance of your idea, concept or actual invention to investors or your targeted demographic, your idea will be dead in the water.  The most successful inventors know that true success comes when people learn about a new product and think “I must have that in my life – I NEED it!”  Convince your audience that your invention will simplify, improve and lighten up their lives and you’re well on your way to a successful innovative endeavor.

Patent – a government-granted license authorizing a right or title for a set period, specifically the sole right to prevent and exclude others from making, using or selling an invention.  There are three different patent subtypes issued in the United States: a utility patent, a design patent and a plant patent – yes, like the green kind that grow in the Amazon.  Though not necessary immediately, filing a patent should be done after determining if an idea or invention is marketable,as the process can be somewhat expensive.  A patent only protects the concept and its owner; it does not guarantee that the invention will go on to be successful in the market or is even feasible to manufacture.

Patent Classification System – a national and international organizational system maintained in part by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office containing patent, technical and other documents that are given a classification based on subject matter, industry, etc.  When performing a patent search, this classification system simplifies and streamlines the process in order to more easily locate patents or patent applications that have already been submitted or are being processed.

Patent search – done individually or professionally, a search of the Patent Classification System within the Patent Office to determine if other patents have already been filed for the same or a very similar invention.  This action is a crucial and potentially time-saving  jump-off point for any invention as it may identify for you ideas that have already been patented, or may provide insight into how to change or alter your idea to stand out from the existing competition.

The “Pitch” – the act of selling the concept of an idea or product to any possible investor, by explaining  and demonstrating through videos, testimonies and more the value of the idea or product to consumers and the market.  Creating a concise, memorable pitch for your invention is a strategic process that should be given significant consideration, as your delivery can make or break chances of taking your creation to the next level financially,

Prototype – a model of a future invention constructed pre-production used for a full service testing of the item or invention as it would actually be used in the real world.  There it is – the first real-life draft of your invention!  And though it’s amazing to finally behold your imagination’s creation come to life, the prototype isn’t meant to be the final product, but more of a test subject.  By putting your prototype’s functionality to the test under real-world conditions and scenarios, you may think up ways to improve the design, user experience, price or any other element of your invention.

(PPA) Provisional Patent Applicationa more informal version of the official patent application, filing this document provides the applicant with a 12-month grace period before he or she would need to apply for an actual patent.  Functioning as a sort of temporary place-holder, a PPA protects an idea or invention for a limited amount of time at a lower cost than an official patent application, and is a safe first step when venturing into the world of inventing and patenting.

Of course, there’s still much to know about the invention industry, and that will take a bit more research, study and practice on your part.  But with resources like Quirky available literally at your fingertips, you’ll get a leg up on the competition and can expand your knowledge as an inventor at your own pace.  Ready, set, learn!

Get a little Quirky and invent something great!

You were one of the lucky ones…. Woken from a deep sleep with the best idea you’ve ever had, you manage to scribble down your brilliant invention concept onto the blank notepad lying in wait on your bedside table.  This act alone is a notable achievement, since so many ideas – good, bad and ugly – float into our brains and back into space almost seconds after popping into our consciousness and are gone forever.  But not your genius concept – you’ve held onto a little nugget of pure gold, so congratulations!  By simply jotting down your musings and putting pen to paper, you’ve taken the first crucial step in the journey of transforming your invention from a vague, abstract idea into a possibly tangible reality.

Right before you drift back off to slumber, you’re struck with a swift bolt of reality – you have not the faintest idea as toyour next step in the invention patenting process.  Your mind races with questions  – “Do I need to get a patent right away?  Must I have a sketch of my prototype ready to go?  What does ‘prototype’ even mean?  I can’t draw a straight line, so how will I sketch my imaginary product?”  At this point you might be doubting the overall feasibility of your seemingly brilliant invention.  All of a sudden, it seems a goal too lofty to reach.

Thanks to Quirky, you do not have to worry about how to get your invention off the ground, because their unique and collaborative platform will lead you through the entire process along with an incredibly knowledgeable and talented community of inventors.  If you’ve got a great idea, Quirky will be your secret weapon in the quest to bring your innovative idea to life, having already helped to produce over 150 products.  Here’s what to do next….

Research

It’s been said that great minds think alike – usually a compliment to the thinkers’ intelligence.  However, this truth can sometimes be rather disappointing in the whacky world of invention when one realizes a truly wonderful idea, only to discover through internet research that another bright mind patented the same exact idea two years earlier!  That roadblock does not mean you must hang up your inventor’s hat forever – It simply means that you keep trying.  And when you do stumble across another ingenius idea – and you WILL – first do a quick Google search to learn whether a fellow inventor has already brought your creation to life.  If the answer is yes, no worries – just keep on grinding away at that idea mill.  If the answer is no, well – you could just be the next Thomas Edison – and Quirky is ready to work for you!

Document the details

Once you’ve confirmed that there’s no invention in existence exactly like your idea, you’ll want a couple of hours to sit down with a big cup o’ Joe, plenty of paper and whatever else inspires you and hash out some details about your invention:  what exactly IS it?  What is its purpose and what consumer industry or category would it fall under?  Ponder the size, color, construction, material and price of your invention, and any other aspects that would need to be considered if a prototype were created.  Jot down some instructions on how to use your invention – if it’s that type of creation.  The more details you nail down, the easier it will become to judge the possible potential in your product.

Access Quirky’s community for sketches, 3D models and more

If the idea of even loosely sketching the elusive image of your invention in your mind’s eye strikes fear into your heart because of lack of skill, you’ve come to the right platform!  With an online community of over 1 million members, the folks at Quirky are passionate about creativity to say the least and are ready to offer their unique skills to give your idea wings.  Whether you are looking for a great writer to craft some compelling descriptions about your product, a digital artist’s expertise, or simply need some honest and unbiased feedback, there’s likely a member on Quirky that can meet your needs – a unique creative tool you won’t find anywhere else.

Utilizing this peer-to-peer community of Quirky benefits both the inventor and those providing input on a possible invention – whether going public with your invention or only working privately with a few team members.  Inventors can receive invaluable services from not only artists and 3D model producers, but can even gather feedback from knowledgeable people in their invention’s industry to provide a applicable content for each idea.  AND those who contribute to the idea in some way can earn a portion of the influence, or a cut of the product revenue.

Submit a completed project to Quirky

Think you have a great idea on your hands, but don’t quite have the confidence – or maybe the deep pockets – to apply for an expensive patent?  No problem, simply submit a completed project idea with details, sketches, a 3D model, even a 1-minute video pitch to Quirky and let us vote on it!  It’s a common misconception in the invention industry that you MUST apply for a patent immediately after coming up with a bright idea – but that’s not always the best move.  Why not let people knowledgeable and passionate about inventing vote for the product most likely to succeed?

Keep imagining!

If you need help with your idea, work with the talented Quirky community to fine-tune the details, explore new possibilities, or even throw your invention out the window and begin fresh with a new concept.  Everything in our world in 2018, whether a thought, book, object or experience was “invented” by someone at some point in history.  Since you’re working with infinite invention possibilities, your chances of stumbling upon something great aren’t too shabby.  So, go get a little Quirky and start building your first invention today!

The best inventions we found at CES 2018

This year, CES, the country’s biggest consumer electronics show in the world, featured nearly 3,900 exhibitors covering more than 2.75 million square feet, making it the biggest floor in the show’s history. Team Quirky represented products invented by real people like you at the show across two booths. Among the Quirky inventions which were featured:

– Air
– Spacebar
– Chirp
– Helix
– Trek
Cruze
– Ventu
– Silo
Pawcet
Squeak

Watch the video of Quirky President Gina Waldhorn touring one of our booths.

That’s not all, at CES, we walked the floor at Eureka Park on a mission to find the coolest new inventions. Below are a few of the products we discovered.

  • Jooki: Celebrate the joy of music with your kids without the screen. Hear Theo’s story here
  • Shapescale: This smart scale will change how you view your fitness progress. Hear Charlie’s story here
  • Siren: Meet the sock that can change it all for diabetes patients. Hear Maryam’s story here
  • Oblend: The first essential oil dispensary is here. Hear Jim’s and Matt’s story here
  • WiSurf: Customize your wireless charging station with Wi Surf. Hear Lucas’s story here
  • Hypnos: Find a new way to start thinking and feeling better with Hypnos. Hear Kevin’s story here
  • My Special Aflac Duck™: This cute robot helps kids cope with cancer. Hear Hannah’s story here

There were many more incredible inventions, head on over to our Instagram to see a few more of our highlighted inventions from CES!

Asking for Faster Horses: Why Big Brands Are Struggling

This week the WSJ published an article detailing Unilever’s struggle to maintain market share as independent and local startups continue to usurp the once all-powerful market leaders. The Journal details how they’ve tried everything from corporate restructuring, to hiring “game changers”, and full on copycat tactics, all to little avail.

Outside of what the article mentions, Unilever has also been one of the most publicly aggressive companies to partner with early-stage startups as part of their Foundry initiative.

All of these efforts are to be applauded and given A’s for effort (I’m not a shareholder, so I can be generous), but something is clearly missing for Unilever, and for many other Fortune 500 companies whose CEO’s are waking up in a cold sweat wondering when their Dollar Shave Club is going to launch. I have one hypothesis for what’s wrong:

Their efforts are reactive.

What’s stopping Unilever and other global brands from creating the next Halo Top given all of the resources in their arsenal (money, research, technology, patents) is their need to have a meticulously defined goal. To know where they want to end up. Big brands innovate in response to solve a brief, to hit a financial goal, to address a new target market everyone is making money on but them. Their responsibility to shareholders forces them to be managerial thinkers instead of entrepreneurial thinkers, which would see them create opportunity from the means at their disposal versus always working to hit a goal already established.

That’s where open innovation can provide the advantage. Let an open innovation program do the entrepreneurial thinking for you. How?

First, stop structuring your innovation programs solely around briefs. It’s the Henry Ford “they would have said faster horses” conundrum. To employ an entrepreneurial mindset, give your crowd the means, and let them create the opportunity. Share research, patents, and past experience with them. Inspire them and invite them into your world with dedicated challenges, but don’t sell yourself short by ONLY ever asking them to solve a specific challenge. Let the ideas flow like the salmon of Capistrano.

Second, listen to what they’re already telling you. How are you capturing the voice of your customer (VoC), voice of your employee (VoE), or a combination (the voice of your customer through your employees- VoCE). They’re out there asking for products that don’t exist yet all the time – through their complaints, through their suggestions, when they search on Amazon or Google, when they post on Kickstarter or submit on Quirky. A thoughtful data science practice can collect, organize, and analyze this data to uncover invaluable product, feature ideas, or whitespace that can be a game changer if you only open yourself up to the possibility.

The beauty of open innovation is that you’re not the ones doing the innovating! You no longer need to “come up with an innovation that solves X” or “respond to the VR trend with innovation Y.” Accept that you have no idea where you might end up and you won’t find yourself stuck selling just a faster horse.

Read our article on Linkedin: 

Read more from Gina: https://goo.gl/e1263P

Quirky’s Invention Process Explained

If you have an idea for a product or enjoy product design and helping others with their invention projects, Quirky is for you! Inventing on the Quirky platform is simple and it’s easy to track your invention from beginning to end. With Quirky’s invention platform, there are (5) five stages, or steps your invention goes through on its way to becoming a store-ready product: (1) Concept, (2) Review, (3) Development, (4) Production and (5) Launched.

Once you have setup your free Quirky.com account, you kick off the (1) Concept phase by starting a submission and give us an overview of your brilliant idea! 

You may choose to keep your submission private or make it public. Private keeps your invention between you and the Quirky team but prevents you from tapping into the community for help. Public shares your invention with the Quirky community, where other members can offer help with features and product design. Most members choose public as they come to Quirky with an idea and need help to push the invention over the finish line. With public inventions, community members are incentivized to contribute in projects in which you’ve shared “influence” (in other words, they have the opportunity to earn royalties for their contribution). When all areas of your invention are complete, you may submit it to the (2) Review phase.

While you’re invention is in the (2) Review phase, we begin our evaluation and capture feedback from the Quirky community on your invention to better understand its viability. In this phase, you are no longer able to edit your idea and the focus shifts to collecting market research on crowdsourcing competitive products understand the landscape.

Next up is (3) Development. If your invention made it to this phase, congratulations! We think your idea really has potential and we dedicate resources to further develop your concept. This is where we create industrial design sketches & renders, test materials, build prototypes and analyze price points to understand if your product has a place in the market. We’ll be sharing updates along the way as your invention is being refined. 

If after all of this, we believe we’ve found a winner, your invention will move into the (4) Production phase. This is where your product is being built at the factory and is on its way to hitting shelves soon!

Last but definitely not least is (5) Launched. It’s time to earn that cash! This is where we showcase your invention’s full journey and link to our Quirky Shop for shoppers everywhere to buy your invention.  And don’t forget – every time it’s sold, you earn! We share our product royalty 50/50 with the community. When you succeed, we do too!

 

 

QUIRKY, HSN, and Randi Zuckerberg to Host Invention Search in NYC

Calling all inventors and entrepreneurs in the greater New York City area. We want to hear your brilliant ideas!

Quirky and leading entertainment and lifestyle retailer, HSN, are hosting an open call to inventors and entrepreneurs to pitch their product ideas “Shark Tank” style at Randi Zuckerberg’s Sue’s Tech Kitchen in New York City on December 9th 2017.

The chance to pitch HSN and Quirky executives will be first come first serve. Check out https://quirky.com/brilliant-product-idea/ for more information on how to participate.

The product search is a component of HSN’s American Dreams initiative – a program designed to tap into the joy and excitement of discovering new entrepreneurs, and then collaborate with strategic partners to find, educate and train inventors as they bring their products to market.

Sue’s Tech Kitchen is a tech-fueled wonderland for the mouth and the mind. Envisioned by bestselling author and serial entrepreneur Randi Zuckerberg, designed by a NASA scientist, and featuring technologies from all corners of the modern imagination, Sue’s Tech Kitchen offers a STEM-inspired adventure for the whole family that empowers kids to engage with tomorrow’s technologies and revolutionizes family dining in the process.

What NOT Making the “Most Inventive” List Should Be Telling You

 

Every year, some of the top magazines release their top inventions lists, touting some of the coolest and most innovative inventions to be released. The most recent list to be published was Time. The list was rather comprehensive, with inventions coming from all sorts of verticals including Sports & Fitness, CPG, Apparel, Beauty, Auto, Electronics, and even Space Travel. National Geographic, Popular Science, CBS News and Money Inc. Magazines have similar lists.

Have you been featured on one of these lists? If your company was lucky enough to be featured – congratulations! If not, we should probably sit down and have “the talk.”

You’ve probably heard this statistic, or one similar:  Only 12% of Fortune 500 firms from 1955 remained by 2016. Almost 9 of every 10 Fortune 500 brands from that era are gone, merged, or declined to the point they were no longer considered part of the elite. Looking ahead six decades, it’s safe to assume that few of today’s Fortune 500 will remain as currently constructed.

This constant turnover attests to the importance of true product innovation (versus commercial, service, or business model innovation). You don’t have to be a member of the Fortune 500, 1000, or even 10,000 (is that a real list? If not, someone should make it) to take this lesson to heart: Invent or die. Okay, you probably won’t die… but the consequences for your business won’t be pretty.

Is your newest competitor on this list? Did Amazon and Google have Jibo on their radar? Was L’Oréal prepared for the splash made by Fenty Beauty? In today’s dynamic market, your next competitor is an invention away. And thanks to the many platforms democratizing creation, “away” isn’t years or millions in R&D, it’s someone like you or me with a great idea and a smartphone.

Assuming there were no mistakes, let’s consider why you didn’t make this year’s list. You’re smart and creative. Your company highly prioritizes and funds innovation. What’s missing? Some of the more common hurdles to successfully bringing inventions to market include:

  • Solving the right problems: What sorts of products do people wish existed? Most companies don’t have a visionary like Steve Jobs or Henry Ford at the helm, capable of inventing products people didn’t even know they needed. Are you positioned to find the white space?
  • Filling the funnel: Successful innovation relies on understanding basic math. The more quality concepts you begin with, the higher your success rate will be as you move through the evaluation and development process.
  • Product Validation: You’ve got a robust pipeline of concepts, but how do you prioritize and validate which ones to move forward with? Are you suffering from too-many-good-idea-paralysis?

Brands should be inspired by the products and companies on this list and motivated by the fact it’s not them. What else is standing in the way?