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The Key To Your Brilliant Idea

Written by Gina Waldhorn

We’re all the world’s poorest billionaires, just letting our game-changing ideas rot away in our Notes app because for a multitude of reasons we can’t get past “I’ve got this great idea…”

We’ve got jobs. We’ve got kids. I’ve got a dog who lets himself out of my apartment.

The idea is the easy part (isn’t there a saying about ideas being like a**holes, everyone’s got one?), the execution is the true test. So having worked with hundreds of startup founders and successful inventors I’m going to give you a tip that can truly set you on your path towards buying that Palm Beach vacation home with the waterfall pool you’ve always wanted:

Find yourself a partner.

What’s that? You don’t want to give up 50% of your bajillion dollar idea? Well guess what, 50% of nothing is nothing, and that’s what you’re earning now, so get over yourself and get networking. Here’s why finding a partner is going to change the game for you:

  1. Humans because of necessity evolved into social beings. You’ll enjoy the journey when you’re not doing it along.
  2. You need to be held accountable. We can easily let ourselves down, but when we miss a deadline that sets someone else back we feel pretty terrible, which is strong motivation to progress.
  3. You need an unbiased opinion of your idea. Your mom won’t tell you clothes for hermit crabs isn’t a good idea, your future partner will.
  4. I’m 99.9% sure you don’t know it all. Whether you’re launching a SaaS solution, hardware product, or new smoothie mixture you’re going to need to employ a diverse set of skills across business and financial planning, development, manufacturing, sales, marketing…the list goes on. The right partner will complement your existing skill set by filling your gaps.

And here’s the amazing thing: right now there is someone out there who wants to partner with you! How can you find them? Try these tactics:

  1. Attend local meetups for founders, makers, and inventors. Try to join groups loosely in your area, e.g. the local hardware meetup or local SaaS meetup.
  2. Check out sites and events dedicated to helping you find a co-founder like CoFounders Lab or BuildItWith.Me. You’ll also find some great conversations happening on the CoFounder subreddit.
  3. Tell all your friends and family about your idea. You don’t need to worry about someone stealing your idea (unless your friends with Marc Zuckerberg), that’s another BS excuse we make for ourselves for not pitching. Chances are your future business partner is a friend of a friend thinking of doing something similar right now and you’re only one or two degrees away.

Once you’ve made that magical connection you can decide what type of partnership makes sense. I recommend always dating before you jump into a formal partnership. Spend time simply working next to each other and meeting a few milestones. Maybe you’ll end up the next Sergey and Larry, or maybe they simply provide enough of a reason to show up. Either way you’ve got 5 months left in 2018 to find that special someone and get that idea out of your Notes app and release it into the world. Palm Beach is calling…

Written originally for Linkedin.

The Key To Your Brilliant Idea: Find That Special Someone

We’re all the world’s poorest billionaires, just letting our game-changing ideas rot away in our Notes app because for a multitude of reasons we can’t get past “I’ve got this great idea…”

We’ve got jobs. We’ve got kids. I’ve got a dog who lets himself out of my apartment.

The idea is the easy part (isn’t there a saying about ideas being like a**holes, everyone’s got one?), the execution is the true test. So having worked with hundreds of startup founders and successful inventors I’m going to give you a tip that can truly set you on your path towards buying that Palm Beach vacation home with the waterfall pool you’ve always wanted:

Find yourself a partner.

What’s that? You don’t want to give up 50% of your bajillion dollar idea? Well guess what, 50% of nothing is nothing, and that’s what you’re earning now, so get over yourself and get networking. Here’s why finding a partner is going to change the game for you:

  1. Humans because of necessity evolved into social beings. You’ll enjoy the journey when you’re not doing it along.
  2. You need to be held accountable. We can easily let ourselves down, but when we miss a deadline that sets someone else back we feel pretty terrible, which is strong motivation to progress.
  3. You need an unbiased opinion of your idea. Your mom won’t tell you clothes for hermit crabs isn’t a good idea, your future partner will.
  4. I’m 99.9% sure you don’t know it all. Whether you’re launching a SaaS solution, hardware product, or new smoothie mixture you’re going to need to employ a diverse set of skills across business and financial planning, development, manufacturing, sales, marketing…the list goes on. The right partner will complement your existing skill set by filling your gaps.

And here’s the amazing thing: right now there is someone out there who wants to partner with you! How can you find them? Try these tactics:

  1. Attend local meetups for founders, makers, and inventors. Try to join groups loosely in your area, e.g. the local hardware meetup or local SaaS meetup.
  2. Check out sites and events dedicated to helping you find a co-founder like CoFounders Lab or BuildItWith.Me. You’ll also find some great conversations happening on the CoFounder subreddit.
  3. Tell all your friends and family about your idea. You don’t need to worry about someone stealing your idea (unless your friends with Marc Zuckerberg), that’s another BS excuse we make for ourselves for not pitching. Chances are your future business partner is a friend of a friend thinking of doing something similar right now and you’re only one or two degrees away.

Once you’ve made that magical connection you can decide what type of partnership makes sense. I recommend always dating before you jump into a formal partnership. Spend time simply working next to each other and meeting a few milestones. Maybe you’ll end up the next Sergey and Larry, or maybe they simply provide enough of a reason to show up. Either way you’ve got 5 months left in 2018 to find that special someone and get that idea out of your Notes app and release it into the world. Palm Beach is calling…

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!

What’s Stopping You From Pursuing Your Idea?

By Gina Waldhorn, President of Quirky

I Asked a Room Full of Women: What’s Stopping You From Pursuing Your Idea?

Quirky launched #InventHer, an initiative dedicated to creating a more inclusive invention ecosystem. We started small, hosting a breakfast to have a conversation about the issue (women file only 8% of all patents in the US) as well as our program goals.

But rather than tell people what the initiative was going to do to, we wanted to hear from those on the frontlines of invention, and understand openly and honestly: What’s stopping you from inventing?

So, to a room full of women from across industries including media, marketing, technology, education, hospitality, and even Australian Rules Football, a room full of women with ideas, we asked:

What’s stopping you from pursuing your idea? What’s getting in the way of you taking that concept from out of your iNotes app and actually doing something with it?

Slowly, one woman stood up and shared her answer.

Followed by another, and then another, until the room was an outpouring of confessions. Here is a sample of what we heard:

“I don’t want to do it alone. I’d love a group of women, or a partner, to help me on this journey.”

“I just can’t get started. The first step seems impossible to take.”

“I need sincere feedback. No ass-kissing, is this a good idea or what?”

“It’s intimidating to think of all the skills I need across the spectrum of inventing.”

“Time. Work, kids, dogs, life. How can I find the time to invent?”

“Money. We know the stats, females don’t get funded.”

Do these answers feel familiar? They did to me, which I find both comforting and frustrating; comforting to know I’m not alone feeling like I’m the world’s worst confidence-lacking procrastinator who can’t seem to juggle it all, and frustrating to know that so many women like me are struggling with the same challenges that – let’s be honest – are not that hard to solve! We have a Mars rover people, come on!!

In fact, we solved one that very morning: not going at it alone. When that brave soul stood up and shared that she felt more comfortable creating surrounded by other women there was a collective nod throughout the room. And why wouldn’t there be? Inventing, founding, starting something is REALLY HARD. It’s even harder when it feels like “there’s no one else like me” going at it.

So for the next several months, we’ll be creating a program that solves some of these problems. Not all of them (not yet at least), but a handful that will help us push the needle just that much further to get more people who don’t see themselves as inventors to change that perspective.

  • We’re going to organize resources for funding and patenting.
  • We’re going to schedule group work sessions and skill-building workshops.
  • We’re going to tell you if your idea for hermit crab clothes might be absolute garbage.
  • We’ll even bring you a dog walker or babysitter if it means you’ll give that brilliant idea of yours the shot it deserves.

What stops you from inventing? What’s standing in your way? Tell me how you’d like to see #InventHer help create an invention ecosystem that makes you feel more confident in pursuing your ideas, and message me if you’d like to get involved with #InventHer.

Originally posted on Linkedin.

Meet inventor Sam Cheng

Meet Sam. He’s a computer science major at Rice University and inventor of the Portable Surround Sound, which has been renamed, Air by Quirky. Air is a portable speaker that detaches into 3-5 smaller speaker segments and can be used to create a premium, wireless surround sound experience in or outside the home. “I wanted to bring sound everywhere – to the living room, the shower and the beach,” said Sam.

Sam has been ideating his whole life. He submitted his idea for Portable Surround Sound on Quirky before he turned 18. “Since childhood I’ve wanted to create and make things that are my own.  The thought of people seeing and using a product of mine inspired me to start sketching my ideas,” said Sam.

When asked about his motivation to invent, Sam told us Iron Man [Tony Stark] and Elon Musk were inspirations for him to become an inventor, be his own self and not follow conventional paths.

The Quirky team was attracted to this invention because of it’s unique detachable speaker design, versatility and durability. Air was recently selected to move into Development, which means Quirky’s product team is working to finalize product design, materials sourcing and prototyping before setting up a production schedule with major big box retailers.

In addition to inventing, Sam has used the community platform to collaborate and help fellow inventors. “I’ve been on Quirky for a while and have contributed to a ton of challenges. Doing sketches were always my favorite – I had just learned Illustrator and Quirky projects gave me opportunities to practice. I’ve really improved my skills through making sketches for people on Quirky,” exclaimed Cheng.

Learn more about Sam’s invention, Air by Quirky, here.

Women Won’t Hold As Many Patents as Men Until The Year 2092

That’s according to The Atlantic, which means “when we reach patent gender parity I’ll most likely be dead, or at least wearing a new “sleeve” Altered Carbon style, says Gina Waldhorn, President of Quirky.

Less than 8% of all patents filed name a woman as the lead inventor.

81% of patents filed DON’T NAME A SINGLE WOMAN AT ALL.

If 30% of women hold STEM undergraduate degrees, and 24% hold STEM jobs (according to the US Dept of Commerce), and if we just consider how many original ideas are outside of STEM fields, why the hell are only 8% of patents coming from women??

My guesses are:

  1. Patents are expensive, and funding for female-led companies actually GOT WORSE in 2017. If the majority of funding is behind men, the majority of patents will be behind men.
  2. There aren’t enough women in STEM jobs at corporations which are filing patents on the regular. Even though studies have shown teams with females on or leading them boosts the bottom line, too many companies use the pathetic excuse that “we don’t see enough female candidates applying” to avoid taking real proactive steps in hiring women.
  3. Patents are confusing and time consuming, as is creating an original product or process to begin with, and without flexible work structures it can seem impossible for many women who are also managing motherhood to pursue them. Love what companies like Werk are doing in this space.

“Don’t worry, I’m not here to whine. I’m here to do something about it.

It’s been exactly 1 year since I assumed the role of President at global invention community Quirky and I am lucky enough to be in a position to steward real change,” says Waldhorn.

In a few weeks we’ll be announcing a major initiative to move the needle in 2018 on patents filed by female inventors. This will be more than a “movement,” we’re going to take action to get more patents filed with female inventors named on them.

What will it take? Awareness, education, and support to help play the long game. 3,000 patents filed with women named on them plays the short game and moves the needle one percent in 2018. Message us if:

If you are involved with Corporate Social Responsibility at any of the top 20 patent filing companies (see here).

If you work with any organization promoting females in STEM education or employment.

If you’re in IP law and need to fill your pro-bono hours with something worthwhile.

If you work for a major brand that supports Open Innovation.

If you believe this is as important and worthwhile as we do.

Lookout for news when Quirky officially launches our initiative in the coming weeks. “I refuse to be dead, cryogenically frozen, or suspended as AI before we reach gender parity in inventing,” says Waldhorn.

#InventHer

See the original article here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rate-were-going-women-wont-hold-many-patents-men-until-gina-waldhorn/

Quirky Makes an Appearance at the New York Toy Fair

Each year nearly 1,000 global media representatives flock to Toy Fair to report on the hottest trends in toys and games. From exhibitors to manufacturers, attendee companies presenting at the Toy Fair account for approximately 90% of the annual U.S. domestic toy market totaling $26B.

This year Quirky joined thousands of other registered play professionals at the Jacob K. Javitz Center in New York City, to showcase some of the marvelous inventions submitted by our very own Quirksters!

Quirky showcased one recently launched product, the Tune Zoo and previewed 5 brand new inventions currently in the development pipeline. These are the lucky inventions that made an appearance at one of the biggest Toy shows of the year:

Free Wheel by Rene Diaz of Dallas, TX
Tune Zoo by Debbie Schwartz of Plantation, FL
Boo Boo Bear by Faith Bouchard of Phoenix,AZ
Q the Kangaroo by Christopher Zailo of Gulf Breeze, FL
Soundtrack by Ricardo Seola of Milan, Italy
VA Spy Tank by Megan Yocum of Kentucky

Congrats inventors!

Meet Quirky Inventor: Paulette Blankenship

Meet our featured Inventress, Paulette Blankenship!

Paulette has had aspirations of becoming an inventor since childhood. With so many innovative ideas in mind, she began searching for a way to make it happen. And then it did! Paulette came across Quirky several years ago during a televised broadcast and shortly after decided to give Quirky a shot!

“Since joining, I have made friends on the other side of the world and what I love most is that these people are just like me and we share the same passions for inventing and collaborating on ideas. My professional experiences have included anything from Magistrate to Real Estate, but for me, nothing has been more rewarding than inventing with friends…. it’s what I love.” – Paulette Blankenship

Since joining, Paulette has submitted 260+ ideas, collaborated on 690+ inventions to help other Quirksters and is an avid community forum leader. One of her most recent ideas was the SOS Flashlight: a flashlight that sends out 3D distress signals via laser projection. The SOS Flashlight was one of the winners of the ACE Hardware Invention Challenge, which was an initiative by Quirky + ACE Hardware aimed to develop inventions to help victims of hard-hit hurricane areas. Her invention recently passed Quirky’s Development tests and is moving to Production! It will be on ACE Hardware store shelves in 2018! Learn more about her SOS Flashlight idea here.

Community is at the heart of who we are at Quirky. We couldn’t help but to ask a few of our Quirksters about Paulette. Here’s what they said:

“Paulette’s creative engine never shuts down. I love working with Paulette; she inspires me and helps me to become a better inventor!” – Debbie Schwartz, Inventor of the Tune Zoo

“Paulette is a creative dynamo and the most passionate member I know. She’s the total package – skill, intellect, creativity, and dedication to task. Her excellent contributions on my invention are a testament to her skills, passion, and dedication to making invention accessible through – collaboration.” – Constantine, Inventor of Pivot Power Cubed.

“Working with Paulette is always fun and inspirational, She is an extremely creative person and comes up with more features and uses than any other member I have worked with” – Bill Jephson, Community Quirkster

Inspired? (we are). Join our community and spark up a conversation with Paulette here.

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!

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 We Should be Thankful for this Thanksgiving

We often talk about the inventions that have changed our lives for the better – and hey, they are pretty incredible, but what if instead of celebrating things, we celebrated the brilliant minds behind those inventions we love so much.

Take the microwave for example, invented in 1945 by a man named Percy Spencer. Spencer, who never finished grammar school, became a self-taught engineer and accidentally invented this magic heating machine when the technology he was testing cooked a candy bar in his pocket.

How about those disposable diapers, which have protected us from an undetermined number of blowouts. We have Marion Donovan to thank for this amazing idea. Most didn’t think her invention had any merit when she first pitched it in the early 1950’s, but Donovan didn’t give up on her cause. In 1961, she found someone who believed in her vision…and I think we all have heard of Pampers.

Great ideas come in all shapes and sizes. In 2012, fifth-grader Clara Lazen created a model for an undiscovered molecule, tetranitratoxycarbon. Her teacher recognized her brilliance and shared a picture of the model with a chemist. Now her idea is published in several scientific journals.

Everyone has an idea worth sharing and the potential to become the face behind the next big invention. As we gather around the table to give thanks, take a moment to appreciate the everyday creators and inventors both past and present.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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?