Friday, August 29, 2008

The secret of becoming an Everyday Edison?

I am selected as an Everyday Edison at their season 3 casting call. And I am working with them for my inventions at their innovation station and I had my successes and failures. Although I may not the best person to provide tips on how to become a winner for their show or product search; I do have my own observations and conclusions. I can post it on Edison Nation or inventorspot yet I choose not to. I like to keep a lose secret so I don't create strong competitor out there. So if you see this, just keep it to yourself and use it for yourself.

First, let’s look their official selection requirements:
1) The product/idea must have mass market appeal.
2) The product/idea must have novelty in order to get IP protection.
3) The product/idea must be able to be developed within a year in their workshop.

I can’t stress enough on how important requirement 1 and 2 are; yet I am more interesting at how requirement 3 will work out.

They said a year; in fact it’s more like 3 months at engineer department, and 3 months at marketing to manufacturing. They spent 6 months on selection process itself and left very limited time to develop each product. One observation from Stephen Key, a famous inventor is quoted and also at link

I noted that the products shared several important qualities. Each had a retail price that fell between $20 and $50. Additionally, only a single product was electronic. The remainder were extremely low-tech. EE’s development team (which is also featured on their website) simply doesn’t possess engineering skill needed to design and produce high-tech products. So, it appears clear that a product that is too expensive, too inexpensive, or too technological will not be selected.

Yes, I also noticed electronic is not their strong suit, they are good about wood or plastic, maybe some basic electrical; but not electronic. If there are some existing parts they can buy then maybe they can make it.
But why the $20-$50 comment? I think the reason is that they may become the vender of that product to their retailer customer. If a product only sells for $5 dollars in a mass production, do you think they want to go in and handle that kind of scale to make it economic sound? They are shooting for high profit margin and good profit in small to media quantity production. It would be best without any major investment.

And there is another piece of comment also from Steven:

The main focus of the TV show appears to be demonstrating the complex process that is required to bring a product to market, and especially how difficult it can be. EE wants to go look good – if you bring them a product that is already fairly finished or polished, part of the glory they seek is diminished. They want ideas they can actually mold and work on.

I think it’s also true for the TV show, but I am not so sure about live product search , but we will see.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What my family think

My parents have always believed in me; my in laws believed me until my inventions actually brought finical loses to my family, then they think inventing may not be the best path for me and their daughter. However they manage not to say anything strong to against it.
I had shown several ideas which I thought were good among our family members, some of them would say “The idea is great, but don’t spend any of your own money on it. Find someone to support you.” Well, I know that if you don’t support your own idea then no one will support it, yet I still appreciate the fact that didn’t say anything major negative about it. When they do say something negative I pay a lot of my attention to what they say. Then I either improve my idea or simply put them to back burner (a very slow back burner). I’ve learn only invest on my best horses.
Selected by Everyday Edison really mean a lot to me, I start to win back some lost support from within our family. My wife has started to introduce me as an inventor to her friends. It was like a family secret before. I am really happy and I praise the Lord.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

To give up ideas

Now it's a good time to talk about what to give up. One can come up a good idea, very twisty and does something magically to satisfy his needs.
That’s great. If no one shares his opinion, he can always keep it to himself and use it for himself only. But is that really your goal? If your goal is to license your idea or to commercialize your product, which means to sell many, you really need to think about whether others will share your opinion. Do they have same need? Probably they do. How many of them? How much are they willing to pay to satisfy that need? (Here we are not merely talking about money; Some time inconvenient to keep/to carry some extra dead weight also counts) Can a manufacture fulfills such a need under cost… The last point really some experience to make the judgment call.
But most inventors seem have problem to accurate estimate the most fundamental question of people’s need and willingness to pay. They seem often over estimate the need and willingness of consumers in favorite of their ideas. Can you blame them, we often made same mistake as they do. That’s why we need help from others to do that estimation for us.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back to work

I get at least one new job offer already (praise the Lord) and I am going back to work, but I am not giving up inventing.
I call what I would like to be doing: “sustainable inventing.”
I just like to invent new things which I do best and have little time or resource to slow down and develop ideas into real products, which involve manufacture, marketing …. I leave them to someone else.
I know by doing it this way, it would be hard to find people with same enthusiastic to be behind some of my ideas. But thanks to internet, this world has become flatter and this has just become a little bit easier. And if I can’t find people with same enthusiastic with me, that may be a good thing, means maybe I should recheck my idea. Nevertheless, don’t let one idea stop the others from coming.
I don’t mind that I have to keep a day job so I can keep inventing, at least it force me to get out of house and get more stimulations along the way.