THE ONLINE INVENTOR -- February 2000

(C) 2000 Market Launchers, Inc.


Publisher: Paul Niemann



Special congratulations goes out to Curtis Batts for being a guest on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno recently. Curtis' invented the "Tilt - A - Roll" device, which makes it easy to switch the toilet paper from OVER the spindle to UNDER the spindle -- and put an end to the argument that so many couples argue over. When The Tonight Show did a segment on inventions, Curtis got called. Curtis has worked hard to get the media to cover his story, and his appearance on The Tonight Show was just one of the many times in which he has received media coverage for his invention. Congratulations, Curtis.

You can see the "Tilt - A - Roll" at http://www.marketlaunchers.com/batts.html

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann

"Patent pending … wealth never ending." -- Jeffrey Manos


In this issue:

Article # 1:    "Lessons Learned from Working as a Product Scout -- The View from the Other Side of the Inventing / Marketing Process," by Paul Niemann; President of Market Launchers

Article #2:    "The Inventrepreneur's Kit" -- an excellent source of information for inventors and entrepreneurs, compiled by Kevin Sheehan.

Article #3:    "Three Tips on Licensing your Invention," by Paul Niemann

Bonus Article: "The Ten Commandments of Managing Stress," by Stacy Brice


Article # 1:    "Lessons Learned from Working as a Product Scout -- The View from the Other Side of the Inventing/Marketing Process," by Paul Niemann

At the beginning of January, I started serving as the Product Acquisitions Manager (which is a fancy name for a Product Scout) for a client, Grove Products: http://www.groveproducts.com. This means that I search the world for new products on Grove's behalf, so I got to see what it was like being on the other side of the table. As I focused my search on products that were found on the Internet, I'll share with you my observations so you can have a bird's-eye view of what a company looks for when licensing in new products from outside inventors, from someone who has been on the other side of the table.

I'll share with you what the inventors are doing that works in terms of having their inventions found and recommended, as well as what did not work for some of them. Hopefully, you'll then have a better idea of what it takes to get your invention noticed by additional Product Scouts and potential licensees.

The following observations are based on the assumption that each product fits the criteria that we're looking for:

1.    Make your invention as appealing as possible to the company that's looking for new products. This may sound rather obvious, but it's often overlooked. Include the following information: Product benefits, any positive customer feedback on your product, any sales results that you've had, as any product that is already being sold successfully will reduce the amount of risk and uncertainty to the potential licensee. You should also include the manufacturing cost and expected retail sales price of your product, if you know what these figures are (you should know what these figures are).

2.    Include a picture or a drawing of your product - ANY picture or drawing is better than not having a picture at all. Thinks about it: You're competing with hundreds of other products and, if you were the Product Scout for the potential licensee, would you give more attention to the product that you CAN see, or to the one that you CANNOT see? The old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words" is very true in this case. I discarded most of the products that did not come with a picture, because it's nearly impossible to sell a product to my client when you can't see what it looks like, especially when he receives 250 - 300 product submissions per month.

3.    Advertise your products in as many locations as possible. This is important because it gives the impression that the product must be important since it keeps showing up everywhere. Product Scouts search the free web sites as well as the paid advertising sites.

Repetition of your message is definitely beneficial. This is one of the reasons that companies advertise on more than one TV station at a time -- so that potential customers will see the product everywhere they look. Subconsciously or consciously, seeing the same product over and over again actually builds credibility for it (after all, if it wasn't any good, they would stop advertising for it, wouldn't they?)

4.    Be easy to work with. You may be surprised to read this, but there are actually a few people who are tough to work with when approached by a company who's looking to bring their product onto the market for them. I'm not saying that you should automatically accept the first offer you receive, but it doesn't make any sense to be tough to work with. Think about it: When a company has 2 products that it's equally interested in licensing, and one inventor is easy to work with while the other is a pain in the you-know-what, then which inventor is the company going to want to work with? You guessed it -- the one who's easy to get along with. Fortunately, though, running into inventors who are hard to get along with is rare.

5.    Make sure that your contact info is up-to-date. On one product that I really liked, I sent an e-mail to the inventor, but it came back as undelivered because she changed her e-mail address.

6.    Follow-up:    When you learn that a company is considering your product, it is proper to follow up with them, to a certain extent. If you don't hear back from them within a week, then call them to ask about the status of your product and to offer any additional information about your product. It's important to call, just in case your product has been lost in the shuffle. Don't call repeatedly, though, because this usually doesn't help, and it only frustrates the person on the other end. Also, feel free to call again if you have NEW or ADDITIONAL information that may influence the person's decision, even if they've already turned you down. Give NEW INFORMATION to help them make a NEW DECISION. This can be something like, "I just received a call from XYZ company and they're interested in placing a huge order as soon as I line up a company that's interested in producing it for me," or "I just received a great testimonial from someone who's been using my product, and they loved it." Even if you've been turned down, the new information may change their opinion. What have you got to lose? Just don't wear out your welcome, because you may have additional products that you want to show to this company in the future.


Article # 2:    "The Inventrepreneur's Kit" -- an excellent source of information for inventors and entrepreneurs, compiled by Kevin Sheehan.

Editor's Note:        I received an e-mail recently from Kevin Sheehan, who calls himself, "The Crazy Inventor." I had never met Kevin before, but he asked if I would take a look at a product that he offers to inventors and, if I liked it, would I endorse the product on his web site? The product is a collection of valuable sources and brochures for inventors and entrepreneurs -- the kind of information that we're always searching for. It's all right here in one place, and it's jam-packed with information on where to find just about anything and everything that an inventor needs to know. Kevin is a former intellectual property consultant for a Small Business Development Center in California.

Like so many good new products, my first thought was, "Why didn't I think of this?" It's filled with a TON of good information for inventors and entrepreneurs. By the way, I'm not being compensated for my endorsement, and my purpose is not to plug the product -- the reason for writing an article about it is because I think you would benefit from this package of information. It will save you a tremendous amount of time in locating the right information, as it would take weeks to compile all this information yourself.

The following list explains, in a nutshell, what is contained in the Kit. The Inventrepreneur's Kit contains Inventor's Resources, Small Business Resources, Financing Resources, Import/Export Information, Recommended Reading and many helpful catalogs, flyers and more. The information benefits the beginning inventor as well as the experienced inventor.


The Inventrepreneur's Kit TM contains brochures on:

*    Entrepreneur Magazine's Business Start-Up Catalog
*    The Catalog of Catalogs
*    United Inventors Assn. of the USA
*    Small Business Assn. Publications and SBDC's
*    List of best-selling consumer & business publications from the FTC
*    Publications offered by the Licensing Executives Society
*    Patenting Software
*    List of article reprints from Inventors' Digest
*    List of "Guerilla Marketing" books
*    List of books on patenting
*    List of books on international trade
*    List of legal tools for everyone

As well as informational booklets on:

*    The World Intellectual Property Organization
*    List of helpful books and web sites for toy & game inventors
*    Information on "invention promotion firms," by the FTC
*    NASA's Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program
*    An article entitled: "How to Profit from Unpatentable Ideas"
*    Small Business Resource Catalog from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
*    Information on Trademarks
*    Information on Copyrights
*    Information from the U.S. PTO on Provisional Patent Applications and the Disclosure Document Program, and "Basic Facts about Patents"
*    Guide to filing a Utility Patent Application
*    Sample Confidentiality Agreement
*    Copyright Information from the U.S. PTO
*    A booklet entitled, "Small Business Success," which contains articles on OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration), e-commerce and information on working as a home-based business
*    And much more …

# # # #

More information on "The Inventrepreneur's Kit" is available at: http://www.crazyinventor.com


Article # 3:    "Three Tips on Licensing your Invention," by Paul Niemann

A customer called me one day recently to tell me that he is in talks with a manufacturer about licensing an invention that he has on our web site's Invention Database. He asked if I had any advice for him, as he wanted to make sure that he was on the right track. I gave him 3 tips and, while there wasn't exactly anything new or brilliant about my advice to him, it's worth repeating here, because any inventor can benefit from it.

1.    The first thing I told him was that the single best source of information that I've seen on licensing is Harvey Reese's book, "How to License Your Million Dollar Idea."

2.    The next suggestion I gave him was to have more than one potential licensee lined up. He said that he also contacted the largest company in his industry, and that he would wait until he received a reply from them before he makes his decision about the company that first contacted him. If you have more than one company interested in your product, then you have more than one option, and this translates into having much more leverage for you. With only one potential licensee, you have only one real choice - take whatever they offer you. It's your responsibility to find that second, or third, company to offer your invention to.

I remember hearing the story about a college football player who was being recruited by a pro team to play football for them. The pro team was not offering a contract that was acceptable to the athlete but, fortunately for him, he had already been accepted into Harvard's law school, which was a pretty good second option for him. One day his agent saw him getting ready to work out, and asked him if he was crazy for working out, because the pro scout might see him and figure that he had already decided to forego law school and sign with the football team at their less-than-acceptable offer. The athlete would not have any leverage if it became known that he had already chosen to play football instead of going to law school. The athlete then told his agent not to worry about losing any leverage, and he ripped off his jacket, showing off the Harvard Law School sweatshirt that he was wearing, just in case the scout happened to see him. Pretty smart of him, if you ask me.

3.    The third thing that I told the customer was to make sure that if you offer the company an exclusive license, which they would probably insist upon before signing a deal, to be sure to include a cause in the agreement that requires them to either sell a certain number of units, or to pay him a certain dollar amount in royalties, in order to remain the exclusive licensee. I once heard another inventor tell the story of how his licensee (who was not required to sell a minimum number of units in order to remain the exclusive licensee) sat on the invention for over a year. The company was more interested in making sure their competitors couldn't sell it than they were in selling it themselves. The poor inventor couldn't figure out why they didn't sell even one unit of his product!

By the way, royalties should be based on the number of units sold OR on the total sales figures, NOT on the PROFITABILITY of your invention. The reason for this is because a company can "cook the books," which means that they can allocate a disproportionately high percentage of overhead or administrative expenses to the sales of your invention. For example, they can allocate all the rent or insurance expense to one product (yours) if they want to, thus reducing the profitability of your invention, even though your invention is not responsible for all of the rent or insurance expense.

Live and learn, or learn from other people's experiences. I'll keep you posted on what happens with the inventor who called me. As for the last fellow (the one who didn't require a minimum), he still hasn't come up with a better offer.

To summarize, 3 things that I recommend when seeking a licensee for your inventions:

1.    Read Harvey Reese's book, "How to License Your Million Dollar Idea." If your library doesn't have a copy, then order one from Amazon.com.

2.    Have a solid second or third potential licensee lined up.

3.    Make sure you include a clause that requires your licensee to sell a minimum number of units or pay you a minimum amount in royalties, in order to become the exclusive licensee, and royalties should be based on the number of units sold or on the total sales figures, not on the profitability of your invention.


Bonus Article:    "The Ten Commandments of Managing Stress," by Stacy Brice

Building or sustaining a small business can be wonderfully rewarding. At the same time, it is often quite stressful. Here are some ideas for dealing with the stresses so that you have more room for the fun!

-=- Thou Shalt Manage Thyself -=-

Most people talk about managing time in order to have more of what life has to offer, but it's only in managing ourselves that we really see a difference in our lives and are able to handle any stress life throws at us.

Manage yourself and other things will fall into place.

-=- Thou Shalt Control Thy Environment By Controlling Who And What Is Surrounding You -=-

Life is like a teacup. There's only so much "stuff" that will fit into it. If you fill your cup with the wrong things and the wrong people, you won't have time for the right things and right people.

The wrong things and people bring stress. The right people and things bring joy and contentment.

Choose who and what gets your time and attention.

-=- Thou Shalt Love Thyself -=-

Acknowledge yourself for the good you do! Be gentle with yourself when things don't go as you might have wanted them to. There are just some things that you can't control -- no matter how much you want to.

Love yourself for who you are right now -- at this very moment.

-=- Thou Shalt Reward Thyself -=-

Leisure activities are otherwise known as recreational activities. When you do things that bring you joy, you are re-creating your spirit. Nurturing your spirit is a great way to help you reduce stress.

Take time to do things that reward you, every day.

-=- Thou Shalt Exercise Thy Body -=-

Health and vitality depend on your body's ability to use oxygen and food effectively. One of the ways to help that happen is through exercise.

Exercise also releases endorphins, which have been shown to improve one's mood, making it a great way to deal with stress!

Move your body every day!

-=- Thou Shalt Relax Thyself -=-

What do you do to really relax? Do you even take the time, or know how to?

Meditation, listening to soothing music, spending time with friends and people you love, conscious breathing ... these are all ways to really relax.

If your mind is pulled to the things that stress you, you aren't really relaxed!

Take time to be absolutely quiet every day.

-=- Thou Shalt Rest Thyself -=-

It's important to take breaks. Employers give you several during the day. Take them. If you work for yourself, it's critical to your success that you take time to rest -- away from your office/desk -- takes naps if you're feeling nappish!

It's also important to get sufficient sleep. Most people need at least seven hours each night. Good sleep habits include having a set bed time and a set waking time. Did you know that if you don't get the amount of sleep you need, you can be off (in your ability to think, respond and judge) by as much as 50% the next day? Following a pattern and establishing a rhythm for yourself and your body help you be more relaxed and less stressed during the day.

Go to bed! Don't apologize for wanting to "turn in" early!

-=- Thou Shalt be Aware of Thyself -=-

Pay attention to your body. It gives you clues as to what it needs, and when something is wrong with it. Also, know what makes you feel great, and what makes you feel lousy. Being able to recognize them will help you make great decisions for yourself.

Also, listen to your intuition. Your wise self never gives you the wrong answers. Your head, on the other hand, will almost always try to talk you out of it.

Wake up and pay attention. You learn all sorts of things this way!

-=- Thou Shalt Feed Thyself And Thou Shalt Not Poison Thy Body -=-

Our minds have really been polluted with ideas of what a "healthy" diet looks like, and what "proper" nutrition is. Learn about what things like "low fat" prepared foods, sugar, fat, caffeine and tap water are really doing to your body. Improper nutrition causes stress in the body. It's not hard to get the right information and make great choices for yourself.

Eat good stuff!! Your body will thank you!

-=- Enjoy Thyself -=-

We've all seen stories of people who are diagnosed with some horrible disease and given 6 months to live who have, in those last months, really developed a love of life -- a desire to enjoy it all.

Well, forget about the person with only 6 months.... what about you? You probably only have 80 or so years ... shouldn't each moment of your life be utterly succulent, too?

There's only so much time in this life. Every moment of it is precious. Make it all count.

When you do, you'll find you have less stress, fewer physical problems, and that you're more productive. Look for the good/sweet/fun/joyous in every situation, even when life seems less than fair.

You deserve the very best life has to offer, and life deserves the very best you have to give!

# # # #

Stacy Brice is a nationally recognized expert on virtual work, virtual relationships and partnerships, community building, and work/life balance. Her work as pioneer of the Virtual Assistance profession, and the success of her own virtual university, Assist University, http://www.assistu.com, attest to her strength of conviction that people deserve to do work that lights them up inside, and that contributes to their having high quality lives.

Article courtesy of MediaPeak, http://mediapeak.com


Feel free to forward "The Online Inventor" to your inventor friends and colleagues. Permission granted to re-print any of The Online Inventor articles, as long as credit is given. To view past issues of the "The Online Inventor," please go to www.marketlaunchers.com/archives.html.

If you change your e-mail address, please subscribe with the new address in order to continue receiving it each month. To unsubscribe, reply with the word, "unsubscribe" in the subject line. If you would like to request a topic for an upcoming issue of this newsletter, just send me an e-mail or give me a call. Thanks.

Until next time, Successful Inventing To You!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann;
Humble Proprietor of Market Launchers
(800) 337-5758
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

Copyright 2000
All Rights Reserved


Copyright (c) 2000
Market Launchers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the January 2000 issue.