THE ONLINE INVENTOR – March 2007 issue
(c) 2007 Market Launchers, Inc.
Editor:  Paul Niemann


Article # 1:       “There’s Gold in Them There Hills … If You Know Where to Look” by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com   

Article # 2:       “Finding Additional Markets for Your Inventions,” by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com 


“There’s Gold in Them There Hills … If You Know Where to Look”
By Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com

Today we take a look at a very successful inventor – AND MARKETER – whose work would make Jeff Foxworthy proud. This inventor’s products have been sold all over the world, even though you’ve probably never heard of him.


He chose to have the product manufactured himself and sell it himself, instead of choosing the less expensive route of licensing. As a result of his work, things have have worked out very well.


His first product, the Billy Bob Teeth, has sold more than 14 million units, and counting, over the past 11 years. His second product has already sold more than 1 million units, and counting. And he did not have a marketing background; he was a biology major in college.


His name is Jonah White and I met him through a mutual friend recently, after having seen his product in stores many times over the past 10 years. His story is one of opportunity – an opportunity that Jonah saw while 20,000 other people who were there missed it.


On a fall Saturday afternoon back in 1994, Jonah was watching a football game at his alma mater, Southwest Missouri State University, where he had played football just a few years earlier. His former coach had invited him to give a pep talk to his team before the game. While sitting in the stands during the first half, he saw a fan with what appeared to be the worst set of teeth he had ever seen – yet this fan was a dental student! The fan was creating quite a scene by flirting with all the pretty ladies in the stands, despite the fact that he had only a few teeth. The fan was playing a joke, and no one else knew it.


Everyone in the stands saw an obnoxious fan with bad teeth, while Jonah saw what he described as “a goldmine.” After halftime, the fan – after getting rid of his bad teeth – introduced himself to Jonah. It turns out that the fan was a dental student named Rich Bailey. Rich was a friend of Jonah’s college roommate, and he created a false set of teeth to wear to the game just for fun. He also made a set for Jonah, who then suggested that the two go into business together to mass market the new novelty item.


So in 1996, 26-year-old Jonah White and his friend incorporated their Billy-Bob Teeth Company, in Jonah’s hometown of Hardin, Illinois, which is located about 60 miles south of my hometown of Quincy in rural Illinois. In fact, you would have to drive through a creek to get to their original headquarters.


Despite the occasional setback – such as the day when they lost phone service because a ram sheep got its horns stuck in the phone line outside the building and caused an outage – they have sold more than 14 million sets of teeth, and counting. He’s made numerous appearances on TV shows, such as The Today Show and many others.


As is the case with most successful products, Jonah’s company (he bought out his partner years ago) has faced numerous imitators who have tried to copy his product. He said there have been more than 20 knock-offs, and he decides which ones are worth taking to court.


He’s currently developing additional products. His latest product is called Dr. Bailey’s Secure Smile and, like the Billy-Bob teeth, this product is also a fake set of teeth. Unlike the Billy-Bob teeth, though, this product provides people who have bad teeth with a great-looking set of teeth – like a poor man’s denture. Since it is just the opposite of the Billy-Bob teeth, he has established a separate company to make and sell it. Naturally, that company’s name is the William Robert Teeth Company (since “William” and “Robert” are the formal names of “Billy” and “Bob”).


His other new product on the market is the Billy-Bob pacifier, which is as obnoxious and entertaining as the Billy-Bob teeth. He figures that as long as people need pacifiers, they might as well have pacifiers that make you laugh. Jonah has already sold several million pacifiers.


Jonah’s company also created the teeth that actor Mike Meyers wears in the Austin Powers movies, although they’re much different than the Billy-Bob teeth that Jonah’s company makes.  

I thing there are at least 4 lessons that we can learn from Jonah’s story …  

1.         There is opportunity all around us – we have to be able to recognize it when it’s there. (I know I’ve passed up plenty of opportunities that were staring me right in the face – if only I had been looking for it.)

2.         Once you have a product on the market, start developing your second and third products. There are no one-product companies that survive long-term.

3.         If you have a product that would lessen your image or credibility if people knew that your company makes it, then consider forming a separate company for that product. In this case, the Billy Bob Teeth company would not be a good name for a company that sells products that IMPROVE the appearance of your teeth. That’s why Jonah created the William Robert Teeth Company.

4.         You don’t have to create a brand-new product idea. With Jonah’s Billy-Bob pacifier, all he did was take a product that MILLIONS of people buy every year, and turn it into a fun and humorous version of the same product. It does the same thing as a regular pacifier, except that it does in a fun way.  

If you want to see what the Billy Bob teeth and pacifiers look like, click here: http://www.billybobteeth.biz  

# # #

Paul Niemann runs MarketLaunchers.com, building web pages for inventors. Having your own web page allows you to show your invention to companies when you’re unable to present it to them in person, serving as your own “online brochure.” Plus, there are companies who search the MarketLaunchers.com invention database for new products. Visit http://www.marketlaunchers.com/forms.html for details and pricing.  


"These are the 5 greatest inventions of all time" by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com

The age-old question, “What's the greatest invention of all time?” has been debated for many years without any kind of consensus, so there’s probably not a perfect answer.  

Instead, let’s select the five greatest inventions of all time. First, let’s establish some criteria:   

1.    The number of people who use it or benefit from it.

2.    Its impact on society. For example, does it save lives?

3.    Its place on the historical timeline: Would this invention be possible without a previous invention?   

We won’t consider developments such as fire, the wheel, the alphabet or the spoken language because these are considered to be “discoveries” rather than “inventions.” Electricity could be classified as a discovery, too, but we include it in this column because of the subsequent electrical inventions that harnessed the power of electricity.  

The top contenders, in no particular order, are:  

·        Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press (invented in the mid-1400’s)

·        The discovery and use of electricity

·        Indoor plumbing (early records place its origin between 2,500 B.C. -- 1,700 B.C.)

·        Alexander Graham Bell ’s telephone (1876)

·        Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb (1879)

·        Sir Alexander Fleming’s penicillin (1928)

·        The mass-produced automobile

·        Computers 

·        The Internet  

Using a process of elimination, Criteria # 3 (its place on the historical timeline) eliminates the Internet because it would not exist without the discovery of electricity, the invention of the telephone and computers. Computers cannot be considered the most important invention of all time because they depend on electricity.  

While the light bulb and the telephone have each been considered by many to be the greatest invention ever, neither one would have been invented without electricity. So these two get voted off the island for the same reason as computers and the Internet.   

So what are the five most important inventions in history?  



If you contact companies about licensing your invention, then it makes sense to get your own web page so you can show them WHAT YOUR INVENTION LOOKS LIKE AND HOW IT WORKS.

MarketLaunchers.com builds web pages for inventors, it's affordable and we're easy to work with! Visit our site and see what other inventors are doing. www.MarketLaunchers.com  


In my opinion, they are: The printing press, electricity, indoor plumbing, the automobile and penicillin. These have all impacted millions of lives in a positive way, and none of them required the use of a previous invention.  

Penicillin has saved millions of lives since Sir Alexander Fleming discovered it by accident in 1928. It also plays a major role in treating illnesses such as pneumonia, rheumatic fever and scarlet fever. In addition, it was the foundation for discovering many other antibiotics that are used today.  

Prior to the widespread use of indoor plumbing, many people died of dysentery, cholera and other sanitation-related diseases. There are no exact figures on the number of lives that have been lost due to a lack of indoor plumbing, but it’s been estimated to be in the millions worldwide. In terms of an invention’s impact on society and its ability to save lives, I believe indoor plumbing is even more important than penicillin.


Many of today’s major inventions would not have been possible if the inventors had not received a good education. Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press brought us movable type and type-written books in the mid-1400’s, and is considered by many to be the greatest invention ever. Prior to the printing press, only the nobles and the wealthy had access to the kind of education that books afforded. Johannes Gutenberg made education available to the common man when he created his printing press, just as Henry Ford’s mass production of the automobile has changed the world in many ways. He made them available to the common man when he developed the concept of assembly line production.


We all know that electricity has led to the development of everything from street lamps, indoor lighting, refrigerators and other household appliances, radio and television, the power to run our homes and workplaces, telephones, computers and the Internet, just to name a few. Not much else needs to be said about the importance of this invention.

So in terms of an invention’s impact on society AND the number of people who have benefited from it, the five greatest inventions of all time, in my humble opinion, are:


·        The mass-produced automobile

·        Penicillin

·        Indoor plumbing

·        Printing press

·        Electricity


Keep in mind that there are millions of people in underdeveloped countries who do not benefit from any of these three inventions. Regardless of what you believe is the greatest invention of all time, there will be additional inventions created in the future that will have people still debating this topic a hundred years from now!


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"This story is part of the INVENTION MYSTERIES book by author Paul Niemann. The Invention Mysteries book reveals the little-known true stories behind 47 well-known inventions. To order a signed copy of the Invention Mysteries book, please visit www.InventionMysteries.com "  

“Finding Additional Markets for Your Inventions,” by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com

As regular readers of this newsletter know, I began writing my own syndicated newspaper column called Invention Mysteries about 3 years ago. Since that time, I’ve turned the column into other products – books, educational material, etc. – and begun selling it to additional markets. The purpose of this article is to get you to figure out how to find additional markets for YOUR invention.  

I’ll start by explaining how I found additional markets for my product (the invention stories that I’ve been writing for the newspapers), then YOU can figure out how to adapt this to YOUR situation, meaning that you can – AND SHOULD – find additional markets for your invention. One you start doing it, it will probably become the part of the whole inventing / marketing process that you enjoy the most.  

Market for Product # 1:            Newspaper editors. I started out with 5 newspaper editors that pay me for the right to run the column each week; now there are 22 newspapers that carry it (and their readers love it!).  

Format of Product # 1: Weekly newspaper columns. This product became profitable in Year 3.  

Market for Product # 2:            Book buyers, which are found at bookstores, other retail stores, and the Invention Mysteries web site and the UIA web site. This market became profitable in Year 1 (barely).  

Format of Product # 2: The first Invention Mysteries book.  

Market for Product # 3:            The Newspapers In Education coordinators at various newspapers. These are different newspapers than the ones that run the syndicated columns, although the stories are EXACTLY the same. This product became profitable early in Year 2.  

Format of Product # 3:     Sets of 10 stories that I adapt to fit the format of Newspapers In Education. The stories are placed into the newspapers that Newspapers In Education coordinators give to classrooms each week. Since this version has illustrations with the stories, they pay me a higher rate than the newspapers that buy my syndicated newspaper column.  

Market for Product # 4:            The educational market. This includes private schools, public schools and families that homeschool their kids. I will enter this market for the first time at the end of March, and I expect this market to become profitable immediately, because most of the costs and time involved in creating and marketing the product have already been covered.  

Format of Product # 4: The original Invention Mysteries book, except that’s it’s now being offered to schools. The only additional expense is in creating an activity guide for students, and in attending various trade shows for families that homeschool.  

Market for Product # 5:            Radio stations. I began this in June of 2005 and have not haven’t made any money from this market yet, but it will become profitable if / when we get an advertiser to sponsor it.  

Format of Product # 5: The weekly radio version of the Invention Mysteries stories, syndicated to radio stations. Each spot is 90 seconds long. There’s no additional cost involved in transferring the format to radio; and only a minimal amount of time involved.  

Market for Product # 6:            TV stations. I haven’t made any money from this one yet, but will as soon as we get a sponsor to get an advertiser to sponsor it (just as in radio).  

Format of Product # 6: The weekly TV version of the Invention Mysteries stories, which I will begin syndicating to TV stations this summer. Each spot will be 90 seconds long. There’s some additional cost involved in transferring the format to TV, as well as a significant amount of time involved.  

In addition, I will be publishing the second Invention Mysteries book this Spring, and the third book this Fall. The bookstore and other retail stores that carried the first book will also carry the second and third books.  

So we have 6 different markets for the Invention Mysteries stories, and I’m still coming up with more markets as we speak. Each time I found a new market to sell my stories to, I have to adapt the format a little bit. Yes, selling to additional markets also requires that I pick up the phone and make A LOT of sales calls, but there is nothing more gratifying than seeing my product on the market, and hearing people tell me how much they enjoy it.  

So how does this affect YOU? You can get the same results, assuming there’s a market for your product AND you are willing to make the sales effort to get people to buy it.  

Just as you have to decide between manufacturing your invention yourself, or licensing it to an existing company, I chose to self-publish my books rather than sell the rights to a publisher. (Books are simple to manufacture, with no expensive molds or prototypes to make. Plus, I would rather keep control rather than give it up.)  

In closing this issue, I have a request of you:  I’m looking for success stories of what you’ve done RIGHT in the invention or marketing process – which led to you profiting from your invention. Send me your story, and if I use it in a future issue, then you’ll receive a free, autographed copy of the Invention Mysteries book. (If you want to preview the book, it is at www.InventionMysteries.com). Three people will receive free copies, so send in your stories now. Thanks!

# # #

Paul Niemann runs MarketLaunchers.com, building web pages for inventors. Having your own web page allows you to show your invention to companies when you’re unable to present it to them in person. It can serve as your “online brochure.” Plus, there are companies who search the MarketLaunchers.com Invention Database for new products. Visit http://www.marketlaunchers.com/forms.html for details and pricing.