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What makes a great invention?

Getting Rich With Inventions

Spencer Brown (Inventor And Founder) gives expert video advice on: What makes a great invention?; Can I modify a patented product and call it an invention?; What's the difference between a great idea and an invention? and more...

What makes a great invention?

To me, you have to look at the word "invention." Invention comes from a Latin root "to invent," and invention is saving people time and money or bringing something to market that helps people do something that they normally would find laborious or with extra effort so the idea of an invention is, for me, providing a product, a good or service that enables people to save time and money.

What's the difference between a great idea and an invention?

Best ideas are found usually on Sunday at New York Central Park with the guys who feed the pigeons. Those are always brilliant ideas. Coffee shops - brilliant ideas. And chit chat. After a couple of beers there is always someone who has a great idea. An idea is just that. It's an idea. It's very general, it's lucid, it's usually traded from somebody's imagination. An invention is where you take that idea and actually develop a tangible product that you can touch and see, or a program that actually works.

How can an invention make me money?

The simplest way is bringing the invention to market yourself because you're controlling the aspects of production, distribution, and when you sell a product you keep the money instantly. The second way is licensing a product, and when you license a product what you're saying is you're giving another manufacture the ability to produce your product for a profit. So he'll share in the profit with you. The third way of making money from your invention is selling it to an industry. Now, you're not making it, you're not distributing it. You're actually just selling the product outright. So, these are the three primary ways of making money from an invention.

How much money can an invention make?

Recently, as you know, Blackberry; the inventor of the data code, the compression technology that was used to enable people to text messages, had the invention taken from him and the payout was $400,000,000 and the judge threatened the manufacturer of Blackberry that if you don't pay this by today we're going to turn off the service. So $400,000,000 was the recent big win. It's not uncommon to see an invention take a $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 on the market. If you sell it to an industry, you can take less but then you can negotiate for royalties on the back end so you can get a little bit of money incrementally. You can also take your idea, sell it to a manufacturer and share in the profits which is like royalties but you're investing in being there to manufacture the product. And you're also representing the product and you might be on an infomercial pitching the product. So there's all different ways to make money from inventions, but a really really sharp idea; you can capture at least $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 and if it's a phenomenal idea, you can hit a couple hundred million.

How fast can I start making money with my invention?

This is one of the, again, misnomers in the industry. I call it the inventor to lottery winner, the next day. It usually takes about six months, and I always tell people that if you have a good idea, slow down. Let's do some research, make some proto-types, get some field research in, in terms of talking to customers. And you don't have to share your idea, you can talk loosely about the idea. And then when you've crafted the product, it usually takes about six months. In the beginning, I'd say give yourself a good year. For me, I usually get a concept onto the market within ninety days, but I've been practicing this craft for a long time. So I tell people, give yourself a year. Six months to research and six months in a design phase, and if it's still the same concept and idea and you still are getting some support; it's a good idea to maybe take it to the next level, so give yourself a year.

Can I have a career as an inventor?

Part inventor, part product designer, very much entrepreneur and very much you have to be your number one fan. You have to be constantly ridiculed and criticized and wake up with a smile on your face that you're pursuing your dream and your craft. But yeah, you could have a job as an inventor and I think that there's an interesting topic of inventing. What's the difference between a good invention, a great invention and a 'why didn't I think of that?' invention? I think there's categories and the longer you practice the craft you get into that realm when you make a product other people will comment, "Why didn't I think of that?" or "Brilliant idea." That's when you know you're doing your craft right.

What are the risks for an inventor?

I always tell people 'your first step is the longest journey'. As soon as you make a commitment that you are going to take this to market, you've heard, I call it, the myth of the inventor who has lost everything to bring a product to market. They usually don't lose everything, but it can be very alluring. It can be very inciting to keep investing into a product, but if you follow the rule of take an idea and then really work and research the marketplace and create a prototype that's realistic, and then apply the sensibilities of product design, and then communicate the value to the consumer, bring it to market, you have a pretty good shot at making the invention work.