It was seen that the works of founders of States, law-givers, tyrant-destroyers, and heroes cover
but narrow spaces and endure but for a time; while the work of the inventor, though of less pomp,
is felt everywhere and lasts forever.          - Francis Bacon Preface to a Treatise on Interpreting Nature

The Design of Everyday Things

Every inventor should take this free online course. Learn the basics of design and start observing and applying design principles.

How to Design Breakthrough Inventions

A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley

How to Build a StartUp

In this free online course, learn the key tools and steps for building a successful startup (or at least reducing the risk of failure).

Monday, April 4, 2011

March 2011

"There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.  One of these is roots, the other, wings."    Henry Ward Beecher

Jim Bartek (317-614-0792), Business Development Manager of the Purdue Technology Center of Indianapolis (PTCI), offered us advice on whether and how to turn an idea into a business.

Understanding where your idea fits into the market can help you decide whether starting a business is worth the effort, whether the juice is worth the squeeze.
  • Benefits     Who needs help, why do they need it, and how can your business provide them with it? 
  • Market share     What and who do you need to get your product or service to market?  What will keep competitors from kicking you out - a patent or trademark, a high start-up cost barring entry of competitors to the market, or a strong business network?
  • Business model     Who specifically has the money you want and how will you get it - many low-profit sales, or a few high profit sales; a product or service that is new and unique, or that is old and established but manufactured less expensively; addict consumers to free items, then sell them add‑on features? 
  • SWOT analysis     What strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats could affect your business?
A new business, like every baby, needs care, protection, and help with learning how to function in society.  An incubator helps a new business quickly grow up happy and healthy by giving it a firm foundation and social skills needed to turn an invention into innovation, to move an idea into the market.  In exchange for fees or partial ownership, an incubator typically provides a new business with inexpensive advice, commercial space, connections to the community, information and training, services, or tools.  Those benefits save a business owner time and money that can be better spent on developing the business, a product, or a service. 

Incubators are almost as varied as the small businesses they nurture.  Available physically or only virtually.  Restricted to a particular technology or open to all technologies, arts, and crafts.  Not-for-profit (focused on economic development of a community) or for-profit.  Unsponsored or sponsored by an economic development corporation, government, investment group, or university.  Many offer, or help find, financial assistance.  Tips on how to select an incubator are available from Gaebler Ventures, the National Business Incubator Association, and the New York Times ("How to Choose an Incubator" 1/26/2011).  The left column of this blog displays links to some incubators located in Indiana.

PTCI, for example, provides an incubator that is sponsored directly by the Purdue Research Foundation (a private, nonprofit entity) and indirectly by Purdue University.  Its main goal is to promote economic growth of Indiana’s complex-technology industry.  It helps new businesses that focus on complex technologies (often on business‑to‑business software) and want a strong relationship with Purdue University.  In exchange for reasonable fees, PTCI provides its residential or affiliate clients with:
  • space 
    • break rooms, conference rooms with 2-way video-conferencing, laboratories, office and storage space, and a location near the Indianapolis airport and the IUPUI campus; 
  • services 
    • communications and marketing – advice and help with ads, interviews, and public relations; 
    • financial assistance – advice on where to find it and help with getting it; 
    • human resources – recruitment and training of employees and visiting Purdue University students, and help with setting up consultations and research partnerships with Purdue’s faculty and staff;
    • information systems – advice on, and technical help with, electronic equipment; and a data center built to support technology‑based and compliancy‑regulated businesses; 
    • networking opportunities; 
    • Purdue Portals – advice, information, and training on how to commercialize a product or service; 
    • shared office services – basic utilities, building security, cleaning services, and receptionist and secretarial support; 
    • Technical Assistance Program – provides each business with 40 free hours of engineering assistance per year; 
  • tools
    • access to expensive equipment at Purdue University, computers, copiers, fax machines, high-speed internet connections, postage meters, and printers.
Thank you, Mr. Bartek, for sharing your business insights and knowledge with us!

Patent Drawings by Richard McVicker

Some inventions patented by our members:

Bob Brand
3,179,907 Tuning system for television receivers
3,219,933 Television tuner switching system
3,241,072 Tuning control system
3,538,466 Television tuner cast housing with integrally cast transmission lines
4,503,740 Optical cutting edge locator for a cutting apparatus
4,503,896 Dog system for veneer slicer
4,601,317 Veneer slicing system
5,511,598 Veneer-slicer with remotely controllable blade angle adjustment
5,562,137 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,590,700 Vacuum flitch table with self-cleaning vacuum valve
5,678,619 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer from a tapered flitch
5,680,887 Veneer slicer with timing belt
5,694,995 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,701,938 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,819,828 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,868,187 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,395,843 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,552,750 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer sheets from a flitch

Rick Hanson
6,240,579 Unitary pedal control of brake and fifth wheel deployment via side and end articulation with additional unitary pedal control of height of patient support
6,253,397 Deployable siderails for a wheeled carriage
6,256,812 Wheeled carriage having auxiliary wheel spaced from center of gravity of wheeled base and cam apparatus controlling deployment of auxiliary wheel and deployable side rails for the wheeled carriage
6,264,006 Brake for castered wheels
6,507,964 Surgical table
D474,446 Sterilizable battery component

Bob Humbert
4,281,368 Keyhole illuminating apparatus

Ron Jackson
4,886,110 HVAC zone control system
4,943,039 Adjustable clamp
4,987,409 Level sensor and alarm
5,132,669 Level sensor with alarm
5,381,989 Adjustable spring clamp
5,944,098 Zone control for HVAC system
6,145,752 Temperature monitoring and control system
6,322,443 Duct supported booster fan
D347,596 Audible security alarm
D376,747 Door security device

Jerry McQuinn
D689,343 Universal Nutcracker

Richard McVicker
3,261,937 Three position snap switch utilizing interference blade means
3,319,477 Timer Escapement
3,332,704 Manually propelled treadmill vehicle
4,625,616 Thumb pick
6,309,076 Light barrier, screen or reflector
D240,237 Sculpture or the like
D356,653 Yard light
8389839 Thumb pick

Bill Pangburn
5,943,831 Device for Hauling Objects

Al Robbins

3,882,960 Ride quality control for surface effects craft
3,946,689 Air dynamo pressure regulation and modulation device for surface effect ships and air cushion vehicles
6,588,702 Lighter-than-air device having a flexible usable surface

Matt Thie
4,844,446 Multiple-compartment currency stacker-sorter
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
7,298,280 Lighted fluid flow indication apparatus
7,617,826 Conserver

Richard Tucker
5,833,751 Powder coating booth having smooth internal surfaces
6,840,367 Material handling and manufacturing system and method
6,976,835 Manufacturing system and process
7,018,579 Manufacturing system and process

Don Walls
D707090 Torque key lever
RE36209 Door lock apparatus

Dave Zedonis
5,637,926 Battery powered electronic assembly for wheel attachment

Patent Document of the Month

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