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, November 4, 2013

October 2013

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
- Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Putting your new product or service on the market is a thrill.  Rachel Jackson (owner, Peacock Publicity) told us how to make that thrill last – look before you leap.

First, decide what result you want (e.g., financial profit, prestige, societal change) from applying your product/service to the market.  Then find out if you can make your product/service fit the market well enough for the market machine to produce the result you want.  See if you can get the right tools (e.g., advisors; identification and understanding of potential competitors, customers, manufacturers, and distributors; money; patents; place of business; professional relationships; time) and skills (business strategy, energy, heart, spirit, technical knowledge) you need to create that fit.  Writing a business plan (see how: booklet, workshop) and getting free advice from SCORE and online courses will help you ask the hard questions you must ask: who can benefit from your offering; will you have to teach potential customers to want your offering; are those customers likely to buy what you offer more than what your competitors offer; will enough customers buy your offering at a price high enough for you to profit; can you find an affordable, reliable manufacturer or distributor.  When you can answer those questions, test your answers on your harshest critics.

Once you know who your potential customers are, impress them.  Not all customers are alike, so give different kinds of customers different messages.  Get a Web site (made by a professional graphic designer; your own internet address ending with .com) and email address (ending in .com) that inspires confidence in you and your offering.  Develop a high quality brand (created by a marketing professional) and a polished resume that will give people a reason to trust you.  Create a set of 30 second elevator speeches (for different kinds of potential customers) and keep up with your industry’s news so you can educate potential customers and have an intelligent conversation about your business.

If you want investment capital or sales leads, learn (from sources like Inventor’s Bible, eBay, ecommerce, KickStarter, or the SBA ) which groups can offer you the most, but be realistic.  Learn ahead of time what each specific audience wants from you (e.g., letters of reference, sales records, slide presentation, video) and show them with your business plan and statistics that you can give them value (e.g., enough paying customers) in exchange for their support.  If it becomes clear during your presentation that you can’t provide what they want, bow out gracefully.  But even with rejections, stay focused, be patient, and don’t flit from shiny object to shiny object.  It may take you months or years to build a sufficient customer base if your sales cycle is long.  Or you might have better luck licensing your invention. 

Plan for the long run.  Tools for customerrelationship management will help you reach people quickly.  Financial and marketing records (worksheets and other programs ) will help you figure out what works and will make your business more attractive to someone who might want to buy it.

Thank you for paving our roads to success, Ms. Jackson.  Ms. Jackson specializes in helping entrepreneurs, business startups, and small businesses with marketing/publicity and can be reached by email (, mail (P.O. Box 39070 Indianapolis, IN 46239), or telephone (815-404-9920).

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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