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

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How to Design Breakthrough Inventions

A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley


How to Build a StartUp

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Friday, November 24, 2017

November 2017



On matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of substance, stand like a rock.
—Author unknown

Jared Adams (COO, Canvas) showed us how to profit from using the lean startup method to add substance to style. 

The founders of Canvas started with two things: a background in information technology and the observation that many young adults prefer to interact with others indirectly.  Knowing that this lifestyle increases the efficiency of some kinds of communication, the founders wondered if employers and young job applicants would rather text than talk.

To find out, they developed a text-based intelligent interviewing software program and raised $2 million in seed capital.  Because the founders needed help to know what to build and how people would use their product, they asked trusted senior human resources (HR) people across the country to find flaws in the original program. 

The HR people found several embarrassing flaws but, surprisingly, also asked to invest in Canvas.  This encouraged the founders to revise the original program to meet the customers where they actually were, not where the founders imagined the customers were.  The result was the first text-based interviewing platform.

The marketed product creates a win-win-win situation.

Job applicants avoid human contact in the early stages of the interview process.  (Canvas recommends that its product be used only to select candidates for subsequent in-person interviews.)  They can think about what they communicate before blurting out something, focus on the dialog itself (rather than worrying about speech impediments, attire, or shyness), and add documentary materials not typically submitted with a resume.

HR folks can interview 10 times the number of applicants because the inherent time delay in texting lets them interview several candidates simultaneously and avoids the need to schedule interviews for particular times.  The program’s subtle use of artificial intelligence suggests questions to the interviewer during an interview and reveals information available online about each candidate.  The indirect interaction provided by the software program helps prevent unconscious and unwanted bias by the interviewer.  An interviewer can also get some idea of an applicant’s interest in the job by observing whether the applicant clicks on links to recommended resources.

Feedback from companies and job applicants helps Canvas adapt its software program to the general hiring process and to processes specific to different industries.

Canvas’ story offers two lessons for those who want to market their inventions:

If your first try at inventing a marketable product is not embarrassing, you are doing something wrong.  You need to take your product to where your customers are.  Only interaction between your invention and your intended customers can tell you what to market.  Find out what’s wrong with your original invention (and revisions) and fix it before you go live.

A product’s public image is important.  The image (created by widely viewed media such as Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and CNBC) of the Canvas software program successfully marketed the program.  Rather than portray the invention as one of a million new software products, the media painted a picture of a pioneering product that joins the business world to the preferred lifestyle of many young adults.

Thank you, Mr. Adams, for sharing your company’s interesting story 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

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