Inventors’ Network of the Carolinas (INotC)
Q. What are the Goals of the INotC?
A. By putting our Mission Statement into practice, we achieve several goals:
- Educate inventors to understand the financially successful idea-invention-product cycle.
- Help inventors avoid scams by individuals and companies that would take their money and not provide fair services for fair compensation.
- See viable products from local inventors go to market creating financially successful endeavors.
- Witness inventors financially rewarded for their ideas, inventions, and products.
- Have successful inventors give back to the group and the community through coaching and mentoring.
Q. What do I get if I join the INotC?
A. Paid members benefit from a year’s worth of monthly meetings that provide educational as well as inspirational speakers to de-mystify the idea to commercialization process for successful business ventures.
Members experience firsthand the power of our mission to educate inventors and provide support and networking opportunities.
Members have access to our experienced sponsors and Steering Committee members who are there to answer the tough questions.
Q. What education do I need to invent?
A. We started the Inventors’ Network of the Carolinas because we felt that education for inventors was the key ingredient for future success.
There is a myth that the activity of inventing is some form of divine intuition and that great ideas should just “auto-magically” make inventors rich.
While those “eureka” moments can happen to anyone, the reality is that many times individuals, whether working in a company or on their own time will take it upon themselves to troubleshoot a nagging problem that could be made easier, faster, safer, cheaper, or designed differently. But that is only one step.
To successfully profit financially from an idea, an inventor needs to understand all aspects of the invention-to-commercialization process.
- Understanding the invention steps and avoiding many of the myths surrounding the invention process.
- Knowing how to properly evaluate the feasibility of an invention.
- Business knowledge or at least a basic understanding of business concepts.
- Expertise in the field that the invention belongs to.
Q. Why bother wasting my time learning all this stuff that would take time and energy away from coming up with great ideas?
A. One of the great myths of inventing is that all you need is a great idea. There is more to it than that. The time and costs involved turning and idea into an invention and ultimately a profitable product can be overwhelming at times. By educating yourself on the invention process-to-commercialization process you actually save yourself from wasted effort, lost investments, and disappointment.
Q. Do I have to be a businessman to be a successful inventor?
A. No, but an understanding of business is a valuable asset because besides solving a problem, the goal of an invention is to make money for the inventor. An entrepreneurial spirit and good business judgment can be the difference between a failed attempt and a successful venture. One option for inventors is to partner with someone who has business expertise and believes in the idea.
Creativity & Innovation
Q. Are only creative people inventors?
A. No! Inventors come from all walks of life— it seems that everyone in America has a great idea. The creative aspect was summed up brilliantly in Thomas Edison’s famous quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Successful inventors are the ones that educate themselves and then do the hard work to make their ideas reality.
Basic Product Development Steps
Q. What are the basic steps of inventing?
A. It will depend on the type of invention, but a basic roadmap goes something like this:
- Document everything about the idea in a bound log book, sign and date each page and have someone unrelated that understands the idea countersign. This helps to protect your idea.
- Do a search to see if it already exists. Use a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, MSN Search, etc, to see if the idea is in the public domain. Use the U.S. Patent and Trade Office web site www.uspto.gov to check for existing patents. If the idea is already out there, you won’t have exclusive rights and you should be prepared to walk away unless there is something that makes the invention valuable in some unique way.
- If the idea hasn’t been developed by someone else yet, do a feasibility study. Look at the competition and compare the uniqueness of your idea to everything else out there. Create a business plan along with a proforma showing Costs, Revenues, and Return-on-Investment. Keep in mind that the goal is to create a profitable business venture with your idea. Bottom line – if your idea cannot turn a profit within a reasonable time, typically 3 to 5 years, then it may not be worth pursuing.
- If the idea is potentially profitable, consider a patent or at least a provisional patent. Seeking the services of a patent attorney is recommended. Another thing a patent can do with the right invention and business plan is to attract the money needed to turn an idea in to a marketable product.
Q. Why is inventing so expensive nowadays?
A. There are many costs that go into turning an idea into a product that can be purchased. From patent searches to prototypes, many of these costs require professional services. Educating yourself on as many of these subjects as possible can help to avoid unnecessary costs, but some investments are unavoidable.
Q. What are some of the costs?
A. Depending on the invention, some of the typical costs are:
- Formal patent search
- Market Study
- Patent Attorney
- Patent Preparation
- Patent Fees
- Patent Filing
- Business Attorney
- Marketing and Advertising