Join the Club

Lessons Learned

1. All industries are different. This is especially true in terms of patent strategy. In some markets, companies won't even talk to an inventor unless he or she has a patent, while other markets and industries will license and negotiate with inventors even if they lack a patent. It helps to talk to members of your inventors' club who have experience in your industry.

2. Don't rely solely on the inventors' club for contacts. For a better shot at success, you should also find at least one or two contacts outside the club who have recent experience in your particular industry.

3. A second opinion can make all the difference. New inventors frequently expect success to come right away, so when they run into obstacles, many end up giving up far too easily. Before ditching your idea, visit an inventors' club and explain your situation. You may discover that you're doing just fine and that all you need is a little more perseverance.

4. Everybody needs help. A successful invention requires someone to create it, design its look and its function, produce a top-selling patent, make a prototype and eventually manufacture the product. Since few people possess all these skills, inventors don't always get the results they want when they try to do everything themselves. Now's a good time to admit that you could benefit from some help.

5. There is always a less expensive way. Inventors often have trouble keeping to a budget, mostly because they don't know how to cut costs at each step. Inventors' clubs will teach members how to keep prices down in every phase of a product introduction.

6. Your creativity always needs nurturing. When you join an inventors' club, you'll get to see innovations from fellow inventors and hear a group of talented people offer their suggestions on how to solve a vast array of problems. Spending time with other bright minds will surely inspire you to think more creatively.

7. Inventors' clubs are fun. Really. Most clubs hold contests, feature fascinating guest speakers, have plenty of interesting inventors as members and, most of all, spark great conversations.

GOT GAME?
  • Most books on inventions deal with the mechanics of getting a product to market, but not many deal with how to put that "wow" factor into products so they really sell. One book that does is the self-published New Toys, New World by Eric Frydler, creator of the He-Man and She-Ra action figures and toys like the Poppies Plush. Frydler has sold millions of his creations, and his book conveys many of the tactics he uses to give a toy the extra appeal it needs to sell successfully. To order, log on to www.amazon.com or send your payment ($24.95 plus $3.98 S&H) directly to Frydler at P.O. Box 91429, San Diego, CA 92169.
  • To access a leading magazine for the toy industry, visit the Playthings Web site (www.playthings.com).
  • At Discover Games (www.discovergames.com), an online game promotion community, you'll find a list of resources for toy and game inventors.
  • If you've already developed a toy you want to sell, check out www.wthra.com, the site for the Western Toy & Hobby Representatives Association.

Don Debelak is the author of Think Big: Make Millions From Your Ideas. Write him at dondebelak34@msn.com.

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This article was originally published in the May 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Join the Club.

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