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Lesson # 110 Why Your Improvement To An Existing Product May Get A No From A Company

rogerbrown's Avatargold

Inventors are always looking at existing products to see how they can be improved and will contact company's with these improvements hoping for a licensing deal. This is where the tricky part comes in when you come up with these improvements. Is your idea an improvement to the existing product or would it be considered an accessory to the existing product? This can make a huge difference in how they look at your idea.

Here is a situation an Inventor friend of mine ran into when contacting a company. He told the company he had come up with a product that would make taking their weedeater head cap off easier. He stated he came up with the idea because the current model cap they make is horrendous to remove. (His word not mine). They passed on the idea. He showed me his prototype and it did exactly as he stated. So he was confused why they would turn it down.

I told him to take another look at his pitch to them and REALLY read what he wrote and if you were the company how would you have taken it? He read it several times out loud and said "I still don't get it." So I asked "What are you telling them about their product that might be insulting?" He sat there a minute and said   " That their weedeater head cap is not designed right." Then I said "And you are telling them they need to sell consumers a special tool in order to take the cap off. Which makes it look like their product is a pain in the butt to use. Is that the message they want consumers to have about their product?" He laughed and said "Not a good PR move". 

Inventors need to look at what they come up with as improvements and think about it from the companies side and would it send a positive or negative message to a consumer? Also consider accessories to existing products as a great alternative. Companies love having additional things they can sell you to a product you already use. If my friend had come up with a new weedeater head attachment that accomplished a different task but used the existing weedeater connection that is something that would get more attention from the company.

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crystaldiane's Avatargold

Whew...boy do i get this issue! Sometimes in enthusiasm  words are chosen incorrectly .  Back to thesaurus  but how do you tell someone their baby is ugly  in a positive way  I would love to see some examples  thank you

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Some I have seen from Inventors over the years.

Thank you for submitting your product for our evaluation. At this time it does not meet our current needs. Please feel free to submit other products in the future.

While we found your idea to be creative it does not fit our line.

This is not an area of interest for us at this time but continue to submit.

Although this is a No please feel free to submit again in the future.

Some were more blunt

Please take the time to review your products more carefully in the future prior to submitting them to our system.

This idea has been done for over 50 years and you did not improve on it.

Sarah Mann
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sjane722's Avatargold

Just like with job hunting, it's so important to do your homework and learn about the companies you approach. That way you won't waste their time, or your own. 

At the same time, it doesn't hurt to trust your intuition that a company might be inspired by your concept to veer off in a new direction. You never know.

I think the key is having the respect to acknowledge that you are familiar with their product line, and tell them why you'd like to work with them. That way they don't see your submission as totally random, and out of the blue inappropriate.

They might still turn you down, but be open to future submissions.

Everything is about relationship building.

Charlie Lumsden
erin hoff
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Very true Sarah, when you can talk to a company not only about your product but their line and how your product would compliment their line gets you off on a good footing. To many Inventors are surprised when a company Rep says " We already have a similar item" Because they did not take the time to know their products.

Charlie Lumsden
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inovate's Avataree_badge

If every inventor, acted like you two.

There would be many more companies, once again that were open to outside innovation.

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Thanks for the kind words Charlie. A number of us here in the forums have been trying to get across to Inventors that when they approach a company they represent not only themselves but the other Inventors that follow. The impression you leave a company of Inventors can change the way they see us as a group and make them more open to seeing ideas from outside. They need to see us as a valuable resource.

Had a Product Reviewer at a company tell me a saying his group had "How do you get in contact with a crazy Inventor...........read your email". Is that the impression we need as Inventors?

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sjane722's Avatargold

Thank you Charlie!

I don't see this as being an issue that's specific to inventors-- I am continually astonished at how narcissistic most people seem to be! 

Maybe inventors working on their own, in their own little creative bubbles might be somewhat more inclined to lack social skills, I don't know...

I have to say- I like this forum more than other social media these days because for the most part people here seem genuinely positive, supportive, helpful, and kind-- pretty much not the case on other sites, where trolls, the mean spirited, and the UTTERLY narcissistic abound!

To sum up- I don't think it's inventors, I think it's the overall cultural climate.

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inovate's Avataree_badge

I agree Sarah,

Sometime we as a race get overly emotional, and forget others we are speaking to have the deal with the same issues. If we could all learn to walk in others shoes or see our own short comings in others. We would then be able to have a life of blessings to share.

Sarah Mann
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sjane722's Avatargold

Charlie 

You are so right!

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let-them-fly's Avatar

Indeed, some of the methods and personalities used to seek licensing has really crippled the independent inventor, who many times ends up paying for someone else's foolishness!      It's like there are two forces at work continually in this industry; one striving to succeed through education, research, and tutelage... and the other who seeks to force success by demanding the industry conform to their own dreams, demands, and expectations.       

It's an eternal conflict.      We all must choose.

Sarah

The climate you witness in the forums today did not come easy, as full scale wars have thundered here and claimed many casualties; but "good" persevered thanks to a few soldiers who refused to leave their foxhole until EN organized their zero tolerance policy on BS.

Sadly, the chaos and resulting interdiction caused many to fall silent, but they're bouncing back slowly.      These forums use to literally bustle with activity, which of course drew-in the sharks.      Sometimes the zero tolerance stifles discussion, but there really isn't much else that can be done in order to maintain the peaceful atmosphere. 

Sarah Mann
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Frank, solid comment as always.

Another aspect to the reason your improvement to an existing product may get a No is you are adding improvements just because it can be done. Make sure your improvement actually adds value to the product. 

Here is a product for review. Do you think the features added value to an existing iconic product or was it done just because you can?

The Swiss army knife with Bluetooth, USB drive, and only unlocks by fingerprint

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-111...

The iconic Swiss army knife has had a technological makeover from its creator, Victorinox.

The Presentation Pro, which is designed to help survive the urban jungle rather a literal one, features a removable USB flashdrive with 32GB memory, a laser pointer, and most remarkably, fingerprint recognition.

The tool also boasts a facility that allows users to store all their passwords securely, and Bluetooth, which means it can even double as a computer mouse.

In the tradition of the famous penknife, the Presentation Pro also features a standard blade, some scissors and a file.

The penknife's creators believe that its unique fingerprint security feature makes it a secure way to carry information. 'It doesn't matter if you lose it, no-one can hack into your information,' said designer Martin Kuster.

The sophisticated gadget, which is expected to cost around £250 when it goes on sale next year, was unveiled yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Charles Elsener, chief executive of Victorinox, and great grandson of its founder said: 'My great grandfather would have been very surprised at how far we have come. But his vision was to invent a tool for life. And this is exactly that. Just a modern version.'

The company was founded in 1884 by Karl Elsener, when he discovered that the Swiss Army had been using knives made in Germany. Victorinox now produces 13million tools each year, and continues to supply its trademark tool to the Swiss Army.

Victorinox has also created an airport security-friendly version of the Presentation Pro, without a knife, aimed at business travellers.

Sarah Mann
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