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Millions from the Mind

Alan R. Tripp

But First, This Message...

How do some people actually turn their ideas, their inventions into a million dollars or more? What are the key moves made by the winners? What are the pitfalls and mistakes of judgment that bring down the losers? How does it apply to you?

This book brings you the true stories of dozens of innovators who met the million-dollar minimum or more. What they did right gives you a documentary picture of the "do's." And, to illustrate the "don't's," I've included a few sad but true stories of potentially big winners that bombed. Some stories are old enough to be classics; some are brand new examples added to this Second Edition of Millions from the Mind.

To these case histories I've added a large helping of practical actions for commercializing your innovation, all based upon my own twenty-plus years of guiding inventions from the first trickle of an idea to a big revenue stream.

On the pages that follow you will read about a man whose "simple" invention of a sheet metal screw brought him annually not less than a million dollars in royalties for fifteen consecutive years. And about a toothbrush invention launched by a start-up company that was acquired five years later for $133 million. And about an R&D man in a Fortune 500 company who fought off the engineers when they said his invention couldn't be manufactured, who sloughed off the market researchers who said the product's potential was too small, who helped work out a selling method when the company was ready to close down the test market--and who lived to see his invention reach $100 million in annual sales.

Other innovators in this book made discoveries that earned only a million dollars or two. What they have in common are their innovative ways of overcoming the obstacles that always stand between a great idea and a great reward. Not surprisingly, you will find a bit of bias in favor of the independent inventor. But there are also interesting cases where creative people have made themselves wealthy working within the framework of a major corporation. Inventions that create valuable new products and new jobs and new wealth do not spring to life full-blown as Athena was reported to have sprung from the head of Zeus...even though reporters like to describe everything new as an instant success.

To the contrary, after the conception of an invention, the hard work really begins. I call this The Business Side of Invention because it encompasses a skein of skills: from protecting the innovation to proving production feasibility to evaluating the market potential to finding the distribution channel to defending against copycats and much more, certainly including raising enough money to go the distance.

In addition to optimism and sheer doggedness, converting an invention from a great idea into a flow of cash often requires a real entrepreneur. Esprit, elan, and invincible belief are always valuable. But they are not enough. The people who make money from inventions either understand, or find allies who understand, what turns patent examiners on and off, what triggers approval from financial people, how corporate executives operate, how technical and market research can be used or abused, when a new product should be launched by a start-up company and when it is wiser to license it.

Although you will find rules, tools and practical guidance here, please note this is not a textbook but rather a thinking person's guide to turning creativity into cash. I have aimed to immerse your mind in the strategies and tactics that most often work, the educational details of how the winners won; from there, you, discerning reader, can apply those insights to your own inventions.

By the time you read this book, almost inevitably, one or more of the successes recounted here will have faltered or crashed or been surpassed. But I have tried to select cases where the operative principles are sturdy and will survive, even if events should outrun the stories.

So, if you yourself are an inventor, a discoverer, a creative idea person, inside or outside of a big corporation, read ahead and enjoy vicariously the success of others and store away in your memory the imaginative ways they broke through barriers.

If you are a corporate executive--whether in management, marketing or research--you'll find clues here for getting the best results from the creative minds within your own company as well as managing the risks of new inventions without upsetting the entire Board of Directors.

If you are a financial person, investing your own money or the funds of others, these cases can sharpen your judgment as to what kind of inventions and what business considerations offer the best assurance of ultimate success.

Historically, new products--specifically new products where the benefit is based upon new technology and not just advertising or repositioning--have been the lifeblood of growth for corporations and for America as a whole. Western Electric, Singer Sewing Machine, Curtis-Wright, to name a few, were founded by inventors who grew their companies and grew rich.

Famously, GlaxoSmithKline's Tagamet, Apple's Macintosh, DuPont's Lycra, Gillette's Sensor, Motorola's StarTac phones are examples of innovative "point" products that provided momentum for an entire company. Successful inventions come from observing what works and what does not...from figuring out what will solve a nagging problem while the rest of the world just accepts the problem as "the way it is"...from observing unexplained phenomena and failed experiments...and from working on solution "B" just when everyone else is still working on "A".

Yet today as we enter a new millennium, the majority of "new products" reaching the market are variations of old products. i.e., minor improvements, line extensions, new flavors, new colors, etc. As every great inventor knows, true success does not come from imitating anybody. With Asia challenging us on one side and an economically united Europe rising on the other, it's time for Americans to pay more attention to invention. I hope that this book will be a useful tool for moving great ideas into production--and for making major money for those who do it.



 "Millions..." Pages

Excerpts Menu

» Contents
» But First, This Message...
» A Tradition of Ingenuity
» What Do Winners Do Right?
» Reality in Raising Money
» Trademark Asset Management
» Is There A "Right" Way?
» The Human Side of Invention

» Millions Home

» Excerpts Main Page


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