Energy Saving & Environmental Inventions: Lessons Learned

Is now the time to make a ton of money on energy saving and environmental inventions?

In the early 1980’s, after I successfully commercialized my first invention, I decided I would change the direction of my business, and market ideas, patents and technology solely in the “green” categories of saving energy, helping the environment, reducing pollution, etc.

Being a successful inventor, many other inventors would approach me — some of whom had inventions that would save millions of barrels of oil, reduce C02 and other pollutions ten-fold, save energy and in general help the environment, our quality of lives and the planet.
The notion of working for inventors with such idealistic standards was exciting and encouraging.  However, being a neophyte in marketing and only in my 20s, I would have never believed what I was about to learn about marketing energy-saving inventions.

At the time, the US Department of Energy was the only branch of the U.S. Government that had programs and financing specifically for inventors. Further, the U.S. Government funded the SBIR (Small Business Innovation and Research) program, and billions of dollars were allocated for inventors and small companies to develop innovative technologies geared toward saving energy and the environment. However, after their research was successfully concluded, it was up to the grant recipients to figure out how to commercialize, market or license these fabulous technologies.

Here comes Docie Invention and Patent Marketing Services to the rescue. I went to the conferences sponsored by the US Government for these energy programs and I sought out the top inventions and inventors who seemed most reasonable and willing to work towards commercializing their technology. I even provided most of my services on a commission basis.

The net result: I essentially financially lost my butt and had to completely remodel my business.
Here we were, in the early 80s when the first oil embargo took place, interest rates were in the double digits and the gasoline prices increased at least threefold in a very short period of time. You would have thought the timing was perfect to commercialize any energy-saving invention, whether or not it had an environmental twist to it. Guess again.

The oil embargo blew over, fuel prices stabilized, the presidential administration and congress changed guard, and all of a sudden we went from a condition of everyone being so concerned about affordable gasoline to business as usual; who cares. Does this scenario sound familiar? It should, because the exact same thing took place just recently when we were on the path to having strict fuel standards for vehicles but instead saw an explosion of gas guzzling SUVs. History repeated itself, almost to a T.

The vivid lesson learned by these examples apply to all inventors seeking to commercialize their patents, new products and technologies. The lesson is, it matters not what the facts are, it matters only what the facts are perceived to be.

There is largely a disconnect between what is true value as recognized by an inventor who developed a truly wonderful and valuable invention, and what is perceived as value by the consuming public.  For example: we might know that health food is better for us, but are there more health food establishments, or convenience stores selling sugar, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes?  We might know that we should conserve fuel, but how many people go out of their way to do so in a serious way, let alone make a sacrifice?

So, you as the inventor may have a wonderful invention that may save lives, help the environment, reduce energy consumption and so forth.  Will it sell?  That is another story. Why? Because consumers don’t always make purchases, or even make life decisions, that are in their best interest.

Ron Docie, Sr.
President, Docie Development LLC
Guest Blogger

Ron Docie, Sr. is President of Docie Marketing and Docie Development. He is the author of The Inventor's Bible, How to Market and License Your Brilliant Ideas, and has successfully commercialized new products and technology for himself and his inventor clients for over three decades.