Wade Sun is the inventor of the Disc Eraser™. He has written an article for AmericanInventorSpot.com readers as a guest blogger to share the lessons he learned as he went through the process of developing his invention.
Over the past week, we published the first three parts of his four part series on his 13 Rules of Invention Success. Here is Part 4 of his 4 part series:
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I made a few more prototypes and spent the next few months looking for licensees and was able to demonstrate my prototypes to the few that were interested. Licensing is difficult, most companies will not look at outside ideas. They will not be as passionate about it as you are, and are very slow and difficult to negotiate with (they want your product for free, and don’t want to pay you anything upfront). It’s like talking to an elephant to move. You are the small guy. I could write a long article sharing my struggles and experiences of licensing, but that is another story, and without pictures. Therefore I decided to manufacture it myself.
RULE #11 MANUFACTURE IF YOU CAN.
This was my original intent, but my family and inventor’s groups suggested that I license it. “It will be much easier,” everyone said. “Engineers are not good at marketing or business.” “Don’t dare manufacture, it’s a hassle.” “You won’t be able to sell it by yourself.” You know what? I learned to do all these things! I love to learn, I have a high IQ, so I’m driven to do something new. I don’t put myself in a box, and neither should you. Anyone can have a “Can-Do!” attitude and accomplish many things. Don’t have a lazy attitude, that some company will take your idea and run with it, and you can just sit back and collect money - this rarely happens.
I like to be involved; for me, it’s exciting to become an entrepreneur and venture my Disc EraserTM. I have family connections in China, and worked with my uncle to find a manufacturer. It cost me about 20x less to manufacture in China than it does the US. My prototype helped them a lot, and you can see how close the finished product is to my final prototype. Only minor changes were made = I did well !!
There are a few things to watch out for when you manfacture, especially overseas, but I won’t get into that here. My early design considerations really paid off, I’ve kept manufacturing costs low, and am now starting to market and sell my Disc Eraser at an affordable price (Buy one now!). And, I still have the option to license it, because after you manufacture, you have a lot more leverage and know the costs and toolings. I can sell my toolings also. Obviously, a lot more options than I had when I first tried to license it out. I should be able to break even soon because I kept my development costs low. And I’m learning like crazy about marketing and business; you can visit my website at www.DiscEraser.com to see my marketing approach, I have new marketing ideas every day. Picking a name, logos, trademark, advertising, packaging, etc... that is another story altogether! I strive to be as creative in marketing as I am at inventing. It’s pretty exciting for me, I’m a quick learner and enjoy new things. And I thank the many people who have helped me along the way, and feel inclined to do the same with this article and with my new product development business, SunZag Creative Products.
In terms of prototyping, I spent less than $50 on the plastics materials and molding compounds. $40 on the paper trimmers and carriages. What I gained in experience is priceless, not to mention the fun and excitement of discovering new ways to overcome problems with creative solutions. Inventing is about trial and error, perseverance, learning, and thinking out of the box. Get help from others, read books and educate yourself, learn from others’ experiences, attend inventors goup meetings. When you fail, don’t give up. Move onto something else, don’t get bogged down. You have to focus on your best ideas. I’ve focused the last 2 years on my Disc Eraser with only 2 other projects on the side. Very few American Inventors have gone from conception to manufacture to market in 2 years’ time, by doing it alone, and spending less than 10% of my engineer’s yearly salary. I’m probably the most efficient do-it-yourself American Inventor, and I would rather serve as a role model than win that million dollar prize. Those finalists definitely need it more than I do!
RULE #12 DON’T SPEND MORE THAN 20% OF YOUR INCOME ON INVENTING.
It saddened me to see the American Inventors who sold everything, are in debt, jeopardize their health/family, or quit their jobs to pursue their ‘dream’. It is evident that spending money on inventing can be an addiction, just like gambling, and I’m glad the show points this out to people. I pray this article saves you a lot of time and money. This is the way that it should be for successful inventing, to manage cost.
My dad has been my invention coach since I was young, always reminding me to keep things simple and easy, and has helped in all my inventions. He was a small time inventor, and so was my grandfather. I’ve learned much from failures and shortcomings in the past. Projects that had to stop for one reason or another, you have to let go of them. I wouldn’t spend over 5 years banking on one invention. Your time and resources are limited, but your mind and your ideas are not, so move on! Holding onto a losing invention is like a bad investment...you have to know when to get out early. I am glad I moved on to eventually invent the Disc EraserTM.
RULE #13 MOVE ON, AND EVENTUALLY YOU WILL HAVE A WINNER!
I hope you remember “lucky” Rule #13, use it, and good luck to all my friends, all you inventors out there! I hope you enjoyed this. I will probably go on to write a book, with other chapters covering what I didn’t discuss here. What did you get out of it? Feel free to email me, I’d like to hear from you. Packaged & ready to sell!
RULE #1 INVENT FOR THE MARKETPLACE RULE
#2 BE AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD OF INVENTION RULE
#3 BE OBSERVANT RULE
#4 BE THOROUGH RULE
#5 RESEARCH BEFORE APPLYING FOR A PATENT RULE
#6 BE RESOURCEFUL RULE
#7 KEEP YOUR FIRST PROTOTYPE SIMPLE RULE
#8 KEEP YOUR DESIGNS SIMPLE RULE
#9 BE EFFICIENT RULE
#10 BE OPEN-MINDED AND CREATIVE RULE
#11 MANUFACTURE IF YOU CAN RULE
#12 DON’T SPEND MORE THAN 20% OF YOUR INCOME ON INVENTING RULE
#13 (Lucky)MOVE ON, AND EVENTUALLY YOU WILL HAVE A WINNER!
Copyright © 2006. SunZag Creative Products. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the author.
Thanks to Wade for sharing his hard won lessons about inventing with us.