GETTING YOUR INVENTION
IN THE [VIPs] DOOR
Improving the Odds by Professionalizing Your Presentation
© By Stephen Paul Gnass
Having been in the invention field for so many
years, I understand how important it is for inventors to get
their products seen by a wide variety of "VIPs" [i.e. licensing
agents, licensees, manufacturers, investors, distributors,
But I also know that in the inventor's initial
enthusiasm and excitement, that the inventor has difficulties
determining when it's the right time to send information, as
well as how much or how little to send.
One thing that I've experienced, which is
mostly done by beginning inventors, is the sending out of
unsolicited invention materials by physical mail to VIPS,
without ever talking to them first. It's very much like email
spam - but instead it's physical whether with postcards or a
letter description of their invention, packages, or sample
Sometimes the product is only in the idea
stage, and yet the beginning inventor is mailing out sketches
with a description, without having talked to anyone first, and
without being protected in any way.
There have even been times when I have
received a registered letter from an inventor I've never spoken
to before, which had confidential invention information. After
opening it, and realizing what it was, I felt this put me in an
awkward position, so now I don't accept registered packages
from inventors that I don't know.
I personally believe and think that these
unsolicited mailings are an intrusion on the VIP's time, and
puts your invention materials into the category of junk mail,
(unsolicited ) so it could quickly be tossed out as soon as it
There's always a small possibility that
sending things unsolicited may work, but it's a real roll of
the dice, and most often, has a negative effect and can set the
inventor up for failure.
Another thing I've seen is inventors making a
VIP feel obligated when they send a VIP something that is of
value to them, but that the VIP never requested. I've seen
situations where the inventor was "MAD" and upset at a VIP who
lost their prototype, product etc. It may have been the
inventor's only prototype or a costly limited sample, but the
inventor had sent it unrequested [i.e. unsolicited], and now
the inventor was blaming the VIP for losing it. For this
reason, some VIPs don't like to accept prototypes or any
Too Much or Too Little
Sometimes the inventor sends the VIP contact
too much information, and too soon. At other times, when it's
the right time to send information, they may not send enough,
or they don't send the right information.
So the question is what's too much, and what's
too little? And when should you send your materials? Here are
some tips that may be helpful to you.
In order to take a look at the scenario from
the VIP's point of view, I feel that my recent experience as
one of the judges for a new product hunt contest, illustrates
well what VIPs go through when trying to review inventions.
Here Comes the Judge
I, along with the other judges, received the
entries by e-mail, which had the inventor's contact
information, the invention name, and a brief description of the
invention. The entries that had a link to a web site or web
page advertisement [like a cyber-exhibit on the InventionConnection.co
m], made the process much easier for me because I could
just click on the link to find out more about the product and
see pictures. I separated these inventions into a folder
earmarked for immediate review.
However, I was surprised at how many inventors
stated that they didn't have a web site or web page ad. It was
difficult to understand these inventions from only the small
descriptive paragraph without any visuals, which meant that I
had to separate these inventions into another folder for manual
follow up. Then I had to contact the inventor directly and
request that he/she separately email me pictures, or when they
didn't have pictures they could email, to send me materials by
Now, with hundreds of entries, you can see how
this became complicated. This added lots of administrative work
for my support staff. First we had to wait for these materials
to arrive, then we had to process them, label them, and match
them up with the entries. Some inventors sent videos and I had
to set aside time to watch the videos. Other inventors sent
samples, and I had to dedicate time to view them, as well as
make space to store the samples.
There was a timeframe for submitting entries
for the contest, as well as for judging the inventions. My
personal belief is that the entries that had a web site and/or
web page ad were geared to make the job the easiest for the
judges. Keeping in mind that each of these judges were
simultaneously busy with their careers and lives outside of the
contest, I think that by default, some of the inventions that
were too cumbersome and time-intensive for the time-crunched
judges to review, might have inadvertently been left out.
So what's the point? Well, VIPs go through a
similar process that I just described. Although they don't
usually have to review so many inventions all at once, they're
busy with their careers, and they have numerous details and
obligations to handle each day.
Keeping the VIP in Mind
Even though you may feel that you're
presenting VIPs with an opportunity that could be extremely
valuable for both parties, you'll want to make it as easy as
possible for the VIP to take a look at your product. You're
probably not the only inventor or project that they're involved
with, so you might want to follow some rules of protocol, of
etiquette. For example, take into consideration what the best
presentation format is for the VIP, and make sure that you
don't create extra work for the VIP, or an obligation that
he/she feels required to fulfill.
Remember that VIPs are real people, just like
you and me, with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. I know
some VIPs who prefer to view videos, while others like to see
the actual invention itself. Some like information to be faxed
to them. Still others, like to see inventions on the web, like
a web site, either your own or a web site advertisement, like
the Invention Connection's cyber-booth etc., before getting
more detailed information.
What's the Best Presentation Medium?
I've found that it's a personal thing, which
is determined by what the invention is, where the inventor is
at in the invention process, and what the inventor is trying to
One of the things I do with my clients, is to
brainstorm to help them determine which medium helps to best
explain how their product functions. Some presentation styles
are better suited to some types of inventions. For example, a
video may be the best way to explain how a certain product
works. At other times, sending a prototype or sample may be
the best way to demonstrate it. I like to help my clients see
all their options, and the many ways a presentation can be
developed for little or no money.
With so many people are on the internet now,
my personal favorite medium is a web site and web page ad i.e.
a cyber-show ad. Almost everyone can send and receive emails,
and see web sites. I think it's a great tool for inventors.
Then, if the VIPs are interested in pursuing discussions, you
can find out what they need, and upon their request, send them
The Difference Between a Web Site and Web Page Ad
In regards to people who have a web site, I've
found that there is confusion about what the difference is
between a web site and a web page ad. I often explain that a
web site is very much like a brochure, it's something you send
out to people that you're contacting. Unless you do a great
deal of promotion for your web site, for most inventors, it
will be one out of millions of web sites on the internet, like
a needle in a haystack. So many times, the only people who will
see it and know about it, are the ones that you have sent the
On the other hand, a web page ad is an
advertisement on a venue that features inventions, like the
Invention Connection Cyber-show, where VIPs come searching for
inventions. It should have a professionally written
description, along with pictures, what the inventor is seeking,
and the inventors contact information. I often explain to my
clients that showcasing an invention is essential in order to
be seen by the incognito VIPs that are actively looking for new
But that to increase the odds of success,
inventors should both proactively seek VIPs, as well as display
their invention in places where VIPs can find them. Exhibiting
with a web page ad [i.e. cyber-booth] is a professional tool to
let VIPs know that your invention is available for license,
Bottom line, if you're hoping to have better
receptivity when dealing with VIPs, try to think about the VIPs
who will be viewing your invention, and their time constraints,
when developing your presentation materials. Following these
guidelines for social graces, and tailoring your presentation
to the VIP, will hopefully make the inventing environment a
little better for everyone.
I wish you good luck and Godspeed.
Stephen Paul Gnass
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ABOUT STEPHEN GNASS:
Stephen Paul Gnass is founder of InventionConvention.com,
Executive Director of the National Congress of Inventor
Organizations [NCIO] and an inventors advocate. Mr. Gnass
speaks on the subject of the "Business of Inventing" [tm] and
has had his articles reprinted in various magazines. As Senior
Consultant with the Gnass Group, he consults independent
inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. He can be emailed at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.businessofinventin
A SPECIAL NOTE: Complimentary
If you're further along the path of inventing and are ready to
launch your product, and need assistance in determining whether
to license your idea or build a company around your invention,
I'll be more then happy to offer you a Complimentary
Brainstorm, no obligation. For a Complimentary Brainstorm,
please be sure to include your phone number with area code and
your time zone [continental U.S.] with the best times to call
you back in your email. If you're in Canada or another country,
email us for special instructions.
Sincerely Stephen Paul
P.S. I offer additional brainstorming as part of the cyber-
exhibiting program. Or, if you have special projects or
problems and you need some brainstorming, I also offer a-la-
carte consulting sessions with a special rate for inventors.
Situations like these, that I describe in these articles,
are snapshots at the time that I write them. Things may
change, for example, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rules or laws may
change, etc. In addition to the constant research that we're
doing, I would like to personally speak with anyone that has
had a similar or related experience. Feel free to email me at
email@example.com and include the best time
to get in touch with you.
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