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TIA: Tennessee Inventors Association in Knoxville Tenn and Oak Ridge TN
Oak Ridge and Knoxville, TN  

August 2009 Meeting with Louis Foreman speaking

Meeting Date: 
August 14, 2009

Louis Foreman, the executive producer of Everyday Edisons, founder of Enventys and Edison Nation,  and the author of the new book The Independent Inventors Handbook, provided a very informative talk at the August 15, 2009, TIA meeting.

Louis showed the members a short video, after which he described his background. He described himself as a serial entrepreneur. He founded Eventys 15 years earlier and has a staff of 50 in Charlotte, NC. Eventys primarily assists medium to large companies with the development of new products.

In 2005 and started the Everyday Edisons project as a means to aid independent inventors.  The show was picked up by PBS and won two Emmy Awards its first year. The third season of Everyday Edisons is scheduled to air the first quarter of 2010.

Louis is also the publisher of Inventors Digest. He currently makes a substantial donation to the magazine to keep it available to the public. Under his leadership, Inventors Digest went from a quarterly magazine to a monthly.

He also was instrumental in forming Edison Nation, a website that is an online community and resource  dedicated to inventors and idea people.

Louis says that there are some great ideas out there, but, frequently, the follow through is not there. That is, the ideas die on the vine and are never commercialized as they should be.

He discussed moving from the idea to making money. Execution is the key, not money. That is, following through with the idea and doing the work to develop and promote the idea should be the focus. He also discussed how innovation is running rampant in modern society.  Currently, 50% of products being sold are less than two years old.

Risks versus Rewards. Risks include financial risks, time investment, liabilities, and the risk of failure. The rewards include profit, recognition, and satisfaction.

He next discussed things to consider regarding the feasibility of an idea. The focus should be on ROI (return on investment) because it is expensive to develop an idea.  Feasibility needs to consider the product that embodies the invention because it is the product that customers buy and it is the product that earns the inventor money.

First, the inventor should consider what is the product? The inventor should be able to identify what makes the product unique. What is the value of the product to the customer?  What are the differences between the invention and competitive products.

Second, who is the customer? Not everyone in the world will buy the invention. Different products appeal to different people.  A realistic look at who would buy the product needs to be considered. Factors include age bracket of prospective customers, income level, where they are located, and their education level.

Third, the inventor should investigate how will the customer react? Customer reaction is necessary so that the inventor can
•    determine if there is a real need for the product,
•    who would buy the product (it may not be the user of the product),
•    what drives the purchase of the product,
•    where the product would be bought, and
•    how much would a customer be willing to pay for the product.

Fourth, the inventor needs to figure out how much money is needed.  Initially, the inventor needs to be concerned with a startup budget.  Startup costs include research, product development, prototypes, and patent fees and costs.  Next, the inventor needs to determine operational costs and develop a pro-forma income statement (that is, an income statement that looks forward and projects future income).

Fifth, the inventor needs to determine where the money will come from. Investment of money can be from friends and family, banks, the SBA, private equity, and venture capital.  When asking for money, focus on earnings, not the cost to develop the product.

If the numbers do not add up, don't do it.  Louis gave the advice to fail early and fail often.  He pointed out that Thomas Edison had many, many failures, but he also had some successes for which he is still remembered.

Louis described the next steps after coming up with an idea. Those steps include
•    find money
•    protect the idea
•    develop a proof of concept model
•    develop branding and marketing plan
•    sell the product or license it

He said that there are many resources out there. There is the PTO website, Inventors Digest magazine and website, Everyday Edisons, Edison Nation <>, and books, such as his book.  Copies of his new book were sold at the meeting and Louis signed the books.

The meeting closed with Louis Foreman answering questions.  Several members asked about Eventys. Louis said that Eventys works with established companies.  Eventys charges a fixed fee with a pay as you go plan.  He said that he created Everyday Edisons to help those that may not be suitable candidates for Eventys.

The last question was if there was any difference between consumer products versus industrial products. Louis said that there was no difference. The principles are the same regardless of the invention and product.