Characteristics of Successful Products

  • By Carrie Jeske
  • 05 Oct, 2015
This is one of the most important blogs to read and understand because it tells inventors EXACTLY what is required for a product to be successfully sold on TV, by Inventive Ideas licensors.   Sure, there are products that have done well that do not fit these requirements, but not by us.   Please make sure you submit products that are:

1. Demonstrable
The better the visual demonstration of the product the greater the chance for success.  Remember, the product is the star of the commercial and has to shine bright. It has to have some kind of feature or aspect that makes people say, “WOW” and take note.

2. Unique and Practical    
Does your product do something different than anything else out in the marketplace?   It must be practical, not novelty.
3. Problem/Solution/Benefit  
Clearly explain the problem / solution / benefit.  TV buyers are impulse purchasers. If your product can solve an immediate problem, or improve a lifestyle, then they are more apt to buy. The bigger or more common the problem solved, the better your chances of success.

4. Mass Appeal
TV has the power to reach the masses. ‘This is the strength of TV.  However, with the proliferation of cable networks, certain niche categories have the potential to work. (eg. Golf Channel).   The highest selling categories are Pets, Health & Beauty, Kitchen, Storage, Weight Loss, Bath, Tools, and Exercise.

5. Product Pricing
Have an attractive price. $19.95 retail is our sweet spot.   Typically products under $100 are considered good short-form TV items. Products that sell for $29.95, are more accessible to the masses. Lower priced products are more of an impulse item. Well priced products leave the consumer feeling they just got a great deal.

6. Practical
The consumer must see the product as credible, not too gimmicky.   In this economy, people need the product to solve a practical purpose. They want value, ease of use and ingenuity. If people don’t believe it will work as advertised then they will not buy.

7. Easily Explained
Is your product easily explained? A consumer must be able to understand what the product does in a relatively short amount of time. A consumers ability to see your product demonstrated and quickly “get it”, will typically translate in to more sales. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, is why DRTV can be so successful in selling your product.

By Carrie Jeske

By Carrie Jeske 20 Apr, 2017

The goal is low cost, high return inventing sequence. The As Seen On TV (ASOTV) industry is always the fastest, most financially rewarding option, when consumers respond. If ASOTV won’t fly (meaning no one will fully fund your idea and you can’t afford to partially fund the market viability test partnership or your product did test and failed). you need to step back and consider your other options.  Maybe it doesn’t meet the narrow criteria of ASOTV at all?

Inside the As Seen On TV category, patents are not required, but in slower moving. niche distribution channels, they are critical.

As with any service need, you can Do It Yourself (DIY) or hire a professional.    It’s all a choice between time, quality and money.   Below is the sequence I recommend.   The most common mis-step I see inventors make is moving to Step 5 before 1-4 are complete.  This is a mistake since filing a provisional starts a 12 month clock that runs fast.   Negotiating licensing agreements takes time. so completing steps 1-4 first, maximizes your investment of money and time.

Whether your product is selected by our licensing agents and you hire Inventive Ideas or you decide to Do It Yourself. here are the next steps I recommend.   Inventive Ideas does not file patents so you will need to DIY or hire an attorney you can understand for that step.   

Here’s what needs to be done.

  1. Step Back and Research

    1. Consider “Why” ASOTV passed.   Is your product still viable in niche markets or simply not viable at all?
    2. Evaluate competition dominance.   Do you have a better chance in niche markets?  
    3. Identify the niche markets.  It’s easier to get to selected groups and target companies then ever before.
  2. Collect Data

    1. Find similar products being sold and gather manufacture name.  You can find it right on the packaging, online or at the public library.
    2. Develop a spreadsheet contact list of Top 5-10 manufactures.  Not retailers.   Retailers don’t normally license product.  You need to drill down to the manufacture name.   Look on the store shelves at the product packaging.  The manufactures names/brands are listed.  That is your target prospect for licnesing.  Make a list.
  3. Gather Information

    1. Call the phone numbers or post online and ask if the company accepts outside new patent product ideas.   If no, cross them off your list and move on.  If yes, get the correct spelling of the person’s name, their direct extension, and email.   This isn’t easy but it’s possible.  Ask them about the kind of products they are looking for and gather information about the evaluation process.  Build a relationship. (You haven’t shown them your idea yet.  You’re simply making an introduction.)    What you really want, is the contact information.  It doesn’t matter if you speak to them or not at this step.   Get complete contact info.
  4. Produce Marketing Materials of Concept Prototype

    1. Single Sell Sheet in pdf or short demo video hosted on Youtube in “unlisted” setting works best.   I’m not a fan of animations, unless the product is too complex to prototype.  If you spoke with a live person and have an email, move fast.    Make your own Demo Video  or hire Fiverr.com to make a marketing flyer.  
    2. The better you make your prototype look, the more interest you’ll get.   Balance time and money costs.   For more information, see Kinds Of Prototypes and When To Use Them .
  5. File Provisional Patent.

    1. DIY or hire a pro.  Use Legal Zoom for $250 or find an attorney for $1,200 – $5,000.    Remember, filing a provisional patent starts the clock so be ready to roll by making sure steps 1-4 are done BEFORE you file.   The moment you file, the clock is ticking so start hot and begin step 5 within the first hour of having a filing number.    You have 12 months to move forward with a utility patent (3 years and $10-$20,000).   Use your time wisely to evaluate licensing potential and viability.   Waiting to file till steps 1-4 are done allows you to start hot.
  6. Prospect & Gain Feedback.  

    1.  Use Telephone, Email, Online.   Connect on LinkedIn or other social networks.   Be persistent.    Call, mail, call, write, submit, till you get some interest.    Give Permission for negative feedback. You need to hear what’s tested and failed on their side.   Companies have access to insider information not found on the public domain.   If they tested similar products that failed, no patent was filed so it won’t show up in USPTO records or on Amazon, since the product was not manufactured.   Knowing this can save you thousands of dollars and years of time.
  7.  Secure Interest &

    1. If they’re interested, they have questions.   This is the step when  Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA’) get signed, after the call. They want to know more about your product & patent protection.  You want to know more about their company, distribution channel, existing product sales and reason for their interest in this item.    Getting an NDA protects you from them making modifications to your design and leaving you behind.    The time to ask for this is at the end of the call, not before.
  8. Set Up An Conference Call. Carrie Jeske Optional.

    1. This is the time to get Carrie Jeske involved.   Depending on how much time and effort it takes, Carrie Jeske will lead the call and work to close a licnesing agreement for you.   Carrie Jeske will provide a Licensing Agent Agreement to you and agree to a fair royalty split. She’ll fund her expenses, you fund yours.  At this point, there usually aren’t any.  She’s investing her experience, legal agreement templates, value added extras and win-win business model.
    2. Confirm with the Prospect a conference call for any Monday, Wednesday or Friday.   These are high value calls so Carrie Jeske will make them a priority.    Send an email to the Prospect and Carrie Jeske and Carrie Jeske will reply with a Conference Call Call In number that we can use, if you don’t have one yourself.    Carrie Jeske will contact you for a PRE-CALL planning conference call to insure the Goal, Scope and Information Given is understood.   She’ll run the call and you listen in.
    3. GOALS:   1) Identify their Licensing Process. 2) Confirm Nature of Initial Interest.  3) Build Rapport.   4) Confirm Next Steps – sign NDA, send sample, schedule follow up.
  9.  Conference Call De-Brief.

    1. Carrie Jeske and you will discuss how the call went and work on next steps.   Normally, the NDA is completed, samples are sent and next steps confirmed.   Carrie Jeske will lead the remaining steps to signed licensing agreement, audits and royalty payments.
  10.  Receive Mailbox Money.

    1. You’ll receive “mailbox money” every quarter, once your product hits retail sales.Whatever you decide, knowing when to press forward and when to cut bait is an important and intuitive choice.

When making calls, if all you hear is “No Thank You” or crickets, find a place of peace, consult with those closest to you. whom you trust, and make changes to press onward or drop it and move on to your next idea.

Inventing is a gamble for individuals and companies.  Never invest more then you can afford to lose and never make financial decisions out of desperation or fear. 

Cautious Optimistic Hope is your friend.

See you on the shelves!

Carrie Jeske

By Carrie Jeske 06 Apr, 2017

We live in a fast moving, quick changing world.  The opportunity for independent inventors has never been greater. The risks never more crippling.   Be smart when launching new product ideas.  Beating knock-offs can be a dirty business or a magical mystery tour.  Here are my tips on the latter (while taking a dip in the former.)

1) Stay Pure

Use private submissions till you’re ready to go public.   The public domain can generate consumer interest, but it comes at the price of increased market competition.   Don’t take your product idea public too soon.    

Many manufactures in every category including As Seen on TV need time to test the product before investing capital.  In TV, it’s about surveys, web tests and 2-minute TV commercials. Getting a positive result with a strong marketing message takes time.

Stay pure. Find a partner you trust and gather inside feedback to make your pitch and product the strongest it can be.   Leverage industry insiders by giving permission for candid feedback.  Consider negative feedback or you may be dismissing important product and market competition information. If opportunity arises, sign a licensing agreement BEFORE going public. It’s likely the direct licensee can capitalize on the head start so everyone makes more money.

Improve the prototype, product pitch and demo video so when you do go public, you’re putting your best foot forward.  Stay pure, till you’re seriously ready for something more. When you’re in position, put your best effort into going viral. Try crowdfunding.

With 60 Second Salad, the inventors gave WIL the opportunity to complete the testing cycle before going public.  We had an early advantage over competitors. Even so, within weeks of the viral video, Asian knock-offs began flooding Amazon and my email.

2) Marry A King

Once you go public, you’ll get suitors or hear crickets. If a billion-dollar company comes calling, get hitched if they are willing. Be charming, smart and marry for the money!   After all, this is business. You’re not having human babies together.  The King controls the distribution channel and has the power, time, money, connections and experience needed to make your product a financial success. Let them do it.  

Don’t make the mistake of telling a King how to run a business or spend money. Just say “Thank you” and collect a royalty check in the mail then live a happy life, in community with friends and family.

The alternative; become a competitor and battle in the open consumer market. Call it a knock off, a follower, or capitalism. Either way, it’s coming.

A Speedy Wedding  

Be fast and first. A big company with current products already on store shelves has a fine tuned operational infrastructure humming like a sailor on shore leave.  They want more products!  They move fast. Don’t over haggle or delay the prenuptial or they’ll tire with you and move on to another or leave you at the altar. A business marriage is not a lifelong commitment.  It’s a term agreement to make money together. Don’t confuse the two. Make money.

Bring Protection      

Patents

Having a fully granted utility patent is helpful, but only in the hands of a large experienced company. Most independent inventors cannot afford the legal fees to enforce their patent.

Fighting legal battles is what attorneys are trained for.  Don’t be naive.  Knowing how long to draw out a court case, when to settle, and how to leverage product sales to the last penny is a strategy.  An inventors best bet, is to have their patent protected by a direct licensee, large funding source or pro bono legal firm.

Funding

If you’re determined to do it yourself, make sure you have the funding in place to handle large purchase orders.  Start with equity partners, factoring or investor notes then move to credit lines with caution. I strongly discourage credit card debt or high interest business loans.      

Partners

Connecting with the right partner is one of the single most important decisions an inventor can make. Working with someone you trust, who has your back can avoid many pitfalls.  There are no guarantees with product inventing, but feeling good about the people you work with… priceless.

With 60 Second Salad, WIL secured a billion-dollar partner to handle the operational rollout. They took our testing data and ramped up product development and lined up retail buyers in under three months. That’s the power of a King.

3) Flirt with Social Networking, Online Selling, Crowdfunding

If there are no wedding plans, play your own game. But keep an eye out for suiters to avoid being knocked off.

Remarketing

Use remarketing campaigns through Google AdWords and fall in love with social networking. Paying for clicks or sales isn’t easy or cheap but there are low cost strategies that gain market awareness. If you don’t have big bucks, it costs TIME and SKILL.   There are many free preview training programs that will share one to three good ideas for free, in hopes of selling the program.  Before you buy, try DOING the three free steps.  Too often, inventor entrepreneurs focus on the “knowing” rather than the “doing”.  Both are important, but before I’d pay for a program, I’d see if I could implement a few suggestions for free.   Take the free classes, learn, and do. See what works.  The secret is testing to determine your target market.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketers choose the products they want to sell. Sellers provide a unique affiliate code that is used to refer traffic to the target site. Most affiliate programs will offer ready-made text links, banners, and other forms of creative copy.  Affiliates simply copy the code and place it on their website to start referring traffic. Interested visitors click on these links, are redirected to the product site, and if a product purchase is made the referrer makes a commission.

This was a boom in the 1990’s and can still be a fantastic strategy.  Today, inventor entrepreneurs must wade through the mass of internet service providers and affiliate marketing programs.  I don't have all the answers, but if I were investing in a product with this as a strategy I’d require an credible expert on the launch team.

Direct Sales

A no brainer. Your margins are better, but you still must market the site and fund inventory.

Crowdfunding

Get funded and go viral. Be noticed. Just remember; a marriage to the King is still the best end game.

4)   Know Who You Are

If you’re on your own or seeking a partner, know who you are, but let the product lead. The jockey and the horse work together to win the race, but quality horses are harder to develop then good jockey’s.  Leverage what you’ve got.

·     Friendly – great customer service. Excellent return policies.

·     Giving – donations to causes. Affiliation with those causes.

·     Caring – environmentally conscious materials?  Does this matter to your target market?

5)    Do It Better

Ultimately, it’s the product that will stand on its own. Focus on:

·     Uniqueness – Think about product design and problem / solutions consumers will pay for. Think soberly on the truth and integrity of this requirement. Is your product solid or are you making a mountain out of a mole hill?

·     Marketing - Develop legendary branding. Put together a well thought out marketing pitch that is compelling to your target. Be the purple cow.

·     Diversity - Create many product lines. Consider adding accessories and product extensions to broaden the value of your offer. Most knock-offs won’t go the extra mile. Always count the cost.

·     Trademarks - Unlike patents, trademarks are harder to get around. If you have a clever name or brand that the direct licensee values or that the market knows, this could be important.  If not, it’s not. Spend wisely.

·     Value - Price competitively. Is there a strong value proposition?  Today’s consumers have many options for spending money. Is your value clear?

·     Quality - Make the best quality at the lowest possible price to consumers and highest profit margin for you.

With 60 Second Salad, the viral testing video and crowdfunding campaign used a white prototype.  The final rollout product is red, a part of an existing product line, and comes with a bonus knife for added value.

6)    Two Is Better than One

Sometimes it’s best to knock yourself off.  There are a couple of good strategies here.

Different Distribution Channels

With some products, the best of both worlds is possible.  License one version of your product to one market, then make and sell to build a business in another market segment.   Two is better than one.  Get a big company working on a version of your product that works for them and keep on your own path to marketing.  Double dipping with a partner reduces risk for the inventor entrepreneur.

Do this yourself if you can fund the manufacturing and distribution. Working multiple channels where the market pulls product, rather than pushing it up the hill is the way to go.

Different Price Points and Feature/Benefits

Some experts claim covering three price points with a mix of feature/benefit works to keep the big companies at bay.  Try low, medium, high price prices, giving consumers a wide array of choices that all say “Buy Me”.  The risk is too much inventory and higher operational costs.

7)  Love the Masses or Know Your Place

Think soberly. Is the product a mass market consumer item or a niche?  There’s nothing wrong with niche products. In fact, it’s easier to sell niche products on your own sometimes because it takes less money to reach a select group of customers.  Is your product more geared to people who love biking? Is it sports related or fishing?  

Finding the right customer is like having 12 ponds to fish in.  You must figure out what pond has fish and then understand what bait they bite on before you run out of time and money.  The faster you find your target, the more sales.

Mass market products are at greater threat because big companies have greater need for products and more resources to produce them.  They sell more and make more, which by default means greater market competition for dollars.  

Niche products can fly under the radar and become nice lifestyle businesses for inventor entrepreneurs.  The risk of knock offs is much lower with a niche product.

Conclusion

In my way of thinking, making money on a new product idea is the goal.   Avoiding knock offs is an important key toward that end.  I trust these steps will help inventor entrepreneurs make wise decisions, find high quality partners, service providers and direct licensees.   There are a lot of good people in the inventor community and a few scoundrels.  

I hope we can work together on the next big retail rollout.  It is my singular business focus. Please:

1)  Give me "First Look"  on "As Seen On TV" product ideas. Submit to carrie@WillitLaunch.com

2)  Join my  Product Scou t  team.

3)  Participate online  in video Co- Inventing Workshops .

See you on the shelves!

Carrie Jeske

PS - Carrie Jeske has been happily married for 30 years to her Jr. High School sweetheart. They travel extensively but reside in Kansas City.

 

   

 

 

By Drew Hellige 05 Apr, 2017
 On Friday, April 7, 2017 Northwest Missouri State University is hosting the 5th Annual Venture Pitch Competition.  Highschool students, college students and community members will present their new business and product ideas before a panel of judges.  Will It Launch is sponsoring the competition and Carrie Jeske will serve on the judges panel. 

Prizes for the winning teams include cash funding and in-kind services to assist in the pursuit of their new venture. Total purse of cash and in-kind is $80,000.

 

The primary goals of this event are to:

  • Provide students the opportunity to present their ideas to members of the business community, including professionals, small business owners and seasoned investors.

• Provide additional entrepreneurial resources to the community and increase their awareness of various aspects of entrepreneurship at Northwest.

  • Provide the community the opportunity to see what businesses are developing in the community and possibly provide future connections that can help all parties involved.

  • Provide help to individuals involved in all aspects of small business and entrepreneurship to make business connections. (These connections can range from investors connecting with entrepreneurs with an idea they wish to invest in to current small business owners connecting with professionals that can fulfill an important need or a new business idea.)

 

 For more information on this event, please visit the Venture Pitch Competition web page here .  If you're interested in submitting your own ideas directly to Will It Launch please visit our Submit Invention page here .





By Carrie Jeske 29 Mar, 2017

The Will It Launch video for 60-Second Salad is going viral as I write.     In just months 60 Second Salad will be launched at trade shows.   Buyers are already placing pre-orders and expectations are high.  Still, the product must perform well at retail.   

However, the correlation between viral videos and “As Seen On TV” success is not absolute.  I believe in this case, the advantage was timing.   Earlier tests of the 60 Second Salad in November did not perform as well as expected.   Then in January, the video went viral.  To me, the biggest difference was timing.  In November, people are gearing up to eat a lot.   In January, a fast salad seems more desirable.  

The inventors brought us a well-made 3D prototype that was testable.  With a good marketing pitch in place we had a lot to work with.

By Carrie Jeske 29 Mar, 2017

Trade show season is upon us.  Trade show are a great place to find new market ready products for us to sell on TV.  You don’t even have to go to the show!    From the comfort of your own computer, surf the show site for the exhibitors list and floor plan.

If you’re there in person, zero in on the gems inside inventors hearts and minds.  Stay connected to people you like. The products being displayed are picked over hard by competitors and service providers so it's harder to get out front. Most entrepreneurs get financially tapped out if they don’t sell product or secure a licensing agreement in the first couple shows. Almost always, they have other ideas. Dreams. Other inventions that are ripe for our low cost, high return inventing strategies. If you look past the product being shown and connect with people, their next idea may be the big winner that makes money for us all.  

Focus on single product booths.  We’re looking for early stage products that are physically small and solve everyday problems in visually appealing ways.   Google the booth name or click on the website links to see if the products meet our narrow criteria. Product booths with many products are usually (but not always) companies that already have distribution in retail stores. It's worth looking at those lines since it gives insight into what's selling. Occasionally, there is something there that we can partner on.

Put on your inventor cap and use some Invention Techniques to come up with your own unique products to pitch to me.

How To Submit as a Product Scout

Simply email me a link to the website or demo video.  Put the PRODUCT NAME in the SUBJECT line so I can track conversations.   Add a link to a website or demo video in the body of the email with your contact information below.  It’s simple.

My email date and time stamps everything and I reply to each email.  For trusted and loyal product scouts that I’ve been working with over time, I’ll share industry insider tips to help improve your keen eye for the next winner.  Give me under 5 days to reply… a bit more if I’m traveling.

If you are physically at a trade show or local store and see a new item you think I should look at, simply shoot your own short smartphone video or look on the packaging for the website of the manufacture, then send a link.

When you're the first to show me a product, I flag your name as the Product Scout. If we test and rollout the product to retail shelves, you get a piece of the pie in finders fees.

Go International

Want to increase your odds of finding the next winner?  Go international.  Don’t limit yourself to United States trade shows.  Find an international show and search online there. For every kind of show you see in the U.S. there is an international counterpart. Developing international relationships with inventors, service providers, product developers, patent attorneys, manufactures and production companies could be the ticket to an early look at the next million-dollar winner.  Connecting internationally has never been easier.  Searching international shows online can be like digging in a gold mine! Catalogs and small international online retailers are also very good sources.

Stay Local

Checkout your own backyard. There are Home & Garden Shows, Boat Shows, State Fairs, County Fairs, Pet Fairs, Craft Fairs, Do It Yourself (DIY) Shows and more.   Talk to your neighbors, friends, work associates.  Anyone.  Almost everyone you know has a great idea, but they don’t know what to do next. You do. Capitalize on it.

Bottom line.  No one knows where the next big winner will be found.  Where every you go, whatever you do, keep your eyes open and your mind sharp.  A million-dollar product may be in sight.  I’m counting on it.

See you on the shelves,

Carrie Jeske

carrie@willitlaunch.com

816-255-4600 cell


By Carrie Jeske 02 Feb, 2017
MN Inventors Network – Carrie Jeske

Meet Carrie Jeske on February 15th, 2017 at 5:30pm in Hopkins, MN. Carrie shares insider secrets to get ideas on the As Seen on TV shelf space at Walmart and everywhere.

Carrie Jeske is a direct licensee in the Direct Response industry, paying full inventor royalties, through Will It Launch. No patent is required. You just need a simple hand-made prototype to explain the unique benefits and problem solved by your invention. Market ready products launch at lightning speed. Products in stores now are Get Up And Go Cane, RotoClipper, and My Fun Fish.

Carrie’s connections in other distribution channels is vast. Through Inventive Ideas, Carrie Jeske manages a team of licensing agents that work to secure distribution agreements and license filed patents. Successful products include SportsShade Canopy Awning, The Perfect Party Chair and Attach-A-Vac.

Prepare in advance by reading Carrie Jeske’s new book, “ Create New Products As Seen On TV ” on Amazon. Online reviews appreciated.

Carrie Jeske is active on these social networks: FACEBOOK     LINKEDIN       YOUTUBE     TWITTER

If you are unable to attend you can also join Carrie Jeske online at Inventing Workshop.  Every 1st Thursday of the month from 7-9pm.   Click Here for details.

5:30PM Check-in & Networking / 6:00PM Start
Eisenhower Community Center- Hopkins

Who should attend:

• Product Inventors
• New Product Innovators/Entrepreneurs
• New Business Startups

Members: Free
Visitors: $15 (Prepay online @ www.inventorsnetwork.org or cash/check at meeting)

Register Here – click on link, then scroll to bottom of Event page to register and pay.

Our meetings take place on the third Tuesday of each month.

The 5:30 PM Networking and 6:00 PM Meeting are held at:

Eisenhower Community Center,
1001 Highway 7, Hopkins, MN 55403.

5:30-6:00 check in and networking
6:00-7:30 keynote speaker
7:30-8:30 networking and roundtable discussions with industry experts.

FREE PARKING. See Map
All of our activities support the advancement of economic activity and the well being of society. As a matter of policy, the Inventors’ Network does not endorse, qualify, or make any representations concerning the business practices of any member, speaker, visitor or guest of the Inventors’ Network.
The Inventors’ Network is a voluntary membership organization composed of individuals wishing to encourage the development of new ideas and to promote the spirit of innovation through the seeking and sharing of information. Inventors’ Network is accomplishing this goal by focusing the individual and collective experience and expertise of its members, and others, to assist inventors and innovators through the process of bringing their ideas to use, either through commercialization or noncommercial dedication to public betterment. The organization concentrates on providing information which will minimize the investments of time, expense and frustration inventors often experience in developing their ideas. The association has established and operates regular and occasional, meetings, programs, workshops, displays, seminars, counseling and other educational activities. The organization acquires and makes available reference materials and informational resources which will aid in the innovation process. The group provides a forum where persons and companies can meet and interact. It allies with groups who have similar interests.

All of our activities support the advancement of economic activity and the well being of society. As a matter of policy, the Inventor’s Network does not endorse, qualify, or make any representations concerning the business practices of any member, speaker, visitor or guest of the Inventor’s Network.

Join Carrie Jeske online regularly at www.InventingWorkshop.com

By Carrie Jeske 18 Jul, 2016

As Seen On TV Invention Process

1) Make a working prototype.

2) Make a short demo video and post “unlisted” on YouTube.

3) Submit the link to me, as a “First Look” sneak peak. I’ll give you feedback.

4) We’ll do a proprietary market test with real consumers the final judge.

5) We’ll produce a 2 minute TV commercial test. Then do naPonwide full media campaign.

6) We’ll manufacture and roll it into Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and ASOTV shelf space everywhere.

7) You’ll be paid royalPes or finders fees. Mailbox money!

Mass Market or Niche Product?

ASOTV is a home run play. The fastest, least expensive way to hit it big in products. It’s the best, first choice. A small royalty can equal millions paid to the inventor.

If at any stage, your product fails, you still have options. As Seen On TV is simply the first and best distribution channel for physically small, low cost items that solve an everyday problem.

If mass market consumers don’t resonate with the product or the problem/solution, it’s time to move to niche markets. Niche markets generally won’t sell as many units per year or make as much in royalties as a mass market item; but sometimes they do. Plus, $20,000 to $150,000 a year in royalties is still a pretty good part time inventing job to have. For more help, see Inventive Ideas.

The goal of every product idea, is to find where products are purchased, in the highest volumes, and by whom? Then, license the concept to a manufacture/distributor in that area. Simple, right?

Marketing has the same challenges for companies and inventors. Find your niche before running out of cash! That’s why it’s so nice when the ball goes out of the park with the first ASOTV shot. If it doesn’t, you’re not done ba`ng and the game isn’t over. Keep invenPng.

It’s my belief that the inventors instincts are critical. Find a place of peace, once you have all the data, then reflect on it soberly. You’re hearing the good and bad responses to your product and seeing the sales, which are the ultimate guide. Everyone likes a product till you ask them to buy it. Sales are the true reflection of interest. Keep in mind, you’re looking for the target market of people who “buy” it, not who just “like” it.

The next consideration is cash. Every bet you place depletes capital and everything costs either money, Pme or both. You have to hear the feedback you’re ge`ng from consumers and make go/no go decisions along the way. Not every product idea will make it. In fact, most fail to produce a financial return. Knowing when to push forward and when to let go is a tough decision.

That’s one reason I like the ASOTV testing process. It’s void of emotion and measures consumer responsiveness to a specific product pitch at a specific time in history. Results may vary with product variations and timing, but at lease we learn fast what will and will not fly today.

There’s no way of knowing if product redesigns, features pitched or creative will change the outcome. No way to predict which path is lucrative and which are not. I’ve seen every manner of success and failure with seemingly right and wrong choices. No one can predict what consumers will buy or not buy. Product success is a perfect storm of the 7 P’s: Product, Price, Promotion, Placement, Packaging, Positon, People.

You can work with WIL in several ways: Full Licensing Agreement, Partnership

Distribution Plans, or Consulting. To find out which is best for you, just contact ask. Let’s swing for the fences together!

Hope this helps. I’m a long term relationship person who values loyalty, trust and hard work. If that’s you, let’s connect.

If you’re into social networking, it’s helps me and others for you to participate:

FACEBOOK LINKEDIN YOUTUBE TWITTER

Carrie Jeske

carrie@willitlaunch.com


By Carrie Jeske 07 Jul, 2016
This is a great time for innovation so capitalize on the trends and invent smart.

There is much opportunity for independent inventors from TV shows to invention contests and more. The main concern for inventors, is in this public and social environment. There are a lot of resources available, but putting your inventions online can usher in unnecessary competition. If you go that route, be prepared to make decisions quickly and full court press your momentum. Submitting products online telegraphs problems that consumers may be responsive to and gives “deeper pocketed” competitors an advantage in the speed to market game. Understanding the pros’ and cons can help inventors make wise decisions and capitalize on this excellent time for innovation.

In the inventor community, companies and experts often position themselves as one stop shops, when the core competency is actually far more finely tuned. Here’s my assessment of some of the current players and how they can help your quest to see your product on retail shelves.

United Inventor Association
The United Inventors (UIA) is a non-profit inventor group aimed at helping independent inventors. To me, the best part of the UIA is found in the inventor clubs located around the country. These groups are made up of a combination of service providers, entrepreneurs, inventors and positive people wanting to add value.

The current president is John Calvert, formerly with the USPTO. I interviewed John in 2013 and reconnected again just a few months ago. He’s a sharp man with much value to add so I’m excited to see where he takes the organization.

Edison Nation
Working with Edison Nation can be a good choice if you have a concept that does not meet the 7 criteria for successful ASOTV products.   They have a strong presence in many industries and would be a great partner, in you need help developing and licensing a non-ASOTV item at concept stage.

The first time I met the companies CEO, Louis Foreman, was in 2013 at the USPTO Independent Inventor Conference.   He advocates heavily for independent inventors legislatively. I found him to be a compelling speaker and he seemed genuinely concerned about helping independent inventors.

Edison Nation charges submission fees and take approximately 50% percent of the inventor royalties.   I haven’t seen a win come from this group since the Gyro Bowl and I did hear through the grapevine their cash flow is tight, so it will be interesting to see what changes emerge.

If your invention does meet the criteria for successful ASOTV products, why give up 1/2 the royalties?   There are many companies like Edison Nation that sub-license to my ASOTV back end partners. After all, knowing who to turn to is worth something.

Quirky
The folks at Quirky are strong product developers. Many of the inventors active in the Quirky community also serve on my product scout team so I review a lot of their items.

The company is unique in that it relies on a community of influencers to help select which submissions to move forward with. You can learn a lot about the product development process simply by observing the submissions that succeed and fail.  

Since the core competency of Quirky is product development, many of the inventions are simply “better mousetraps” with trendy new designs.   Recently, the company has struggled to find functional value and to differentiate it’s products in a way that spark consumer spending interest.

Where Quirky has been successful is in the electronics category. They have several winners in this market segment so my Q insiders say that business segment will remain in tact, even as change is in the wind for the other product categories.

Private equity partners have brought in GE and Mattel as partner companies. I’m told the company will return to it’s product development roots and be more willing to license it’s designs, rather than incur the cost and risks inherit in the operational challenges of taking a product onto the retail store shelves. I would surmise most of their new products will household and toy.

Quirky can be a great resource for non-ASOTV items that need development, but like Edison Nation, they take a percentage of royalties, so for ASOTV products, it’s best to submit directly to WillitLaunch.com where the inventor receives full royalties with no split or submission fees.

Related:
How the invention factory at Quirky almost imagined its way out of business

Shark Tank
Shark Tank is a popular reality show that is a buzzing machine of entrepreneurial and inventor education. I just love free education!   There are many online radio shows and blogs dedicated to detailed analysis and play by play of the Shark Tank drama.  

Recently, I met Barbara Corcoran at the Park University’s Xerox Global Business Lecture series. She said many of the deals that get made on the show, never materialize during the due diligence phase.   She elaborated on the behind the scenes saga that now is becoming the Beyond The Tank series.  

Most inventors will spend time and travel expense to audition and not be selected. For those that are, a few will (out of pride or promotion) walk away from the opportunity of a life time. For others, their dreams will become reality and their products and services will sell millions.

The popularity of Shark Tank has sparked an increase in innovation and the shows investors do have the ability to produce product and grow company revenue, in very short order.  

My caution is, don’t pin your dreams on Shark Tank as your only solution. Contact retail buyers and work to license your intellectual property before going on the show. If you do get a deal, guard yourself against the sales spike by controlling your expenses during the feeding frenzy and save profits, to be re-invested in future inventory.   Don’t expect money in your own pocket for a while.

My insiders tell me the Sharks often encourage companies to bring on debt, since future funding is often needed and the equity pie is already nearly 1/2. This is a concern for me because it reduces the financial risk of the Shark, but puts the inventor at higher financial risk. Debt is a strategy I strongly advise against, in almost every instance.

Good Books
The Inventor’s Bible by Ronald Louis Docie Sr.
This book is an easy read and helps inventors with simple ideas.

Patent Pending in 24 Hours by Richard Stim and David Pressmen
David Pressman, a leader in intellectual property for independent inventors. This book offers a comprehensive overview, along with detail in just the right places.

Simple Steps To Retail - See Your Idea “As Seen On TV” by Carrie Jeske
Forgive the shameless plug, but I’ve been gaining experience to write this book since 2013. For a sneak peak, read my blogs or check our social networks for the coming launch.

Inventive Ideas, Inc.
Inventive Ideas got it’s start by launching and licensing it’s own products in 2000 and expanding it’s reach through volunteer service in the inventor community.

The company develops, trains and supports a team of product scouts and licensing agents, located around the globe. Inventive Ideas set’s up Open Innovation platforms to manufacture/distributors looking for products and offers Licensing Agent services to inventors who have a patent filed.

Pam Woods, VP of Licensing says, “We can’t guarantee we’ll get you a licensing agreement, but we’ll give your product it’s best shot at success.” Inventive agents collaborates with product owners to build a top 25 hit list, then works that list over a 3 month term gathering feedback, gaining interest and securing well written licensing agreements.  

Considering time, their most valuable resource, the team is highly selective about which products and inventors to work with. Working with only a few clients a year, licensing success rate is very high.


Crowdfunding
My team of product scouts, along with every other company, service provider and merry band of inventor and entrepreneurial resource are all on the Crowdfunding bandwagon.   I’m told the next big wave is called “Equity Crowdfunding” where instead of product sales you offer a piece of the company pie.

I have a friend who raised almost $60,000 on a kids toy and has built the business to almost 1 million dollars from his garage, with the kids doing order fulfillment. Now that’s a success story.  

Don’t forget. It’s a crowded platform now so you have to market your campaign well and if successful, quickly sort through service providers verses licensee partners.   If you’re item does well, you’ll need to move fast to net a profit.   Decided between “Make and Sell” and “Licensing” as quickly as possible and go for it. Your on the public domain so competitors will emerge faster than you might think.

Fiverr & Elance
What a wonderful time to find service providers! There are so many low cost resources available that the start-up costs of inventing can remain very low. Graphic design, sell sheets, demo videos, CAD drawings and freelancers are all willing to work on your project at a fraction of what it used to cost.  

Popular sites like Elance and Fiverr are hot beds of opportunity.   I have not used Elance but I use Fiverr all the time.   I find it’s best to go with the more highly rated service providers. Also, be careful not to stray outside the box of what they offer. Many have services or “gigs” that are very specific for only $5. Anything outside that box costs more.   Start with simple requests within the $5 simple range till you get comfortable with the system and the people.   I have my own stable of go to experts now that provide great work, in a short time frame, without much expense. To me, that’s a match made in heaven.  

Make your designs look so real that companies can’t wait to buy and manufacture your ideas and inventions.

3-D printing
Making a prototype has never been easier. There are many good product developers on Linkedin. Join a group and start asking questions. If you’re looking for 3D printing services near you, here’s a webpage that might help.   Also, many public libraries are adding 3D printing to their list of services.   These machines are becoming so prevalent and so cost effective that I anticipate a major surge in innovation in every category.   However, 3D printers are especially helpful in the ASOTV distribution channel because they allow us to to produce well made prototypes that make the market viability testing process more successful.

As Seen on TV
The fastest, least expensive way an inventor can make money on an idea. It’a category, not a company. The red and white logo is public domain but don’t use it because it makes insiders think your product was tested and failed. That is the kiss of death for a licensing agreement in this category.

There are no submission fees and we pay full inventor royalties!   We review hand made mock-up prototypes, finished goods and imports. Just send a link to a demo video or website with the Product Name listed in the Subject line.   Our email date and time stamps your submission.  

We’ll review the idea in a few days and reply with specific feedback. Term sheets to test market viability can be offered in under 30 days with tests completed in under 120 days or less. To find out more, watch my video, Sell Your Invention With No Patent and a Simple Prototype .

In closing, however you choose to move forward, I wish you all the best. This is a great time for innovation. Keep your costs low, choose the right partners and sprinkle a bit of pixy dust for luck along the way.

See you on the shelves,

Carrie Jeske

By Carrie Jeske 12 Jan, 2016
Recently, I led a co-inventor workshop at the Inventors Center of KC and about 20 inventors came together to brainstorm “Hot and Trendy” items for TV.   The tweens are really buying product now!

One of the many concepts that came out of the Trends segment of the workshop  was the layered hair dying, wild hair color trend that we see right now.     We considered hair chalk and found several suppliers online so the product was out there, but in limited distribution and not really marketed very well.     Then, I did a Google Video search and cued up the new Hot Huez Hair Chalk so we realized this concept had already been done on TV, and moved on to another concept.

The experience got me thinking about inventing techniques though.

When you look at the Hot Huez video, you can see how they enhanced the value of the chalk already on the market by show demonstrations of the handy applicator and really promoting its “ease of use”
The product demonstrates very well. The jury is still out on whether it will be a winner, but inventors can learn well from this process.
By Carrie Jeske 21 Dec, 2015
 Understanding the licensing agreement is critical to an inventor.   I’ve sat on both sides of the table now and have a pretty good idea what makes a fair agreement.   Here’s what I’ve learned.

Work and Play Well With Others
Investors don’t like to work with arrogant inventors no matter how good the product is.   People with money have a lot of options about where to spend it. The best investors are those who’ve worked hard and will admit to a little luck in the process. They’ve been around the block a few times and reached a place where they can enjoy choosing to work only with people they like.   These are my kind of investors.   Generally, if someone is willing to deal with anyone and their brother, just to make money… they normally haven’t really made big money themselves.
So be nice. The investor is there to help. If you get a sense this is not the case, just walk away.   It’s not worth the time.

The Royalties
Inventors can shoot themselves in the foot by playing hardball on the royalty rate. It may seem like the smart thing to do, but it’s not always. Remember, the licensee is making a substantial investment with the hope of a return. They are investing manpower, infrastructure, and time, normally on an item untested in the big leagues.
Sometimes, there is a need to bring in strategic alliances that were unanticipated on the front end, but whom increase sales potential substantially. If the inventor played hardball and negotiated too much royalty, there may not be any slices of pie leftover to invite other inside.   If this is the case, eventually the manufacture will lose steam on the item and it may wash out, with the inventors’ royalty rate high and their earning meager.

I would prefer a smaller royalty rate with a motivated and dedicated manufacture, whose going to focus on my product and do everything in their power to see it successful.

Every industry has different inventor royalty standards. Find out what range you should be in for your industry.   For As Seen on TV, short form 2-minute tv spots… the range is 1-5% to the inventor.   The more developed and tested the item, the higher the range. The less tested and developed, the less the range.

The Term
The term may vary based on industry, product buying cycles and development plans.   Just ask questions and learn, then be reasonable.   As a general rule, the inventor wants a 12 month initial term with a renewing 24 month term, provided minimum royalty guarantees are met.
What inventors don’t want is a long term and small minimum royalty because it allows a manufacture to sit on your item. The best agreement for the inventor is the one that insure focus on selling the product.   If they are not prepared to do that or if the product doesn’t prove out viable for that manufacture, the rights need to revert back to the inventor releasing the product to test in other distribution channels.

Minimum Guaranteed Royalties
If a licensee does not agree to some kind of minimum royalty guarantee, walk away.     It’s all about time vs money here. The more time the product is tied up, the greater the minimum royalty guarantee. The less time, the less royalty.
One example I recently saw was a 24 month term with a minimum royalty of $20,000.   To me that seems like a long term and low number. Not a good plan for the inventor, unless you plan on doing nothing anyway.
This is a good time to discuss the manufactures sales plan and sales strategy. They know their business and their capabilities, you do not.   Don’t attempt to add value here or pretend to know their business.   As the inventor, you’re looking to hear a reasonable approach to selling your item and gain agreement on the minimum number of units or wholesale sales that they are comfortable with.     Keep in mind, both inventor and manufacture have the same goal. Sell as many units as possible, in the least amount of time, at the highest profit.   Simple.   Stay on common ground.

Advanced Royalties / Inventory Purchases
It’s tough to get advanced royalties but possible. Again, common sense comes into play.   If you’re asked to pause your licensing efforts to give them more time to evaluate the item, that’s worth some money.
If you have inventory available, licensees may be willing to purchase it at cost or wholesale value.
Know The Math & Understand The Language
Here’s a biggest gotcha that I see.   Understanding the language and the math is most important. If you’re unsure, ask the question, then reword the documents so it’s clear.

Are inventor royalties paid off the gross profit, the net profit, the gross proceeds, or wholesale cost?
Gross profit equals Revenue less Cost of Goods. Since the inventor is not in control of the cost of goods or what accounting method is used that defines Cost of Goods, this is not good language to be paid royalties by.   The inventor cannot control it and it’s intentionally vague.
Net profit equals Revenue less Cost of Goods, less expenses.   This is even a worse description to pay inventor royalties from because it allows the manufacture to deduct all their expenses from the inventor royalty.

Gross proceeds received from licensing royalties, is a term that’s been cropping up lately.   This is very misleading to the inventor and normally very costly too.   Many of the agreements I’ve seen have the inventor earning 15-50% of the gross proceeds.   Sometimes inventors confuse this language, thinking this is a royalty rate.   As if they are getting a 15% royalty rate.   That’s not the case.   Here an example from our industry, paying a standard 3% royalty on wholesale price.
$11 Wholesale price x 3% royalty = $330,000 per million units sold.   If a company pays an inventor on the “gross proceeds received from licensing royalties”, then the inventor earns a percentage of the $330,000.   It’s not a good deal when you can submit directly to Will It Launch and receive 100% of the inventor royalties.

A Win Win Win.
Just be reasonable and kind.   Give and take.   Figure out the aspect of the agreement is most important to you and understand what is most important to the licensee.   A good agreement is when both parties compromise and when the licensee is committed to allocate resources that create product sales, to the best of their ability.

Onward & Upward,
Carrie Jeske
More Posts
Share by: