Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes it comes when we least expect it.
For me, the “a-ha!” moment often hits in the dead of night, or when I’m in the middle of a meeting or driving. We Americans are a nation of problem-solvers, and it’s no wonder that we’ve come up with some of the world’s best ideas. The list of world-changing inventions dreamed up by Americans is astounding.
Sometimes, what you or I think of as a revolutionary idea has already been tried; other times they’re not practical, not marketable or are hamstrung by red tape and competition. But every once in a while, somebody comes up with something amazing and makes millions. It’s this quest for fame and fortune that drives many people to take their idea for a “better mousetrap” and go for it.
TV shows such as “Shark Tank” have propelled many inventors to riches and glory, as celebrity investors decide whether the ideas are worth a shot. An industry has even sprung up around the potential profit in new inventions, promising to help get your idea patented, protected and marketed.
But, as some budding Edisons have discovered, many “invention promotion” companies are nothing but scams, designed to hook the hopeful into spending big bucks with dreams of getting their products to market.
Back in March, the Federal Trade Commission busted a Miami Beach, Florida-based company called World Patent Marketing, which had allegedly promised would-be inventors it could help its clients successfully develop and market their products. Instead, the FTC told a federal court, all but a few consumers found themselves shelling out big bucks with nothing to show for it. In all, the FTC’s complaint alleges, the scheme bilked consumers out of more than $10 million. The complaint also accused parent company Desa Industries and its CEO Scott Cooper of involvement in the scheme.
The company is accused of using a variety of tactics to lure new customers and reassure existing ones, such as made-up “success stories” about people the company had helped. Adding insult to injury, some customers claimed that when they tried to complain or wrote negative online reviews, the company used intimidating tactics to shut them down, including threatening them with lawsuits.
One potential inventor told the Broward County, Florida, Sun-Sentinel that he had given $300,000 to the company to promote his idea for a net device that could be attached to a cellphone case to hold keys and other small items, only to come up empty-handed.
For its part, Cooper’s legal team has noted in court filings that the invention-promotion business is risky, and that fact is made clear on its website and promotional materials as a warning to potential clients.
If you do come up with an extraordinary idea, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office advises that you proceed carefully. The agency has a brochure at https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ScamPrevent.pdf that lists some of the warning signs of an invention-promotion scam, and notes that the law requires invention promotion companies must disclose the following information:
If you want to find out more, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0184-invention-promotion-firms, as well as http://ipwatchdog.com.
Contact Bill Moak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most high growth start-ups are fueled by capital – product development, staffing, go-to market. There are many avenues for raising capital and an increasing number of unique investment models available for entrepreneurs to pursue.
Listen to a panel discussion featuring 4 professional investors in early stage businesses. Hear what models they use to invest in, support, and help grow the companies they work with. What financing models and structures are available to entrepreneurs? What criteria to does each investor look for in transaction? What are the best ways to engage with sources of outside capital?
Seating will be limited to 70, so please register early to reserve your spot. Agenda as follows:
Entrepreneurs seeking funding for their startups now have another place to go: Indiegogo.
“Wait,” you may say, “can’t I already use the crowdfunding platform to raise money for my dream product?” That’s right, but today Indiegogo launched an equity crowdfunding service, which utilizes new government rules that took effect in May and allow anyone to invest in startups. Previously, only accredited investors who met certain financial requirements were eligible to back businesses in this manner.
“Our mission has always been to make it easier for individuals to raise money for projects they are passionate about, and this is the latest way we’re helping entrepreneurs access the financing they need while also giving backers the chance to invest in new companies,” Indiegogo CEO David Mandelbrot said in a press release. “Since Indiegogo first launched we’ve wanted to offer these sort of investments, and we’re very excited to be officially giving the millions of people who visit our platform every month the chance to get involved with equity crowdfunding opportunities.”
As of today, about $11.7 million had been raised for businesses using equity crowdfunding, according to NextGen Crowdfunding. This count includes three projects that have raised $1,000,000, the maximum amount allowed by law.
For its new portal, Indiegogo teamed up with MicroVentures, which helps companies raise funds using equity crowdfunding. Equity crowdfunding campaigns will be listed on both sites, with transactions made through MicroVentures. Legal documents will also be automated through an online questionnaire for funding-seeking companies through iDisclose.
“It’s great to see an industry leader in the rewards crowdfunding space jump into the equity arena,” says Kendall Almerico, CEO of BankRoll Ventures and an attorney who works with crowdfunding campaigns. “The long-term success of the JOBS Act laws and regulations will be accelerated when people already familiar with pre-purchasing goods on rewards-based sites like Indiegogo move to actually investing in small companies and emerging businesses through equity crowdfunding.”
During a previous interview with Entrepreneur, Mandelbrot said he wants Indiegogo to be a “springboard” for business owners.
More than $1 billion has been raised from more than 8 million people on Indiegogo, according to a press release. The company says it is “well-positioned” to introduce entrepreneurs and investors to equity crowdfunding. The service is launching with four offerings, according to the release:
We Fact-Checked Seven Seasons Of Shark Tank Deals. Here Are The Results.
On Shark Tank, the deal you make on camera often isn’t the deal you end up getting — if it happens at all.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
The hit ABC show that gives entrepreneurs a chance to pitch celebrity investors depicts some business owners walking away with life-changing deals. But more often than not, those hand-shake agreements change or fall apart after taping.
FORBES found that 319 businesses accepted deals on-air in the first seven seasons of Shark Tank. We spoke to 237 of those business owners and discovered 72% did not get the exact deal they made on TV. But tweaked terms or dead deals don’t necessarily spell doom for a business; for many contestants we spoke to, the publicity of appearing on the show ended up being worth more than the deal.
Shark Tank New Dat: Nick DeSantis, Forbes staff
About 43% of the people we spoke with said their deals didn’t come to fruition after the show. They attributed this to sharks pulling out of the agreement or changing the terms to ones that didn’t work for them. Others canceled deals after getting term sheets that included unappealing clauses. And occasionally the deals ended amicably.
Another 29% of the people FORBES interviewed said the equity and investment amount offered on-air changed after taping — but they chose to take the deal anyway. They said that the changes often occur during negotiations or in due diligence, an investigation into a person or business before signing a contract.
Although our analysis was not exhaustive (FORBES was able to interview 74% of contestants who got deals on camera), the numbers suggest that some investors are less likely to change their deals after the cameras stop rolling. Mark Cuban, who by our count closes more deals than any other shark, changed the agreements he made on-air change only 12% of the time.
Design: Nick DeSantis, Forbes staff
ABC is transparent about the due diligence process and isn’t accountable for how deals pan out during negotiations. ABC did not return requests for comment by time of publishing.
We contacted as many of the 319 businesses as possible, but some refused to share how and if their deals evolved, and others simply did not respond. While the results aren’t comprehensive, this is the most complete record of how often deals change after taping and why that occurs.
The goal of entrepreneurs going on Shark Tank is to make a deal and see it close. But if it falls apart, it’s not always a tragedy. About 87% of the businesses we spoke to that didn’t get deals are still operating. The remainder have shuttered, were acquired or sold.
Matt Canepa and Pat Pezet appeared on season four of Shark Tank to pitch their company Grinds, which sells chewable coffee pouches. They agreed to give Daymond John and Robert Herjavec 15% equity for $75,000. However, the deal died in negotiations.
“Pat and I went on the show 100% wanting to get a deal,” Canepa said. “Regardless of whether or not you get the deal, there are a lot of success stories.”Design: Holly Warfield, Forbes staff
In 2012, before their episode aired, Grinds made about $300,000 in sales. The month their segment premiered, the company saw $330,000 in sales.
Grinds brought in $1.35 million the year their episode aired, and have watched that number rise. This year, they are expecting do over $4 million.
Grinds isn’t alone. Nicholas and Alessia Galekovic, cofounders of the grooming accessories company Beard King, made an agreement with Lori Greiner during season seven last year. But around the time they filmed their episode, business took off, and the deal no longer met the needs of the company.
Design: Holly Warfield, Forbes staff
The agreement broke down in negotiations. But in the year after the episode aired, the company did around $700,000 in sales. This year, they are expecting over $1.6 million.
“I think that [Shark Tank is] absolutely amazing,” Nicholas said. “For anyone considering trying out or going for it: It’s well worth it.”
We were invited to participate last season and now the show is a huge success. It is a great premise, 3 venture capitalist personally product test new outdoor adventure products. Talk about Shark Tank, last season they tested a new shark repellent device in the ocean with school of real mean looking sharks, giving new meaning to the term “wetsuit” for one of the capitalists. These guys are crazy and a lot of fun. Check out the show here http://cnb.cx/2eezoKK
They are looking for all types of outdoor products including but not limited to; camping, hiking, adventure, recreation, outdoor transportation, off roading, renewable energy, survival, etc. I suggest you watch the show and present accordingly. Here is the link to apply www.AdventureCapitalists.com
Harry Wants Women
What a dream come true for the right women, Harry Connick Jr. is looking for women inventors with a great story to tell for his new daytime talk show. This is great exposure! Here is a link to the talent search http://bit.ly/2ddYLZb and here is a link to the show’s website https://www.harryconnickjr.
Dave Yonce Show
Below is the information they sent me about the show. Unlike most product hunts, shows are looking more for personality. Their guide lines are an education in themselves that everyone should read.
Asylum Entertainment and a major cable television network known for its loud, creative content is on the hunt for American entrepreneurs with well-developed concepts or prototypes for new inventions. To be considered, the invention must solve a problem, make a job more efficient, or make life more fun. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, electronics, weapons, outdoor recreation, adventure, home products, automotive, and power tools.
If selected to appear on the program, Oklahoma-raised inventor and entrepreneur, Dave Yonce, will invest money and time into you and your product, developing it into a working prototype, and in some cases, partnering with you to build your business.
For more information, email: Casting@tikicasting.
Thank you in advance!
Apply to present at the upcoming 2016 Florida VentureTech Showcase
at CAMLS (Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation), in downtown Tampa on November 1st from 1:30 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.
The showcase is a capital acceleration competition and business-networking event co-hosted by Space Florida and the Florida Venture Forum. The event will feature presentations by some of Florida’s most promising growth-stage companies. Additionally, a cross section of investors will be in attendance. Troy Knauss, instructor, with the Angel Resource Institute, will be the special guest speaker!
Presenting companies will compete for the
Space Florida Accelerating Innovation Awardtotaling
$100,000 for the Winner and $50,000 for the 1st Runner Up!
Presenters will be chosen from a pool of applicants by a selection committee evaluating growth-stage companies from throughout the state of Florida. Selection criteria for growth stage companies are listed on the Forum’s website. Selection preference will be given to those growth stage companies in information technology and health technology, knowledge-based services, space transportation and advanced aerospace platforms, satellite systems and science payloads, ground and operations support systems, agriculture, climate/environmental monitoring, civil protection and emergency management, International Space Station and human life science (including medical research), communications, cyber security & robotics, adventure tourism, clean /alternative energy applications, advanced materials and new products.
FINAL PRESENTER APPLICATION DEADLINE:
Friday, October 14, 2016
Russ Krajec is the CEO of BlueIron, a patent finance company, and author ofInvesting In Patents, which explains the BlueIron investment model. Russ is an angel investor, registered patent attorney, the former COO of a venture-backed startup company, and an inventor with 30+ US patents/applications.
Year after year the patent laws become more complex. It seems with every decision from the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit more detail is mandated for a patent application to be complete and for patent claims to have a fighting chance. These case law changes, as well as legislative and regulatory changes, are putting the patent system out of reach for startup companies.
The patent applications that must be filed require an enormous investment in time, money, and expertise – mostly by patent professionals who curate the inventions, write the patents, and nurture them through the examination process. To get high caliber, well researched, and well-written patents costs money – a lot of money unfortunately.
Quality is the main buzzword at the Patent Office, and increasingly so within the industry. Gone are the days that one could just get a patent and expect that it would be valuable enough to license or sell. Quality patents that cover quality technologies is the new business reality in the patent sector. But with the skyrocketing costs associated with obtaining the desired quality many startups resort to cost-saving strategies that most often only work to irreparably harm the changes of obtaining a worthwhile patent.
Filing a hastily drafted, woefully inadequate provisional patent application is a mistake, and one that can lead to a patent foundation being built on a hopelessly compromised base. The patent community was recently reminded of this fact when the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) refused to recognize the priority of a provisional patent application filed to cover Juxtapid, a cholesterol medication. The PTAB found the provisional application defective because it did not teach the invention adequately and provided insufficient dosage information. This just proves that bad provisional applications are a very real problem even for pharmaceutical companies that should know better.
What are startups to do? There is never enough money to do everything a startup needs to do in order to succeed, so even the best, most well funded startups need to triage. As a patent attorney with over 15 years of experience, I know all too well this very real financial dilemma. Compounding this problem is the truth that most innovative startup companies are entering a marketplace where larger, well-financed corporations with giant patent portfolios dominate. Patents can be the great equalizer, but such a strategy requires high quality patents.
BlueIron’s non-dilutive financing for startups pays all of the patent costs, including filing fees and attorney’s fees, using a conventional commercial “lease-back” arrangement. This model has been gaining traction since its first release in the fall of 2014. After financing professional poker player Phil Gordon’s patent for his new software startup, Chatbox, BlueIron has made investments in startup companies in software, hardware, biotechnology, medical devices, financial services, and agriculture.
By financing the patents, we remove the cost barriers to getting strong, high-quality patents. This opens up the options to do a full due diligence workup, which most startups simply cannot afford. It also means the patents can be expedited and obtained more quickly. It also frees up critical capital for the startup to invest in business activities rather than paying for patents.
For expediting applications, when possible, we prefer the PCT-Patent Prosecution Highway, which often results in an issued patent within 12 months. With PCT-PPH, the costs of the patent are compressed into a 12 month window, rather than spreading them out over 3-5 years. If a patent application gets into the PPH the allowance rates are much higher, and in many cases over 95%. Given that an issued patent is far more valuable to a startup company than a mere pending patent application – especially one raising angel or venture capital – this strategy pays quick dividends, which benefits everyone involved.
The BlueIron model works because everyone has “skin in the game,” so to speak. We have every incentive to get high quality patents and to do so as reasonably quickly as possible. By having a patent portfolio that protects the startups technology additional investment becomes easier to attract, which makes much of the difficult work a startup will do much easier. By helping the innovative startup succeed we succeed. If the innovating startup company is not successful, the investment will only generate patents for products or services that never made it to the market, or which were not accepted once on the market. Patent assets covering technologies the market shunned have little, if any, value. On the other hand, if the startup company is successful the patents have real value – far more value than the cost of financing.
Through the BlueIron model I’ve attempted to create a new framework where both parties have the same goal: protect and grow a successful business. Our sole focus is to build investment-grade patents that have commercial value. By treating patents as “collateral,” our model rises or falls based on how strong the patents are – and how successful the innovative startup becomes.
If you are a startup company that is looking for someone to finance your patent activities please contact me. Candidly, we only invest in patents for operating companies, not for individual inventors for whom the invention is just a hobby. While we invest at a very early stage, the startup must have a financial commitment to bring a product or service to market for us to get involved.
If you are an angel investor or venture capital firm, we are actively seeking formal or information partnerships and relationships.