Category Archive:Business & Corporate

ByCarolyn Keane

Disability Entrepreneurs Are Meeting The Challenges Of Entrepreneurship

Disability Entrepreneurs are persons who don’t let their physical challenges hold them back from achieving their entrepreneurial vision. To be a successful disability entrepreneur requires commitment, tenacity and a healthy dose of creativity. In this post, guest author Patrick Young provides some useful information and tips for budding disability entrepreneurs.

Physical Limitations, Unlimited Business Possibilities

Disabled individuals are a highly underutilized asset in the workforce. Unfortunately, having a disability means you are statistically more likely than your able-bodied peers to suffer with un- or under-employment. Don’t let your disability stand in your way of success. We’ve got answers to your most common concerns about becoming a disability entrepreneur, starting a business, managing a business, and ways to pay for your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Here are a few tips on how to use your big ideas to become a disability entrepreneur and start your small business:

Consider sticking close to home

One of your greatest obstacles as a disability entrepreneur will likely be transportation and ease of mobility. If you have the space, you can always run the business out of your home. Options that don’t involve strenuous physical labor include accounting, crafting, graphic design, article writing, and marketing consultation.

If you choose a business that requires keeping up with inventory, consider investing in inventory management software. SquareUp explains that these programs can help you keep a close eye on your company’s cash flow, keep real-time track of inventory, and forecast upcoming needs. By paying attention to your supply chain, you can ensure you always have products available and in stock, so your customers aren’t having to wait. You can sell items from home through Amazon, Etsy, and the even the Facebook Marketplace. Shipping has been made remarkably easier over the last few years, and UPS now offers on-call pickup and will happily drop by your home office for same-day pickup, if necessary.

Seek out special funding

There are many loans and grants available for alternately-abled entrepreneurs. These will vary by state and may not be available for every type of business. Disabled World claims there are currently more than 1,200 grant programs available through the federal government and more than 55,000 available at the state level or via private foundations. If you are a veteran, you may also be eligible for special assistance through the VA. Military.com notes that a veteran-owned small business (VOSB) may be eligible for tax benefits that can make it more affordable to own and operate a business, regardless of whether it’s home-based or not.

Know where support is available

The process of becoming a disability entrepreneur and starting your own business is daunting for everyone. The Small Business Administration offers numerous entrepreneurial resources for people with disabilities that can help you make informed decisions and locate possible tax provisions and incentives. Depending on where you live, you may also have access to local support from your Chamber of Commerce or workforce development agency. SCORE is another invaluable pool of knowledge that can help you connect with a mentor in your industry. DIVERSEability, an online magazine dedicated to the professional advancement of people with all varieties of abilities, offers more information on resources available for disabled men and women.

disability entrepreneurs
Disability entrepreneurs are meeting the challenges of entrepreneurship

Push your limits

They say that the first step is always the hardest. This applies to many situations, but especially when starting a business. But you don’t have to relegate yourself to plugging away at a computer in order to enjoy success. Surviving Disability asserts that disabled people have ample opportunities when it comes to more conventional careers. Baking, childcare, and doing home repairs are all areas that you shouldn’t be afraid to explore.

You don’t have to have full control over your body in order to control your financial future and become a disability entrepreneur. Some of the most successful people throughout history have had physical limitations to overcome. FDR, Ray Charles, and Stephen Hawking are just a few that come to mind. While you may never be president, play in front of sold-out crowds, or crack the code of the universe, there is nothing stopping you from being the boss.

Patrick Young is an educator and activist. He believes people with disabilities must live within a unique set of circumstances–the outside world often either underestimates them or ignores their needs altogether. He created AbleUSA to offer helpful resources to people with disabilities and to provide advice on navigating various aspects of life as a person with disabilities.

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ByCarolyn Keane

Financial Planning with a Disability – Preparing for the Future

Financial Planning with a Disability:
Preparing for the Future

Financial planning is important on so many levels; not only is it necessary for making sure you’re comfortable and independent now, but it’s also crucial in ensuring that you will have everything you need down the road. When you’re living with a disability, however, preparing for your future can mean many things, from saving for retirement to making sure your home has the right modifications for your needs. It can also help you get the care you need should you fall ill or require medical equipment or hospitalization.

Although it’s a difficult thing to think about, it’s important to consider your end-of-life plans. Final arrangements can be costly, and even with health insurance, a long hospital, hospice, or nursing home stay can leave behind medical bills that your loved ones will be responsible for paying. Making plans now for grants or assistance to take care of those issues down the road will give you peace of mind and ensure that your wishes are properly carried out.

If you need more information, here are some things to consider.

Have “The Talk”

Having a conversation with your loved ones about your final wishes may seem like the last thing you want to do, but it’s an important part of planning for your future. Think about what you’d like in regards to your funeral and memorial arrangements, and start making preparations. You can choose some of the details now and have a conversation with your loved ones about how they can fulfill your wishes.

Find the Right Life Insurance Policy

Life insurance is a wonderful asset for individuals who are planning for the future. Not only does it give you peace of mind that your final wishes will be taken care of, but it will also help your loved ones pay for outstanding debts as well. These days, it’s easy to shop online for life insurance and compare monthly rates to find the right policy for your family’s needs.

Take a Look at Medicare

Many Americans who are living with a disability are eligible for Medicare before they reach the age requirement, so look at these plans to see if you qualify and what it will cover. In some cases, you may be able to find a supplemental plan that will help you pay for dental and vision care, which don’t fall under basic Medicare plans. You may also get some assistance with paying for short-term stays in nursing facilities should you need them in the future, which is a huge benefit since they can often be very costly.

Make Sure Your Home Is in Good Shape

Your home should be a safe and comfortable place for you to stay in regardless of your age or abilities, so take a look around and figure out whether any changes need to be made. Home modifications are common these days, but they can end up costing you a lot of money. Typical changes include upgrades to the bathroom and kitchen as well as the installation of ramps to cover stairs for individuals who are living with mobility issues.

Determine Your Home’s Worth If Selling

If you’re nearing retirement and are planning to move out of the family home at some point, it’s a good idea to start the selling process by figuring out how much your home is worth. Websites like Redfin deliver your home’s estimated value to you by gathering information about homes that were sold recently in your area. Though this can yield an accurate result, it’s still a good idea to consult with a real estate agent to get the best recommended list price possible.

Financial planning can be a stressful task if you’re unsure of what the future will bring, so give yourself plenty of time to complete the process. Talk to your loved ones about your preparations so that everyone is on the same page. With some careful planning, you can ensure that your financial future is on point no matter where the road takes you.

Ed Carter

Ablefutures.org | ed.carter@ablefutures.org

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ByCarolyn Keane

7 Key Business Functions Startups Should Outsource

7 Key Business Functions Startups Should Outsource

It’s one of the most challenging dilemmas faced by every startup, how to build capability internally while managing the cash burn rate. Increasingly, the answer is to build a two-way relationship with a business process outsourcing partner and to outsource those key business functions, which are not critical to the growth of the enterprise.

If you’re running an early-stage startup, chances are you have developed an organizational roadmap, identified the key knowledge and skill areas amongst your core team and developed a strategy to ramp up your organization’s recruitment strategy.

Why Outsource Key Business Functions

While your team’s strengths may be focused on product innovation or technology, your business still requires solid Marketing, Customer Service, Financial strategy, Human Resources, Sales and Administration expertise.

The question is, “How prepared are you to manage your startup’s day-to-day operations, while onboarding new talent or capabilities and outsourcing business functions?” Effectively outsourcing key business functions enables a startup to be average down its staffing costs while keeping your internal resources focused on business gaps in your organization’s operational ecosystem.

For the Rest of the Article click here

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ByCarolyn Keane

Do You Know Your Customer? Buying Cycle & Triggers

This article looks at why customers expect different interactions with you depending on where they are in the buying cycle. It also examines how specific events trigger them into a buying mode. It then explains how you can use this information to make your marketing more effective.

The Customer Buying Cycle

A simple way to look at the buying cycle is to break into three stages:

  1. Awareness – when a customer first becomes aware of your product. Or could also refer to the point where a customer first becomes aware of a need that they want to fulfill.
  2. Consideration – when a customer starts evaluating solutions to their need
  3. Purchase

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How Buying Cycle impacts the sales approach needed

Imagine that you wandered in to a clothing store while walking around the neighborhood. You didn’t have a particular idea of anything you want to buy. You are approached by a hungry salesperson who is convinced they can get you to buy something. You are are annoyed by too much attention, and feel that they are ruining the peaceful browsing experience that you hoped to have.

Now imagine that you have gone into the same store. However In this situation, you have a urgent need to purchase a black sweater, and don’t have much time to waste. You want a salesperson to help you immediately, so you don’t waste your time looking for the item. However you can’t seem to get the attention of any of the salespeople. You are highly irritated by the lack of attention.

What’s the difference?

The difference between these two examples is where you are in the buying cycle. In the first situation, you are early in the Awareness stage, and in the second example, you are right at the end of the purchase cycle.

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Depending on where you are in your buying cycle, your expectations for how the sales people in the shop should treat you are different. If you are early in the cycle, you want to be largely left alone to browse around and get educated. If you are later in the cycle, you want highly responsive help to complete the purchase. Using the wrong sales approach leads to buyer frustration.

How do you adapt Marketing to a buyer’s stage in the cycle?

In the online world, we need to provide different paths through the website that are appropriate for each stage. It turns out that visitors will self-identify where they are in the buying cycle by the paths they take, provided you give them the option.

 

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What to do with visitors that are not ready to buy? (Lead Nurturing)

Since visitors who are early in their buying cycle are NOT likely to buy on their first visit to your web site, we need to know how to best handle them in case they do turn into buyers later on. This is a path that I am surprised to see is often not given the right level of attention and results in leads leaking from the funnel and lost marketing investment.

The key is to do a great job of staying in touch with them over a period of time, and building a trusted relationship (Lead Nurturing). Then if they do hit an event that triggers a buying cycle, your product is likely to be the top of their shopping list.

To allow us to do this, we need their email address. Since website visitors are initially reluctant to provide that, we need to entice them with something of value to them. How to do this has been covered in other articles in this blog (When selling is the worst way to win customers & Optimizing your customer acquisition funnel).

Once we have their email address, we can nurture them through the buying cycle using a customer success stories, a blog, newsletters, webinars, etc.

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Lead nurturing is best done with marketing automation software like that provided by HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, etc. Those products allow you to segment your customers to make the messages you send most directly relevant to them, and therefore most likely to be read. They also allow you to track who is advancing in their buying process by observing whether they come back to visit pages, such as the pricing page, that indicate buying intent. You can then apply more expensive sale resources to those leads, knowing that they are qualified enough to warrant the additional cost.

Effective lead nurturing is all about accelerating leads through the consideration process. Customer success stories, product comparisons, etc. all help to provide the data and info that a prospect looks for in their own research. If you provide it for them you make it easy for them to consume that info and move to the step in the process.

How on-line lead sources relate to the Customer Buying Cycle

Different lead sources produce buyers at different stages of the customer buying cycle:

  • People that are later in the buying cycle are most likely to be using tools like Google, and review sites to search for vendors and products to solve a problem. Those leads are highly valued because there is a high level of buyer intent. They are usually in the Consideration or Purchase stages of the buying cycle.
  • Many other lead sources (e.g. social referrals, Twitter, Facebook ads, banner ads, pr stories, educational presentations at conferences, etc.) produce buyers that are earlier in their cycle, and frequently just becoming aware that there is a potentially interesting product now available.

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Market maturity also plays an important role in the stage that your leads. For early stage markets where there is still a lot of education required, most leads will be very early in their buying cycles.

For the rest of the article https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/buying-cycle-and-triggers/

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ByCarolyn Keane

The Best Places to Live in America

These spots combine economic growth, affordability, and quality of life. See all 50:

Best Places to Live in 2018

 

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ByCarolyn Keane

Why Encouraging your Team to Work on Passion Projects Benefits Your Company

In a growing company, juggling side projects and a full-time job is often frowned upon.

by Sam Radocchia, Co-Founder at Chronicled // Blockchain // Forbes 30 Under 30

In a growing company, juggling side projects and a full-time job is often frowned upon.

Everyone is supposed to be focused on one goal and one goal only — building the company. Any work that appears to sway from that overarching goal is viewed in a negative light.

But side projects don’t actually have to steal focus away from the company’s main objective. They can be useful as an outlet for creative energy, as a way to develop employees, and even as a tool to bring in new clients.

It all depends on how you treat these projects. If they’re looked down upon and discouraged, you won’t see any of the benefits.

If leadership embraces the idea of passion projects and offshoots, some spectacular things can happen.

Think of it like a daily walk. It’s comfortable to take the same route every day because you see the same stores, the same people. There may be minor deviations, but usually you know what to expect.

But if you want to see something new, you have to take different streets.

The original path may be trustworthy and dependable, but it won’t ever take you out of your comfort zone or help you see things in a new light. It’s only when you change your route that you run into new people, hear new voices, find new restaurants.

That’s what your side projects are — little side streets that can lead you to new ideas.

Here’s why they’re so important:

Deviating from the norm opens you up to new opportunities.

I’m not advocating you split your attention between multiple time-consuming ventures. Honestly, 90% of your time should be focused on your core business and its requirements.

But sometimes, in order to get where you want to go, you have to take an approach that isn’t totally linear.

I’ll give you an example.

Our team at Chronicled established a company as a passion project called the Blockchain Art Collective (BAC), which is separate from the work we do with supply chains. Recently, we were helping an organization register art and antiquities through the BAC.

And now, that party has expressed interest in using our supply chain capacities to track pharmaceutical drugs — one of our core company solutions.

So what started as a side company ended up bringing our organization business. It wasn’t the most direct route, but it did open up an opportunity we might not have had otherwise.

It can improve employee retention and company sustainability.

Passion projects are often about giving people the time, permission, and resources to do something a little different.

These opportunities can be significant, say a sabbatical after several years of hard work. Or they can be smaller, more frequent breaks for people to pursue their interests.

Allowing employees to invest just 5% of their time at work into related projects can lead to major growth and new discoveries. In fact, it can help attract the younger generation of workers since 78% of Millennials believe being involved in side projectsis beneficial to their careers.

And outside projects give employees some leeway to work outside the strict confines of their normal day-to-day workload.

That outlet can be key to retaining employees for the long run. High turnover rates are costly, not just financially, but in terms of the human capital you lose and the negative impact it can have on morale.

Giving your team an outlet — even one that’s tangentially related to the work they’re doing — is a good way to foster individual growth and keep people from burning out.

Ideas will compound into something bigger and better for your team.

Many people are actually more productive when they have a lot going on.

When they know they need to get several things done in a day, they work harder to meet those deadlines.

I started my first company while I was still getting my Masters. Looking back, it’s hard to believe I was doing all that at once. But that’s how I’ve always been. Even in college I gravitated toward interdisciplinary studies — combining what I learned in my logic or astronomy classes with what I was writing about in my English or anthropology classes.

I never felt like my company and my schoolwork were at odds. I never felt like any one of my classes pulled my attention away from the others.

Instead, I felt like they were compounding and creating new perspectives, thought processes, and ideas.

Side projects at a company don’t have to compete with the main goals. Ideally, team members will apply what they learn from those projects to their work — leading to new ideas, new opportunities, and a more flexible and innovative company

Originally published at medium.com

 

Why Encouraging Your Team To Work On Passion Projects Benefits Your Company

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ByCarolyn Keane

Why Outsourcing Your Invention’s Reviews Increases Efficiency

Image credit: Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko/Shutterstock

Determining whether your invention will be successful or not is an integral part of being an entrepreneur. Here are three reasons inventors are outsourcing the review process to increase efficiency.

When entrepreneurs and companies invent new products or technologies, they are understandably reticent to share their ideas with outsiders. After all, the business landscape is cut throat. They do not want to risk giving away their competitive edge. Still, most entrepreneurs are aware they need some feedback to ensure that their ideas are viable. They may form an internal review team to analyze their prototypes and conduct a market analysis.

While this choice may seem logical, internal invention reviews can be a waste of time and money. External reviews are a smarter choice. For instance, consider independent taste testers, who food companies outsource sensory testing of their products to in order to capture a broad and objective range of preferences. Beware of in-house reviewers, who are often incapable of delivering the objective analysis and insights you need to make sure your product does not fail.

Internal vs. external reviews

We will come back to the point about internal reviews inherently being nonobjective. There are additional reasons to outsource the invention review process. For starters, internal reviews can require significant time and money. Since the team members tasked with the review are employees, they may have to balance this assignment with their other responsibilities.

Generally speaking, internal reviews can take up to 30 hours at minimum, although they can take up to 30 days at larger companies. If you are paying employees over $75,000 per year (and, in the case of an attorney, far more) and you assign several people to the task, you are looking at thousands of hours and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to conduct your internal reviews, when they could be working on developing the top ideas and technologies instead. Be aware of where you’re spening money, as very little of your review expenses should be on the front end.

In addition, internal reviewers are not necessarily trained to conduct these types of analyses. A quality product study includes thorough research into your market, competitors and patent prospects. Someone who is not trained to vet ideas for commercial potential will not be able to generate the level of insights and recommendations you need to screen a technology. By comparison, external teams specialize in product analyses.

Privacy can be a concern when inviting outsiders to review your ideas. However, a non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality clause can prohibit external reviewers from revealing any sensitive and proprietary information. There are both legal and business incentives to adhere to these guidelines as the reviewers want to build a reputable business and are not in the business of stealing ideas for themselves. If the right safeguards are in place, you can trust that the review process will not expose your business’s important competitive information.

Here are three ways in which an outside review is more advantageous than an internal report.

Speed

Unlike your team members, review agencies focus solely on compiling invention reports. They can turn around an analysis much faster than your internal staff, and it will include a SWOT analysis, competitive research and intellectual property (IP) research – all the information you need to decide whether to move forward.

Cost

While some consultants charge high rates, many third-party vendors offer fast and affordable services. Instead of paying salaried employees to produce a lackluster review, you can secure a top-quality analysis at a fraction of the cost, freeing up your employees to concentrate on the development of your best ideas and IP assets.

Objectivity

I promised we would come back to this and saved it for last because I cannot stress it enough. When it comes to evaluating your commercial prospects, objectivity is everything. You need input from professionals who have no stake in the product’s performance. A third-party team is solely concerned with getting you informed answers and giving them to you with no pretense. Their jobs and egos do not depend on your product’s success. Those are the people you want reviewing your invention because then you will have solid feedback and perhaps fresh insight into whether your idea can be successful.

The worst thing you can do for your company is go to market blindly or with misinformation. Sourcing high-quality evaluations from professional invention reviewers will provide you with the necessary knowledge to help your company succeed. Whatever the reports contain, it will give you the knowledge to make informed decisions and develop ideas the world really needs and wants.

Why Outsourcing Your Invention’s Reviews Increases Efficiency

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ByCarolyn Keane

The Almost Unbelievable Power of Your Belief Systems

by Dan Dowling Contributor Entrepreneur Magazine

I was horsing around with my dog the other day — I promise this is an article on entrepreneurship — when something extraordinary happened.

We’d been playing tug-of-war with her red doggie blanket when, after 10 minutes of tugging, I finally managed to wrench the festering rag from her clenched, bulldog jowls. I flashed the blanket about like a torero, bowed, then I flipped it behind me and hid it on the small of my back.

Sugar searched frantically for a minute while I sniggered and snarked. Finally, my inner villain satisfied, I dropped her prize in plain view at my feet. Here’s where it gets weird.

“Here’s your blanket, Shoog!” She looked at me vaguely, and again went searching for the missing blanket that was no longer technically missing.

“Sugar, come!” She bounded on the couch and traipsed behind me, actually walking over her blanket at that point, and continued ransacking the living room. That’s when it hit me:

This dog fully believes the blanket has disappeared and that she’ll never see it again. So even though she technically sees the red blanket, the visual (and even tactile) information does her no good. The blanket does not exist.

Bewildered, I picked up the dog rag and gave it a casual flick — “Looking for this?” Sugar’s ears popped up, her pupils dilated, then she dashed at me, mouth a’foaming, for the prize that she had literally stepped on 20 seconds earlier. Because it existed again.

Related: Every Entrepreneur Needs Flow. Nootropics Can Get You There.

Such is the power of the mind.

If you are convinced that something is unattainable, you will be unable to reach it no matter how hard you work. This thing could be waved about you, you could stumble over it, you could wake up next to it without ever realizing it is there because you will still be blind to it. Just like poor Sugar.

So, to all you entrepreneurs out there hustling and grinding every day, it’s time to up your mental game.

Tony Robbins says that taking more action without belief isn’t going to change anything. You need to actually believe the time you spend working is moving you toward your inevitable success, otherwise you’ll find yourself an entrepreneurial Sisyphus, perpetually pushing your boulder up the hill with no results. Because that’s your belief, your negative results will continue reinforcing the negative belief until you change the (freakin’) belief.

You have complete control over this self-fulfilling prophecy. So dedicate yourself to a visualization routine. And it’s gotta be daily.

Start by taking a 15-minute break around lunchtime.

Lie down, sit down, go outside, stay indoors — whatever’s most comfortable for you that you can repeat daily. Then, instead of jumping right into your visuals, you’ll want to prime yourself for five minutes with gratitude. This helps you hack your way into a positive mindset so that your visuals are as powerful as they can be.

Just walk yourself through the experiences that made a difference in your life: the people who never gave up on you, the miracles that got you through. Feel the joy and amazement and appreciation each of these memories brings. Once you’ve worked your way into some authentic smiles and you feel your mind lift, finish your 15-minute break with 10 minutes of visualization.

Get a crystal-clear picture in your mind of your “red blanket.” See yourself doing what you really want to do in your career, in your personal life, for your fitness, for the people you want to help. See yourself holding that prize, and feel yourself reveling in the accomplishment and satisfaction of it. See all the people you’re helping in the process — see the difference you’re making to your customers, to your friends, to your family. Feel joy in advance for these things already happening.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Then be consistent.

When you practice this daily — feeling gratitude and certainty for the things you want the most — you will stop worrying about the outcome of your work because you will be carrying the results with you in your mind and in your heart. Instead of finding excuses not to do work, you’ll always have reasons to do whatever it takes. Instead of your daily work feeling like an endless grind like Sisyphus with his boulder, you’ll approach your tasks with an easygoing attitude and a light heart.

But it has to be daily. Do whatever it takes to be consistent.

Start drawing a big X over each calendar day that you visualize, and make it a goal to X-out a whole calendar month. At the end of that month, I promise that you will have more accomplishments, more positivity and more momentum toward whatever is your red blanket.

Related: 5 Mindset Secrets to Achieve Your Goals Faster

To all you would-be entrepreneurs who aren’t putting in the work yet…

It’s time for you to work on your mental game, too. Robbins says that mental aids like visualization are the key to getting started: “Most people have a belief in their potential no matter what anyone else tells them, and that affects how much action they take, which of course affects their results, and that result ironically reinforces their belief.”

When you change your belief — when you generate certainty and positivity through visualization methods — you motivate yourself to do what’s required of you because now you know your work isn’t for nothing. Every day that you work toward your goal, you’re taking a step closer to the goal that you know is possible.

The alternative is to keep telling yourself that your dreams are impossible, and to keep believing that nothing you do will make a difference. Your choice.

The Almost Unbelievable Power of your Belief Systems

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ByCarolyn Keane

Pittsburgh Invention Promotion Company Accused of Scamming Thousands of Inventors

Action News Investigates has learned a lawsuit accuses a Pittsburgh-based invention promotion company of running a deceptive and fraudulent scam.

The class-action lawsuit says InventHelp and its affiliates took millions of dollars from inventors, who got virtually nothing in return. The company disputes the allegations.

Court records show InventHelp has convinced thousands of people to part with thousands of dollars to market their inventions. But the lawsuit says only a handful of inventors have made money.

After she saw an InventHelp ad featuring a caveman, Sherry Porter contacted the company about her idea.

“It was a pet collar with an LED light that went all the way around,” Porter said.

When Porter met with an InventHelp official at their office in Rochester, New York, she says the response was enthusiastic.

“She told me that it was a great idea. She said to me this invention could go as far as bigger animals, cows, horses, and she said possibly even to children,” Porter said.

Porter said she was skeptical.

But according to a class-action lawsuit filed in New York, InventHelp eventually convinced her to pay $700 and then another $9,000 to market her invention.

The lawsuit says InventHelp promised to send Porter’s invention to numerous companies. But when she followed up with those companies, she said, “they would write back and say they had already seen this product, that it had been on the market for years.”

She also got a book describing her invention.

“What Sherry received for that $10,000 was a hard-bound book very generally describing her invention that probably a third-grader could have put together,” said her attorney, Julie Plitt.

Earlier this year, the lawsuit says, an official at InventHelp’s Pittsburgh headquarters contacted Porter and said a company based in New York City called Abrams Gentile Entertainment was interested in licensing her invention.

But when investigators for Sherry’s attorney went to the office of Abrams Gentile, they found it vacant — nothing but empty boxes. The company’s name not even listed.

“As it turned out this company didn’t exist. The name of the company on the contract occupied vacant New York City space and to date that company hasn’t even answered the complaint,” Plitt said.

Porter did eventually receive a $500 check from another company affiliated with InventHelp.

“We believe that this $500 was a ruse in order to suck her into spending even more money with InventHelp,” Plitt said.

In their complaint, Porter and two other inventors accuse InventHelp and affiliated companies of running a “deceptive and fraudulent invention promotion scam that has bilked thousands of aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs into paying millions of dollars to Defendants for invention promotion services that Defendants do not and never intend to provide.”

When Action News Investigates called InventHelp’s PR office for comment, the voicemail was full. An email to the PR office bounced back as undeliverable.

Eventually, company spokesperson Lark Blasi responded, calling the lawsuit allegations “empty and frivolous” and saying, “We very much stand by our efforts on behalf of all of our clients, are pleased that a third party has shown interest in this individual’s idea, and are puzzled by the various inaccuracies in the amended complaint.”

In a letter to the court, InventHelp says it plans to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

On its website, InventHelp says from 2015 to 2017 it signed submission agreements with 6,564 clients. But it says just 166 clients have gotten license agreements for their products, and only 49 clients — less than 1 percent — received more money than they paid InventHelp.

“In fact, all these people got was a large debt and dashed dreams,” Plitt said.

“I don’t take throwing money away lightly and that’s exactly how I feel, that I just threw that money right out the window,” Porter said.

In addition to the case filed by Porter in New York, a lawsuit making similar claims about InventHelp has been filed in Philadelphia. The company said it has not yet had a chance to review the allegations in the Philadelphia case.

Pittsburgh invention promotion company accused of scamming thousands of inventors

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