Frustrated Inventor Sends a Letter

By Melinda Martin | Blog

Jun 25

A frustrated inventor sent us an email today. I thought the best thing to do was to just share it and know that the complete conversation will be of much help to our community.

Date: 6/25/2013

Subject: RE: I want to scream… I talked with 2 inventors today. One in LA and one Ft Lauderdale that have each wasted tens of thousands of dollars…

Hi. I just finished writing a comment – well, more like a question – about retailers like Walmart. I was told they do buy products: generally not single products as you mentioned, but will sometimes if it’s good. I mentioned Guilt Trip, the movie about the inventor who went across country pitching his idea to Walmart, Kmart, the home shopping network, etc. He had spent all his savings on getting the product packaged, labeled, etc. He did finally get a break. Not how it works? My invention has so much potential, but it’s not “built” as it requires an expert seamstress. Plus I’m not mechanically inclined, so not sure my simple idea is the best way to package it. I don’t have any money (unemployed teacher), so I’m looking at a small invention company in NH. They claim they accept only 1-2% of ideas presented, but if they like it, they’ll make the prototype, do marketing, packaging, etc. Once it’s on the market THAT’s when they take a cut of the sales. It sounds very reasonable, and I am familiar with a lot of “invention help” company scams. What do you think? Thanks for your time.

Mrs. “D”

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AON Invent’s Response to Frustrated Inventor

Hello Mrs. D,

I sincerely feel your frustration. What you say is true; there are exceptions to every rule, and the world is full of invention scams. I spoke with a gentleman recently who has invested $500,000 in his invention and has nothing to show for it but a prototype. As you know, there are also companies that charge nothing on the front end, but that means that they have to be extremely/overly cautious in order to avoid spending their money on anything less than a grand-slam home run. In the process, a lot of really good items get kicked to the curb. As far as Walmart is concerned, let me put it this way: I have shared my previous comments with hundreds (literally hundreds) of Walmart buyers and CPG executives. Many of them read my blog, and not one of them have disagreed with my premise.

This very subject came up recently while having lunch with a Sr. Walmart buyer. I asked him if he was aware of his company buying even ONE idea during his 17 year career. He looked at me and said,

“No, and I don’t know anyone who has… That’s not to say it couldn’t happen, but who has the time? Why would a buyer take that risk? They would essentially have to build a business for someone else without any guarantee the item will sell. Do that just once as a buyer, and it would end your career. Any phone call that takes more than one minute is 30 seconds too long. We just can’t justify the time it would take to educate the public on the CPG industry and then have to deal with their irrational expectations. If we wanted to interact with individual inventors, all we’d have to do would be to set up a toll-free number and have our store managers hang a sign at the register asking our customers to call with their invention ideas, and we would get a million calls a week, but that will more than likely never happen.” 

He said that it could have happened years ago, but he couldn’t imagine it happening today. The company is just way too big, the risk is too great, and the process too complicated.

I appreciate you for reaching out to me and would like to invite you to visit our website. If you have not already done so, please watch the video “Fireside Chat with the Founders.” We discuss your question there in more detail, as well as offer sage advice as to what your next step should be. I encourage you to carefully go through our Step One Self Evaluation, and if your concept passes the self-vetting phase, choose the Step Two Assessment version that best meets your needs. I look forward to talking with you, if we can be of service.

Sincerely,

Larry Robertson, CEO

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Are you a frustrated inventor?  Do you know a frustrated inventor? If you have a concern such as Mrs. D., please leave a comment below or on our AON Invent facebook page.  We would love to answer your questions.

About the Author

Melinda is a blogger, graphic designer, and stay-at-home mom living in Palestine, Texas.