The Innovation Paradox

By Larry Robertson, CEO | Inventors

May 15

What is The Innovation Paradox?

Good old Charlie Dickens said it best in his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

The growth of eCommerce is creating some of the greatest challenges and opportunities the retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry has ever seen. We call this the innovation paradox.

The demand for innovation has never been higher, as retailers strive to differentiate their merchandise assortment from those of their competitors – which, in this digital age places every retailer big and small, virtually next door. As a result, “exclusivity” remains the retailers’ last line of defense and they tend to award additional shelf-space to suppliers who consistently bring them exciting new products.

This heightened focus and demand for innovation (and the fact that “first to market” usually wins) has led to significantly shorter product life-cycles. This has made product-innovation an invaluable resource for CPGs and retailers alike. And while this should be a golden opportunity for inventors, most CPGs still avoid working with individual inventors due to time constraints, legal complexities and (let’s be totally honest) the emotionally charged exchange that often unfolds when the impassioned inventor meets with a potential licensee who has learned to assess the product through the eyes of a customer, who will rarely give any product more than a few seconds to win them over.

In the meantime thousands of frustrated inventors are taking the traditional and expensive path to market: constructing prototypes, designing packaging, filing patents, raising capital, navigating bureaucratic regulations, spooling up production, managing logistics, selling to retailers, and fighting established suppliers for shelf space – only to discover that another company has produced a better mousetrap.

For more information about taking your invention to the next level, watch this video discussion with co-founders, Larry and Andrew.

Does this look familiar?To get to their shelf destination, inventors often, yet unknowingly set-out to what amounts to building their own airline, when all they really need to do is purchase a ticket… Except the ticket counter seems to be hidden in a back room that requires TSA security clearance.

About the Author

Larry is the CEO and co-founder of AON Invent. He has enjoyed a career that has spanned sales, marketing, and product innovation for companies that include subsidiaries of AMR/American Airlines, Learjet and Sam's Club. In 1995 he teamed up with Ron Loveless, the founding CEO of Sam's Club, to launch a marketing and product development firm that grossed $500 million in its first 3 years. Over the past 20+ years, Larry has personally vetted over 1,000 product concepts and marketing strategies.