Ask Larry: An Inventor’s Next Step

By Melinda Martin | For and about inventors

Sep 30
inventor's nest step

At AON Invent, we love to answer questions from inventors. Most of those questions have to do with invention evaluation, product evaluation process for existing products and suggestions for an inventor’s next step. Here’s an example of a recent inquiry from an inventor asking about what her next step should be and how the product evaluation process works.


Dear Mr. Robertson,

I don’t claim to know much about the current or public domain products, but I’ve conducted multiple patent research projects, gathering anything even close to my invention. I have not seen a product or pending invention that resembles my invention. Which leads me to  my main question: who does an inventor (the idea person) go to in safety with their thoughts and questions?

I’ve had this idea for over a decade. It’s simple, solves an age-old problem in a fun, dual-purpose way that is geared toward the beach. When I did a little market research with children, it was very successful. The idea was like that of many popular products: it became popular with kids who used them, and then everyone wanted the product.

I’m not tooting my own horn; I am usually pretty good at filtering my ideas and other people’s. I can kind of visualize the next steps. I’ve been stuck at sewing a prototype just for evaluation. There is a company in NH that has a seemingly safe and secure evaluation process. The 1-2% of submissions they feel strongly about are then made into products with packaging and marketing, etc. No money is charged at THAT point. Once into sales, the company takes their cut. I have not found a company that works that way, which is why most are spammers of sorts. Everyone has a release form; everyone makes  promises; everyone is sure you’ll succeed. I’ve ventured out a couple times and learned quickly. So, where do I go from here?

I’m afraid to move since I don’t know how or where to go. I have the pricing information down, the packaging, and even the materials. It passes the tests used for successful inventions, those under $10. It is simple and eye-catching when on the isles of checkout counters. So can you direct me?

Mrs. D


Dear Mrs. D,

AON Invent was created for individual inventors just like you. Your situation is not at all unique but our approach to helping you is (unique). First of all, we never promise anyone that we will license their item, because we know that there is always a risk, even a probability, that it will not sell. In fact, most of the items that come through our evaluation process are turned down by our panel members. This prevents inventors from spending thousands of dollars or their life savings, only to end up with a garage full of products that no one wants.

We have posted numerous videos on our website that address all of your questions and concerns in detail. Please take time to watch them before deciding what your next step should be or spending any of your hard-earned money with us or anyone else. From our experience, the biggest, most-common and most-costly mistake inventors make is trying to build an entire business around an unproven product concept… or as we say, “trying to build their own airline when all they really need is a ticket.” There are simply way too many special skills involved to justify the risk: product design, engineering, tooling, manufacturing, distribution, replenishment, marketing, advertising, sales and fulfillment. No one person has all of those skills, not to mention the capital investment of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to risk. I say “risk” because that is exactly what it is for any potential licensee who buys the rights to an invention. For the CPG, signing a contract with the inventor is only the beginning of the process.

Bottom line: we will not hype any concept in order to convince an inventor to use our services. We turn down thousands of dollars every day from inventors whose passion for their product would make them easy prey for an unscrupulous company, but our integrity is not for sale. That is why we have a three-step process in the first place. It is purely to protect inventors from their own enthusiasm and emotional attachment to their “baby”. Unfortunately, in the world of inventions, there are a lot of “ugly babies”.

As an extra precaution, we make it totally impossible for any inventor to purchase our Step 3 Service unless their concept receives a 3-star rating during the Step 2 Assessment. If you still have questions after watching our video, please give us a call at 479-855-6699 or drop us an email with your contact information and a good time to call, and we will give you an honest answer.

Larry Robertson

About the Author

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