We love hearing from inventors and respond to each and every letter, email and phone call, but a few years back, a frustrated inventor sent us an email that was so relevant to the invention community that we posted it in our archives for all to see.
Subject: I want to scream…
Hi. I just finished writing a comment – well, more like a question – about retailers like Walmart. I was told they generally do not single products as you mentioned, but will sometimes if it’s good item. 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 talking with 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, manufacture it, do the marketing, packaging, etc. Once it’s on the market THAT’s when they take a cut of the sales. It sounds very reasonable, but I am familiar with a lot of “invention company” scams. What do you think? Thanks for your time.
AON Invent’s Response to Frustrated Inventor
Hello Mrs. D,
We sincerely feel your frustration. Just today, I personally spoke with two inventors; one in LA and one in Fort Lauderdale that have each wasted tens of thousands of dollars by getting ahead of themselves and tackling processes they knew nothing about. What you say is true; there are exceptions to every rule, and the world is full of invention scams. We recently spoke with a gentleman who had invested $500,000 in his invention and has nothing to show for it but a crude 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 investing 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: over the years, I have shared my previous comments with hundreds (literally hundreds) of Walmart buyers and CPG executives. Some of them read my blog, and not one of them have disagreed with my underlying premise.
This very subject came up recently in a meeting with a Sr. Walmart buyer. I asked him if he had ever bought a “concept” or was aware of his company ever buying even ONE “idea” during his 17 year career. He looked at me and said,
“No. I’ve never seen it happen. I would certainly never do it and don’t know anyone in the company would. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened at some point in the past or couldn’t happen in the future, but my question is why would a buyer do that? Why would they take that risk? And who has that kind of time? To do that, I would essentially have to build a business for someone else without any guarantee the item will sell. If I did that even once at Walmart, it would probably be the end of my career. Like my boss says, “any phone call that takes more than two minutes is probably one minute 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 Walmart wanted to interact with inventors, all we’d have to do is post a request on our website, asking our customers to call us with their invention ideas, and we would get a million calls a week, and believe me, THAT will never happen. The company is just way too big, the risk way too great, and the process way too complicated.”
I appreciate you for reaching out to us 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 advice as to what your next step should be. I would also encourage you to carefully go through our Step 1 Self Evaluation, and if your concept passes the self-vetting phase, move on to Step Two – our professional assessment by industry experts. I look forward to talking with you, if I can be of service.
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.