The Profile of an Inventor
What does an inventor look like? How do they think when confronted with a problem? Is every solution an invention in disguise?
My answers to these questions have changed greatly in the last 14 months. At that time, it was April 2015 and I‘d just been laid off from a position I’d had for 8 years. With this clean slate I found myself questioning if I go back to a typical 9-5 career, or chase the dream I’ve had since I was a little kid – to be an inventor.
But surely I couldn’t be an inventor, right?!? I had a picture in my head of inventors being incredibly book smart, having lots of money to invest, and knowing all the right retail contacts. I had none of that. Plus, what in the world could I invent by myself? Knowing a few folks in product development roles, they always talked about a huge team of designers and engineers. I had a team of one.
After weeks of going back-n-forth in my head and with the cards stacked against me, I decided to go for it! When life gives you lemons, sell them for a profit, repeat, and save up enough funds to do something you’re really passionate about! So I focused on an idea I’d been toying with for a couple of months, a little clip for an airline tray table that later became known as The Airhook.
A brief history of The Airhook
While flying from Seattle to San Francisco I had nowhere to hang my sport coat and didn’t want to get it wrinkly in the overhead bin. As I wore it inflight, I was staring at the tray table thinking it be nice to hang my coat from a clip that came off of it. So, I 3D printed one for my next flight and it worked great! That clip then became a cup holder, which then morphed into a universal electronics mount. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Airhook is now in full production with sales in 60 different countries.
I had really done it! Become the inventor I’d hoped to be as a child. It wasn’t before long that I became known as The Inventor in our social circles and the person folks ran up to at networking events to share ideas. It was great! So much fun in fact, that earlier this year I became President of The Puget Sound Inventors Society, which aims to help inventors get through the highs and lows. It has also given me the personal pleasure of meeting dozens of inventors at varying ranges along the invention lifecycle.
Due to all of these experiences, today I’d say EVERYONE is an inventor! Regardless of age, sex, wealth, or any other demographic. From valedictorian to dropout, being an inventor means being a dreamer… and I’d like to think everyone has a dream!
Which means that every solution to a problem really can be an invention, it all depends on who solves it. To be honest, the reality is you’re not the only person who’s come up with a solution to the problem (which we also call opportunity) you’re experiencing. What sets you apart is your ability to dream. To dream about your invention helping others who face the same challenge that originally got you thinking. That dream then leads to motivation, which leads to action.
So, are you an inventor too?
Over the course of the next few months this blog will cover each major milestone that occurred with The Airhook, from ideation to retail sales (each briefly described here: http://vision2invention.com/what-we-do/). I’ll give you the playbook to take your invention from homemade to household. Then, we’ll know :)
Thanks for reading and looking forward to going on this journey together!