I am a big fan of Market Launchers and receive their newsletter, and I'm a huge fan of the United Inventor Association (UIA) since it's the forum our network follows and complies with as the go to resource for inventors. I loved Paul Niemann's interview with Mark Reyland, who is the Executive Director of the non-profit United Inventors Association. Paul so generously gave me permission to share the interview with all of you. I encourage you to visit their websites on a regular basis to retrieve important information pertaining to the inventor industry.
PAUL: Hi Mark. Can I have an update on the UIA’s efforts to help inventors?
MARK: Sure, the UIA was started in 26 years ago, and the USPTO funded it for the first 10 years. Carol Oldenburg was the constant force behind the UIA for 10 years until around 2008.
Warren Tuttle, who runs Monashee Marketing -- http://www.monasheemarketing.com -- and is President of the UIA, deserves so much credit for keeping it going through the tough times of a few years ago.
PAUL: How many inventors belong to the UIA, and what is the cost these days to join?
MARK: There in 12,000 members, and the UIA provides everything for free except for the cost to exhibit at trade shows. This includes the Daily Inventor blog, the Inventor Education forum at www.theuiaforum.org (which is an interactive forum that has hundreds of Q and A’s), plus two very active LinkedIn groups, plus Facebook and Twitter, and the UIAUSA.org’s Resource Room, GotInventionRadio, and more.
Now, these shows want to get involved with the UIA: CHITAG, Toy Fair, CES, a specialty foods association, and others.
PAUL: How many inventor groups does the UIA have?
MARK: There are 86 registered inventor clubs across America. We produce speakers for their Speakers Programs, we’ve had Skype Across America since 2011, and we provide a Skype kit for the groups.
PAUL: What are some inventor success stories?
MARK: The Minnesota Inventors Congress is in its 55th year and is the oldest of its kind in the US. They advised last year’s winner about his commercialization options. They provided the opportunity through one of their corporate members, Kenny Durham of Innovators Warehouse, to license it to John Deere.
The UIA also helped an inventor mom with tons of advice to get her kitchen colander into mass retails. There are easily dozens of these types of inventor success stories like this, that we don’t even hear about.
Inventing is often driven by emotion, and education is the antidote to emotion. The UIA has a three-fold mission:
1. To create no-cost educational programs to inventors, teaching about inventing and commercialization.
2. To provide opportunity to their inventors, through trade show programs and mentors. One third of my day is devoted to brokering these relationships.
3. Work with the PTO and congress to enact legislation that is favorable to the independent inventors.
In 2012 the UIA came up with several goals, including making sure that everything was free (such as seminars). And just to give you an idea of the UIA’s reach and clout in the business community, the UIA was approached by QVC, and this led to the creation of the SCOUTS program. This program introduces inventors to the buyers at QVC. One of the UIA Board members, Scott Hynd, is an on-air talent at QVC who specializes in getting inventors' products into QVC. Now they work very closely with the VP of QVC. They chose 24 out of the 37 products they reviewed at the Housewares Show.
Now the UIA is working on a follow-up program with QVC. Now Alibaba.com is interested in creating a program with the UIA to teach inventors the process of sourcing factories for inventors.
PAUL: Can you tell me about the “Fund-A-Geek” program that the UIA is partnering with?
MARK: In crowd funding, for example, you go in and you say “I need $10,000.” When seeking venture capital funding, you say, “I need $50,000” and they may give you $10,000 and ask you to prove yourself. In the “Fund-A-Geek” program, you approach a crowd of donors (as opposed to funders) for a certain amount of money, then you prove yourself throughout the various stages of inventing and commercialization. This is not a loan but rather a donation, from people who want to see you succeed.
For example, you can go to www.FundAGeek.com and say that you want to raise $1,000 in the next 30 days. Then you promote it to your people. One way is to use Facebook and other social media for this, and you must build momentum to increase your amount of support. More than 100 inventors signed up on the very first day. You can more info at www.FundAGeek.com
In addition, the UIA is working on creating a professional certification for inventors with Auburn University. This will help ease the way into companies who inventors pitch their products to.
How does an inventor become a member of the UIA?
Go to www.uiausa.org and click on the big FREE banner to sign up. You will get your own user name and password.
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