Wild and Crazy Can Be a Recipe for Great Ideas

Often inventors get into a routine that revolves around looking for a problem that affects many people and where they feel that they can create a great solution. Then they make sure the product can be made for 20% of the retail value and they might have a winner. But there is another way, one followed by kids for generations: just get a wild and crazy idea and try it out.

While not exactly kids, 26 year olds (in 2009) Jason Lucash and Mike Szymczak did just that. Now these two young fellows loved their music, and loved it loud. Their first product which had some traction, was the Rock-IT, a product that could take audio sounds and change the sounds to vibrations. All you had to do was attach the vibration magnet to a wide variety of devices and you had great sound. Some of the places where their product could go include cardboard boxes, file cabinets, appliances, coolers and lamp shades. The product sold for $34.99 and was a modest hit, that is available at Amazon and other stores including Bed Bath and Beyond and their own web site.

But their sales will exceed $5 million for a second product, Fold and Play Recycled Speakers. Obviously the Rock-It added sound, but our inventors wanted more, much more, and they came up with the idea of a speaker made out of recycled cardboard with a standard black speaker that requires no power or batteries. Now they had a light weight box, or in their case several boxes, and they were ready to party wherever they went. Just assemble the boxes, plug into an audio source and you had music, loud music. Time magazine featured the product as one of the 10 best products of 2009 and sold 15,000 speakers in one day on their web site. Then the Marines ordered 50,000. For the inventors, it’s the best of all worlds, a crazy idea that does exactly what they want and a booming business to boot.

That is a great story, but not as great as my favorite story, the Bogdon bass. Chris Baydee wrote songs but couldn’t afford a bass to play on his recordings. So he built a bass out of cardboard he found around the home. He added vinyl strings and a wooden handle and he was ready to record with what he felt was very silly idea. But then something happened, the bass sounded great. invent idea And the big cardboard box was really loud, and didn’t need an amplifier. He didn’t know what to do with what he thought was extraordinary. So he put his idea up a YouTube and received over 1000 hits in less than a day. And he had lots of requests to buy the product. So he put his bass up on eBay and started selling. He sold hundreds of the product, almost as fast he could make them. Bass Player gave the product a great review in 2008 and the product is available at many web sites. A great product that really works at a fraction of the costs of real double basses and even bass guitars.

Chris Baydnee took the money from his initial sales to patent his idea which has helped him keep his product selling four to five years after he invented. Just because you think your product is silly or not serious doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take action to protect a winning idea. A great reminder of this is Gary Clegg who invented the Slanket, a blanket with sleeves long before the Snuggie came out. A simple idea and Clegg didn’t patent it and now today the Snuggie has sold millions of products, far more than the Slanket. So don’t lose your rights. If that “silly” idea has real legs in the market, patent it.

Make Magazine

These stories this week are all about inventors who pulled together invention prototypes in their garage, basement or living room. Make magazine, makezine.com, is a magazine that shows you how to make all kinds of things, such as slip castings, that you can easily do at home, but that you might not be aware of. If you are the inventive type, always trying to come up with a new idea, idea for invention   but not always able to pull something together, you need to start getting Make magazine. Even if the magazine can’t help you, the ideas are fun and you can do the projects just for fun. If you want to help your kids be creative, or if you are home schooling your children, Make magazine is a great resource to explore.

Don Debelak is a well-known invention expert who has worked with new products and inventions for over 25 years and is the author of four of the best-known invention books of the last 15 years. Don runs the One Stop Invention Shop, http://onestopinventionshop.net, with a team of expert associates. The One Stop Invention Shop provides great service along with lots of free information to help inventors.