Innovation for Innovation’s Sake

I live in a world of venture capital. It is part of what makes our vibrant economy go around. I have clients who want to know if they should invest in new inventions and how to structure an acquisition. If they are new at it, they want to know what to expect. I tell them to invest in something that interests them already or something they know about. Later they can expand to larger ventures or buy a franchise. If they have sufficient funds, they can do a little of everything for the purposes of diversification. I know a businessman who has so many irons in the fire that he could be a guest on the TV show, Shark Tank. These men have dozens and dozens of things in constant operation. Some are successful and a few fail. It all comes out in the wash.

In matching a venture capitalist with a project, I notice that many people try to improve on ordinary existing household objects because they get inspired by them when in use or they know that there is a market for improvement. You don’t want to invent and market something that is obsolete or obscure. You want to make your profit on volume. Maybe people don’t need a better mousetrap, but they might want new gadgets on their vacuum. I remember a time when I had a lot of requests for support from inventors who had heard I look for backers. I got a pitch from a man who was working on a state-of-the-art vacuum. It was for residential use and included the usual features such as detachable hoses and separate accessories, but he also made it shut off when it sucks in an object such as a pet toy or child’s wood block which can get jammed. He had a few other bells and whistles, but in the long run it made the vacuum quite expensive. Do people want more for their money when buying a vacuum for under $100 or are they willing to fork over dollars for batter operation, bagless construction, and easy clean surfaces.

What made me turn away was that I personally would care about anything new that I didn’t already get with my $100 model. If I were the typical buyer, this would mean that the market was small. I wouldn’t invest in his venture although it seemed like a good machine. I felt that it was not worth the extra cost. This is a big detriment to success when it comes to selling a new product. I did not want to invest nor did I encourage any of the venture capitals I know to do so. Maybe someday I will be impressed by an upgraded vacuum, but not at the moment. I took another look at my old budget vacuum and still felt the same way. It works well, is durable, and no doubt will last a lifetime. It was a no-brainer decision when I acquired it and I have no regrets.