Ask the experts

Five traits of successful inventors

CorrespondentJune 3, 2013 

Louis Foreman

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Louis Foreman, a prolific inventor and CEO of Edison Nation, has more than a decade of experience with product design and development. Edison Nation operates, an online community for innovators; produces “Everyday Edisons,” a reality series on public television; and publishes Inventors Digest, a trade publication.

He shared with Ask the Experts the top five qualities he sees in successful inventors:

1. Vision: “Inventors need to be able to see beyond what already exists,” Foreman said. “Some of the best inventions are improvements on what already exists, but the great innovations are really disruptive ideas, things that change behavior or anticipate the needs of what consumers want before they even know they want it.”

2. Patience: “Rarely is an inventor successful overnight,” he said. “(Most) likely, it’s going to take time for people to get it and the market to accept it.”

3. Passion: “You really have to love and believe in what you are doing,” Foreman said. “That passion comes out in the way you present (your idea). When you get excited about something, sometimes that excitement can become infectious.”

4. Persistence: “You can’t give up,” he said. “You’re going to have the door slammed in your face a number of times. There are going to be people who don’t get it and think it’s a waste of time. You have to keep going at it.”

5. Willingness to be surrounded by good people: “Very rarely is an inventor able to do it all by themselves,” Foreman said.

Foreman suggests finding people who complement your skills and who have resources such as finances or abilities in engineering, design and marketing. Check out local businesses and universities as well as online resources that can help.

Foreman also teaches entrepreneurship and innovation at Queens University of Charlotte. Here are questions he advises students to ask themselves before rushing into the time and expense of prototyping an idea:

• What’s unique about the product? Why would a customer buy your invention?

• Is there a demand?

• What are your financial resources?

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