Tips for Inventors

Fred Kroll

I was invited to be one of the principle speakers and had prepared a summary of my talk, which I later handed out to participants. It is amazing that so many of my suggestions to inventors were also touched upon by other speakers. I am summarizing them for any inventors or designers who plans to have his or her inventions licensed, produced and marketed.
  • 1. Don't give up your day job!
  • 2. Don't come up with another combination of checkers, chess and backgammon - there are scores of such games already and few if any have been successful.
  • 3. Don't invest your own funds to produce a short run of a game that you have not been able to license to an established company, unless you are prepared to lose your capital. It costs too much to produce a short run of a game and for sure it would have to sell at 100% or more than competitive items already on the market which are produced in large quantities at lower cost.
    Of course there are exceptions to every rule. Some inventors who did produce and originally market their items, which later turned out to be mass-market successes are: Monopoly, Boggle, and Yahtzee. But these are in the minority.
  • 4. Don't tell me that your family and friends love the game. This is the "kiss of death". Most people will play with anything they are given and which they don't have to buy.
  • 5. If you show a toy or game to a company, always insist on their signing a confidential form and make sure you have a deadline before which they have to either accept or return your item.
  • 6. Most important suggestion of all: engage a professional agent who knows all of the companies which look for outside ideas and pay him a fair share of any royalties. It is better to earn 50% or 60% of something, than earn 100% of nothing.
  • 7. Make sure that you review the 6 P's of marketing and abide by them carefully to avoid costly mistakes.
    • A. Product: The item must be original, safe and well designed.
    • B. Price: Item must be priced to sell. Compare to existing items on the market.
    • C. Packaging: Very important that the package is attractive and gives consumers some idea of the contents.
    • D. Promotion: Will item be promoted with PR or TV or in store demonstrations?
    • E. Production: Carefully chose the factory that will produce the item. They must be able to produce the item on time and assure it is safe for children to use.
    • F. Protection: Do you have a copyright on the printed material, a trademark registered and a design or mechanical patent if you wish to protect your idea. Although it is not mandatory that you patent items, you should consider doing so if your item will be on the market.
Add up the 6 P'S! If your product meets the requirements of all 6, you are almost assured of success. If 5, chances are 80% for success. If 4, you might skim by if your item is truly original. If 3, success is probably doubtful. If 2 or 1, I say forget it!

For fun visit various types of discount and toy stores, evaluate items on the shelves, and I am sure that the fastest moving items add up to 5 or 6 Pís. For sure the slower selling ones do not.


Fred Kroll
The Kroll Report


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