Be the Inventor

Have you ever had a brilliant idea for a product? I’ve had many over the years. Some of them seemed life changing at the moment of inspiration. But I can’t remember a single one of them now. The ideas come to me when I’m struggling with some task for which the perfect product does not exist. I think that’s where the term, “Necessity is the mother of invention” came from. Sometimes it’s a very simple idea, something that would be easy to create and sell. But I have no idea how to get from idea to product. So I’ve never done anything about any of these ideas before they were gone the same way they arrived. I know that many of the products we use all the time came to someone in just this way: Liquid paper, ScotchGuard, Kevlar, the disposable diaper, the electric food mixer, the Snugli baby carrier. And each, ultimately, solved not only the problem they were intended to solve but also the financial problems of the woman who thought of them.

That’s why I’m intrigued by a couple of Web sites I’ve heard about recently. They exist to help people capture your brilliant idea and transform it into a product that earns money.

At, you can earn a $2,500 advance plus a percentage of sales if your idea is chosen and turned into a product by the team there. works with retail partners to get those ideas in front of people who might want to buy them. And currently Bed Bath and Beyond is looking for dorm room ideas. The deadline September 30. Amazon is also looking for home products that save time, money, or energy. The deadline for that is September 14. And those aren’t the only searches currently going on at operates on the same idea: It turns your ideas into products that earn money. You pay Quirky $99, submit your idea, and the Quirky team and members mull it over. The site picks one product every week to take from vision to for-sale goods. And you can buy the eventual products at too.

Why the glam shot of Hedy Lamar in this post? She was an inventor. She patented a technical invention that is still used in secure electronic communications – though it was never used in her lifetime.

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