Posts Tagged ‘invention’

Part 3: Design of the Times or “Hmm, is this worth doing?”

Ok, so far we’ve been creative.  We’ve done some thinking.  We’ve noodled around a bit and now we have come up with an inspired idea. What now?  The next step for us is to determine whether it is valid enough to continue with or not.  The ideas I come up with at 3am may seem incredibly brilliant at the time, but not even fun, interesting, or even manufacturable or realistic once we really begin to flush out the concept.

So, what do we take into consideration when deciding to move forward with an idea?

  1. Who would license this?
  2. What part of a store could this sell into?
  3. Would we buy it?
  4. How much would it cost for a manufacturer and at the store?
  5. What need does it fill?

These are the type of questions that most people don’t think through.  They have an idea, they love it, they want it made.  Period.  I get it!  It’s hard to let go of an idea.  An idea always seems perfect to the person who invented it because the vision for the item is in THEIR head.  There is an emotional attachment to an idea that is hard to break.  I will be the first to admit that I am less than pleased when Ryan shoots down my ideas. It makes me a little um…mad, even if it was terrible.  Well, perhaps I didn’t explain my vision thoroughly enough.  Maybe he just disagrees.  He may know more about that category and what sells than I do.  It may never have been manufacturable. Maybe it’s just a plain stinky idea.  More than once I’ve come up with an idea that would use technology that doesn’t even exist.  If only magic were real…

Yes, I double checked the wall at Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station in London.  I didn't go through.

Just to be sure,  I double checked the wall at Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station in London. I didn’t go through it.  Hrumph.


The answers to the checklist above are much easier to answer with some industry experience.  But making trips to the store, seeking out similar items, noting their prices, and turning over the package to see who makes it is a great start.  These days it doesn’t seem weird to have your phone out taking pictures of store shelves.  In the “olden” days before smartphones, we used to get stopped by a store employee to find out what we were doing (the closest I ever came to being a Bond girl) but these days, you could just be Snapchatting or Instagraming and no one would be the wiser and you go home with valuable reference and a gallon of milk.

Once we have talked about the idea, if we feel that we have a sizable list of companies that the item could work for, if there is an area of the store we think it could fit, if we determine that it would sell for an appropriate cost at the store, if a factory would realistically be able to manufacture it, and if it’s something we feel consumers would like, the next step is to make a prototype.

Which, appropriately enough, is the subject of the next installment of my little series which I have appropriately titled:

Part 4: Prototyping or “Making the Industrial Design degree pay off!”

Happy Summer Solstice and thanks for reading!

Nothing encourages creativity like the chance to fall flat on one’s face. ~James D. Finley


Part 1: The Creative Process and all the Einsteins out there in the Universe

It’s a big world out there with ideas swirling around like crazy.  Just take one trip to a big box store and see the expanding garden hoses and you’ll get what I mean.    Who knew that was a good idea and would sell like hotcakes?!  (That’s not really an endorsement, I’ve never used one, but the commercials are CONVINCING!)  There are lots and lots of Einsteins in the Universe.  The difference is that an inventor stops to make the good idea and tries to figure out how to get it to the public so they can share in the good idea with them! (and tries to make a few bucks in the process…)

When someone finds out we invent for a living, a very popular response is, “Oh, I have an idea for something that everyone will use” or “I come up with ideas for stuff all the time, but I don’t know what to do with it.”  Yep, we all do it.  Something just occurs to you: “I wish that I had a FILL IN THE BLANK to help me FILL IN THE BLANK.”  That’s what makes good ideas.  It just happens that our FILL IN THE BLANK is to help kids and adults BE HAPPY AND HAVE FUN TOGETHER.

Pardon the cliche, but we kinda think ideas are a dime a dozen.  Most aren’t good and few are really, really exceptional.  We have all kinds of ideas all the time and at Gigglicious, but we never hang on just one.  Some inventors do. They come up with one idea and schlep it around to toy companies for years.  That isn’t our business model.  Our logic is that if one didn’t work, we can come up with another one.  We keep the old idea in the arsenal and bring it back out if we see a fit with someone or have something to add on to it.

But, maybe you are curious about HOW we come up with the ideas for toys, games, and novelties?  Inspiration is everywhere and we simply try to stay conscious about keeping an eye out for it.  That’s the secret.  We aren’t geniuses, we just think about toys, games, and mechanisms ALL the time.

Albert-EinsteinInspiration can be found in a trip to the toy section, surfing the internet, our own kids playing a made up game together, a magazine article, a conversation, a vacation, and even a trip to the home improvement store.  Sometimes we sit down and consciously noodle about a particular niche we want to fill for a specific company.  Often, for the measly cost of a Chinese dinner, our kids will sit and draw and think with us.  (Turns out it’s a small cost because they are good at designing!)

I couldn’t sleep the other night, so to fill the time, I figured I’d start ideating.  I generally start by imagining a that I own a toy store.  What toys would I want to see on the shelves?  That gets my brain running.  I came up with four reasonable ideas and another handful of ideas that seemed revolutionary at the time, but not so magical once the sun came up.  (Everything you think of at 3 am always seems to be a stroke of genius, right?)

Inspiration doesn’t always come when you want it to and mostly does when you aren’t paying close attention.  So, we just work to be conscious of the thoughts in the back of our heads.  No magic formula for coming up with ideas, just patience and putting in the time to think and imagine.

So, we came up with an idea!  What’s next?  Stay tuned for Part II!

If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.  ~Albert Einstein

Ideas are like wandering sons.  They show up when you least expect them.  ~Bern Williams