WHAT IS IT: Freelance inventor
OWNER: Roger Brown
ADDRESS: P.O. Box 7122, North Augusta, SC 29861
NUMBER OF YEARS OPEN: 4
WHAT DO YOU DO? I approach businesses nationally with ideas for new products that I have invented to see if they are interested in licensing that idea and producing the product.
Companies also contact me asking for ideas for new products. I have over 200 proposals that I am submitting to toy, tool, kitchen, office and pet industries.
ANYTHING SUCCESSFUL? Currently, I have five products on the market. The most recent to be released is the Quick Clip sold in Sunglass Huts nationwide and the Pizza Scissors, sold through Progressive International to Sears and other specialty shops nationally.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS BUSINESS? I have always been an out-of-the-box thinker and like the challenge of figuring things out. You always hear people complain about products, saying, "I wish they had something that did 'blank.'" Well, I try to figure out the blank.
STRANGEST CLIENT/INCIDENT? The strangest incident has to be when I talk to people about inventing and I tell them I have five products on the market nationally and spent less than $100 on each. They all think you have to spend thousands to get a product patented and licensed. That is a myth pushed by the invention submission companies to get your money.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE BUSINESS? I love the creative side of coming up with something new and actually seeing it come out in the stores, knowing other people will use it. The thought of getting paid for it is not bad, either.
WHAT DON'T YOU LIKE ABOUT THE BUSINESS? The amount of time it takes from conception to getting to the store may be a year. There are molds to be made, design changes, marketing and sales decisions to make before you get to the stores. That is why I work on multiple ideas at the same time. You always have something in the works.
WHY YOUR BUSINESS STANDS OUT: Everyone has had an idea about something and later seen it on the shelf. Then they say, "I thought of that years ago," or, "I could have thought of that!" I am the person that makes the things you thought about, but didn't chase after.
WHAT ORGANIZATIONS/EVENTS ARE YOU INVOLVED IN? Mainly inventor forums online. I have been helping other inventors as much as possible to keep from getting ripped off by the companies selling services.
WHAT ORGANIZATIONS/EVENTS ARE YOU INVOLVED IN? My son David and I were semifinalists in the Everyday Edison auditions. I was a semifinalist in the Staples Invention Search contest. I won the National Pollution Prevention award from the Department of Energy for my invention the Super Sleever.
YOUR BEST BUSINESS ADVICE: The three P's: Persistence, Patience and Positive attitude. There are a lot more creative people than myself, but they all give up when the road gets hard. Dreams are accomplished by people who do, not by people who wish.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR BUSINESS IN FIVE YEARS/10 YEARS? I plan on having a line of products licensed by major companies. I would love for a majority of them to be with South Carolina-Georgia companies.
MOST IMPORTANT BUSINESS PRINCIPLE: Never stop improving and thinking for the future.
BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN THE BUSINESS: I spend 80 percent of my time trying to find companies that look at outside ideas from inventors. So far, the majority of those companies have been outside the two-state area.
I would love to support (local) companies and have the jobs created and money stay in our states. The problem is finding those companies. I recently talked with an inventor friend of mine in Arizona that does fishing inventions. I told him I had a couple of ideas and asked if he could suggest any companies to approach. He told me about the Shakespeare Co. that happens to be in Columbia. So, I went to a guy across the U.S. to find out about a company an hour away from me. There has to be a better way for inventors to find companies willing to look at ideas from inventors. I am working on a method to accomplish that objective, but I will need help to do it.
ROLE MODELS/INSPIRATIONS: I get inspiration from all the people you see who have put their mind to something and made it happen. Even when everyone around them thinks they are nuts for trying.