In this special episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interview Louis Foreman, prolific inventor, product developer and innovation enthusiast. Tune in to learn more about what to do if you have an idea for a new product.

Key Takeaways

  • Where to start if you have an idea for a new product
  • How much money an entrepreneur needs to launch a new product
  • Whether you need a patent before launching a crowdfunding campaign
  • Why it’s a good idea to file a provisional patent application
  • How to use crowdfunding to validate demand

Links

Connect with Louis Foreman and Enventys

Sponsors

FIN 2000X2000Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 25% off!

backerkitArt of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.

Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon:

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host Roy Morejon, President of Command Partners, the top full-service crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped raise over seventy million dollars for our clients since 2010. Each week I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help take your start-up to the next level with crowdfunding.

Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. To learn more, visit thegadgetflow.com. Now let’s get on with the show.

This episode of Art of the Kickstart is sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment by automating your operations and helping your print and ship faster. Plus if you want to create and send surveys, offer add-ons, and pledge upgrades, or begin accepting pre-orders, BackerKit makes it simple. Over two thousand projects and four million backers have used BackerKit including many of the projects featured on Art of the Kickstart. Ready to try BackerKit? Visit backerkit.com and sign up today.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today this is a very special interview for us at Art of the Kickstart. We have with us Louis Foreman, CEO of Enventys. Louis thank you so much for joining us.

Louis Foreman:

Oh, it’s a pleasure to be with you today Roy.

Roy Morejon:

All right so this is my first in person interview, so it’ll be a little bit different and obviously a little better, higher quality than the current conversations that we’ve had. Again, very honored to have Louis with us today. Louis Foreman is a prolific inventor, product developer, innovation enthusiast for small businesses. In over twenty years Louis has helped create over nine successful start-ups and has been directly responsible for the creation of more than twenty others. In recent years he has been called upon by Congress to share his point of view on patent reform and by USA Today for commentary on entrepreneurship. Additionally, he frequently addresses schools and universities to propel the advancement of innovation for all ages.

Louis, you have been doing this for a long time. Where does this entrepreneurial journey begin

Louis Foreman:

You know what Roy, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I started my first business in my fraternity room in college. I was a sophomore at the University of Illinois. I was taking Econ 101. I learned about supply and demand and realized, when there’s demand for a product or a service and the market is not satisfying that demand, there should be a business opportunity, so my sophomore year I started my first business. I’ve been creating companies ever since.

Roy Morejon:

Being that you’re an expert in this entrepreneurial journey, what should be the first step if you have an idea for a new product?

Louis Foreman:

People are coming up with ideas all the time. I think it’s in our DNA. We’re always looking to build the better mouse trap. The problem is that sometimes those product ideas aren’t necessarily unique or there’s not necessarily market demand. The first step is to figure out what is it about your product or service that you’ve created, that really differentiates it from everything else in the marketplace.

Roy Morejon:

How would someone go about identifying that target market of the potential customer for that product

Louis Foreman:

It’s really critical to define who the perfect customer is. A lot of times entrepreneurs will ask their friends or they’ll ask their parents what they think, but if their parents or their friends aren’t the target market for the product, they’re getting bad information. What you really want to be able to do is paint a picture of who is the perfect customer. How old are they? How much money do they make? What’s their education level? Geographically where are they located? Because if you knew that the perfect user of your product was a male who’s 24-30 years old, college educated, making 40-75,000 dollars a year and living in the southeast, you can quantify the size of that market. More importantly, you know exactly who to ask to determine whether or not they really want your product or service.

Roy Morejon:

If mom and dad don’t want to buy the product, that’s okay. When a business starts up this certainly isn’t a cheap endeavor. Can you give a ballpark because you’ve been so experienced with this. What and how much money potentially should an entrepreneur earmark to get started in this journey?

Louis Foreman:

Starting a business is a huge investment and not just an investment of dollars, but also an investment of time and you’re assuming a tremendous amount of risk. Before you start this journey, you need to determine how much money you need to get to the final destination. That final destination obviously is profitability. The reason why most entrepreneurs or half of entrepreneurs fail, is they run out of capital. It’s not that they didn’t have a good idea, it’s that they didn’t have enough capital to get them to profitability. What you’ve got to do is some financial modeling. Build a [proform 00:05:20] income statement to figure out how much cash is going to be required to get to profitability. Then where is that cash going to come from? If you don’t have enough to get the business off the ground, wait. Because trying to raise capital the further you get down the line, if you’re not making money, the harder it is.

Roy Morejon:

Louis you’re an expert on patents and we get this question a lot, in terms of whether or not entrepreneurs should seek to secure a patent first. Do you think it’s necessary to potentially have that patent before even launching your campaign or diving into a product development?

Louis Foreman:

A patent is going to be one of the most valuable assets you ever in your life, especially if you’ve got a successful product and you do want to protect the intellectual property of your idea. That’s what a patent is there for. You don’t necessarily have to file for a patent right off the bat. You can go out and validate the market first, but you’ve got to be really careful that you don’t disclose the invention and destroy the novelty and therefore the patentability of the invention. One of the easiest ways to prevent that is to file a provisional application. It never gets examined. It never becomes a patent, but it essentially gives you one year to dip your toe in the water. To test the market and see if there’s enough demand out there to justify making it an investment in a full non-provisional utility application.

Roy Morejon:

One of the unique ways obviously that we test demand, is by launching crowdfunding campaigns. If you were going to launch a new product through crowdfunding, how much time do you believe an inventor should be spending, in terms of getting their product ready to launch?

Louis Foreman:

Crowdfunding is such a great resource, to not only raise the capital that you need to get your product off the ground, but more importantly to validate the demand. It gives you momentum when you look to bring a product to market after the crowdfunding campaign. I think the market is shifting towards using crowdfunding in new and novel ways, as a way to kind of validate markets before people get into them.

Roy Morejon:

Louis what advice would you have for someone with an idea for a product who wants to develop it and launch it with crowdfunding?

Louis Foreman:

The best advice I can offer, whether it’s in crowdfunding or anything, is just surround yourself with good honest people. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean that you have to do it all by yourself. What you want to do is make sure that when you’re ready to do take this journey, that you bring along the people who have been down this path before. In the crowdfunding business, you want to work with people who have proven results. Who have done it before and have shown that they know what success looks like.

Roy Morejon:

The reason Command Partners has partnered with his firm at Enventys, to form the industry’s first ever full-service turnkey product launch agency, is because of that trust and transparency that crowdfunding currently lacks. We’ve now been able to create a full service product development first with Enventys, bringing together our innovative companies with proven track records under one roof. From product research, industrial design, and digital marketing and web development, our new merger with Enventys Partners provides entrepreneurs and innovators with a one stop shop for turning ideas into solutions. Both of our companies cater to helping entrepreneurs and start-ups locally and globally, where Command Partners focus is on digital marketing and bringing companies to light using crowdfunding with Enventys’ expertise in product design, engineering, manufacturing and fulfillment. We feel that this merger together really solidifies our place in the industry as a leader.

Louis final question before we enter into the launch round. What’s been your favorite project so far in crowdfunding?

Louis Foreman:

That’s like asking which kid you love the most. I’m really proud of the work that our team has done. Our team has invested a significant amount of time and resources to make people’s dreams come true. Whether it’s a product that sells a few units or a few million units, ultimately what we’re doing is we’re taking an idea and we’re turning it into a product. That requires a huge investment of time and resources and commitment. Without answering a specific product, I think everything we’ve worked on has a lot of the DNA of our people all over it.

Roy Morejon:

Fair enough. This gets us into our launch round where I rapid fire a few questions at you. You good to go?

Louis Foreman:

I’m all set.

Roy Morejon:

All right. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Louis Foreman:

I don’t know anything better. I think I was born to be an entrepreneur.

Roy Morejon:

I think that’s many of our courses of action. If you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Louis Foreman:

I think the easy answer is Edison right? The guy had this vision of integrating all of his resources. If you’ve ever been to his West Orange facility in New Jersey, you marvel at the fact that not only did he have all the product development and all the researching and all the prototyping resources there, but he had factories as well. He was truly a visionary when it comes to entrepreneurship and innovation.

Roy Morejon:

What would be your first question for Edison?

Louis Foreman:

Oh boy that’s a tough one. I think I would have to ask him, what does the future hold and how do all of these resources come together to be successful? What we’ve got today versus what Edison has is exponentially greater. I actually visited his library in West Orange. Pre-Internet he had to collect every written book, anything documented on science and technology. Now you would just do a quick search online to find everything that he needed. I just wonder what he would be able to accomplish today given the resources that inventors have.

Roy Morejon:

What book is on your nightstand right now?

Louis Foreman:

I’ve got a quite a few books on my nightstand right now.

Roy Morejon:

Hopefully not collecting dust.

Louis Foreman:

Some of them are collecting dust. I don’t know which one’s on the top of my nightstand, but I’m sure it’s something related to innovation.

Roy Morejon:

What’s your favorite book that you’ve read in the past year?

Louis Foreman:

I’ll be honest with you, I enjoy magazines a lot more than books. I read probably twenty magazines a month, mostly business and industry trade journals, because I want to stay abreast of everything that’s happening in different industries. Because we’re so diverse working in medical, working in consumer products, working in technology, you’ve got to see what trends are happening in other industries and how they may relate to what you may be working tomorrow. I tend to digest a lot of information very quickly, rather than spend a lot of time reading one book at a time.

Roy Morejon:

Fair enough. In talking about the future, where do you see yourself in five years?

Louis Foreman:

Doing exactly what I’m doing today. Surrounding myself with incredibly bright and passionate people and helping people make their dreams come true.

Roy Morejon:

What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Louis Foreman:

I think we’re in the early days of crowdfunding. I think this movement continues to evolve and mature and become a better resource. We’re already seeing big companies using crowdfunding. Not necessarily to fund new products, but to validate the markets and determine where consumer demand really is. I think when you start to add some adult supervision and increase the certainty that you’re actually going to get the product that you’ve backed, I think we’re going to see explosive times in the future.

Roy Morejon:

Last question in the rapid fire round. What big thing do you want to accomplish in life?

Louis Foreman:

The big thing I want to accomplish in life is inspire people to be creative. I think we have so much latent potential in this country and in this world. People are always coming up with great ideas, but very few actually follow through with their great ideas. As we harness the resources that are available to turn ideas into products, I think the world is going to see new innovations that they could never even dream of.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. Louis please give our audience your pitch. Tell us what you’re all about and where people can go to find out more information about you.

Louis Foreman:

We’d love to come visit the new website enventyspartners.com. You can learn all about how Enventys operates in the product development world as well as the new resources that we’ve added with Command Partners to create a one-stop shop for your innovation needs.

Roy Morejon:

Audience, thank you so much for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed this special episode as much as I have. Make sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com for all of the show notes, the full transcript, and links to everything that we talked about today, as well as the coupon code to The Gadget Flow and a link to our new sponsor BackerKit. Louis thank you so much for joining us today.

Louis Foreman:Thanks Roy. It’s been a pleasure.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com and tell us about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes and our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. If you loved this episode, leave us a review at artkick.wpengine.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors and entrepreneurs find the show and helps us get better guests on here to help build your business. If you need a more hands on crowdfunding strategy, please feel free to request a quote on commandpartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.