The interview covers getting started, reaching out to people, and how the web is making things transparent and easily accessible.
Towards the end the interview the conversation turns to how the approach for starting Inventables was analogous to a software development process called "Agile" as opposed to the more traditional approach called "Waterfall".
The pen looks and writes like an ordinary ballpoint pen, but it is filled with ink that changes color according to temperature and performs its magic disappearing act. The friction generated in rubbing the eraser over the paper produces heat, which causes the ink to become transparent and essentially invisible; instead of removing the ink, you change its color. You could also make such writing disappear on a larger scale using the heat from a hairdryer, and the ink can be reformulated to change colors at different temperatures.
2010 marks 17 years since commercial providers were allowed to sell internet connections to individuals. Since that day in 1993, we all know that internet use has grown exponentially. We are now starting to see that online marketing programs can be as, or more effective, than traditional marketing at trade shows or in industry publications. There are several reasons for this change in the industrial sector which include search engines make it possible to find what you need immediately rather than waiting for a show and the costs associated with exhibiting and going to a show are very high.
Today a significant amount of sourcing is done online. Getting your marketing "online" isn't a strategy by itself. There are quite a few different options when it comes to online and the best way to figure out what works best for your business is trial and error. The exciting part about the internet is it is very easy to measure your effectiveness and you can run smaller experiments to later stop the ones that don't work and increase spending on the ones that work well.
The function of a marketer in an industrial company is typically to generate sales leads so they sales team can have the opportunity to close deals. In this situation being able to quantify your sales pipeline and demonstrate the effectiveness of each marketing effort is critical to be able to allocate funds effectively and demonstrate to yourself and senior management the best way to grow the business. By emphasizing measurement and return on investment (ROI) you put yourself in a position of control. To break this down into simple terms you might think about this as a funnel or waterfall.
For example a typical trade show marketing investment might look like this:
1. Initial investment in booth real estate, physical display, travel, meals, hotel, marketing materials - $50,000
2. At the show you might generate 250 leads over a 3 day period - $200 per lead
3. You'll follow up with all 250 and find out that 25 of them are interested in your services and worth sending out a salesperson which costs another $1000 per trip $25,000
4. After the sales meetings you will be able to determine the conversion rate for this approach.
Demonstrating this kind of command over the numbers will help you evaluate which is the best approach for your company.
The popularity of the internet should cause you to consider investing in an online campaign. Earlier this year comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), released a study showing that more than 113 billion searches were conducted globally in July 2009. This represented a 41-percent increase versus year ago. Google Sites attracted significantly more searches than any other engine with 76.7 billion.
If you choose advertise with a search engine you will be paying per click. The search engines offer you software tools that help you analyze and tune your campaign. For example:
1. Consider the same $50,000 you could set a daily budget of ~$150 for your ads.
2. If you run them for 2 weeks you will have spent $2100.
3. At the end of those two weeks you need to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 leads.
4. After your sales people follow up with these 20 individuals you will get a sense of the conversion for the search engine channel.
If advertising in a search engine is as effective from a conversion perspective as going to a trade show you could have a conversation with senior leaders about investing additional funds into this approach until your conversion changes. Your measurements will give you a higher level of confidence that investing marketing dollars in this channel will grow your business.
Industrial marketers that are not interested in making as large an upfront investment in advertising or trade shows should consider creating a free product profile on www.inventables.com.
The free profile will introduce your product to technical buyers, engineers, and sourcing professionals that visit Inventables at no financial cost to you. If the prospective customer is interested they complete the short form on the right side of the page. There message plus some qualifications including their company name, size, and the stage of their project will be sent to you. At that time you will be able to evaluate if this sales lead is worth your time and purchase or pass. If you purchase the lead you will be immediately given the customers contact information. If you pass Inventables website learns that you didn't like that lead and will adjust your profile in the hopes of presenting your product to potential customers that would be worth your time to speak with.
With this final approach the measurement is even simpler.
1. Upfront costs $0
2. Cost per lead - each one is different based on it's qualifications and the day's market rates. Currently leads are selling in the range of $1-$200 however it fluctuates every day due to supply and demand.
3. After your sales people follow up with 20 leads you will be able to determine the conversion on leads from Inventables.
With all this useful data in hand you will be able to compare the conversion rates for each approach with your management team and determine the most effective way to allocate your budget to best grow your business.
These come from Inventables premium users that subscribe to the site and use the sourcing tools regularly. These subscribers pay a monthly fee and therefore their inquiries are at no cost the vendor the inquiry was sent to.
Leads for Sale
These are leads that come from free basic user accounts or non-registered users. Most of these users come across the product profile pages through search engines. Inventables proprietary system calculates the market rate for the lead at the time it was submitted. The market rate is the price you will pay for the pre-qualified lead.
Antoine is passionate about what he does and hopes these “chocolates will be enjoyed in the tradition of family, friendship, and the celebration of food,” as he did in his family. It is evident that Antoine truly enjoys creating such exciting flavors and textures, like Cinnamon Honey, pictured above middle. All of these amazing chocolate combinations made by hand! Even the chocoholics taste buds cannot get enough of Antoine Amrani Chocolates. It has been quoted by local Chicago Founder-Chef, Jean Banchet, of restaurant La Francais that “Antoine Amrani has created the finest chocolates in the United States.” To earn this level of respect the Antoine Amrani Chocolates is constantly innovating. Recently the company found new ways to enhance the decoration of their chocolates at Inventables.com that help Antoine Amrani create an eye-catching, dazzling display. For the Holidays, give the chocolate lover in your life a little taste of heaven. The luxurious Antione Amrani Chocolates can be purchased at Antoineamrani.com.
This year designers and engineers looked at the product pages on Inventables.com nearly one million times in the hopes of finding the right ones for their projects. We are proud to announce with over 167,000 pageviews the most popular material for 2009 was temperature-sensitive glass from Moving Color. These textured glass tiles alter in color with changes in temperature. They are currently offered in a range of colors and sensitivities, the tiles change color based on ambient temperature, body temperature or water temperature – whatever they’re touching. The glass is available in a variety of temperature ranges, allowing customization to specific applications. The maximum temperature range for their “Liquid” line is -30°C (-22°F) to 120°C (248°F). Color change will begin at selected activation temperature, and continue through three phases within a 6-10° rise in temperature. Once past the peak in temperature, the base color will then return and remain unvarying until the temperature drops.
To date the glass has been used in a few showers. One installed in the Mickey Mouse Penthouse at the Disneyland Hotel. When Disney’s guests take a shower, the warm water hits the glass, causing the tiles to bloom into color. As the glass tiles change color, silhouettes of Mickey Mouse appear around the perimeter of the shower. A second was installed in the house the Buffalo Bills cornerback Terrance McGee's new home.
"Moving Color is the innovator of energy efficient, temperature sensitive, color changing materials with over 10 years of research and development. Our glass is the perfect marriage between Art, Science, Technology and Design. We are very excited about the popularity of our material amongst the Inventables community", said Ben Bellmer founder Moving Color.
The applications for this material go well beyond decorative showers. Global architectural firm, HOK, is working on a roof tile concept with Moving Color to use the temperature sensitive glass tiles on a roof. The concept is explored here in their study into skyscraper design.
The video illustrates how thermochromatic tiles change color with the ambient temperature. In cold weather the building tiles turns black and absorb heat. In hot weather the building tiles turn white reflecting heat and thereby cooling the building.
Congratulations to Moving Color for winning the Inventables Most Popular Material of the Year.
Inventables Most Popular Material 2009 runners up:
Sound Dampening Paint: https://www.inventables.com/technologies/sound-dampening-paint
Colorful Metal Mesh: https://www.inventables.com/technologies/colorful-metal-mesh
Impact Hardening Fluid: https://www.inventables.com/technologies/impact-hardening-fluid
What is Inventables?
Inventables is a website where vendors of materials can create free online profiles for their products in order to generate sales leads. Potential customers looking to source new materials and technologies browse through these profiles everyday and submit inquiries about products they are interested in. Vendors are notified by email each time their Inventables profile receives a new inquiry and given an opportunity to purchase the corresponding sales lead.
Chris Lefteri has always been an inspiration to us here at Inventables. His book Plastics inspired the design of the original Inventables webpages and DesignGuide.
Chris is an accomplished designer and an internationally recognized authority on materials and their application in design. His achievements in this area have created a bridge between manufacturers and the chemical and design industries.
Chris hosts some fantastic strategy workshops and exhibitions like the 100% materials show in London. This work has introduced material suppliers to new design industry customers and encouraged designers to involve new materials in their creativity.
When you think of Material books Chris Lefteri is one of the greats. He's written six books on design and material innovation can be found in most design studios around the world. If you've been in design for awhile you've probably already read them, but if you are just getting started here's something to add to your holiday gift list.
Recently Craig found this cushioning gel and smashed his hand with a hammer to demonstrate how it works.
Stay tuned to the DiamondMMA website as progress on their products progresses.
At Inventables we provide an exploration budget, we give our agile teams free point Friday to work on whatever THEY think is most important.
We're proud to announce that our software engineering team used Free Point Friday to create a digital tool to help Agile teams with their standups each morning. The app is free and is called Oneth1ng. It helps your team track the most important thing you want to get done every day. If you don't work in an agile software development process but you are the kind of person that likes to focus on one thing at a time you might want to check it out too.
What's interesting about application of EL is the substrate is crushable.
Electroluminescent devices are becoming more common in products sold today. Most people have seen the soft glowing EL night lights sold at drugstores along with quite a few novelty applications like this animated sign.
Today quite a bit of the manufacturing for EL is done in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Companies include COCHIEF , Shenzhen Guanxing Technology Co., Ltd, Nanjing Mocheng Technology Industry Co., Ltd., and Toppan Printing, CO., LTD.
This video shows one of the most common uses of EL. the dashboard in a car. Many automobiles on the market today use this technology to illuminate the dash panel in the dark.
EL is not new. The 1966 Dodge Charger instrument panel used electroluminescent lighting and Chrysler began building cars with EL panel lighting as early as the 1960 model year.
EL is available in the standard phosphor colors of Blue, Green, Blue-Green, Amber/Orange and mixed or blended White. Many additional colors can be achieved by adding dyes and filters to the active EL area.
Electroluminescent technologies have low power consumption compared to competing lighting technologies, such as neon or fluorescent lamps. This, together with the thinness of the material, has made EL technology valuable to the advertising industry. Relevant advertising applications include electroluminescent billboards and signs. EL manufacturers are able to control precisely which areas of an electroluminescent sheet illuminate, and when. This has given advertisers the ability to create more dynamic advertising which is still compatible with traditional advertising spaces.
EL lamps can be designed to have multiple segments. The segments can be active EL areas that light in designated patterns when activated. Other segments can contain unlit graphics. The screen print process allows almost infinite design flexibility, because different layers can be selectively printed as active or inactive areas.
This article from Geekologie has a whole bunch of EL applications in packaging and some cool movies too.
We invite manufactures of Electroluminescent lamps https://www.inventables.com/vendor_signup to post your EL products to the Inventables Marketplace to get sales leads worth your time.
In 2009 nearly 2,000 companies exhibited on 1 million square feet (93,000 square meters), more than a third of them coming from outside the United States. Approximately 75,000 plastics professionals from 120 countries were expected to attend.
We'll see what 2012 looks like. Hopefully the economy will pick up and we'll be able to see that kind of activity in the plastics industry again.
At Inventables we have built our platform with ROI in mind for industrial marketers that want to use the internet for lead generation. We think ROI is so important that we offer two things:
1. The opportunity of each vendor to decide if they want to buy each lead. This means you never pay for leads you don't want.
2. A 7 day money back guarantee. This means if you don't like the lead you paid for you get a full refund no questions asked.
We are trusting that vendors won't abuse the 7 day money back guarantee by asking for their money back on leads that were worth their time. If this program gets abused we may have to change it in the future. Our intention is to use it to stand by our service. We think it is important to guarantee results.
If you manufacture a material likeflock transfer graphics or a technology like Ultra Small RFID give us a try. There is no cost to get started, you only pay for sales leads you think are worth your time....it's our guarantee.
The guiding principle for the contest is: participants retain ownership of designs, subject to World Kitchen’s right of first refusal. (One of the many points you will want to read up about in the Rules.)
Dining is an experience expressive of lifestyle, economics, ethnicity and heritage. It is imbued with meaning and ritual, as well as function. At its most basic, it nourishes the body; at its best it nourishes the spirit.
Dining is an opportunity for a meaningful experience, for sharing and connection through food.
Change is the fuel that design innovation thrives on. It inspires us by asking the question, “How can we make this experience better?”
World Kitchen is "crowdsourcing" new product designs and invites you to submit concepts that elevate the experience of serving, sharing and consuming food. Investigate how to contribute new aesthetic, functional and emotional dimensions, from sheer beauty and sensual pleasure to better ergonomics and thermal and mechanical performance.
Inventables invites you to browse our online marketplace of materials like Heat Sensing Plastic and LED Light Diffusing Compounds to inspire and influence your innovations.
The entire “tablescape” is your palette and you decide your dining canvass. Consider today’s many lifestyles and the changing nature of dining across cultures and social groups. Check out all the details on the What's Bubbling website.
Inventables is challenging the old industrial marketing model.
Inventables is a website where vendors that manufacture materials or technologies can create online profiles for their products in order to generate sales leads. Potential customers looking to source new materials and technologies browse through these profiles everyday and submit inquiries about products they are interested in. As a vendor, you are notified by email each time your Inventables profile receives a new inquiry and given an opportunity to purchase the corresponding sales lead.
Advertising dollars spent on inventables.com are guaranteed to deliver a return on Investment. We don't believe industrial marketers should be paying for exposure that is not resulting in serious business conversations. When a potential buyer sends an inquiry about your product, you have the option to purchase the sales lead or pass. You only pay for sales leads you are interested in. This means that you are only paying for sales leads worth your time.
Smart industrial marketers are already taking advantage of this more efficient approach to attracting new customers.
The basis of this type of technology is that a scanner can be used to identify unique information on each chip. Packed into each of these tiny devices is a unique 128-bit code or 26 character unique identification number, which is implanted during manufacturing. Like a fingerprint, each chip is unique. Because the chips are so small they can be embedded in all sorts of new applications — such as paper or coatings — for purposes of identification and validation. This short video from IBM paints a picture of what grocery stores will be like with RFID chips on every product.
The chip itself has no power source, instead deriving the power it needs from the radio waves it receives when being read by the scanner. The chip uses special ROM memory, so it prevents counterfeiting, copying and tampering. Other RFID chips have been developed for tracking products in an open supply chain or for the identification of lost pets; this chip’s qualities suit it especially well for item validation. Microsoft is taking RFID to a new level with their Sixth Sense project designed to bring RFID to your office systems. Your calendar will know where you are!
We use open source software and think it's important to contribute to the open source community. If you're interested in reading a more technical description of how we accomplished this, take a look at this post. If you'd like to use the code on your own site you can. We released an open source library on GitHub.
The registration figures recorded following the closing date at the end of May 2009 were staggering. Show officials report 3,000 exhibitors will step stands to showcase their materials and technologies to prospective customers.
Vendors are coming from 56 countries including Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and the USA. The Asian markets are represented by China, Taiwan and India.
Inventables invites all vendors exhibiting at the K show to showcase their products online in our materials and technology marketplace. This online exposure will help support your marketing efforts at the show.
This transparent toaster allows you to see the bread while it is toasting so you're never surprised by toast that comes out too dark. This idea is based on a transparent heating glass technology. Although the glass does not currently get hot enough to toast bread, the vendor explained with some R&D this application may be possible.
Peter Skillman, vice president of design for Palm Inc., led the design of the Palm Pre Touchstone. The entire process – from inspiration to general availability -- lasted approximately nine months. Peter works with a team, including product marketers, designers and engineers, responsible for creating the strategic roadmap for Palm’s new products and technologies. With more than a decade of award-winning design experience, he has strong opinions on creativity and innovation. He is an ardent supporter of Chicago-based Inventables and has subscribed to its innovative and inspiring service for several years.
Peter used one of the materials he found on the Inventables Marketplace. It's a tape that has tiny micro suction cups on the bottom that allow it to adhere to a surface without leaving any residue behind when it's removed. This video has a cool demo of the Palm Pre Touchstone in action on a window!
Create It Packaging posted their product profile which clearly communicated their services to companies that are in need of packaging design. Since the original posting they made a few improvements and starting getting some results. So far Create It Packaging has had a few inquiries from major corporations and completed a prototype project for a consumer products company found through Inventables.
This researcher has built some very sophisticated robots that makes use of the technology. The robots have high speed robot hands that can perform impressive acts of dextirity like bouncing a ball, tying a knot, and using a tweezers to pick up a pill.
The reason we think cold calls are bad is they interrupt productive work. Most engineers that work in product development wish they had more time to work on designing their product. They often find themselves in back to back to back meetings and when they finally get back to their desk the phone starts ringing.
We hope that Inventables Marketplace will be so effective at connecting vendors with new customers they will spend time educating the world about their products by creating and updating product profiles like this one for Overmolding with Plasma Treatment rather than cold calling prospective customers and interrupting their work.
We launched the Inventables Marketplace to give vendors leads worth their time. We hope the new design will get out of the way and make it easier for qualified buyers to connect with vendors.
Built into the new design is an editing feature to make it easier for Vendors to create and update their product profiles.
Keep your eyes on the site because we have a number of new features coming soon that we can't talk about yet.
IT Sligo is the first centre in Ireland to hold an Inventables.com technology and materials licence. What it means is that businesses which are looking for a specific material to make a product work or solve an engineering challenge can now sort through thousands of patented materials to find the right one.
We're very excited to be working with the Centre for Design Innovation, at the Business Innovation Centre in Institute of Technology, Sligo.
Check out more details here:
Craig joined Inventables as a Buyer in 2009 and set out to design and produce a line of branded MMA apparel that would incorporate a classic look and turn-of-the-century toughness. While the first step was to build a stable of proprietary designs, the next step is to engineer a fight short that would improve a fighter’s performance and revolutionize its niche in the MMA apparel industry.
We'll be following his progress as he uses Inventables online marketplace as an R&D department to help source materials and technologies for these revolutionary shorts.
Vendors that sell a material or technology can create a free product profile here:
We're very excited that Inventables materials are now open for the world to review. We made the decision to open the marketplace because we think it will advance our mission to make sourcing and selling materials and technologies easier than the status quo.
We're working hard on the marketplace to make sure it's worth spending time using it for everyone in the Inventables community.