Solar Power Technology Roundup

In 2010 we all know that solar cells are a less efficient energy source than petroleum or coal but the promise of obtaining our energy from the sun is alluring. Obviously the benefits of a 0 pollution and primarily fixed costs required to get started are attractive. At Inventables we're excited by some of the new photovoltaic modules sometimes called photovoltaic panels. These are where a manufacture takes an array of solar cells and packages them together. Here are a few that have been posted to our site:

Inquiry Memorial

In February, 2010, 174 people inquired to one or more vendors on the Inventables Marketplace. Our lead developer, Jeff, pointed out that they were all ignored. In an effort for Inventables to critically evaluate the success of our site, Jeff created an "Inquiry Memorial" in honor of these buyers to express the severity of this issue.

As you can see by the pictures, having this in our conference room was impossible to ignore. So we brainstormed and concluded that there may be several reasons the vendors had not taken action on the inquiries. As a result, we built a new feature that allows vendors to send an anonymous reply to buyers who submit inquiries. This gives the vendors the option to answer general questions, determine whether or not there can be a potential relationship, or respond to the buyer and let them know why the product may not be the best fit for their project. (Read more about this feature here.)

Our goal was to increase our response rate to buyers to 25%. We blew this goal out of the water, hitting 70%. Ironically, at the same time buyers began getting responses from vendors, the "Inquiry Memorial" began falling down off the wall. This change signified a huge shift at Inventables and has greatly increased the communication between buyers and vendors on the marketplace.

Summer Project at Inventables


FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that was created “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.” With more than 90,000 volunteers and “a network of over 3,500 corporations, educational and professional institutions, and individuals,” FIRST reaches approximately 212,000 students a year.

You can check out our promotional video here:

The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is a program designed for high school students that combines the excitement of sports with the rigors of science and technology. Teams are required to come up with an average of $10,000 every year. Fundraising and corporate sponsorship are the key components of keeping this program running.

About the program

Inventables, whose corporate mission is to “inspire the dreamers of the world to explore what’s possible,” is joining forces with FIRST. The FIRST Video program, launched in the summer of 2010, provides FIRST robotics teams with a quick fundraiser to help them raise money for their robots and other team expenses. Vendors who purchase a FIRST Video are provided with a marketing tool for their products, and FIRST teams are provided with equitable compensation for their work.

At Inventables, we hope to, at scale, help raise $2 million a year for FIRST teams. We are excited to move from our current Beta testing to a live, world-wide launch.

I have been hired as a FIRST Robotics intern to take on the task of growing this program. This is my first job, and I’m excited to be here. I’m learning all about the way a real business works while incorporating what I learned in FIRST. I really believe in what’s happening here at Inventables. I have witnessed first-hand how challenging it can be for FRC teams to find funding for the year, and Inventables has come up with a great solution.

This program helps raise funds and gives students a look into what real-world engineering is all about. When I was a part of my FIRST team, we often ran into situations where we couldn’t pay for everything we needed. With this new program, teams can get a head start on fundraising for the upcoming year. The video-making process is a simple fill-in-the-blank set up; therefore, teams should be able to complete the entire process in one 3-hour sitting. Completing four videos would result in a quick $1,000 dent in your fundraising commitment, and, for a team that started off with nothing, that’s a significant gain.

-Lydia Moore