Showing posts from 2009

IMNO - International Mentoring Network Organization - Interviews CEO Zach Kaplan

Patrick of IMNO interviews (me) Zach Kaplan about getting started as an entrepreneur in school and how Inventables went from an idea to where it is today, a web site where vendors of materials can create free online profiles for their products in order to generate sales leads. 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" . Enjoy!

Heat/Friction Disappearing Ink

You have probably used an erasable pen before and experienced problems with the ink smudging or not erasing completely. The writing above was produced with what looks like an ordinary ballpoint pen, but unlike ordinary ink it’s completely erasable with a standard eraser — and, unlike other erasable inks, this product does not smudge or smear. 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.

Planning for Industrial Marketing 2010

As marketing plans for 2010 begin to take shape it will be more important in this new market reality to show measurable return on investment than ever before. The economic environment could be better. Evaluating and implementing industrial marketing programs specifically aimed at generating qualified sales leads that turn into business is crucial. 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

Free leads vs. Leads for Sale

There are two kinds of leads that come into a vendors product profile, free leads and leads for sale. Free Leads 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.

Buyer Story - Chocolate that sparkles!

Cinnamon Honey, Raspberry Puree, Banana Rum, Pistachio, Coffee Sour Cherry are a few of the amazing chocolate flavors that you can experience from Antoine Amrani Chocolates. These Chocolates give an eye-catching, distinctly shimmering visual appeal. Famous Chocolatier, Antoine Amrani, has caused people to crave his luxurious chocolates. The chocolate comes from France and the ingredients are natural. Every piece is created by hand and the flavors masterminded by Antoine himself. Created in a luxury chocolate factory in East Norton, Philadelphia, these chocolates are one of a kind. Photo by: Ruggieri Photography| 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 han

Inventables Most Popular Material 2009: Temperature-Sensitive Glass

Award winner to be showcased at Museum of Science and Industry This year designers and engineers looked at the product pages on 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 bas

Materials Guru - Chris Lefteri

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 h

Calling all Industrial Marketers and Salespeople - STOP COLD CALLING

Nobody likes cold calling. Cold calls are uncomfortable for the sales people making them and they are uncomfortable for the prospective customers that receive them. If this is true why do some sales and marketing professionals do it? Here at Inventables we consider cold calls to be a form of what Seth Godin might refer to as interruption marketing. Seth actually wrote a book on Permission Marketing during his days at Yahoo! At Inventables we think about this choice from the prospective of people who use our site everyday to find new materials for their projects - product developers. Product developers have a love hate relationship with interruption marketing. They love learning a bout new possibilities. Learning a bout new materials and technologies is essential for everyone working on new product development. When they learn about a new material like synthetic paper it expands their understanding of what's possible. With this new understanding, they can create an innov

Skin Safe Conductive Ink

Skin safe conductive ink from Bare Conductive makes YOU the electronic device. The way it works is a conductive ink is applied directly onto the skin allowing your skin to become electronic circuitry. When the ink is on your skin it you to interact with electronics through gesture, movement, and touch. The ink is applied with a brush, stamp or spray and is non-toxic and temporary. This is a boundary challenging material. At Inventables we've seen conductive ink before for paper but skin safe is a new arena. Check out this video to get the idea.

Buyer Story - Mixed Martial Arts shorts

Craig Diamond of Diamond MMA is rethinking fight shorts using Inventables Marketplace . He's looking at options for cushioning that can reduce the pain a fighter feels from a kick or a punch. Protection has typically been foams or liquid gels. Foams tend to become too hot and humid for prolonged contact with the body, and liquid gels will leak if punctured; worse, they bottom out: Liquid gels become unevenly distributed until there is no liquid left at the highest pressure points – exactly where it is needed most. This smart gel forms a shock-absorbing, elastic cushion that does not bottom out, evenly distributes weight and won’t leak if punctured. 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.

Oneth1ng - From Inventables Labs

Inventables fosters a culture of innovation. We think of innovation in the same way gardeners think about growing beautiful flowers. You can't "build" a beautiful flower you just need to set up the right conditions. Nutrient rich soil, water, sunlight, seeds, and patience will eventually yield nice flowers. 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.

Electroluminescence - EL lamps

Wikipedia states "Electroluminescence is an optical phenomenon and electrical phenomenon in which a material emits light in response to an electric current passed through it, or to a strong electric field." Electroluminescence (EL) is a means of generating light by the electrical excitation of light emitting phosphors, similar to how Plasma televisions are backlit today. In this case, the light emitting phosphors are located between two electrically conductive plates. Applying an alternating (A.C.) current activates the system producing light. At least one of the electrodes consists of a light transmissive conductive material allowing the light to escape. 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 o

NPE Moves from Chicago to Florida

The society of the plastics industry made an interesting announcement today stating that they will move NPE 2012 from McCormick Place in Chicago to Orlando Florida at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). NPE is the largest plastics industry event in North America and it would seem that this move signals the event is shrinking. McCormick place has 2.6 million-square feet of exhibition space and the Orange County Convention Center has 2.1 million-square feet of exhibition space. 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.

Money Back Guarantee - Industrial Product Marketing

When it comes to making decisions on where to spend advertising dollars it's important to think about ROI. Calculating your gross profit generated by each lead source can be handy tool for industrial product marketers to determine the performance of each approach. Figuring out an average cost per call is important too because using that data more efficient lead sources can be identified. 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

Design Compeition: What's Bubbling

For the second year in a row Inventables is working with World Kitchen on a design competition. Last year's Tea Off was a success with 240 entries attracted an impressive level of quality from around the globe. With three outstanding Award Winners and 25 Honorable Mentions, we celebrated design innovation at the International Home + Housewares Show in March. 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

Industrial Marketing

Traditional advertising requires marketers to assume risk. There is a risk they will pay for an advertisement and the new sales revenue generated from the advertising will not be enough to provide a return on their investment. Purchasing an ad in a magazine, a banner advertisement on a website, or purchasing a booth at a trade show all require an upfront payment in the hope that customers will come. We believe industrial marketing can now be guaranteed to provide return on investment. 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


About the size of a grain of sand, this RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip is the smallest of its kind in the world. 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 a

2 weeks: from zero to credit card processing

Recently, we added credit card processing to . This makes it possible for Vendors that promote products on our website to buy sales leads when potential customers submit an inquiry about their product. We have a small software development team and we wanted the functionality fast. Some quick googling showed that there are many solutions out there for large payment processing sites like Paypal or However, we were using a payment processor that these solutions didn't support. 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 .

K show - Plastics and Rubber

The global plastics and rubber industry will meet Oct27th-Nov3 2010 in Düsseldorf, Germany for the K-show. This will be the 17th show located in the Düsseldorf Fairgrounds Halls 1 - 17n. K 2010 will draw experts in the field of polymers to meet and conduct business. The portions of K 2010 that would appeal to the Inventables community are raw materials, auxiliaries, semi-finished products, technical parts, and reinforced plastics. 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 hel

Transparent Toaster

We started the Inventables Marketplace to make sourcing and selling materials and technologies easier than the status quo. Most of the connections we make help incrementally improve a product. Using our marketplace, engineers find new materials and create new features, builds a fresh take on an old features, or lower the cost of manufacturing for his or her product. At Inventables we also hope to keep the "anything's possible" spirit alive and inspire a whole new generation of product developers to have the courage to take a swing and change the world in a big way on the innovative blue sky projects. From time to time we create product concepts to demonstrate how product developers can use our online marketplace. 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 enou

Buyer Story - Palm Pre Touchstone

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!

Success Story - Create It Packaging

Create It Packaging first heard of Inventables while watching a Crain’s Chicago Business Today video that profiled CEO, Zach Kaplan and his unique company. The Inventables concept sounded very pioneering to them and seemed to be a great venue to introduce their packaging design and mockup services to companies that may not have known where to find these services otherwise. Companies that are looking to research new, fresh, one of a kind ideas are most likely putting out new products of their own… and have a need for developing new packaging for their new products. 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.

Exploration - Flash Point Academy

The Inventables exploration budget is intended to keep our team creative while quenching our curiosity. At Inventables we’re institutionalizing a “safe” way for all employees to explore the unknown; we call it our Exploration Budget. This month we took a tour of Flash Point Academy guided by its CEO Howard Tullman . One interesting stop on the tour was a multimedia presentation room where Howard gave us a quick demo of Augmented Reality using the Flash Point logo. Check out the demo yourself here .

Inventables is gateway for PowerbyProxi to connect with two U.S. based companies

After being featured on the Inventables Marketplace, PowerbyProxi is collaborating with two companies that found them through the site. One in the plumbing industry and the other an aerospace manufacturer! PowerbyProxi, a spin off of University of Auckland in New Zealand, is the creator of the Proxi-Ring, a slip ring which supplies power to rotating, highly mobile industrial equipment. The Proxi-ring eliminates the need for a physical power connection. Powerbyproxi was excited to get these leads through Inventables Marketplace! Fady Mishriki from PowerbyProxi says "Inventables innovation push methodology is simply, clear and effective, and the new online marketplace a great tool for innovative companies wanting to showcase their technologies to the world. They spent the time getting to know our technology and then pointed us in the right direction, we are now exploring a number of exciting opportunities as a result ." Create your own product profile on

Application: Pressure sensing sheet

When this pressure sensing sheet is connected to an electrical circuit, it has an electrical resistance. As you apply pressure on the sensor, its resistance decreases. 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.

Cold calls are ruining the world

One of our motivations for launching the new Inventables Marketplace was to end cold calls. In our view cold calls are ruining the world. We hope our new website puts an end to cold calls. 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.

Marketplace Redesign Launch!

Today we released a new product profile design to the world! 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.

Buyer Story - Inventables deliver on secret agent’s needs

It might sound like the stuff of secret agents, but magnetic ink , electronic paper , water-soluble glass and translucent concrete could be just what Sligo businesses need to make their product sell. IT Sligo is the first centre in Ireland to hold an 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:

Buyer Story - Mixed Martial Arts shorts

Mixed martial arts, and specifically the UFC , is taking the United States by storm. A former High School wrestler, Craig Diamond, started a fight short company called Diamond MMA . 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 - Get leads worth your time

Inventables new online marketplace makes it easy for vendors to get leads worth their time. It's free to get started you simply create an online profile for each product. Leads from within the Inventables paid buyer network are free and vendors can choose to purchase additional leads that are interested in their products. This new movie explains how the process works.

Inventables Marketplace - Beta

Inventables has launched our new online materials marketplace into private beta. Buyers (product developers, engineers, designers, procurement professionals) can request free or premium accounts here: javascript:void(0) 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.