I often feel as though the inventing community is fragmented – we could benefit so greatly from mutually shared information and experience, but few ways to do so exist. Matt Spangard recognized this issue. And as co-executive producer of the Emmy award winning PBS invention series “Everyday Edisons”, has created an interactive website to solve it.
What were the forces that helped found Edison Nation?
“We were forced to turn away enormous numbers of inventors from the casting calls for ‘Everyday Edisons”. In the five cities that the casting calls were held across the nation, we saw over 10,000 inventions. A lot of the ideas weren’t right for the show, but they were still great. We wanted to provide a platform for those inventors. An opportunity for them to take their ideas to the next level,” Spangard explains.
The Edison Nation website is brimming with great information. Interested in learning from the experts?
“During the show, we interview hundreds of policy makers and experts in the field of innovation. But we can only show about two minutes of those clips – not the hours we actually film. So we’ve complied fifteen, thirty, forty ‘Learn From the Pro’s’,” Spangard revealed. The website also allows members to access editions of “Inventor’s Digest” – every edition the magazine has printed for the past twenty-three years.
In addition to providing inventors with information, the men behind Edison Nation have made it their mission to emphasize the act of connecting – connecting inventors with one another and connecting inventors with retailers and manufacturers, for example.
“The website is a social networking platform. Inventors have profiles, much like a professional Myspace or Facebook. The profiles are able to engage in forums, the most popular facet. There were over 20 new threads posted today and the thread with the largest amount of responses has over 6,500.”
One feature I found especially interesting was a match-making service the site has. Inventors are able to post both their skills and needs, and another inventor may respond to perform a sort of a trade. For example, if a prototyper needed help with packaging, a graphic designer could respond and offer his help (and using the prototypers).
But the icing on the cake is what Spangard refers to as “live product search”.
“Our live product search connects inventors with retailers and manufacturers. Retailers or manufacturers host searches, detailing a need for innovation. The searches are sometimes broad, sometimes incredibly narrow and specific.”
If one is a gold member of the Edison Nation site (a $9.25 fee per month), they have access to all these live searches. Although it costs twenty-five dollars to respond to a post, the fee is only paid once. The inventor’s posting is then available to all future and current live searches. So if your product isn’t necessarily the best fitting innovation for one retailer’s need, it might be for another.
“We’re changing the idea of what it means to take a product to market. We are dedicated to helping idea people bring their best inventions to the marketplace – by all means possible,” Spangard confirms.