1. As Director of Client Services, what pain points does Invention Evaluator mend day to day?
AS: Many of our corporate and university clients need to quickly and objectively assess a large volume of ideas and technologies and choose which ones they would like to focus their time and money on to develop further into commercial products or startups. Most clients do not have the internal resources or knowledge to do this in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Our expert analysts are trained in search and IP, in addition to their individual specialized backgrounds in life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and ICT. We help our clients validate or invalidate any idea, product, or service in hopes of making the most out of their investments. Invention Evaluator helps take the guesswork out of determining if an idea is worth protecting (if you have not taken steps in this direction already) and if there is further work worth pursuing.
2. What are the benefits of outsourcing an invention review rather than keeping it within the company?
AS: Currently, with 95 percent of U.S. startups failing to reach their goals and 85% of consumer products failing within two years, seeking an objective review of your idea, technology, and business plan seems like a no-brainer. Many companies and VCs have an internal team vetting these ideas, but the benefits of outsourcing this critical task, especially in the beginning, can be quite a good value for the money. Here a few benefits:
- Companies receive invention reviews in 10 business days or less
- Less time = less money
- Outsourced invention reviews are unbiased and objective
3. Can you tell us about one client that took your evaluation and is now successful today?
AS: We maintain strict confidentiality when it comes to the ideas and technologies of our clients. However, I can give you a recent example of an evaluation we completed last year for our parent company, Tekcapital, on one of its portfolio companies, Lucyd. Lucyd is the maker of next-generation smart glasses, and their eyewear eShop is launching this summer. Last year it was just an idea on paper with 13 patents. Today it has raised over $6 million through an ICO to build a prototype, the eShop is preparing its launch as we speak, and Lucyd has applied for a 14th patent to protect a new mobile application for its glasses. This is all within less than one year.
4. What are the top 3 trends in the startup world that you see gaining traction by the end of 2018?
Trend #1: Greater reliance on ICO crowdfunding to finance startups.
Crowdfunding is well established with sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but the entire segment has been given a lift thanks to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). More than 645 ICOs have already been completed in 2018. Year to date (YTD) in 2018, $16.9B was raised in ICO funding. According to Techcrunch, blockchain-focused crowdfunding has surpassed VC funding for startups, delivering at least 3.5x more capital, and the trend is accelerating. As the regulatory environment gets sorted out, this is likely to expand exponentially. This year, there has been a land grab with municipalities jockeying for safe and regulated economic zones for completing ICOs. The Isle of Man has created a regulatory framework called Isle of Man Registered Designated Business ICO, which will allow for token sales that are compliant with anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer regulations.
Trend #2: Connectivity driving growth and innovation.
Coworking spaces enhance connectivity across different disciplines and help accelerate growth of startups. Using AI, founders Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann launched their company, WeWork, in 2010. Hailed as the Airbnb of office space, they have raised $4.7B in funding and have plans to IPO and build an extension into shared living spaces. This is a living example of the physical network effect, e.g. Uber, Lyft, Didi Chuxing, Airbnb, etc., and the trend should strengthen in 2018-2019.
Trend #3: AI and autonomous vehicles.
At the crossroads (no pun intended) of driving and artificial intelligence (AI), startups focused on software applications that enhance the safety, convenience, and monetization of autonomous vehicles should be white hot in 2018. With autonomous vehicles set to enter the mainstream, the automotive marketplace needs software apps that help owners use these vehicles for both transportation and as an investable asset. This is a great example of a new asset class with enhanced utility.
5. What role do you see Invention Evaluator playing in leading this shift?
AS: Particularly with trends #1 and #3, there are so many companies and technologies in the space that it can be hard to separate quality from quantity. In such a crowded space, Invention Evaluator reports can really help founders, investors, and other interested parties assess the strengths and weaknesses of technologies and businesses. It is easy to get caught up in the hype and trends, but building in an objective review process like Invention Evaluator can provide you more assurance in your investment decisions.