I’ve blogged about this subject before, but I’m not sure I made my opinion on the subject clear enough. I read about more and more contests for inventors (or really, anyone with an idea) all the time. I don’t think most people realize, however, that you can contact these companies directly! You don’t need or have to wait for a contest to do it for you.
For example, I interviewed Warren Tuttle last Friday. Tuttle is a product scout for “Lifetime Brands”, an enormous corporation that introduces nearly 4,000 new kitchenware accessories each year. Edison Nation is currently holding a contest that seeks new product ideas for Lifetime Brands. It’s so weird to me. Why would someone decide to wait for Edison Nation to select their invention, when they could contact Warren Tuttle themselves? Tuttle’s been working in the industry for decades. If you were to contact him directly, he’s likely to give you feedback on your product and on the kitchenware industry itself.
You will never get this type of feedback from a contest submission. Waiting to hear simply “yes” or “no”? That’s not helpful! You’re not learning or practicing any new skills. You’re simply waiting – you’re not doing anything. When you contact a company directly, you’re opening a number of doors: the possibility of establishing a relationship and of developing sales and communication skills. And frankly, you haven’t had to pay an entry fee.
Contests seem like a lot of fun (and they can be). But they cannot be the sole way you’re getting your invention out there. The inexperienced inventor may want to have his hand held. But the inventing process is inherently hands ON – so don’t rely on someone else doing for you what you can honestly do yourself. And probably better.