Who’s On First? Angel Investors, Where Are They In The Invention Relationship?

angel investor

Angel Investor Image by Esthr via Flickr

So, when should an inventor start getting serious about looking for invention investors?

I’m a patent agent in the making. Actually, I’m a lucky patent agent in the making as I’m a lot older than most college students and luckily I was able to go back and finish college. With that almost behind me, I’ve been interning at a local patent law office and what I’ve done lately is interview investors. It’s kind of the pre-interview before one of the attorney’s talks with them.

Most of the time I interview people from corporations. However, occasionally individual inventors make appointments and they’re a lot more talkative. I believe I’ve only interviewed 5-6 people but all but one of them started asking me questions about investors. Actually, they weren’t really asking questions, it was more of a conversational chat. Obviously most patent attorney’s won’t give that type of advice, and they shouldn’t. What I learned was these people are confused! The are, in their minds, jumping from A to D or E before they even completed B and C. in the invention/patenting/financing/selling process.

I analogize it to going to a new restaurant. Some people will look the restaurant up on Mapquest to find the best route, they print the map, are referred to the restaurant by someone they respect, and make reservations. Armed with facts, they get in their car, drive to the restaurant, eat and have a great meal.

Then there are others who, on a whim, decide to go to the restaurant, get in their car and get lost a couple of times, arrive when it’s the most crowded, don’t have reservations, then blame the restaurant.

Knowing how to find angel investors is no different. Taking action on something without thinking it through with a plan of attack is probably the number one reason some people end up disappointed with their results. It doesn’t take but a couple clicks in Google’s Search Engine to see this problem is common.

When To Start Looking For Angel Investors

There are lots of things an inventor has to do before he or she starts even thinking about angel investors for their invention ideas. First on the list would be to determine if the idea is unique, and even patentable. This can be done through the USPTO website and you really don’t need a patent attorney or patent agent before you get the basics out of the way.

Here’s a free 7-part resource guide for inventors looking for investors and how to prepare.

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Invention Ideas for Students

Official seal of the USPTO

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know why more school libraries don’t have many (or any?) books on inventions and science fair projects. You’d think they would have plenty of them. How many people have school aged children who come to us in a panic saying they need invention ideas or science fair ideas and that the projects are due “like… tomorrow?”

My daughter, came home from school the other day and said her homework assignment was to come up with an invention idea that hasn’t been patented before. To write how it would work and what market this invention would target. I thought it was really odd that a teacher would request something like this for several reasons.

1. How would she know if invention ideas are patented or not? She was told to search the USPTO Database, but was not given instructions on how to search it.

2. What if she came up with a terrific idea? She’s not an adult so she certainly couldn’t sign a contract. But I’m sure someone at the school (teacher?) could whip up a provisional patent application in no time. I think the whole assignment is absurd and could open up a real hornets nest. It seems like a real abuse of power in my opinion. Maybe harmless and maybe not.

I’m typically not cynical or even suspicious. However, I always know what’s going on in my kids schools and take part as often as possible. So, how did I handle it? I haven’t yet. I am most definitely going to speak with the teacher, and I may even end up having the teacher sign a confidentiality agreement. But, until I get the other side of the story, I’m not sure what to do.

It does make one wonder though, what’s being asked of your kids at school?

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