Some people have the idea, but neither the means nor the contacts to put it into practice. Others are looking for an exciting product that distinguishes them from their competitors. In between the two is Invented4: The Slovenian company offers a platform for inventors and designers as well as for potential customers from the retail and promotional products market.
“What’s new?“ This is one of the most often posed questions on the promotional products market. Distributors, but also marketing decisions-makers and purchasers on the user side are constantly on the look-out for new ideas that give them a competitive edge and convey their campaign aims convincingly. Invented4 helps them find what they are looking for: “We network designers and inventors with companies that are searching for new, innovative products,” said Grega Piškur, who founded Invented4 in the year 2013 in Ljubljana. Piškurs’ business career began around 20 years ago with a design studio. Later on, he specialised in promotional products. “With around 400 distributors and a population of 2 mil. people, the Slovenian market was already saturated at the time,” reported Piškur. “Because we wanted to get away from the unavoidable price wars, we tried to offer own products with an added value, launching among other things Ekoman, the first label for ecological promotional products in Slovenia. My passion has always been developing and launching new products and I am permanently in contact with industry designers, freelancers and inventors. There is an abundance of great ideas. However, most of the inventors don’t have the necessary knowledge, financial means and networks to actually be able to launch the products onto the market. On the other hand, I knew how interested promotional products companies are in innovative products. That is how the business model came about.“
Invented4 is based in Ljubljana and is an interdisciplinary team of ten people comprising of business economists, IT specialists, industry and graphic designers and legal experts. The concept is both simple and coherent: Inventors of an idea can register these on the Invented4 platform in every stage of the development – whether as a sketch, prototype or finished product. “In contrast to other platforms we don’t charge the inventors any registration fee, so there is no risk for them,” explained Piškur. After it has been checked whether the idea conforms with a catalogue of basic criteria, it is presented to a panel of 30 companies, the test group, which comprises among others of members of Ippag (International Partnership for Premiums & Gifts).
Ideas, which the test group considers to have potential, are produced. The others are not rejected, but instead placed on a closed portal, the so-called “Idea Warehouse”. Here registered and approved companies can permanently search for ideas and the inventors have a further opportunity of marketing their products. Currently around 1,500 designers and 1,100 distributors belong to the network. In addition to numerous promotional products specialists, more and more retail companies are using the portal. Whoever finds a suitable product has the opportunity to purchase the intellectual property rights or order product development with Invented4. Furthermore, distributors and users can organise competitions and thus receive a much higher number of proposals than they would be provided with by a single design agency. Three recent competitions were initiated for instance for a new children’s piggy bank for the ING Group, an ashtray for Camel and the latest new USB flash drive for Siemens. The inventors don’t have to worry about their ideas being stolen – Piškur: “All companies that register have to sign the corresponding agreement. Furthermore, we check each registration in advance to make sure they are credible. In between there is a high level of trust and a lively exchange between both sides.“
From scratch to Launch
If an idea is interesting enough and has a high market potential, Invented4 takes care of the financing and handling of all steps through to the market launch – beginning with the further development and the production: “First of all we sign a cooperation agreement with the inventor. Then we develop working prototypes, marketing materials and organise the production, explained Piškur. “We have a pool of producers from Europe and the Far East, in some cases we also work together with manufacturers that are proposed by members of the Test group.“ At the same time, Invented4 produces the necessary info and advertising materials such as videos, photos and descriptions or brochures. The finished product is then presented on a database to all of the companies that could possibly fall under the target group, beyond this Invented4 also organises all of the marketing activities on the corresponding platforms. The products with the most potential are also submitted to competitions – with successful results: For instance, Chipolo,an innovative Bluetooth chip for the key fob that can be used to find misplaced objects won a Promotional Gift Award 2014.
The recently launched campaign on the crowd-funding portal Kickstarter for the original coasters game Less was also a total success: The bar game that can be learnt within a minute and which is predestined as a promotional product raised the necessary sum of 4,000 Euros within 18 hours and in the meantime the amount of money available has increased by more than 900%. The recently completely relaunched website of the company presents a host of further innovative, successfully launched products. And one can be certain that Invented4 will also hold plenty of new ideas in store in future too.
photo source: Invented4