Inventor Spotlight – Part Two – Q&A on Invention with Doug Gaus of Innovation in Mind

Poof Fling Flyer by Alex Brands Story
Part One  Introducing Inventor, Doug Gaus
Part Two – Q&A on Invention with Doug Gaus
Part Three – Intellectual Property, Selling Your Idea & Licensing
July 2016 Update – Sales Soar at Walmart & Amazon


In our last Inventor Spotlight Post, we introduced Doug Gaus of Innovation in Mind and celebrated the launch of the Poof Fling Flyer by Alex Brands. Doug invented and perfected the Flyer with Caleb Chung of Furby and Pleo fame.  Our goal this week was to learn more about Doug and what it takes to be an inventor.

How did Doug Gaus become an inventor?

I’ve always been a creative person who never felt any constraints when it came to brainstorming or coming up with new or novel ideas or ways of doing something.  I used to build things from scratch at an early age, so I could make the ideas in my head come to life.  Armed with a business degree in Marketing and my early career spent in outside sales, I had all the pieces of the puzzle needed for marketing and selling my own new product ideas.

How do you come up with ideas?  

I look for major gaps in the market, areas where companies have not yet filled a noticeable need to their consumers.

The Poof Fling Flyer by Alex Brands.

The Poof Fling Flyer by Alex Brands.

How do you tell the difference between a good idea, a bad idea and a good marketable idea?  

Good marketable ideas have mass market appeal and the broadest target market possible.  There can be other good ideas but they might have some flaw, maybe it is too expensive for a company to manufacture and market it.  Many independent inventors make the mistake of inventing a product that solves a problem for a small group of people, so in that respect it can be a bad idea.  If you look at all the utility patents that have been approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you’ll see the majority of them have never been commercialized.

Once you have an idea, what are the next steps?  

Blake Pachner Designing

NPD Lab Manager, Blake Pachner of TechHelp & Boise State, designs a product in SolidWorks.

Typically, one of the first things I’ll do is to try and make a prototype that proves the concept.  Ideas that look good on paper don’t always work as expected when proving out the concept.  Sometimes, I’m able to make a working prototype in my garage, out of the materials I think are most suited for the eventual product.  Other times, I’ll need to contract engineering work with a group such as the TechHelp Team at the New Product Development Lab at Boise State, to translate my new product idea to CAD software.  This helps clearly define the utility and design of the product, can check the product functionality and performance, and be used for the making of prototypes (rapid prototyping), also available at the NPD Lab. 

Any success stories lately with your new product consulting?  

The innovative Wine Label Light.

Light up your wine with the innovative Wine Label Light from Table Shine.

I have a client in California, Nancy Taylor, who came up with a cool and innovative Wine Label Light, a decorative band that is placed over a wine bottle and illuminates the label in dark settings.  She has worked very hard to bring her first new product to market using an overseas manufacturer.  Nancy received a large order from Franmara, a large wholesale distributor of wine accessories, and it will be available in select stores this year!