It has been said quite truthfully that all people, irrespective of their circumstances, brainstorm or at least conceptualize a minimum of one brilliant idea during their lifetime. Furthermore, if everyone capitalized upon their respective flashes of genius, the entire world population would be millionaires. In other words, every human being on the planet has had or will have at least one real opportunity to become rich as a company CEO, provided they have the tools and motivation required to pursue this invention. Whether or not money would maintain its apparent value in sight of incredible riches is questionable, but that is beside the point.
I have faced some skepticism and even ridicule concerning my recent purchase on eBay, and to some degree the naysayers are right. Observed strictly from a purchasing point of view, buying three old laptops at $100 a piece just to build digital picture frames as gifts for grandparents and family is flat out dumb. However, let me propose that you look at the purchase as an investment. An investment into experience, an investment into something that I enjoy doing, an investment into my engineering education and career, an investment into a potential future market product, an investment into what may realistically one day become a startup company.
Yes the product may flop, maybe the price will be prohibitive and people won’t be interested by such a complex product, and maybe the digital photo frame market is stagnant because there is no need or desire to be fulfilled whatsoever. But the greatest inventors have identified markets that were saturated by underperforming products, and miraculously succeeded in making something better. People immediately recognize the value of what this inventor brings to the market, and all of a sudden an uncertain inventor who knows nothing about business is flooded by orders that he would never have been able to anticipate. I have seen the digital photo frame market and its evident failures, yet the flipside is that there is immense potential for innovation and improvement.
Success in the competitive capitalist market mandates an attitude of perseverance and belief in your capabilities; launch a product that is clearly superior, jumpstart it with a bit of direct marketing, and the customers will do the rest of the work for you. Granted my optimism is somewhat unwarranted, but the reality of innovation is elegantly reflected by Steve Jobs’ quote: “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who usually do.” So call me crazy, and call my faith in my own idea blinded, but many have gone before me and continue to prove you wrong.
As for my investment, sure I might never see the $300 again and be left with scraps of old laptop hardware, but the experience of prototyping, decision making and execution of business plans alone, in my opinion, is worth much more than the opportunity cost. Further, exposure to the open market is something one learns from, and will greatly enhance the chances of a future endeavor succeeding. What if my product does succeed, then my $300 is the best way pocket change was ever spent! Obviously my immediate goal is to sell and recoup my costs, plus a little profit, but return on investment includes recognition, a new market, impressing my customers, a career, my own business, and potentially limitless return on my best investment ever.
So I’ve been hit by a flash of genius, and I’m taking a chance by investing into it. I am the 1% doing what the 99% never even bothers to try, and that alone is worth gold. I see the potential, and I am testing the waters to see if I will succeed. Don’t you want to be part of this new market, and encourage me to pursue my invention to its fullest? A small investment at the beginning has the potential to be in vain, but will more likely be seen multiplying time and time again as the success grows.