Our InvENtor Spotlight for December is on Ken Joyner! Ken has been a member of the Edison Nation community since 2008 and is an active Insider!
Where is your hometown?
Born in Chicago, IL
Where do you currently reside?
Los Angeles, CA
What is your professional background?
I am a certified Architectural Drafter/Designer. I now specialize in corporate realty services.
How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?
I saw an episode on Everyday Edisons in 2008.
What inspired you to start inventing?
I have always been pretty creative. I remember creating unique dog houses with custom features when I was a kid.
Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?
BOTH – I have trained myself to always look for solutions to obvious things we take for granted. So these types of ideas just “come to me”. For product searches, I sometime have to “go after them” since they are often concepts that are not necessarily in my mind at the time. I find that both ways can be productive.
When did you come up with your first great idea?
25 years ago, when I was 19 (I’m 54 now)… I came up with an air-freshening dispensing system for automobiles. I actually sourced all of the components and built a functioning prototype. It was also my first exposure to the USPTO and the patenting system. This is when I developed and filed my first patent. I spent literally hundreds of hours in the library (there was obviously no internet back then), going through all of the patent publications and finally just deciding to read the entire Manual of Patent Examining Procedures (MPEP) which is the official “Bible” of rules and instructions for patent examiners.
It took me forever, but it was worth it. I ended up fully understanding the requirements for filing, responding to and “arguing” a patent. My first filing of a utility patent application took more than 500 hours to draft, I can now draft a utility patent in 6 to 8 hours now that I fully understand the process (I fortunately can do my own drawings too). Of course, I’m not recommending that every inventor read the entire MPEP, but it’s a good idea to at least be familiar with it and perhaps do a cursory review of relevant sections.
Have you ever collaborated with another inventor(s)
Yes, I have.
If so, how was that experience for you?
One of my past patents was with a colleague/friend at work (we were co-inventors). I’m also actually collaborating with my former wife (I like to say former because “ex” sounds too hostile to me 🙂 ) on an idea we came up with.
I’m always open to collaboration on a project as long as all parties are willing to productively contribute where they can. Fortunately, my experience with collaboration in the past has been positive.
What are some general industry trends you have noticed recently?
I’m always amazed at how many new ideas are out there. It seems like most inventions are either simple, low-cost throw-away items or complex high-tech products (nothing in between). Social media and phone apps opening up so many possibilities as well.
I’m also fascinated with how much easier it’s getting for an individual to compete with large companies and institutions. There are tremendously more possibilities for inventors today in my opinion.
You have been an EN member since 2008, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?
Yes, my daughter was only nine years old when I started (Wow time flies)… It’s been a very interesting journey for me. I’ve gone from the highest of highs (G8, licensing and royalties), to the low point of R5’s 6’s & 7’s).
In either case, I’ve seen EN evolve over time and I’ve learned a lot in the EN community. I’ve also “met” a lot of cool people and inventors.
What advice would you tell others embarking on their own invention journeys?
The main advice would be to have patience and be persistent. Inventing is a slow process.
I would encourage inventors to continue inventing even when you are waiting on answers/results from existing submissions and opportunities. The world has existed just fine without our invention to this point and it could likely continue without it, so it’s up to us as inventors to do what is necessary to make the world understand why our invention is beneficial.
I also always remind myself, “If my invention is so obviously great and so easy to market, why can’t I market it myself?”.. the obvious answer is, it takes a lot more to successfully market a product, even if it’s a great product.
What would you consider as your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
Oh, that’s an EASY one for me (I tell it all the time)… Twenty years ago (when I was inexperienced) , I had a contract with a large mail-order house to sell my first patented invention. They placed several repeat orders for 5,000 units, so I finally decided I would demand they pay me upfront for future orders. We’ll, needless to day, it was the last order I ever received from them. I always wonder how many hundreds of thousands I could have sold to them had I not been an absolute idiot and slay the golden goose I had in front of me. Well, lesson learned. I now always remember that the company existed before my product was invented and they will continue to exist without my product, so it’s best to go with the flow and we can BOTH make money.
What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?
I love biking, walking, animals (especially dogs), the ocean and the mountains. I love living in LA, though it can be somewhat superficial at times, the weather is great, diverse people, food and culture. The best thing is I can drive the ocean coastline and be in the snowy mountains all within 2-3 hours.
I had about 50 different invention prototypes and I FINALLY convinced myself recently to throw out half of them as they will never be viable. It only makes room for the next 25 different prototypes that I will probably make in the near future. 🙂