Trevor Lambert runs Lambert & Lambert, a licensing agency that helps inventors bring products to market. Last year he launched Enhanced Product Development to further help inventors get their consumer goods onto store shelves. We decided we needed to know more about his services.
ID: How does Enhance Product Development differ from your other company, Lambert & Lambert?
TL: Enhance developed organically, starting with the formation of Lambert & Lambert more than 10 years ago. L&L is a licensing agency that represents inventors, mostly with consumer products. We work on a strict contingency or commission basis after performing an evaluation that seeks to determine ‘licensability.’
We often represent inventions that require further development. Over the years we assembled a staff of designers. Our staff would develop our client’s products and sometimes work with the licensee after deals were made to prepare those products for market.
Inventors with inventions that weren’t accepted often asked us to develop and license their products, usually due to their general distrust of the invention industry.
I knew that the licensing strategy that we developed at L&L could be utilized to help inventors license their inventions more effectively and at reduced cost, yet providing fee-based services didn’t fit in the L&L model. As a result, we launched Enhance in 2010. We have since been refining our service packages with particular attention to an inventor-friendly tract for licensing.
The main difference is Enhance is primarily a product-development company that provides a suite of design, engineering, prototyping, and manufacturing sourcing services to companies, entrepreneurs and inventors.
For products we develop at Enhance, we also offer licensing representation on contingency at a reduced percentage when compared to L&L because the inventor is paying for the development work out-of-pocket. The strategy to license inventions is essentially the same at both companies, however, they are unique business models that appeal to different types of clients.
ID: You use the term ‘licensability.’ How do you define that?
TL: In our design process, a problem is analyzed from various ‘angles’ and our client’s solution is refined to develop a product that is novel, marketable and commercially viable. These three traits are important. When they intersect you’ve established a product that is ‘licensable.’
ID: Talk about your “proven invention strategy” to get inventions to market. What does that look like?
TL: The strategy begins by highlighting the end goal, which usually for our clients is licensing. At Enhance we design and develop products from the licensing perspective.
When considering our roots at Lambert & Lambert working on contingency, we needed to develop a relatively inexpensive model that was repeatable and effective. Our diverse experiences enabled us to refine our approach, which has become the basis for our recommended development packages at Enhance.
At one time we developed elaborate informational packages on each of our clients’ inventions. However, we found potential licensees never actually read them – executives were too busy to read a 20+ page prospectus. The sheer thickness of the packet was so daunting that they never even opened it.
The packet itself was an impediment to success even though it was a result of great effort, time and investment on our part.
We shifted to formulating sell sheets, knowing we only had an executive’s attention for a very short time. The sell sheet should ‘wow’ them and entice them to learn more, not drown them with information that muddles the message. We experienced a dramatic improvement in our response rate from potential licensees and usually a prospectus was never necessary to close licensing deals.
Then there’s the design work. Our sell sheets feature the product design developed through our 3D CAD software with large photo-realistic images of the product. We typically brand the product with the potential licensee’s brand, so each sell sheet is tailored for a specific licensee.
This allows the decision makers to visualize what the product would look like fully developed under their product line. This becomes a powerful sales tool and something I refer to as a “psychological bridge” that greatly improves the license success rate.
Two other components central to our strategy are personal presentations and licensee relationship development. Unfortunately these components don’t happen overnight and are usually the biggest frustration for inventors.
Actually getting through to decision makers at companies can be excruciatingly difficult because it requires extensive networking, emails, phone calls, trade show attendance and a lot of persistence. However, by developing these relationships, the product will get a bona fide review by the potential licensee, rather than getting lost somewhere in the maze of the corporation.
ID: What types of products are you looking for?
TL: At Enhance we look for innovative solutions to real problems.
Our particular focus is in consumer markets where we have our greatest knowhow, experience and industry connections. This includes infomercial, housewares, hardware, automotive, juvenile, pet and consumer healthcare. Essentially, if it can sell in major retail chains, such as Walmart, Target or Home Depot, we are very interested.
ID: Do you review ideas submitted on cocktail napkins, or do they have to be more developed than that?
TL: Enhance is a product-development company. We work with inventors at all levels. From fleshing out a napkin-sketch concept to refining an existing design, we can enter the process at any point.
Our mission is simply to help our clients achieve their goals. Whether it’s attaining a license deal with a well-positioned company or completing full development and manufacturing sourcing, our tailored services and solutions are designed to help them get there.