Monday, July 26, 2010

College Kids Screw up

Three college seniors once rented the third floor of my apartment house near campus. After various noise complaints, I visited them to discover a large kayak toppled on the floor.

The boys thought it was a cool idea to hang the kayak in the living room, until it fell from the ceiling. Two bent eyehooks still protruded from above, some strands of twine hung freely, and we counted nine random holes poked through the ceiling.

They had a little trouble finding the studs – for the hooks. Then they used frail hardware and undersized twine. Recalling my college days, I forgave the flap of judgment and poor selection of materials. After all, they’re just college kids!

Then I learned they filled the kayak with ice and beer for an all-night blast that brought down the Kayak and flooded the floor. They crossed the line. Their bad judgment had grown into a dumb ass idea. (Repairs were subtracted from the parent provided damage deposits).

When chasing ideas, planning prototypes and spending limited funds - inventors can’t act like foolish college kids. We have to display more maturity and more caution while chasing our inspirations. Our ideas must be thought out, displayed properly and actually work well when presented.

While testing innovations, remember my college boys. Use effective materials (not the weaker twine), seek outside assistance (a stud locator), and avoid embarrassing mishaps (ice & beer overload). An inventor should qualify, modify and perfect his idea to a level of acceptable performance. Prototypes needn’t be perfect – but they shouldn’t collapse during display.

Don’t expect partners, investors, licensees or the general public to forgive such innocent or foolish mistakes in a prototype presentation. Don’t screw up – like the college kids.

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