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Inventing is like searching for a treasure

We don’t know exactly where the treasure – or invention – is buried, but as long as we trust our hunch and our treasure map there’s a chance we will find it.

When we start inventing something new, we sometimes get that feeling of being Santiago from Paulo Coelho's bestseller ‘The Alchemist’. The feeling of being a young boy setting out to find his treasure. Having a strong belief (or as in his case a dream) as the guiding star. Facing a lot of obstacles along the way. But still believing and trusting the signs.

While this might all sound a bit pocket-philosoperish, it’s pretty accurate.

Most times, we try to create something new. Something the customers need without necessarily being aware of it themselves.

This makes it hard to know exactly where to start the treasure hunt and where it will take you from there. We have to trust our hunch - that there is an opportunity - as well as our processes. This way, we might just be able to unearth the treasure.

The treasure map: Our process

A hunch often initiates a new project and from there we can start using the treasure map: Our process.

Fundamentally, we have three dimensions to consider: market-related activities, the technical side of the product and the concept.

On our journey, we have to make sure all three dimensions come together; Even the coolest concept with the perfect product isn’t a treasure if it’s way to expensive for the market to ever adopt it.

From our process, we get some clues along the way – e.g. by testing prototypes with potential customers. The feedback can give the motivation to continue the quest. But it can also present a new obstacle that has to be faced.

Not all maps lead to a treasure

It’s true for inventors as well as entrepreneurs in general: You have to firmly believe what you set out to accomplish is possible and that the market is asking for what you’re doing. Still, the treasure doesn’t always want to be found.

We have started 40+ projects during the lifespan of Lolle & Nielsen Inventions, and every single time we’ve experienced a point in the process where we’ve considered ditching it.

About half of these project ended up being stopped at some point. But in the rest, we actually found the treasure in the end.

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