At one of our largest exhibitor showings to date, more than 350 inventors from 20 countries around the world came together June 7-10 to exhibit their inventions at INPEX, America's Largest Invention Trade Show. Presented by InventHelp® and held at the Greater Pittsburgh ExpoMart in Pittsburgh, Pa., the show featured innovations ranging from an upside-down Christmas tree, to new power tool and fitness ideas, to a love-detection collar for pets.
"It was great to see so many creative, enthusiastic people coming together in one place to network, share information, learn and hopefully make useful business contacts," said Trade Show Director Jennifer Lawlor.
Thomas Delong, co-inventor of the Sink & Drink gaming table, echoed Lawlor's sentiments. "The responses have been very educational, right from the start," he said. "What makes INPEX so unique is the way that it brings together innovators and industry to encourage dialogue between the two parties."
Many inventors found that interaction amongst themselves could be just as constructive as mingling with business representatives. Lisa Washington, co-inventor of Nite Hoops, illustrated this point. "For me, the most rewarding part of the show was meeting other inventors from all around the world – there were so many wonderful people, and we learned a lot from exchanging ideas with our fellow exhibitors," she said. "Even if nothing else comes of this, I feel as though INPEX was a valuable experience and I'm glad that I was able to be a part of it."
In addition to these networking prospects, exhibitors took great interest in the educational opportunities afforded by the INPEX Inventors University™. The University, sponsored by InventHelp for the past six years, is a program of seminars, presentations and panel discussions designed to provide information inventors may find useful in pursuing their ideas.
Chris Tinkham, creator of the Jenny Pak, was particularly impressed with the guidance he received from the Inventors University. "My partner and I came as a team because we wanted to make sure that at least one of us could attend each session," he stated. "That was a major turning point for us – because of the University, we've made an incredible leap forward in our understanding of pursuing our invention."
Tinkham was equally enthusiastic about the INPEX Inventors Resource Center, which gave exhibitors the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with professionals from a variety of organizations and receive advice relating to their inventions. Business consultants and representatives from various small business development centers, universities, law firms, companies and other resources were on hand to answer inventors' questions.
"The Resource Center was incredible; I was able to set up meetings where I received professional instruction that was specific to my situation," said Tinkham. "Howard Lim of HOW Studios, Inc. and B.J. Dohrmann of IBI Global were particularly inspiring because they went out of their way to show me the processes and techniques involved with cultivating an idea."
INPEX 2005 also gave exhibitors the chance to gain exposure for their inventions through media outlets. Assorted newspapers, trade magazines, Internet media, and television and radio stations turned out to cover the show. One of the biggest hits with inventors was The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which gave exhibitors the chance to gain some national exposure for their inventions. Exhibitors were able to pitch their products in front of the show's cameras, and selected entries were included in a "Pitch to America" segment that aired on Thursday, July 7.
"Having the opportunity to present my invention for possible inclusion on aTonight Show segment was tremendous," said Gerald Dennis, inventor of The Door Adjuster. "Even though only a handful of the many exhibitors will make it on television, just the possibility of reaching such a broad audience is exciting. I was definitely pleased with the quality of media coverage at INPEX."
Jeff and Rich Sloan, who delivered the keynote address at this year's INPEX Inventors University, presented another opportunity for inventors to promote their products on a national stage. The Sloan's wrapped up the 2005 University with a taping of their nationally syndicated StartupNation® radio show, and they selected two exhibitors – First Escape Smoke Alarm System inventor James Acevedo and Intelligent First Aid creator Dave Hammond – to join them on the program to talk about their inventions.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Sloan brothers because they've been through all of the trials and tribulations of pursuing a dream – they have a unique frame of reference," said Hammond. "It was an honor to be invited on their show, and I'd like to think that along with promoting my product, I also was able to provide some helpful pointers to those who might have been listening."
In addition to providing numerous services and resources for exhibitors, the 2005 Invention Show reached out to help the community as well. On Saturday, June 11, creative youngsters were invited to exhibit their inventions at "Kids' Day," where judges awarded cash prizes for the top three entries. Carly Harris took home the grand prize of $300 for her Canine Hygiene Unit. However, children did not need to display an invention to enjoy Kids' Day; plenty of entertaining activities were provided by the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, the Washington Wild Things baseball team and Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer club, the Carnegie Science Center, the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum, Radio Disney AM 540 and other organizations.
The INPEX International Awards Ceremony dinner – held at Heinz Field, the home of the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers – was quite a spectacle. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were presented to exhibitors in a variety of categories. An international judging panel determines the category awards on the basis of the inventions' usefulness, creativity and overall appeal. The Grand Prix award, which was the evening's top accolade and included a $5,000 cash prize, went to Deborah Yungner of Minneapolis, Minnesota, for her ERBUS Emergency Backup Utility System. Yungner was visibly emotional, stating that she was "thrilled and honored" to receive the Invention Show's top prize.
With INPEX 2005 now in the rearview mirror, inventors can look forward to next year's show, which will take place June 7-10, 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Interested parties can obtain more information by visiting theInvention Show Web site, or by calling 1-888-54-INPEX.
While the above exhibitors' experiences are not typical of what most INPEX exhibitors can expect from attending the trade show, the events reported are a result of what can happen from attending INPEX – The Invention Show.