Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Inventors: Leverage the Power of Specialized Thinking

Apparently, there’s never been a better time to be an inventor. According to Doug Hall, in his recent BWSmallBiz column, “Inventors, Pick Your Industry,” big companies are desperate for new ideas. Procter & Gamble, for instance, now gets more than half its ideas for new products from outside inventors. Five years ago, that number was closer to 20 percent.

Like our founder, Ken Makovsky, Hall believes that a specialized, sector-specific approach is the best. Here is his list of the top 10 industries that provide the “most fertile ground” for inventors:

1. Finance, credit, commercial banking and other financial services head the list, with gross margins topping 50%. (“Of course,” says Hall, “recent events show this may not be a good time to enter the financial-services industry.)
2. Landlords (47%)
3. Recording/movie industry (more than 40%)
4. Computer software publishing (40%)
5. Specialized manufacturing equipment (40%)
6. Bakeries and tortilla makers (31%)
7. The “sin” industries, such as breweries and gambling (30%)
8. Soft drinks (27%)
9. Publishing, both the online and old-line (27%)
10. Pharmaceutical and healthcare industries (25%)

Hall’s list was based on research undertaken by mathematician Greg Lemmon, who evaluated the profit margins in more than 200 industries. Those sectors with the highest margins, he reasoned, should offer the best opportunities for people who are interested in licensing an idea, innovation or invention in return for a royalty payment, which can be 25 percent of the gross profits.

Technorati Tags: inventor, businessweek, Doug Hall, Procter & Gamble, Ken Makovsky, Finance, Greg Lemmon,credit, financial services, Landlords, Computer software publishing, Soft drinks, Pharmaceutical, healthcare, business, communications, public relations

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

High Tech: Reporting on the Crisis in Mumbai

First, speaking for everyone at Makovsky + Company, let me say that our hearts break for India and the people of Mumbai, both residents and visitors. Like New York, Mumbai is the financial capital of the nation. Like Mumbai, we in New York are unfortunately all-too-familiar with the consequences of terrorism.

Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time channel surfing the news networks on cable TV, trying to get a coherent perspective on the deadly terror attacks, with little luck. Coverage was brief, often contradictory and peppered with commercials. Finally, I turned to the social media, which were rich with raw, up-to-the-minute information and images.

For example, as the mainstream media struggled to catch up with fast-breaking news, the technology-empowered social media, including users of Twitter, were posting real-time accounts of the crisis to their friends and family worldwide. (Twitter is a free micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ brief text-based updates — or “tweets.”)

While it’s true that there were lots of rumors and false reports on Twitter, bloggers like Amy Gahran, a self-employed media consultant, worked hard to separate the facts from the hokum by checking out rumors.

We’re all citizen journalists today. I just wish we didn’t have to be combat journalists.

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