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What's an Idea Worth?

By Greg Harris

Flattery Doesn't Pay the Bills

Greg's Corner Many of Jameco's customers know a lot about designing new technology. There are things like copyrights and patents to protect intellectual property, but there is no way to effectively protect a business idea. That makes ideas all but worthless.

Jameco has seen its ideas mimicked and copied over the years by its competitors. While flattering, flattery doesn't pay the bills. Instead of getting mad, however, we decided to get even and found a way for your ideas to make some money for you.

“Wow, that's a great idea.”
“Finally, an original idea.”
“How did you come up with this idea?”

All of these quotes came from a recent trade show. We were rolling out our new Club Jameco program where electronics designers earn a royalty on sales of electronics projects they design and Jameco builds and sells as kits. The consensus was that Club Jameco is a great idea and yet, there is nothing original about the idea.

Club Jameco borrows from companies like Zazzle where anyone can design a t-shirt and sell it using Zazzle's web site to earn a commission. It also borrows from Quirky which uses crowd sourced expertise to invent new products. While the Club Jameco concept is unique in the electronics space, it's all built on good ideas originated by other companies.

So how do you protect a business idea? Like a raw diamond, the value emerges after it has been cut, polished and placed in an appropriate setting. The business equivalent of this is putting the idea in the context of a unique business plan. That's exactly what we've done with Club Jameco. We've taken a good idea and delivered a strategy that we think others will struggle to mimic and that fits perfectly with Jameco's business model.

Club Jameco plans to accept every customer design as long as the project is viable (we can source the components), accurate (the design works) and clear (well written instructions). The goal is to add thousands of unique and original electronics kits in a short period of time.

This is not an efficient process. It requires personal attention to each design and each Designer. Building these kits is anything but efficient. While Jameco's competitors have automated their operations in an effort to squeeze as much cost out of serving customers as possible, Jameco doesn't approach the business with an “efficiency first” mentality. Instead we focus on “flexibility first” as a value that we think customers will appreciate. It's that same flexibility that makes us uniquely qualified to manage a program like this.

At the same time we're offering our designer customers a way to protect his/her idea. Having an idea without the resources to implement the idea guarantees that the business idea will never see the light of day. Club Jameco solves this problem and we think that partnering with our customers is the perfect fit for a company like Jameco.

Club Jameco may well be copied, but with your help it will never be matched. Check out the site when you get a moment and let me know what you think of the idea.