With 115 U.S. and international patents, more than 400 products she’s created and sold, and a starring role on ABC’s Shark Tank, Lori Greiner is always working on the next big idea.
“I think about things that either I need or want, or will make my life easier, or things that I notice will make other people’s lives easier, and I try to think of solutions,” she says.
Her advice for generating ideas: “Try to be on trend, try to think about what’s hot, what’s coming up, and try to be first, fastest or best.”
Greiner wasn’t always proactive with her ideas. Working as a writer and selling jewelry, she often dreamed up product ideas but never pursued them. Then she came up with the concept for an earring organizer. “I took to the streets and even snuck into a huge Chicago fair and set up a table and did market research asking strangers what they thought of my prototype and how much they would pay for it. This confirmed for me that I was onto something,” she says.
“I think the first time I went on a televised home shopping channel and my item sold out in just a few minutes, I was hooked,” she says. “That excitement is something I chase with every new product I make.”
Greiner’s products are sold on QVC and by retailers worldwide, and she says she holds a personal record of selling 55,000 units of one item in a single 12-minute airing on QVC.
For budding entrepreneurs just getting started, she says, “Poke around in an area where you have a genuine interest and passion. If you love it and are really interested in it, you won’t stop creating and you won’t mind the countless hours and battles with obstacles that get in your way.”
HERO or ZERO
Assess the viability of your product concept with Lori Greiner’s free app, Hero or Zero, which offers a quiz as well as suggestions for improving your idea. High scorers have a chance to submit their ideas to Greiner. The app is available on iTunes and Google Play.