SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --From Doc in Back to the Future to Tony Stark in Iron Man, Hollywood has given inventors a pretty cool image. But as we've seen on ABC's show called Shark Tank, making money as a real inventor is difficult.
The inventors ABC7 spoke with say that for every problem, there's a solution. And as many inventors have found out, those solutions have the potential to make you some money.
For example, there's the spill proof and kid proof Gyro Bowl. "Guess you can literally turn it upside down, hold it sideways, so as you're holding the bowl, nothing spills out of it," Edison Nation spokesperson Louis Foreman said.
And there's a fashionable Blue Topaz Bluetooth Earring. "This is really a superior way to deliver audio for a wearable computer," inventor Eric Klein said.
There's also an invention called the Flip and Sit Pillow that doubles as a beer can or TV remote holder. "Great little holder and you always know where it is," America Invents spokesperson Bill Seidel said.
American inventors have come up with solutions for many of life's nagging annoyances.
Foreman has led Edison Nation, a company that takes your ideas and turns them into products.
"We see a lot of great ideas, but the successful ideas address a problem. They have a large commercial market," Foreman said.
Klein is an inventor based in San Francisco. He dreams of striking it rich with the next big invention. He thought this Fisher Price baby soother might be it.
"It just sits on the crib and it plays music and it also shines little images from this top thing here," Klein said.
He invented the mechanism that enabled Fisher Price to project images at an affordable price.
But it didn't sell as well as everyone had hoped and is now out of production.
The reality is most inventions don't make money.
Seidel runs the company America Invents based in Sebastopol. He helps inventors bring their ideas to market.
"One in a thousand make it," Seidel said.
He says the best inventors prioritize their ideas, evaluate the market and determine if there's a demand for their product.
"You need to attack the most lucrative first. You need to go after the one that's going to be the biggest success first especially when you have a lot of ideas," Seidel said.
Inventors can manufacture and distribute the product themselves or sell their idea to another company.
"It requires a great deal of engineering and industrial design. You have to build prototypes. You got to do market research. You got to file patents," Foreman said.
Both Foreman and Seidel run companies that can help you do that. These are just some of the products America Invents has taken to market. You can pay a fee for their services or give them a cut of the profits.
"First thing is the market is the final judge. So a great idea might be a great idea in your mind, but not necessarily translates to success in the marketplace," Seidel said.
Edision Nation works only on contingency. You won't have to spend a dime, you just come up with the idea.
"What we're able to do is take that risk away. It's our capital. It's our resources and if we're successful, you benefit financially," Foreman said.
Unfortunately, the Better Business Bureau told ABC7 News the invention industry is fertile ground for con artists.
"If you've got somebody going, oh man, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, you're going to hit a homerun this is great. You probably need to hang up on that guy," Better Business Bureau spokesperson Gene O'neil said.
Keep your eyes and ears open, keep the ideas percolating and one of them may help you strike it rich.
Maybe it's Eric's Kraut source, a system for making sauerkraut, kimchee or other fermented products. Or his blue topaz wearable Blue Tooth.
Or Edison Nation's Hot Huez hair chalk, that adds temporary color to your hair.
"You can make thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars," Foreman said.
Being an inventor comes with a lot of risk, so if you're risk adverse, this isn't for you. But if you're OK with that and smart about what you do, you should go for it.