Stephen Key and Andrew Krauss have been mentoring inventors and entrepreneurs for over 20 years.
I was never a straight-A student. Pretty far from it, in fact. I remember failing my first test in the second grade. After that, I began burying all of my failed test papers under the carpet in my tree house until the mound grew so large my parents couldn’t help but notice it. Tutors helped, but ultimately my learning disability was never diagnosed in grade school, and passing classes wasn’t easy. It wasn’t until I decided to go back to school to complete my college degree in my late 40s that I was evaluated.
Why is this relevant? Because not doing well in school led me to become creative. When I was in my twenties, after I had studied art, I thought, who is going to hire me? I felt like I had to create a job for myself. So I did. I began working with my hands. I taught myself to become a pattern maker. I sold things I made at street fairs and art festivals for years before eventually joining a startup toy company. That’s where I discovered what licensing is. I remember standing in a warehouse in China watching product fly off the line. The person who had come up with the idea for the toy didn’t work for our company; we had licensed the idea from him. I knew he was getting paid for each and every toy I saw pass by. And he wasn’t even physically there! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed to figure out how to become that guy. I needed to figure out how to license my ideas. I wanted to focus on being creative too.
Maybe you, like I did, dream of being creative for a living. Seeing your vision become a reality. Helping put a smile on other people’s faces. Being your own boss. To be honest, I don’t even think you need to feel like a “creative” person to succeed at this! The truth is that anyone who uses consumer product is capable of coming up with improvements to them.
I love licensing because it enabled me to do all of these things and more. Best of all, it encouraged me to become an entrepreneur. I knew I didn’t have to spend a lot of money to do it. It was much less risky than many other routes. I hope learning how to do it encourages you too.
I started teaching other people how to license their ideas with my business partner Andrew Krauss 14 years ago. Andrew and I believe anyone who has even the faintest interest in product development, inventing, or entrepreneurship should know how to do this. We couldn’t be more exited to begin this pilot program. As young people, you’re actually closer to your creative peak. You’re capable of seeing things that adults aren’t. Companies need your ideas. They’re out there looking for them. We’re going to show you how to win at this game.
— Stephen Key
Andrew was born and raised in California’s Silicon Valley, where he grew up being surrounded by passionate innovators—and what he identified early on as an unhealthy obsession with venture capital. When he discovered licensing, it was like a light bulb went off. “Everyone gets excited about raising money,” he said. “But licensing is much more sexy!” For one, there’s so much less financial risk—and yet still so much opportunity. He got excited about teaching inventors how to harness the power of open innovation and continues to be as excited, if not more, today.
As the day-to-day manager of inventRight’s operations for over thirteen years and its head coach, Andrew has seen it all—and coached inventors through it. “At this point, our students have experienced every scenario you can possibly imagine,” he said. “Whether it’s communicating with a company that has never licensed an idea from an outside inventor before or signing a multi-million dollar deal, we’ve done it.” He continues to be inspired by the opportunity to work with people who are not only passionate about their ideas, but also committed to making money from them.
He began coaching inventors over fourteen years ago as the President of the Inventors’ Alliance group in the San Francisco Bay Area. Andrew grew Inventors’ Alliance into one of the most active and well-established associations in the inventors’ community across the country. His expertise in the field of innovation was federally recognized when he was asked to advise the last president council on what changes could be made to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to better serve independent inventors. He has also been featured on National Public Radio’s Science Friday and as a licensing expert at USPTO conferences.
Several years ago, spurred by the feeling that the Bay Area was getting just a little too crowded, Andrew moved to Henderson, Nevada with his wife, where they are raising their daughter.
“Every day someone tells us how much we’ve helped them, and that means the world to me.”
Courtney Laschkewitsch, Program Lead
Courtney is an award-winning entrepreneur and successful inventor who has licensed four product ideas to a company at the age of 22. She started her first business as a teenager while attending college, and she is also an experienced educator who has taught for nearly a decade on topics including robotics, animation, and design to youth. She believes that teaching students how to be lifelong learners and creative thinkers at a young age is pivotal.
Before she knew its official name, Courtney was sold on the concept of licensing. She says that it’s an honor to be able to focus her energy on creativity and innovation every single day.
She is an inventRight coach, and is also the longtime Managing Director of Inventors Groups of America where she runs online meetings for inventors that gets maxed out at 100 attendees, as well as produces a monthly newsletter.
“Inventors are dedicated movers and shakers who are constantly pushing their ideas forward. It is such an inspiration to be a part of the inventing community.”
She has been recognized for her achievements, including being the inaugural youth division winner of the Nexties Awards for Entrepreneurship, as well as the Bay Area winner for the National Center for Women & Information Technology.
In addition to being a zealous advocate for inventors and the inventing community, and developing product ideas for her own company, Courtney is a martial artist, ukulelist, and latin dancer.
Check out Courtney’s products on the market:
- Keyboard Desk:Double your workspace anytime, anywhere!
- Wombat Joey Chair Pouch:Secret storage for your desk space!
- Trunk Pocket:Organize your trunk instantly!
- Entry Organizer:A place for all of your on-the-go items!
Get inspired by her article, “Youth Isn’t a Barrier to Success. It’s Whatever You Make of It.” https://www.inventright.com/help/blog/youth-isn-t-a-barrier-to-success-it-s-whatever-you-make-of-it
Read her latest article, “What’s in a Tagline?” https://www.inventright.com/help/blog/what-s-in-a-tagline
Learn about Inventors Groups of America and join: https://inventleader.org