The Hook Introduction 

The Hook Appropriate Technology

The Hook Appropriate Technology is an innovation firm, engaged in technology transfer, licensing, and new product development. Our company is committed to bringing new products to market. Mainly what we do is help our clients focus --and-- act as a matchmaker. A major distinction is that we generally do not charge up front fees, but get involved selectively on a performance fee or equity basis; our typical arrangement is also non-exclusive, so that working with us is basically a risk-free proposition for our clients. Our mission is to add value and help our clients. Our criteria for new projects is designed to build both strength and flexibility. We offer a wide array of skills, contacts, and specific technologies.

Effective Guidance

Experience has shown that there can be significant hurdles in taking a new product through to realization in the marketplace. With proper proactive planning, the likelihood of success is increased. We offer inventors, universities and industry practical solutions and a vital link between the two sides of technology transfer: development --and-- commercialization. The main service we presently provide is licensing and marketing patented products on behalf of patent owner and inventor clients. Although our most effective work is through active pinpointed contacts with industry on behalf of clients, we also offer passive anonymous website postings of new products available and new technology wanted.

Intermediary Benefits

The benefits of brokers in various industries are well known. Big companies are weary of being approached by individuals, many of whom have no more than an idea they thought up the previous night. In such a setting, it is often difficult for a professional inventor to be taken seriously in a business proposal. And just as patents make lousy brochures, patent attorneys make lousy brokers. Yet, once contact is made and possible interest is established, by the very nature of business, brokers are almost always better positioned to negotiate for a client than the client alone; in many cases, the fee paid by the client to the broker is surpassed by a factor of several times in the difference between the price that the client could negotiate on their own and the increased price obtained by the broker. Plus, industry contacts of a broker often augment those of the technology developer. For inventors, the use of a professional marketer can spur on or catalyze an otherwise plodding process; additionally, the involvement of a marketing expert lends credibility to the project, especially valuable in early commercialization stages. For acquiring companies, we provide de facto pre-screening and a centralized bank of new technology opportunities. Everyone benefits.

A Fresh Approach

Our performance based approach is a leading concept in the innovation industry. Philosophically, we shy away from client/ provider relationships, but instead seek win/ win relationships based upon mutual performance. We seek the few viable ideas which will change the world and become commercial successes. In today's business climate we generally act as a marketing agent, although it is anticipated that as our capital base builds, our investment activity will increase. We share in the belief than the best business situations come from transactions where all parties make money and perceive advantages.Our approach seeks to partner with the inventor for proven results. We are extremely excited and optimistic about the prospects of this business strategy to build long term value. We see some fabulous new products coming across our desk, and we have some terrific clients!

A Tough Market

Business is war. Unfortunately, the hard fact is that most inventions fail. 'Inventions' are likely not novel, do not solve a meaningful problem or do not offer a significant advantage over the existing technology. There is a certain practicality that is required for most inventions to be marketable. The market is the sole arbiter. The vast majority of ideas (and even patents) never make money. The odds are at least a 5:100 ratio of successful products to patents, or worse. Unprotected ideas face even greater odds. All take time and money to develop. Whereas 'inventions' may often fail for lack of meaningful 'technology' --'technology' rarely fails due to inherent problems; new technology usually fails due to the problems in the business aspect of commercialization. Generally for a new product to be successful there has to be: a large amount of 'pain' in the marketplace, a high demand niche, or the device has to possess powerful attributes as incentives to purchase.

Meeting Challenges

Even revolutionary, patented and needed technology is very challenging to commercialize. This is irrefutably proven by the fact that even the greatest inventions of our society such as the telephone, dry photocopying and the television were either derided as toys, laughed at or not widely accepted at their inception. All took years to introduce. Even with a highly motivated and organized team, new product development is measured in years, not months. Legend has it that freeze dried coffee took 14 years to make its appearance. Other inventions have taken as long as 50 years or more to make it into commerce, especially ones requiring additional infrastructure in the marketplace to maximize functionality. For example, fax machines were only useful when the other guy had one too. Electric cars may only be practical when there are recharging stations also. Computers only gained mass acceptance with user-friendly graphical user interface software.

Overcoming Obstacles

The many problems in a new product cycle are not to be underestimated. The average product may take 2-5 years to commercialize. Although their new product may be excellent, getting market share is not easy. Inventors face daunting problems including a dismal banking attitude, non-existent seed capital sources, high government fees --and on the side of prospective acquiring companies --"Not Invented Here" outside invention phobias, corporate egos, fears of undermining sales of existing product lines and perceived threats to previous capital investments. Often the "stick" (the potential acquisition by competitor) is more compelling than the "carrot" (the promise of making money from a new
product) which is often seen as risky and as undermining existing marketing efforts or previous investments. Another big risk of proven new technology is the struggle for ownership as people start to smell money and intellectual property title becomes clouded.

High Risk/ High Reward

Innovation can be a risky business, yet, with the right combination of need, marketing, and proprietary leverage, success can be massive. The inventor of the airbag is now worth half a billion dollars, but it didnít come easily; GM and others were harshly skeptical in the initial analysis. A type of water pistol earns the inventor royalties on $200 million in sales annually. So there is light at the end of the tunnel for the right product. Risk is greatly diminished with proper research, proactive planning, good management and decisive action. Our strategy is to simultaneously embrace and minimize risk, and in the process, maximize value.

Industry Targets

The average new product will require many hundreds of thousands or several million dollars to fully commercialize and market. Significant investment is usually required for everything from tooling to media buying. Whereas a bank may be unrealistically concerned with balance sheets, we are more concerned with the strength of the technology. Yet, licensing to a truly receptive and progressive manufacturer with an existing infrastructure is almost always more affordable and effective than starting a company from scratch. For inventors seeking manufacturers, bigger is not always better. The average company targetted by us for technology acquisition will have tens of millions up to several hundred million dollars in sales --a company large enough to have a national distribution infrastructure, but one small enough to be receptive to outside innovation.

Corporate Benefits

Still, companies of all sizes are leveraging technology. Corporations across the spectrum are realizing the advantages of R & D, technology acquisitions and cooperation. Intel has an R & D budget in the BILLIONS, with good reason; look at their stock chart, a rocket launch. Many corporations acquire patents to remain ahead. Two industrial companies jointly licensed technology then each kicked in $1 million to build a plant to produce a product for their mutual benefit. Two computer hardware competitors cooperated in research and development on a new technology to benefit them both. Companies are taking a new look at strategic partnerships and technology acquisitions, and are getting excellent returns from innovation.

Licensing In/ Licensing Out

Universities and clients with large portfolios of patents are realizing that their best talents lie in developing technology, not marketing it or commercializing it. Strong economic incentives exist for universities to place products with industry. Similarly, many corporations are realizing the tremendous advantages and cost savings of using the raw intellectual capital and R & D facilities of universities which are difficult to duplicate. Why try to duplicate a corporation in the university? Or vice versa, why try to duplicate a university in the corporation? Why undertake replication of something that is better done elsewhere --especially when a marriage can be made? The intellectual savvy of the inventor or the university (the "crude oil") and the market savvy of the company (the "pipeline") can be a match made in heaven.

A New Beginning

If you are not totally discouraged by the cold water, sharks and choppy waves--jump in! The water's fine! Best of all, our performance based involvement means we add virtually no risk to your organization, only potential value.
If you have new technology or are an inventor, you just might have the right product to be a success. If you are an entity with technology needs, you will be well served by your faith in the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the human mind. Inventing and new technology implementation is a fascinating field. The risks are large, but so is the potential for success.
Best of luck to you. Whatever your needs may be, we hope you will consider The Hook Appropriate Technology as Your Partner in Success (tm).
Harold A. Meyer, III

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Page last updated 12/15/99