Moneef Bin Break hit a wall much too early after coming up with an idea for a cooking invention. He was S.T.U.C.K. on these questions:
- Is the idea worth spending money on?
- Where do I get the money to develop a prototype?
- My pitch isn't working. How do I get people interested in the idea?
- I don't want this to be my last invention. How do I move on to new inventions?
It's just hard? At least it's not impossible. If it's only hard, I'll take it."
Moneef took on the whole thing and founded IntegraPitch.
The IntegraPitch community progresses inventions from idea to fully functioning prototype through collaboration projects and buyers. Ideas are validated by community investment. Ideas flourish when designers collaborate on projects (for a portion of the sale) and buyers purchase patents. Ideas that don't generate interest die naturally with minimal losses.
The problem began as framed around inventors. The solution is framed around inventions. People participate in an invention's journey where they can make the best contribution, as an inventor, designer, or buyer. The better the invention does in the market, the more you earn from collaborating on it.
Welcome to How Founders Build. My name is Sharon Landis and I’m your host.
Sharon Landis: I’m very excited today to be talking with Moneef Bin Break, who is the Founder of IntegraPitch. Welcome Moneef.
Moneef Bin Break: Hi Sharon, how are you? Thank you for having me.
Sharon Landis: You’re welcome. Could you give a quick intro about yourself and your company?
Moneef Bin Break: My name is Moneef, and I’m the Founder of IntegraPitch, which is a platform for inventors to share their ideas and patents. Have them developed with experts in the industry, design and prototype engineers, to increase the value of the inventions, and then, have them acquired by proper brands or businesses.
Two big inventor pain points
Sharon Landis: I read the story of how you had an idea for a cooking invention. What happened when you started the research to get the project in motion?
Moneef Bin Break: This was a pain point for me last year. Actually around this time last year, during the beginning of the pandemic, when we had a lot of time at home. My wife was complaining to me- why does she have to stand in the kitchen just to cook this dish? Why don’t the ingredients cook themselves? I said- yeah, that sounds great! I went to the drawing board. I designed it and wrote the utility of it. I started with a provisional patent, which is always recommended for inventions. I asked experts: “How would such a product be developed and delivered to the market to help as many people as possible?” This, I believe, is the prophet’s journey. You have this idea. You think it will help thousands of people around the world.
Then I was shocked. No, it does not go that way. You have to spend between $25,000 and $250,000 out of your own pocket just to get the product proof of concept. You do all the marketing and fundraising. It’s all on you. I thought, this is not a blessing, it’s turning into a curse more than a blessing. I thought there must be another way. And, I could not find another way, actually.
It got me to thinking: What do people do? Over 90% of patents don’t see daylight. That is over 2.7M patents every year around the world. We have patents just sitting there because the inventor would not go through the $250K-journey. People have no other options of making money out of it. Hence came the idea of IntegraPitch. This is the second patent that I applied for.
Sharon Landis: When you spoke to these companies did you feel that they were helpful?
Moneef Bin Break: I do understand their value proposition. I do understand that they’re there to help inventors bring their products to the market. But they’re not true partners. They’re service providers. After all the money is spent, it’s your invention. It’s your risk. 100% your risk. Some of them say- we don’t think the product is for us. Others believe 5%, that it can be a product. They don’t care whether you make money or not. The first thing is for them to make money out of you. In the inventor’s community, they’re called “bottom feeders”. Those who prey on inventors who are starting their journey. Because, I have this great idea, I think I can make a lot of money. Yeah, you can make a lot of money, but first you have to spend $50,000. People get trapped there.
There is a lot of effort from the inventor’s associations to intervene, to educate, and let inventors know that they have other options. The options include do not spend money on your invention, your invention is not worth it. For the inventor, this is a shock. If I have this great idea, why is my association telling me not to spend money on it?
I could not find that sweet spot where the idea would be organically validated. I wanted to put my invention out in the world so that people would invest in it, not by money, but through their effort and expertise. Then my invention might see the light. The interest and belief would be organic, just like any other idea.
The invention's journey
Sharon Landis: The first thing that caught my attention in your blog, was the post where it says: “Inventions are prophecies, completely formed in the mind of the inventor.” That’s like the birth of the invention.
Moneef Bin Break: True
Sharon Landis: That’s a very interesting idea, an invention being a prophecy. Another thing we bring into that is, in your community you have three roles: The inventor, the collaborator, and the buyer. It seems like you’ve create a life-cycle for the invention, and found a way for people to fit in wherever they can make the best contribution. I think it’s interesting what you say on your profile, that you’re on earth to serve inventions. That is fantastic, because it solves a pain point for a lot of people, who are creative in different ways. When I think about an invention happening, I think about just the inventor. But I’m not creative that way. I’m creative further down the life cycle. Or, it could be a buyer who comes in later in the process. Did that come together by accident? The way you’ve created your community and the roles, is kind of perfect.
Moneef Bin Break: Thank you. As you say, it’s not about the inventor. It’s about the invention. Inventions are the ones that suffer, at the end of the day. It’s that idea that has the potential of solving the pain point of millions of people. But it stays unrecognized. Unappreciated, not addressed, and not developed. It’s all about the invention, and the journey that starts with the inventor. Then it turns to the expertise of development, and eventually to the buyer who will make money out of it. We’re not all the same and we don’t operate in the same way. Some people have one great idea. They just want to build a business around it, and it’s all they care about for the rest of their lives. But most of us know, once we create something, we want just to see it happen. We’ll go on to the next thing, and create and keep creating. That’s the inventor’s mentality.
I don’t think it [the IntegraPitch community design & roles,] came about just like that. It was an insane journey. When I say prophecy, you mentioned also prophecy, I saw it all happening. I saw the collaboration. I saw people putting in their time just because they believe in the idea, and also because they will be compensated a small percentage of the sales price. I saw it happening in the future. But, that’s the whole thing. I mean, you have to convince one more person. For me it was my wife, in the beginning. Then you have to keep it to yourself for at least two or three months just working on the details. And getting in contact with the copyright people who help you with the patent application. They get the details of the process from point-A to point-Z. That takes 3 months. Then you develop the product. For me, it was the app. That’s another 4 to 5 months, just to develop the app.
Through the process you will get resistance from people, on things they don’t understand about your idea. I was frustrated with this: “Why can’t you understand this prophecy? Why can’t you understand that it’s special?” You end up learning that the problem isn’t the idea, it’s how you convey it. It’s the pitch that keeps developing. First you say: “How about we work together on developing a product?” But then, as we share about the income that it will bring to us, people are like… Because the idea is new, you have to rephrase it. You have to keep rephrasing, rephrasing, rephrasing.
Then the idea came up, IntegraPitch. That means, we have to keep developing the idea and keep pitching it together. So, integrally we’ll be pitching the same idea. So, if an inventor has an idea, and this is the way they list it on our platform, maybe the design experts have a better way of wording or pitching the idea. They will also give it a better design. From there, it will have a better prototype. This is the creation of an idea. It takes a village. The whole thing is about nurturing the idea from conception until it’s a fully functioning prototype.
I joined the accelerator of Founder Institute. We kept pitching and refining the idea. We even slightly changed the percentages. Prototype engineers can have up to 30%. Designers, up to 15%. Previously it was 15 and 15. It makes more sense now and people are more receptive to the idea.
In our community, we have 230 people. It’s very organic. We are still not pushing a national and global marketing campaign. Because we want those who truly believe in the idea, for right now. People who will be there through the trial and error. They’ll get back to you and say: “This doesn’t work. We want to be like this, not like that.” These people are really close to use now, and we keep bringing ways to educate, to help, and promote the idea.
Reusable dental floss invention
Sharon Landis: The video that you have of “90 minutes start to finish”, you got the process started for an invention, for the reusable dental floss. If you said to me, “reusable dental floss,” I would say: “huh?” It sounds like a crazy idea. But, you make it concrete by writing it down. I encourage everyone to watch this video. I love the way you show writing down the idea on paper. I mean, not even on an additional device. On paper! Could you talk about that in more detail?
Moneef Bin Break: It was around 4:30 in the morning. I set up my webcam and I said, let’s see how this would work for the inventors. So, the idea of reusable dental floss…
Sharon Landis: Love it!
Moneef Bin Break: Yeah, people get those laughs in the beginning, which is really fun. That’s the idea that got the first buying offer through the platform.
Sharon Landis: Wow! You sold it?
Moneef Bin Break: I haven’t yet, but I received the offer. The offer was around 10% of the asking value. It’s still there. I asked for $55,000. I got an offer of $4,000. It cost me $75 and 90 minutes work.
Sharon Landis: 90 minutes. Such a small investment to get an idea concrete and in motion. That’s the really hard part. That’s usually where people stop. They don’t know what to do next.
Moneef Bin Break: It goes back to the idea that inventors, when they have invention ideas, don’t want to solve their own problems. They want to make it reusable for thousands or millions of people. For example for me, I was advised to use this super dental floss. You know the one you can insert one way, then the other way. I kept seeing the floss piling up in my dust bin. It just hit me: It cannot be like this. There must be another solution. So I did the entire process. I went to the USPTO and searched through the available options for reusable dental floss. But, none was even close. So I said, yeah, let’s do it.
Start your invention with a provisional patent
Sharon Landis: Can you describe, if someone has an idea, what do they do?
Moneef Bin Break: For all ideas, even if they’re not going to IntegraPitch, would be to do a patent thesis. Use Google to see the available solutions that might be close to your own solution. Then, go USPTO, where you find the category of the invention. There are categories for each kind of solution or utility patent that you can apply for. Then you start doing research, you can see everything that has been done in this field. For an invention that hasn’t been invented, you go with a provisional patent, which is the easiest way. The cheapest way. For a micro-entity it can be as low as $75. Once you have the provisional patent application, it gives you a full year of protected priority. In that year you can start a formal patent application which can take a couple of months. And a lawyer, or freelancers through Fiverr or Upwork. Then you go through the whole process of development. I hope nobody has to go through the entire thing. But if you can and you have the money and passion, then yeah, you start with developing the prototype. Then marketing. The fundraising. Then building the entire business, which is a daunting task.
IntegraPitch: an alternative to developing a product on your own
Sharon Landis: Once they’ve written it out on a piece of paper, drawn it and done the application, what’s the next step with IntegraPitch?
Moneef Bin Break: Starting with the provisional patent, here is where we split. You can take your own way to develop the product, which is the more arduous way and costs more money.
What we do is, using the provisional patent application, you can list your invention with IntegraPitch. Then have the design engineers and prototype engineers, pitch in with their expertise and effort for a percentage of the final acquisition price. That means, you list your provisional patent for $50,000. You’ll receive collaboration offers from specialists, CAD designers or CAD engineers. From there you won’t have the same piece of paper that you started with. You have a proper CD design. Then it will start to add, in value. So, it’s not going to be $50,000. Maybe it’s going to be around $90,000 now. And you share 15% of that with the designer who helped you get to that design stage.
So, it goes back to the platform. The pitch itself keeps improving, because once a collaboration is accepted, the inventor and the designer go to a virtual collaboration room, which is like a chat room. They can share their PDFs and pictures. They keep talking about the invention. So once it goes back to the market place, it’s new and improved. That’s why it has a better value.
The same process is repeated for the prototype. You receive an option to collaborate for the prototype. You can propose up to 30% for collaborators for the prototype, because there is a lot of labour, material, and time to get to the prototype stage. You go back to the virtual workshops. You work with the experts, and then relist it with a much better price.
The average acquisition price for a patent is $175,000. If you start with a simple patent and knock on doors, you might get $5,000, $35,000 offers. But, if you have a properly developed patent and proper visibility, which we’re working on, you might get the average, which is $175,000. It can be much more or much less, depending on the applicability. We’re actually working on a series on how to evaluate your patent. This will help our community members, also encourage them organically to list their inventions, some already have patents, for a proper valuation rate. From there, we’ll take it to a collaboration and acquisition education series.
Virtual collaboration rooms
Sharon Landis: Are the virtual collaborations run entirely by the people involved or do you provide support?
Moneef Bin Break: It’s entirely done by the owners and the collaborators. There are two parts of the collaboration process done outside of the marketplace. We take the idea out of the marketplace to the virtual collaboration rooms. The inventors and collaborators work side-by-side until they are both comfortable re-listing the invention. We as IntegraPitch, might interfere if there are disputes. But we cannot throw loud at disputes. I mean people always have different…
Sharon Landis: Different points of view.
Moneef Bin Break: Exactly, yes. We have the ability to intervene if needed, to get a resolution favourable to both parties. As all systems grow, these things will happen less and less. This is why we have community development happening at the same time. Everyone in our community is into the collaborative spirit. Even inventors, they should not expect to be a priority. But, it’s all about the invention. The community is important in that regard. It’s not about you and me, it’s about what’s right for the invention.
Sharon Landis: It’s a different approach to anything I’ve ever heard. Usually the focus is on people, not on the product.
Moneef Bin Break: I think this is what’s really needed at this point. I started to find this concept deployed in different ways in different industries. It’s happening with Gusher, for example, for startups. People come together to bring up startups for the equity of their valuation. It’s happening with WikiPack. WikiPack is an open source program that only cares about developing the tangible product, and people share development tools. I think more and more, people are focusing on the value, rather than the people. What can we add to this thing, rather than what do I get out of it. It’s happening in the creator crypto -currency market and other markets as well. I started seeing that adding value is what matters now. I hope that one day we can talk about different issues rather than people. It’s going to be more focused on inventions and how can they be better as solutions.
Sharon Landis: Do you communicate to your community about things other than new projects?
Moneef Bin Break: Definitely. Our community is trying to add value to the innovation market. We’re also trying to add value to our community by providing material that can be of help to our members in their current position. So let’s say, for freelancers- here are the steps of creating an attractive portfolio, how to present, and what to use. For inventors as well. Even if they aren’t listing their ideas now, we can advise on how to protect Intellectual Property. We have a vision of being a two-way added value. So, for people who are interested in the concept, they are getting value, even before they participate in projects. There’s training. We’re launching our Valuation Series. Any way that we can add value to the community is what we are looking for.
Intellectual Property (IP) transfer process
Sharon Landis: One thing I forgot to ask you about is the paperwork. Do you provide help with all of that ugly stuff that you need?
Moneef Bin Break: That is our Intellectual Property transference process. It’s all done in the background. We handle all that.
Sharon Landis: That’s fantastic. That would scare me if I had an invention.
Moneef Bin Break: That is what you face all over the world right now. If you want to sell, or lease, or develop your own IP. You have to have your own team of IP specialists. We have a process that starts with documenting the first listing of the invention, then documenting the collaboration, and eventually transferring all the input to the prospective buyer. So it’s documented throughout the process.
Sharon Landis: You have someone who specializes in that, do you not?Moneef Bin Break: I’m very happy that Fatih Ozluturk is our IP Advisor. He has over 400 patent applications. 25 years in the IP industry. He also has his own IP acquisition company. He has created ways of automating the patent application process, and we are always finding ways to streamline the whole process. I really appreciate being able to work with him, such a great mind.
Let your invention find its way organically
Sharon Landis: That’s great. So collaboration on all different… on all different levels! That’s really amazing, the way things have come together. If you think back to being frustrated about trying to figure out how this is going to work, and now you’re collaborating with experts to help other people make their inventions work. The idea of reusable dental floss has turned into a way for you to help people get their ideas in motion and documented. And ways to keep them protected. I think that’s one of the scariest things, when you have an idea, is other people stealing your idea. So you’ve covered that angle.
Moneef Bin Break: 14% - 17% of the brokerage market is involved in litigation. But if it’s all streamlined and it’s all quick, at least the losses will not be that major. If I have a provisional patent, and within a year I have it developed. I did my research. The designer did their research. The prototyper did their research. And we all together contributed to the development of this product, we have little chance of being sued. If we all work together the process will get so quick, that if the idea is bad, it will die off by itself. If the idea is bad, you can’t help it. Nobody will collaborate. Whatever you pitch, nobody is buying. We’re making it more natural than it currently is.
That was one point, the world not being all roses. The other point, we started small and now we have collaboration happening from all angles... I was in a very dark place in October. After I developed the patent application and the app, I was so doubtful of my own self that I felt I had to reach at least one person. If one person or expert in the field says this is really dumb, stop it now, save yourself the trouble. If they say it to me like this, OK, I might reconsider. But the fire was still burning in me. I reached out to The Philadelphia Inventors Alliance President, Jeff Dobkin. We had these awesome emails going back and forth. Eventually he said: “You picked an arduous road. Maybe you have a lot of capital or really good people.” So I said, at least it’s not impossible, or idiotic.
Sharon Landis: Yeah, it’s just hard.
Moneef Bin Break: It’s just hard. If it’s only hard, I’ll take it. I started the acceleration process and I got in. Getting in was a big achievement saying, OK, at least I can do something. Then going through the process of re-pitching the idea, it gives you more and more confidence. Also graduating and being nominated as president of the cohort, is an added achievement. I felt more and more validated as an entrepreneur. As an inventor. So, I think I can help inventions more than I thought I could in the beginning.
Sharon Landis: On your website, it seems you’ve brought that idea into your community. If you can get one person to… I can’t remember exactly how you put it- one person to like the idea, and we can help you. How does that work?
Moneef Bin Break: This goes back to- bad ideas will die naturally. If an inventor goes to an association, let’s say Philadelphia Alliance or Manhattan Inventor’s Association, they pitch the idea to a panel of 5 people. And they say- no you should not spend money on this. The inventor now has two options. Either to say, yes, OK I’ll kill it today. I really doubt it. I mean, all that thinking and the prophecies and visions that inventors have. They will not quit that easily. The other way is, they will go back to the bottom feeders that we talked about before. They will go to those people who will say- yeah, that’s a great idea. Give me $50,000 now. Let’s start with $25,000 and we’ll see how it works out.
My proposal is: List your idea on IntegraPitch. Pitch it as many times as you want. Try to improve, you know, first pitch, second pitch, tenth pitch. Make it look really good. If designers will not invest their time to make it better… If no one gives you, like in my case, $4,000 or $5,000 for your idea, then maybe you need to reconsider. It’s all organic, it’s all natural. Nobody wants money from you. Nobody wants to kill your dream. List your invention and let it find its way. Let it flourish with other people’s contributions, or face the ugly truth.
Who's in the IntegraPitch community?
Sharon Landis: I have a question about people who are not inventors. Are they mostly engineers and CAD people? Who are they?
Moneef Bin Break: We started with inventors and product designers. These are the people who come up with new ideas, and willing to see what the solution is all about. Then we opened our enrolment process for prototype engineers. We started only in Philadelphia and New York, being so local. And just in case people have questions, they want to meet, I can be really close. I can even travel if I need to. Once we had a bit of acceptance, we initiated national on-boarding for prototype engineers and CAD engineers. That was a big shift from 90 community member to over 230. And that’s not paid. That is just being listed as an option for collaborator.
We also have interested community leaders. We have the leader of a black inventor’s community. The have their own organization, a non-profit. They wanted to join in just to see what the option is. The head of their community came into our community and said- “we welcome your solution, it sounds great,” which is all good. Because in the beginning you get that suspicion…
Sharon Landis: What the hell are you talking about? What do you want from me?
Moneef Bin Break: Exactly. When you tell them, I don’t want anything and let the idea flourish, then everybody can benefit out of it. People get friendlier.
Sharon Landis: What’s the biggest thing that you’re struggling with right now?
Moneef Bin Break: Right now, patience. It’s a discipline that we need to develop. If I came up with a great idea a year ago, I should not be expecting to be praised 6 months in the journey.
Sharon Landis: But, you do expect it.
Moneef Bin Break: I do, yes. Subconsciously I have that in mind. But, I get to learn that, no, you should be more disciplined. You should have more control of it. It’s not about me, as I said, it’s about the invention. It’s about the solution. If my mentors and people who are interested in the idea say- it might take a little more time, I should appreciate that input. I should not discard it… No, I have to go by myself. I have to find a solution. I have to find a way. I have to deliver the prophecy. It can get more insane at times.
Sharon Landis: Do you think that has to do with… When you come up with an idea, it’s by yourself, right? Do you think there is pressure on people who are used to thinking about things themselves, to keep doing the things themselves? And learning how to get collaborators around you, do you think that’s a hard part for inventors?
Moneef Bin Break: Recently I’ve been into Nassim Taleb, the author of Antifragile. In his book he says he doesn’t respect predictors or economists, who give predictions and do not have skin in the game. So, they don’t have their own money invested in their prediction. And he goes further. He wants to see your soul in the game. If you don’t eat and breathe and sleep and wake up to the same idea that keeps consuming you, then don’t expect people to put their time and money and effort into supporting this idea. You have to keep on proving that you have skin and soul in the game. I’m totally like, I have this acceptance now, much more than before. Creators, profits, inventors, entrepreneurs, we have to go through this process, just to prove, that the idea is worth it. If it’s worth it for me, it might be a little less worth it for you, but you will still share my business at least. If you see me going through the process, eventually you might believe. But if you see me demanding others to believe what can be done, I think people will be more skeptical. So yeah, skin and soul in the game. No other choice.
Sharon Landis: I think it’s true that people seeing you go through the phases, even though we do not want people to see us in the state where we don’t believe in ourselves. But, if they do see you and the idea grow, they have more faith in you and the idea. I’m not an inventor, I’m more on the software side. But, I was describing a new idea I had to someone. He had this lost look on his face. I loved it in the days when we talked on the phone, you didn’t see all this crap. There was no acceptance. Even after I had helped him solve a big problem, there was still no acceptance. That was the worst feeling in the world. But I can imagine, if I would go back to him with the idea more developed, there would be more input from him.
Moneef Bin Break: I think it’s a dilemma for people who have a new idea. You see it happening in the future. You see it develop. The other part of the prediction, or the vision, is you don’t want to say your current situation. You don’t want to say, I’m struggling with growth. You don’t want to say I’m struggling with realizing my dream. Because if I say I can’t do it or I’m struggling, then I’ll be struggling. It’s going to manifest as this way. What I’ve learned through my mentors and peers is- it’s OK. You can say that you’re struggling. It’s not your future. It’s just the state where you are right now.
Sharon Landis: This has been extremely interesting. I for one, love your idea. It’s very simple. You’ve done a lot of very clever things. The roles you created in your community. That’s one of the biggest problems in a community, people don’t know what they’re supposed to do. I love your video, the video where you write down you dental floss idea. If nothing else, I’m one person. Thanks very much for sharing your experience so far.
Moneef Bin Break: Thank you.