How to make a living as an inventor
Oliver Blackwell

Along with rock star, ballerina and Real Madrid striker, ‘inventor’ is a job title which is often dreamed about but rarely recommended by careers advisers. 

But Plymouth University design graduate Oliver Blackwell is proof that dreams can become reality.

Design was always on the cards for Oliver, 33, who now runs his own design consultancy, but his degree in 3D Design at Plymouth was crucial. “My career is all linked back to uni and the contacts I made there,” he says. “By the time I graduated I already had a few job offers.”

If you share Oliver’s passion for design, take note – here’s his advice on how to make it as an inventor…

1. Always have a surplus of cereal boxes to hand – I build everything out of cardboard first as it’s a great way of mocking up an idea very quickly and cheaply.

2. Share your ideas with others, whether this is in your office or stopping someone on the high street – fail fast and reiterate based on positive and negative feedback.

3. Build up a network of financial, legal and marketing contacts – these people will have opposing but essential skills that you will need in order to grow your business, protect your idea and generate income.

4. Carry out the ‘Grandma test’ to gauge if your product or idea is sufficiently intuitive that your grandma can use it without instruction or guidance. If it’s not? Back to the drawing board.

5. Keep a logbook of everything and anything you see that interests you, or that you simply like. Writing it down not only helps you remember what you liked about it, but subconsciously starts the ‘mulling over’ process. This slow-burn process is the reason most apparent overnight successes happen!

De-clutter your life/office and fill it with fresh ideas and products on a regular basis. A stale environment will only generate a stale idea.