id you know that two of the very successful business ideas of the twentieth century were invented by a man who died in debt? The two inventions remain in wide use and generate a huge selection of billions in revenue each year. We think of Thomas Edison since the inventor of the light bulb. The truth is that Edison invented the light bulb so he could market his electrical distribution system. Marconi continues to be known as the Father of Radio but in fact his invention was based almost entirely on others’ work.
Con Edison continues to be a powerhouse (pun intended) in the electrical power distribution service. Edison didn’t invent the present day power grids, however. His invention was for DC power distribution. A man by the name of George Westinghouse Jr. was an inventor. He invented the railway air brake. He’s most widely known as Thomas Edison’s main competitor in electrical power distribution. The Westinghouse and Edison companies competed for decades in what became known as the “War of Currents”, AC vs. DC. Science eventually won Alexander Malshakov the battle because AC power distribution is cheaper to deliver. The point listed here is that neither Westinghouse nor Edison invented it.
The Marconi Company was wildly successful as was Marconi himself. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the radio. He was heralded as one of many greatest inventors of most time. He later became a Senator in his native Italy. His fame and fortune were stupendous! He, however, did not invent the radio.
The inventor of these two died in debt and alone in the New Yorker Hotel. Which was January of 1943. Later that same year the US Supreme Court upheld his patent which, in effect, said he had actually invented the radio. He had sold each of his patents for AC power distribution to his former employer, the Westinghouse Electric Company. His name was Nikola Tesla.
This story is a perfect example of the truth about successful business ideas. Edison, Westinghouse and Marconi all knew the truth. Marketing could be the key. Successful business ideas are not the sole items that matter. What counts is that you get others’ to buy them. Thomas Edison’s company didn’t fail because his DC power distribution didn’t win. He adapted his company to distribute AC. Westinghouse knew that it was not the invention alone that made the difference but rather getting it to the public. Marconi’s success was largely centered on his mass appeal and his power to take his tips to market. Successful business ideas work because they’re marketed. So remember Tesla whenever you think you’ve the maximum product or service. It won’t mean anything if you don’t market it.