by Catherine Brinkman
We all have them. Defining moments in our childhood that mold us well into adulthood. There are a few of us that take the moment and turn it into a passion lasting our whole lives. Even fewer take that moment and turn it into a career. Yvette Kendall took her moment and turned it into a career talking about her passion for innovation. As the founder of F.B.I. Rocks, Female Black Inventors, Yvette consults with various inventors and innovators as they begin the patent process.
Yvette’s defining moment was when she didn’t listen to her Mom one day after school. Instead of going from school to her Mom’s boyfriend’s job, Yvette walked through the huge medieval style doors on the University of Chicago campus. A 5th or 6th grader, being on a campus with young adults was apparent that she didn’t belong however, Yvette walked on and found herself in a building, peeking into a chemistry class. Upon looking in there was someone with a lab coat on in front of the classroom. Quickly darting her head back into the hallway, she heard the person in the lab coat invite her back in. Yvette obliged and saw an experiment involving liquid nitrogen and a balloon. Yvette was hooked.
All throughout school she loved science. She jotted down her ideas on how she could make existing technology work better. She jotted down the few hair-brain ideas she came up with. Self admittedly, higher education was not something that was pushed when she was growing up in Southside Chicago. “It was the culture within my community….you get fed, a roof over your head and if something is falling off taken to the hospital and when you finish High School, you get a job,” Yvette tells me when I asked what college she went to. “I didn’t go. High School diploma only.”
The lack of a college degree elevates her story even more……working in the administration office for Michael Jordan’s restaurant she saw a guy carrying a bunch of books. She thought that it would be cool to have a device that would store books electronically and you had to carry around one device. It was 1998 when Yvette decided to check out how to patent this idea. She saved money for a couple of months to afford the fees, filled out the paperwork, and sent off her idea for Bookman. Yvette kept waiting for a response from the patent office.
Bookman might sound familiar. A few years later, while on a trip, Yvette saw someone carrying a Kindle. What Yvette learned the hard way was that only 80% of the needed information for your patent needs to be submitted. She included all proprietary information. Yvette didn’t realize that others can cull information from provisional patents after one year from initial filing if a non-provisional patent is not granted. Basically, Yvette filed for a provisional patent, good for one year, and was not granted a non-provisional patent. Someone else came in, looked at her idea and ran with it. Upon looking into this type of scenario, it is common practice for larger companies to have staff look through expired patents and cull the ideas that they like as their own.
When Yvette figured all of this out it was too late. “I lost friends and family trying to get my innovations funded. They think of this stuff as a scam and I am trying to make money,” Yvette says with sadness in her voice. She pushed on though. That defining moment back when she was 10-11 years old she was too strong to let go. To date Yvette has over 40 patents filed. She finds inspiration all around us. There is something she is working on currently that is extremely relevant to the times we live in. It pertains to making various items bullet proof very quickly. She got the idea when thinking about Sandy Hook. “They don’t make child sized bullet proof vests, I cannot imagine having to put those on a room full of young kids,” then she said that she couldn’t say anymore, which is fair.
This is where Yvette holding things close to the vest ends. She is an open book when it comes to helping others understand the patent application process. In 2012 Yvette founded F.B.I. Rocks. “African American women represent 1% of those putting up ideas for patents,” she tells me. When you think about Shark Tank, the percentage of equity requested on some of the deals is ridiculous. “But the idea of some money is better than no money is the reality. Women need to help other women.”
F.B.I. Rocks offers consulting for those starting to make their innovation concept a reality. “There doesn’t need to be an immediate use for an idea. Think of things you see in movies. The hover board and self-tying shoes. As long as you have an innovation concept, you can patent that.” My mind immediately went to 2001 Space Odyssey and the iPhone. In the coming year F.B.I Rocks will offer consulting services to those that need help with funding their business, financial guidance, product development and website development-and of course, guidance on how to apply and monitor your patent application process.
#getitdone, Yvette is great at problem solving, figuring out how to get from A to Z no matter what the obstacle is and getting her innovative ideas out there. She is also great at helping her fellow female inventors and cannot wait to help even more in 2018!
Those interested in hiring Yvette for consulting or public speaking engagements can call 708-552-0455, email email@example.com or DM @FBIRocks on Twitter.
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About the writer: Catherine Brinkman’s sales career spans two decades. As a former top producing sales executive with Dale Carnegie Training she generated her own leads. Today she uses that experience to collaborate with marketing and sales teams to create marketing campaigns. She specializes in market diversification, content writing and social media. She also facilitates sales training/tutoring, partnering with companies to improve their sales process. She lives in NYC and can be found in Central Park with her two dogs, improving her sketch writing skills at UCB or hanging out with friends at Happy Hours. Find her on Twitter @catbrinkman or email firstname.lastname@example.org.