National Invention Convention

NATIONAL INVENTION CONVENTION

May 9 - 13, 2022

Hear From Our Inventor Mentors

Our Inventor Mentors share their top tips and answers to questions from students drawing on their experiences inventing, creating and innovating!
Harshunan (Harrie) Sivanander
Director of Innovation and Design, Spin Master
This happens all the time. You need to listen to people and read the room. Know when you can fight for your idea and show them what they are not seeing. Stay humble and know when to back down. It doesn't matter how good your idea might be, it's not going to move forward if you haven't moved people with it.
James Martin
Senior Vice President, Marketing & Global Business Unit Lead, Spin Master
When no one agrees with you, make sure you understand why. Is there a specific reason, a specific challenge? It will help you reframe your own opinion and give you an area to explore further to overcome those challenges or find a new direction.
Simon Yau
Senior Consultant, Business Management & Engagement, CIBC
Create a proof of concept. Sometimes, we may not have the right words to explain our ideas to others. Or sometimes, even if we have the right words, others may not quite see what you see in your head. Many times, the best way to explain an idea is to show rather than tell. It doesn't have to be polished but putting a prototype or framework together is a great way for you to decide if your idea makes sense, and if so, to help explain it to others.
Nicole Kelly
Manager, Corporate Giving, CIBC
Yes, I have had many ideas for a product or service that others did not think were great or needed at the time. In a situation like this I have either realized that the idea wasn't that great or I have continued to share with people and get their feedback and adjust accordingly.
Harshunan (Harrie) Sivanander
Director of Innovation and Design, Spin Master
Ideas are great, but do the research. Find out what's out there so you don't re-invent the wheel. Know the market, target and audience. This will help focus your direction. Your research skills will help you answer all the questions before people have the chance to ask them.
James Martin
Senior Vice President, Marketing & Global Business Unit Lead, Spin Master
Being able to think like your intended end user will put you miles ahead of most people. You can start from passion, but make sure you can put that passion aside, for just a minute, and look at things with cold, hard logic. Or have someone you trust who can do that for you. Is my invention just "cool", or is it "cool and delivers a need or want"? That is what you must be able to ask and answer to have a better chance of success.
Marlyn Palmer
Senior Director, Supply Chain Architecture, Spin Master
Problem solving is not only about being logical but being creative in your thinking. One of the key skills of a problem solver is to have an open mind, which allows you to adapt and be flexible as ideas are reviewed. It allows you to think of the 'art of the possible' and come up with an unlimited number of potential solutions
Dana Baiton
Director, Supply Planning, Spin Master
Take every opportunity you can to hone your presentation skills both written and spoken. A new solution or innovation needs support from others to go from idea to reality. Being able to clearly present your ideas will allow you to get people on board early in the process. I like to take improv classes to inspire creativity while continuously improving my public speaking!
Melissa Ozuna
Director, Product Development Preschool, Spin Master
An open mind. All great solutions start with a clear, open mind to anything. I like to put my ideas into words or sketches to flush them out. I love collaborating with designers to expand ideas further.
Laura Soria
Senior Director, Lending Solutions Contact Centre, CIBC
Invest in your EQ (emotional intelligence). Self-awareness and wellbeing are essential to the future of leadership and innovation.
Melissa Ozuna
Director, Product Development Preschool, Spin Master
We faced a problem that there were too many steps for a child to play with the toy. To reduce the number of steps, we created a tattoo gun that combined the tattoo sticker, water, sponge and timer in one tool. It was implemented in the toy and received a patent!
Manraj Pannu
Director Process Engineering, Spin Master
Sometimes just from the day-to-day, mundane tasks where you ask yourself: can I do this better?
Hamid Hashemi
Senior Director, Engineering Innovation, Spin Master
The short answer is: mostly from nature. This means observing the world around us, living things and inanimate things, their textures, movements, sounds and how they interconnect. Being a deep observer of the natural world and its inhabitants is a great source of ideas. Secondly, the best ideas for me come in times of calm reflection and contemplation. When you set certain times during the day for meditation and reflection, that inner stillness uses the tangible experiences from nature and suddenly you are inspired with incredible ideas and can't stop thinking about them. So, take time to experience your natural surroundings and play as much as you can outside. Then, take time to calm your mind and be free of distractions at least once a day.
Simon Yau
Senior Consultant, Business Management & Engagement, CIBC
Staying curious and asking "why"? Often, we do things just because that's what we're told to do, or because that's the way it has always been done. But it's always important to understand why things happen the way they do, and once you start asking those questions it opens up opportunities for new ideas to potentially take shape, ideas that maybe only you, and your unique perspective, could have come up with.
Josh Nicholas
Specialist, Corporate Donations & Community Partnerships, CIBC
I've learned to adopt a mindset where I see problems and challenges as opportunities to improve and make a difference. Through school I always got involved in different clubs and volunteered where there was a problem to be solved. Because of this, I've been able to observe different problems in the community and aim to find ways to make things better. I find my ideas come to me when I'm doing things like going for a walk or going for a run – when my mind is able to be free and think! At my job at CIBC, I help provide donations to charities who are solving challenges in the community and aiming to create a better world.
Nicole Kelly
Manager, Corporate Giving, CIBC
My best ideas come from challenges or opportunities I see within my own personal life. If I am struggling with something or a process/tool is not working for me I think of how I can better the process/tool to work in my favour.
Manraj Pannu
Director Process Engineering, Spin Master
I engage a team, and then work together with collaborators to make it bigger and better as well as get some fresh ideas.
Allison Servey
Senior Product Development Engineer, Spin Master
Start prototyping! Making a simple model can really help you figure out any issues and how to improve your idea even more. And don't be afraid to ask for help or advice when you need it!
Hamid Hashemi
Senior Director, Engineering Innovation, Spin Master
Pencil and paper! There is nothing like physically writing down and drawing your ideas and listing everything that comes to your mind. Then, don't wait. Grab whatever you can get your hands on around your home (or order supplies) test your idea in a basic, rough way. You need to bridge the idea-to-physical gap and keep going with an open mind. Drive it to a conclusion, whether to continue or not. Or perhaps several new spin-off ideas come from it. Then start showing or consulting with a mentor or someone you respect and also strangers (unless it is highly confidential).
Laura Soria
Senior Director, Lending Solutions Contact Centre, CIBC
Socialize the idea with multiple stakeholders, connect with your mentors, peers and friends. Seek feedback, be open to it and have really great questions prepared. Have a clear plan, make a list of your resources, and make sure to make time to step away and visualize outcomes and challenges so you can be prepared to address them.
Elaine Yan
Director, Channel Effectiveness FLUX, CIBC
The first step is to write it down. I’m a visual person, so I like to brain map by unloading all my thoughts then mapping them out. I love what technology taught me: design thinking and being iterative is how you can improve and make things better!
Josh Nicholas
Specialist, Corporate Donations & Community Partnerships, CIBC
When I have an idea, I always find it best to talk to my close friends about it. Having people around you who are positive and helpful is so important – they can encourage you to pursue the idea but also provide different perspectives that may change your mind. I have found not all my ideas are good ones and this is okay! By receiving feedback from others who I trust, I can navigate which ideas are worth pursuing and which ones I can leave behind.
Dana Baiton
Director, Supply Planning, Spin Master
The hardest part is getting to the finish line! Every great idea will face roadblocks. If someone doesn't agree with your idea take the feedback, assess it and learn from it, but don't stop moving forward. Break down big challenges into smaller ones; this way as you solve the smaller pieces you can stay motivated and still move closer to your ultimate goal.
Allison Servey
Senior Product Development Engineer, Spin Master
The hardest part of the innovation process can be getting your team to understand your idea and to see things from your point of view. To overcome this, help them understand your idea visually with a sketch or a model. And remember to be open to other ideas – together you might come up with an even better solution!
Elaine Yan
Director, Channel Effectiveness FLUX, CIBC
One of the hardest things is getting validation. How do you know if the invention or solution is good or good enough? I try to remind myself that everyone is different, we all have different perspectives and to at least try, and just start. Good or bad, at least you tried.
I3 & National Invention Convention Partners
Inventor Mentor Volunteers
Bringing the Science of Toys to Life at Linden Meadows School
April 06, 2022
Vanessa Raponi of Spin Master, National Invention Convention presenting sponsor, brings the science behind toys to Linden Meadows School.
Expanding innovation education to young learners
January 20, 2022
The new Investigate! Invent! Innovate! has been expanded for Grades 1 to 8 – thanks to generous three-year funding from Spin Master. Optimized for virtual classrooms!
A student inventor becomes an invention educator
July 12, 2021
Nearly 15 years after participating in I3 as a student, Grade 7 teacher Jesirene Buenaventura guides her class to showcase their inventions at the 2021 National Invention Convention