id you realize that two of the very most successful business ideas of the twentieth century were invented by a man who died in debt? Both inventions remain in wide use and generate hundreds of billions in revenue each year. We think of Thomas Edison while the inventor of the light bulb. The stark reality is that Edison invented the light bulb so he could market his electrical distribution system. Marconi continues to be referred to 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 person by the name of George Westinghouse Jr. was an inventor. He invented the railway air brake. He is most widely referred to as Thomas Edison’s main competitor in electrical power distribution. The Westinghouse and Edison companies competed for a long time in what became referred to 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 here’s 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 with the radio. He was heralded as one of many greatest inventors of time. He later became a Senator in his native Italy. His fame and fortune were stupendous! He, however, didn’t invent the radio.
The inventor of both these died in debt and alone in the New Yorker Hotel. That has been January of 1943. Later that same year the US Supreme Court upheld his patent which, in effect, said that he had actually invented the radio. He had sold every one 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 exemplory instance 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 only items that matter. What counts is that you will 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 so it wasn’t the invention alone that made the difference but alternatively setting it up to the public. Marconi’s success was largely based on his mass appeal and his power to take his tips to market. Successful business ideas work since they’re marketed. So remember Tesla whenever you think you have the best product or service. It won’t mean anything if you market it.