id you understand that two of the most successful business ideas of the twentieth century were invented by way of a man who died in debt? The two inventions are still in wide use and generate hundreds of billions in revenue each year. We consider Thomas Edison while the inventor of the light bulb. The reality is that Edison invented the light bulb so he could market his electrical distribution system. Marconi remains known as the Father of Radio but in fact his invention was based almost entirely on others’ work.
Con Edison remains a powerhouse (pun intended) in the electrical power distribution service. Edison didn’t invent the modern 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 is most widely known as Thomas Edison’s main competitor in electrical power distribution. The Westinghouse and Edison companies competed for years 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 idea 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 the 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 both of 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’d 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 really a perfect exemplory case of the reality about successful business ideas. Edison, Westinghouse and Marconi all knew the truth. Marketing is the key. Successful business ideas aren’t the sole things that matter. What counts is that you get others’ to get 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 wasn’t the invention alone that made the difference but rather setting it up to the public. Marconi’s success was largely based on his mass appeal and his capability to take his ideas to market. Successful business ideas work because they are marketed. So remember Tesla whenever you think you have the best product or service. It will not mean anything if you market it.