“What keeps me going? Knowing that innovation is truly valued.”

Nancy Linday: Invention as Opportunity
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Nancy Linday: Invention as Opportunity

Independent inventor Nancy Linday, whose inventions range from convertible apparel to sustainable eating utensils, knows that invention is a business of “high risk and heartbreak”—there are no guarantees for instant reward and fame. Her experience has been both overwhelming and exhilarating.

“Invention is the mother of necessity.”

Nancy, formerly an urban planner and champion road runner, became an inventor. But not because of curiosity—because of necessity. In the early 1990s, her mother, who passed the New York State Bar in 1930 with only a high school diploma, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Not willing to put her mother in a nursing home, Nancy changed her life in order to support her mom. While sitting in hospital rooms, Nancy focused her energy on an idea inspired from her days as a runner: a cap with interchangeable parts that would protect against rain, sun, heat, and cold.

“I sewed many a pre-production sample sitting in hospital rooms, waiting for doctors. I would take apart existing baseball caps and remake them.”

Nancy Linday's Vicap
Bryan Derballa/Wall Street Journal

While Nancy developed what became her first invention—the Vicap® Convertible Cap—her mother helped Nancy through the patent and trademark process.

“The Vicap® became a major focus for us, a central part of all our conversations. Always the legal eagle, even when her condition became much worse, she continued to advise me.”

Her advice helped both of them, as the process of advising Nancy kept her mother connected through this mind-destroying disease.

“What keeps me going? Believing in the marketplace.”

Like many independent inventors, Nancy relies on the expertise of others to help get her inventions into the marketplace. Since working on the Vicap® with her mother, Nancy has patented two additional inventions: the Pactote™ Convertible Tote Bag and the Newtensils® Eating Utensils. Nancy became a co-inventor and business partner of Eli Nivin, the inventor of the original Newtensils®, and they plan to bring the Newtensils® to market as a sustainable product.

Patent and trademark protection are crucial to Nancy’s invention process, and she says she works hard to license her patented inventions to the company that can best manufacture them and bring them to market. 

"It’s a critical time for me as an independent inventor. After years of work during which there were many times when I questioned my decision to become an inventor, Eli and I are literally waiting for the call regarding a licensing agreement for our Newtensils®."

"Innovation is constant, and independent inventors produce a lot of it."

As long as there is a market for new ideas and incentives for people to innovate, Nancy says she’ll continue inventing. While many of the inventions we read about in the news are often developed for the tech industry, such as new electronics, software, and transportation, Nancy reminds us:

"There are tens of thousands of inventors across the United States, and many of them are low-tech innovators like me. And we have a big impact. Just look around your home at the thermostat, the desk chair, even the egg timer. All have probably been re-invented in some way by an independent inventor."

Read more stories about independent inventors on Edison Nation.

Cover Photo: Michael George Photography


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