I wrote this to provide such inventors help. Often we are approached by inventors with an idea for a new product. They want to manufacture this product and their eyes see only fame and $$$ signs. The inventors vary from the well to do doctors to the person who sees a need and a way to fulfill it. Our advice to them is in the following pragraphs. For immediate inventors help contact us.
Study your market, make sure you can reach the market and make a profit
This is the most important step. Even if you have a perfect product at an unbelievably low cost in your opinion, you will still fail if the market does not agree with you. Google Ads and surveys offer easy ways to do market research for a few hundred dollars. Another way to study the market is to sell somebody else's product in the market place. Yes it takes work but the work and expense is much much less than if you developed a product and found out that there is no market for it.
Prototype with least cost and time and test with users
Your first step, once you are reasonably well convinced about market viability, is to do some initial prototypes and let actual users use your prototype. Depending on their feedback you will further refine your product. This prototype should be easy and fast to do.
Don't worry too much about patents (this is not legal advice)
Patents are valuable only if you can defend them or if they add valuation to your company. Filing and defending a patent requires time and money for legal expenses. In our experience, most small businesses cannot afford to defend their patents. So the best idea would be to not worry too much about patenting your product initially. In our opinion (which should not be construed as legal advice), it is better to spend the time and money marketing the product. There are certain cheap and easy ways, I have been told, that one can take to defend one's ideas, like filing for a provisional patent. If you are interested you should research these out.
The other reason to get a patent is that it adds value to your company. Most companies who are interested in increasing their valuation are interested in future sale of the company. If that is your interest, and you have the extra dollars and time, go for it. It is debatable though whether the valuation would have increased by same or more or less if the company had spent the same time marketing their product.
Plan for at least 5 iterations of the product
Immaculate conception is the realm of God. Rare is the new product that was designed and came out perfect in the first iteration. As my colleague Wayne Mitzen says, for a completely new product, one should plan for 5 iterations to get it right for the market and mass manufacturing.
Plan for mass manufacturing
Design for manufacturing should not be an afterthought. A product that looks good as a prototype may turn out be too expensive to manufacture because of the design decisions taken. It is best to prototype a product with an eye to its manufacturability. For this you would need a development team that has taken products from concept to mass production.
Plan for the back end products, cross sell and up sell offers. Be prepared for knock offs
If your product is successful, knock offs will appear quickly. Many of them will infringe on your patent. The best defense, in our opinion, is a market defense. You have to acquire and keep customers and maximize their life cycle value. You maximize the life cycle value by selling the customers follow on products and services and by upselling and cross selling them. If you have figured out a way to have great life cycle value you can nip competitors in the bud by underpricing your introductory product. They will not want to enter a market where they only see a loss in their introductory product.
You should have cross sell and upsell offers and backend products planned right from the start. Once you have initial traction in the marketplace you should be working like a demon testing out your upsell and cross sell offers. As start generating revenue from your backend you may want to lower the sales price of your introductory product. This will result in increased backend money though at the cost of upfront money. Also it will make your niche unattractive to enter for competitors.
Not easy but don't be discouraged, pick an easier product if the product seems too costly or complex
The whole invention process does not sound easy and is not easy, despite the claims of hucksters. But you are ahead of the game knowing what the process is and being prepared for it. Allow for plenty of cost and time overruns. If you cannot do that for the product you are considering, move on to a different product idea for now.
Remember the money is in supplying a market need. The market does not care whether your product is simple or complex, or has high or cheap cost of manufacturing. All the market compares is the value your product delivers at its cost versus the value delivered by competing products that satisfy the need at their cost.
If you think you need help developing your product please contact us. Although the vast majority of our business is with large companies and organizations we have a soft corner for inventors :-).
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