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mjmurphy23's avatar

How do I get my invention to market?

Asked by mjmurphy23 (20 points ) December 21st, 2007

I invented a whitewater river product in 2001 and the concept is great. While it is functional, it needs to be professionally engineered so it can be assembled and manufactured efficiently and in bulk. I currently order parts from 5 vendors, and make them in my living room. Without a big bankroll, who do I turn to to get my product designed professionally and ready to manufacture. There is demand for my product as I have sold it to retailers and clients across the country, but my current process is not worth the trouble to keep making them from home. Does anyone know of a reliable source who funds entrepreneurs’ inventions and helps get them to market without the risk of stealing my idea from under me. I know I should patent it and get lawyers, but my funding will not allow it at this time. Any advice?

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5 Answers

GeauxTigers's avatar

This is a tough one – you must get it patented first. Under no circumstance would it be wise to push to market without the patent pending. (Ok, that may be a little over the top, but you get my point).

The other bad news is, if you cannot afford to get it patented, getting it to a manufacturing firm is going to be tough. Unless of course you can design it yourself (or find someone you trust) in AutoCAD (or comparable program) – then you can send it off to one of the numerous rapid prototyping firms.

I’d suggest finding a venture capitalist (or rich uncle) who can assist in furthering your idea. Unfortunately, you’re in a tough spot. I’d say the next step would probably be to find someone to draw up digital designs for the product – and then start doing your homework on patents (finding existing patents, patents that your invention is based off of, etc).

Hope this helps a bit…

mjmurphy23's avatar

Thank you for the quick response. I was secretly hoping that I could bypass the patent step and present the idea to VC or a firm that helps budding entrepreneurs, but I realize it would be foolish to get the ball rolling without protecting myself with a patent. Truth hurts. I have been in contact with a product engineer who is going to help with the digital design. Are there any trusted prototype firms that could be recommended? Again, thanks for the advice.

GeauxTigers's avatar

I just re-read my response – I feel I was rather negative and a nay-sayer. Please don’t take it in the wrong way :)

You probably could bypass the patent step, and go straight to the VC firm. Most firms will realize (or even expect) that you don’t have enough money and a full legal team behind you – but you also have to be willing to write up your pitch and mail it to every VC firm (unless you have a personal connection). Personally, I find it hard to let go of my “baby” that easily.

Also – business plan… do it! It seems stupid (at least in my mind), especially considering the chances of the plan being completely different from the way reality plays out. It’s considered a right of passage – that you’ve sat there for days/weeks/months/years fleshing out every possible detail you could about the product and your plan to market it. This isn’t necessarily hard – but you may want to work with a local small business consultant to flesh it out in a timely manner. And not doing it will get you shuffled out of a VC’s office before you know what hit you.

One idea might be to go to a local university – and find some engineering students. If you can get them interested (the troublesome part) – they’ll be fairly helpful in getting an manufactured prototype done. And they tend to have access to CNC machines and the likes.

I’d check www.thomasnet.com for local manufacturing firms.

And finally, don’t let anyone get you down. If you’ve got a worthwhile product, keep pushing. You’ll have firms/people tell you it’s a terrible idea or et cetera – but you just have to find the right people to work with.

EnterpriseLady's avatar

okay hopefully my interjection here will be appreciated. I invented a product idea and created prototypes of my invention in my own living room so I can grasp what you are inquiring about. I, too, have had the same financial issues with promoting my product.. I, however, did finance a patent pending application. Because I also met with the SBA, there are contradictory theories with respect to a patent. Did you know that nobody has the patent on the hamburger? Yet McDonalds and Burger King thrive on the businesses of fast food burgers? In other words, being the first to market your specific product is key. My next step in my invention is to get a Federal TM on the name and logo. The concept of my invention is not really out there now and I intend to make that change. Because of the obviousness of my design, I would not ever be issued a full utility patent, but that will not stop me from marketing my product.. I decided to get a TM on the name and logo and market it myself. I do admire that you’ve sold your product.. I have not done so yet, but it is in the works. All I did was gain test marketing in exchange for testimony…. If you are getting x amount of orders, perhaps you can talk with someone at a bank about a business loan. Short of knowing people who are in the industry to help, that would be my only other suggestion.

mjmurphy23's avatar

Thank You for the kind words of hope and wish you the best of luck. It is quite an overwhelming process and I certainly respect all the widget makers out there as it is not easy. I like your approach of TM and I have taken steps to ‘self-patent’ my idea with sealed envelopes, drawings…I will keep plugging along and will post my progress if they could be beneficial to others such as yourself. Happy New Year to all.

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