So You’ve Got an Idea, What’s Next?
One of the reasons I recommend joining some type of inventor’s group is because it introduces you to other inventors and allows the opportunity for you to hear their stories and the mistakes they have made on their journey. Often times, inventors new to the process can make costly, and sadly avoidable, mistakes, just out of ignorance of the process. I would like to help you avoid some, if not all, of those mistakes if I can.
So you’ve got an idea, what’s next? A great free resource that may help you determine that is the Inventor’s Galaxy Guide, available on the my website www.inventorlady.com. It’s about a 30 minute read with basic material that covers a lot of the process from getting an idea to market.
Before you go too far down the inventing rabbit hole, it’s prudent to do your own marketplace search. Now as much as I know you don’t want to find anything that would deter you from moving forward, it’s best to be honest with yourself and really look to see if there’s anything on the market that you would be infringing on someone else if you proceed.
The next step is to have a comprehensive search done by an unbiased 3rd party. In other words, not you, and not your patent attorney. That would be a conflict of interest. You want someone searching the USPTO and WIPO databases that know what they are doing and who has no invested interest in not finding anything.
Now, assuming you didn’t turn up anything on your search and the comprehensive search came back saying your idea doesn’t infringe on any existing products, it’s a good time to sit down and create a spreadsheet with your finances in mind to see what you can afford to invest in your idea. Again, be honest with yourself before you continue down this rabbit hole. The Inventor’s Galaxy Guide I mentioned earlier can help with this as it offers potential cost estimates for the various stages in the process.
So you’ve determined that yes/no you can file, yes/no you should file, what’s next? Many say this is a good time to come up with a business plan, but here’s the thing about that…you don’t really have a business. You’re not opening a restaurant. Your next steps should be to get your patent filed and start work on a protype.
Building your own basic protype is a great way to visualize your idea and make sure the idea makes sense in a tangible way. It helps answer questions like what size should it be. And it doesn’t need to be fancy, I’ve seen protypes done with cardboard, playdough and legos, and more and more common, 3D printers. This is just an exercise for you to get the idea out of your head before investing in a more complex prototype.
The next step is the sexier proof of concept prototype, something you can show potential buyers/licensors. This can be a costly step so you shouldn’t skip right to this. You may need an engineer to help with this step or another service provider.
Once you have a prototype that can be shown, the next step is to attend a tradeshow in your industry. This is a great way to get your idea out there without shelling out big bucks. While there is some cost associated with attending tradeshows, it’s where you will get the most bag for your buck.
The process of getting a product from the idea stage to the market is a long and arduous one. It has many steps and each one has the potential to add a costly mistake to your journey. So don’t throw money away out of ignorance. Learn what the best steps are, what costs you can expect, and utilize your money to the best of your ability!
If you can’t find a local meeting to join in your neck of the woods, join us at one of the virtual meeting opportunities we offer. We make the links for those available on our website and they are a safe place open to anyone and everyone who might need some guidance!
Contact The Inventor Lady
Phone: (303) 910-8889