Bringing Your Product Idea to Life
The process of taking an invention from an idea to a fully realized product can be confusing. This is where a development company can be helpful. Product development companies specialize in getting ideas to market. They have the resources, and experience in place to make the process as easy and efficient as possible. Regardless, of how you decide to pursue your idea, there are some things to keep in mind.
Document everything – If you ever have to prove you are the original owner of an intellectual property, it is always helpful if you can show a paper trail. Put your ideas into writing and diagrams. Make sure that each time you change something about your idea to make notes. Don’t write it down in just any notebook. Instead, find an investor’s journal that has numbered pages that will keep up with the progress of your invention. On each page make sure to have a witness sign their name and date it. This can be a cheap and easy way to help protect your idea from anyone looking to cash in on your hard work.
Conduct a patent search – A good place to start researching your new product is in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. While you may believe your product idea is original, someone may have already came up with it. By doing a patent search, you will be able to prove that your idea is, in fact, original. On the other hand, if you fail to conduct a patent search and you go ahead with your product development, you may end up wasting money when someone finds out you have copied their idea. This can get you into legal hot water, ending up in a lawsuit. So, do your homework and make sure that your product is original.
Research your market – After you have proven that your idea is not already out there, you will need to research your market. Just because your family members think your product idea is a great one, it does not mean that everyone will think so. Market research is a very important part of product development and failing to do it can end up costing you in the long run. After you have conducted some market research and you find there is a need for your product, make sure to keep production costs in mind. While your product might be needed and even highly sought after, you will have to make sure you hit a target price point that the market will support. A great way to find out what people are willing to pay for your new product is to look at similar products that are already on the market. Try to keep your product’s price at or below your competition and you will have a better chance at selling in volume.
Build your prototype – This is where the real fun begins! This step in product design is when you first see your idea come to life. Building a prototype will allow you to make changes and tweak your product before filing a patent. This can be a big money saver. In order to come up with your prototype, make sure to draw it out on paper first. If you have access to CAD, this would be a good time to use it. A great free alternative 3D modeling software is Google SketchUp. Whether drawing a detailed sketch on a piece of paper, or using 3D modeling software, visualizing your product will allow you to easily change what you don’t like about it. Once your product sketch looks correct, an affordable way to bring your prototype to life is by building it with a 3D printer. 3D printing may allow you to quickly build an actual working model. If you don’t have a 3D printer, there are places online that can print and send the model to you but, most require a CAD file. There are other ways to build a prototype and, if your product is very large in size, you may want to use computer software to build a virtual prototype instead. This is a cost effective way to see your product in 3D.
File your patent – This is a very important part of product development. There are two different types of patents that you can file. The first one is called a utility patent which is designed for new processes or machines. The second patent is called a design patent and is geared towards new ornamental designs and products. You can write your patent from the comfort of your own home but you will need to have it looked over by someone that specializes in patent writing. He or she will be able to polish it up for you, and it is well worth it. Having your patent rejected because you made a mistake can cost you time and money.
Manufacturing and marketing of your product – Once you have a prototype made and a patent filed it is time to manufacture your product and get it into the hands of customers. This is one area where experience can make or break you. Due diligence is important here when trying to find a reputable manufacturer. Think outside the box. Industry trade shows and magazines can be a great source to find manufacturers. Once you find a manufacturer, make sure you research their reputation if unfamiliar with them. If you are not familiar with the terms and details of the manufacturing contract, seek legal counsel. You will also need to put together marketing strategies and sales channels. Vendors should be qualified based on their experience with similar products. These vendors will be covering business related operating costs and dealing with things like customer service. This will free you up to do what you do best, invent more products!
So if you have a product idea that you think is a good one, then why not get the ball rolling and move forward with your idea? While this can be a long process, it can be very rewarding in the end!