5 Steps for Turning Your Invention Ideas Into a Product
There are a lot of people in this world that have brilliant invention ideas. However, only few of them succeed to transform their invention into a real product which people actually want to buy.
No matter how good your invention is, you need a creditable and implementable plan to convert it into a profitable product. Your plan can include different things such as how to protect your idea from being stolen, how to get funding for your project and viable marketing plan to promote your end product etc.
You also need to keep in mind that you should share your idea only with the most trustworthy people. It is always tempting to share your invention ideas with others but it is not the best course of action to take.
For example, a malicious person or a company with resources will not take long to steal your idea and make it its own. In fact, you need to protect your idea at any cost before doing anything else.
In the context of above discussion, following are some important steps you need to take to convert your invention into a tangible and profitable product.
DOCUMENT YOUR INVENTION
You actually need to prove that the idea you are propagating to public, prospective funders and promoters is genuinely yours. You need to document each detail, however big or small, particularly in case of an invention idea.
Most ideas are very vague in the beginning but you need to put everything you have in your mind on paper right from the start.
You can also start thinking about how to transform your invention into a product and market it right after you conceive an idea.
Following are some of the tips to document your invention:
Use an Inventor’s Journal
Documentation of your idea will also help you patent your product rather easily. It is even better if a witness signs your documentation. Writing your invention details in an inventor’s journal with numbered and irremovable pages will also greatly help you if someone challenges your patent in a court of justice.
You can easily find such journals from bookshops in your area. You can also make a journal out of an ordinary register or notebook by numbering each page manually.
Choose a Witness
As mention above, you need to get your documentation signed by a witness or two. However, the witness should be someone you trust more than anybody else.
He should be able to verify that it was actually you who entered all the information in the journal and you are the rightful owner of the product.
Ideally, the witness should also be in the industry your invention or product belongs to. Finally, one witness is enough but two witnesses are always better.
Write Everything in Detail
It is important to write down everything in detail including the description, purpose, benefits and drawbacks of your invention. You also need to include details of any prototypes you have made or tests you have taken and their results. It is imperative to put a date on top of every page for each entry.
Similarly, your entries should be legible but don’t worry much about your penmanship or handwriting.
Maintain a Filing System
You may need to create and keep different types of documents for your invention. Therefore, it is better to keep record of each type of document in a file of its own. Organizing documents in different files and labeling them accordingly makes it easy for you to locate them when you need them for reference in future.
In this regard, you may actually need different files for things like correspondences, purchase receipts, technical details of your invention, contracts and other miscellaneous documents.
RESEARCH THE IDEA THOROUGHLY
You need a lot of patience, resilience and research to invent a product. Keep in mind that you must also have enough time to dedicate to due-diligence and research before even thinking of inventing something useful for public. It is vital to spend as much time as possible on researching your idea especially if you want to patent it in the long run.
Similarly, try to determine if you are infringing on someone else’s idea of a product or not before actually starting working on your own.
Do Some Research on Intellectual Property
You should always start by doing research on intellectual properties of others. Try to find if someone else has patented a similar product to the one you want to introduce or not. There are many great websites which help you find your required information such as World Intellectual Property Organization, World Trade Organization and United States Patent and Trademark Office etc.
If there are similar inventions patented already, you need to measure the completion and how you can make your invention different before applying for a patent.
Research Market Jargons
You also need to familiarize yourself with all the industry and market jargons related to your product. These include everything from trademark to copyright, patenting and so on. Similarly, you also need to make a list of reputable patent lawyers if you want to patent your invention.
A patent lawyer or attorney can give you useful information about the legality of your invention or whether you can create or sell a particular product or not.
Research Your Target Audience
No invention or product is going to sell if there is no one to buy it. Therefore, you must identify and thoroughly research your target audience including their demographics, likes and dislikes as well as their purchasing power and habits.
Needless to say, you must also size up your competition and search for similar products in the market.
It is pertinent to note that 95% of all the patents never make any money for their inventors. Therefore, try to come up something new and unique if you want to have any chance of success.
DEVELOP YOUR FIRST PROTOTYPE
A prototype is the first ever product you create based on your research and documentation. A prototype puts into practice everything you have done so far. You actually demonstrate the design, functions and advantages of your invention to potential licensees and buyers with the help of your prototype. Developing a prototype is the most important step in your journey to transform your invention into a profitable product. In fact, you should never file for patent before developing and thoroughly testing a prototype.
Developing a prototype can cost you a lot of money. Therefore, it is imperative for you to do it right the first time. Following are some of the factors you need to consider when prototyping your invention.
Create a Sketch of Your Prototype
Drawing or sketching your prototype is the first step towards converting your idea into a concrete realty. You can fully envision your prototype by sketching your idea in detail. It is even better if you can draw the sketch with hand. If not, there are many sketching software you can use to accomplish this important task.
Many different ideas may be competing for attention in your mind in the early stages of creating a prototype. It will be more efficient to draw them quickly on paper rather than wasting time on creating digital sketches.
You can also boast your patent application by maintaining a notebook of your sketches. They can also be very helpful if ownership of your intellectual property ever comes into question. As compared to digital sketches, courts normally give more weightage to hand drawn prototype sketches.
Create a Virtual Prototype
Creating a virtual prototype is the second step in developing a great sellable product. Although, you should always start by hand drawing your sketch yet developing a digital prototype can be really invaluable at some stage.
In this regard, AutoCAD is the most popular tool engineers and other professionals use to create virtual prototypes of their products. The software performs many different functions such as providing you with2D and 3D renderings of your prototype.
If you want to fully envision each and every angle of your product, it is better to create a 3D sketch. Similarly, you can convert your 3D sketches into photorealistic prototypes using other popular software such as Quadro and NVIDIA Iray.
This enables you to visualize how your product will look physically. You can always hire professional prototype designers or graphic designers to create virtual prototypes if you don’t have any idea of rendering tools or computer designs.
Develop a Physical Prototype
After developing a virtual prototype, now it is time to create your first ever physical prototype. You can build one yourself if you have all the necessary resources and skills.
However, you can get this done by taking help of many other resources such as a professional prototype designer. Similarly, you can also hire an engineer or industrial designer to build a physical prototype for you.
You can also seek help of a handyman if you are short of cash. Another option is to advertise at various institutions such as an industrial design college. Students at such colleges will most probably develop the prototype for free just to further their own portfolios.
The next step is to find all possible flaws in your prototype and correct them before applying for a patent. Sometimes, you need to develop many prototypes to get a perfect one.
Typically, you will use less expensive material to create early prototypes. This will help you correct your design and remove all the defects without spending a lot of money. You will eventually create a prototype that is a realistic reflection of your actual product as you improve your design through experimentation.
Find a Manufacturer
You can also find a potential manufacturer after you have developed a fully working physical prototype. Try to negotiate terms and conditions with the manufacturer before starting actual production.
Always research and contact different manufacturers and sing a contract with one who can manufacture your product at profitable rate.
After all, there is no point in developing a product which cannot even cover your expenses rather than providing you with some profit.
There are also some manufacturers who create virtual 3D prototypes and offer free samples, enabling you to reduce your testing time and production costs. Some manufacturers also guide you on how to reduce your production costs in addition with helping you test your prototype thoroughly.
Finally, always take quotes and samples from different manufacturers which also enable you to find cost effective methods and materials to put your idea into production.
FILE FOR A PATENT
After completing all the above mentioned tasks, now it is time to apply for a patent for your product. You can actually choose from two main types of patents.
The first one is a Utility Patent which you can file for a new machine or a process. However, if you are introducing a new ornamental, nonobvious design, you have to apply for a Design Patent.
It is easy to fill out the patent application form. However, you should always consult an experienced patent attorney when it comes to actually applying for a patent.
Importance of Hiring a Patent Attorney
A patent attorney or lawyer will have a good look at your application and identify any errors and flaws which you might have missed. You need to keep in mind that people will try to infringe on your invention if it is really valuable and this is where an attorney can come to your rescue.
An experienced lawyer will write a strong patent literally preventing your competitors from finding a loophole in your application. In fact, it is necessary to hire a patent attorney if you want to protect your product and avoid any legal problem in future.
Tips on Hiring a Patent Attorney
There are many things you can do to find a competent attorney. First and foremost, never ever contact those who advertise their services on newspapers, television and radio. In fact, you need to get as far away from them as possible.
Subsequently, extensively research internet, read reviews about different attorneys and try to get a word of mouth if possible. Only then you will be able to find one who can really help you get patent for your invention.
Once you have shortlisted an attorney, you need to do two things. Firstly, verify that he or she is registered with relevant patenting authority in your area or country. Secondly, do all the necessary homework.
Provide your attorney with all the necessary information. Keep all your notes, prototypes and journals ready with you. Your attorney will need them at the time of patenting your product and defending the patent as well.
MARKET YOUR INVENTION
Now, you have successfully patented your invention and developed a fully functional product to sell. However, you are not going to earn considerable amount of money from the product if you don’t market it properly.
You will have to formulate a complete marketing strategy to monetize your invention. The strategy can include things like how you will manufacture your product on large scale? Where the funds will come from? How will you make money? How will you sell it?
How Will You Sell Your Product?
Perhaps determining how to sell your product is the hardest nut to crack. There are in fact two ways of selling your products. You can manufacture and sell it yourself or license another company to take over the selling part. However, you will only receive maximum of 5% of royalties in most cases when you license your invention for sale.
Licensing your product for sale has both upsides and downsides. For instance, you can have a feeling that you deserve more because you have done all the hard work. On the other hand, you can earn more in the long run because you don’t have to spend a dime on maintaining a business.
Market through Social Media
If you decide to sell the product yourself, you can do many different things to promote it. For instance, you can always take help of social media to reach millions of prospective buyers without spending a lot of money. However, it is important for you to find which social media platform your target audience uses the most.
Start a campaign and check for social media trends and analytics for shares and engagement. Once you determine which social platform to focus on, you can enhance engagement and thus sales by providing links to your landing pages, effective email marketing, paid campaigns and other strategies.
Never Forget Traditional Means of Marketing
Despite of growing popularity of social media, you should never rule out traditional marketing methods such as newspaper and television ads. Similarly, you can also do a great favor to yourself by writing a really engaging and convincing press release.
You can dramatically enhance your brand awareness and convey a succinct message to your buyers by writing a press release early on.
The press release should answer all the questions which they might have. It should also highlight all the core features of the product and its value proposition.
Organize Promotional Events
Similarly, organizing promotional and networking events can really catapult your invention to stardom. Try to organize an event which can really shake the market and turn it in your favor.
For instance, you can announce the inauguration of your product in an interesting video and upload it on your social media and website. You can also start a live chat on Facebook and highlight salient features of your invention directly to your prospective buyers.
Follow up the launch of your product by maintaining strong social media presence, announcing achievement of milestones regularly and giving special prizes and offers.
Talk to people of influence and request them to promote your invention. Keep improving your message as you continue to better understand your audience.
You can convert your invention into a product without any real hassle by following these steps.
Keep in mind that you still have to do a lot of work to start making any real money from you invention idea. It can take really long from the time you conceive your idea to the time you introduce your product in the market.
Most inventions don’t see the light of day in years. You need to have due-diligence and patience to make most of your invention. Rest assured that your hard work and patience will pay off in the end.