How to Invent
“Do you feel like you have worked so hard to move your invention along, and now you are just stuck? Do you just need some guidance as to where to go from here?”
This series will help you to understand the normal progression of the invention process, while helping you figure out where you are and what you need to do in order to move forward.
Four Phase Tutorial on How to Invent Check List
Phase One: Research
Phase Two: Development & Realization
Phase Three: Presentation Material
Phase Four: Pitching to Companies
Each week our newsletter will cover another phase in this process, explaining each step and what should be completed before you move on to the next step. Time and/or money spent on each step will also be explained, so you know what to expect. In some cases, you may be able to do things on your own, but you should expect it to take more time because you are saving money. When paying for services, you are paying other people to do them for you, so your time spent should be significantly decreased.
How to Invent Step One:
You have a great idea. You THINK it will be wildly successful. Before you do anything else, you must conduct research in order to substantiate your feelings with fact.
How to Invent Step Two:
Time: 30-100 Hours
This phase should come almost immediately after the “Aha” moment. While research can seem like a time consuming task, you need to be conducting a very vast amount of research that may seem broad to your product idea. If you feel that you already know everything that you need to know, I ensure you, you do not. Consider it like studying for a midterm, isn’t it always better to be over-prepared and do well, then be under-prepared, fail and wish that you would have done more in the beginning?
Start with conducting a patent search. It may seem like no one else has thought of this idea because it’s not on the market, but there may be a patent for the same idea and for several reasons, it never made it to market. Starting with a patent search is going to save you time, money and hassle later.
When searching for a patent, do not specify your idea. Use broad terms related to your idea that will bring you to anything closely related.
Industry Market Research–
Once you have determined whether or not your idea is truly original, determine the best industry for your product to go into. The best way to decide on your industry is to compare it to similar products. Begin with researching the industry in broad terms, getting to be more specific. Your research should leave you with a good understanding of your industry, its major companies, and past, present and anticipated changes.
“AHA! I have got it! This will change the world! Heated windshield wipers! No one will ever have to worry about their windshield wipers being frozen to their car during the winter again!”
My research will begin with the automotive industry, and then become more specific to automotive accessories.
List of Industry/ Market Research:
+ What is the environment surrounding your product like? How will these things affect your product?
+ What is the market defined as? How small/large is it compared to othermarkets?
+ Which companies are controlling the market?
+ What has happened to this industry in the past? Present? Future?
Competition for your product can be direct or indirect. Existing products that consumers are using as a solution to the problem that your product solves will be direct competition. Make sure to be knowledgeable of extensive details for each of your products competitors. Including, ownership, target audience, price points, manufacturers, distributors, and contact information of company executives.
It is also necessary to be well-informed of indirect competition. These products will not necessarily have the same target audience, or may not even solve the same problem. However, a consumer may choose to purchase this product instead of yours.
For example, you have invented a travel toothbrush capable of compacting to an inch tall. Direct competition would be other travel toothbrushes, and indirect competition would be basic toothbrushes. While your toothbrush is convenient, some consumers may choose to just stick with buying a basic toothbrush and toting it around.
There are many things that will affect the way in which a consumer decides whether or not to purchase a product. However, you should be able to anticipate what obstacles your product will face. Know the demographics of the “typical” consumer in your market, along with buying motivations and expectations.
In order to understand if your product will make money, more research is necessary. A guesstimate of manufacturing costs can be made by figuring out the materials needed to make your product and roughly how much they cost (you should get a detailed estimate of manufacturing costs later).
Based on direct and indirect competition currently on the market, you should be able to determine roughly what your product would sell for. After some math, it should be evident whether or not the product would make a profit.
*If your product uses complicated materials and manufacturing techniques, it will be especially important that you contact an engineer for drawings and cost estimates.
Know which methods your product would be sold best through, a detailed description of who would buy it, and information on manufacturers and retailers that would be a good fit for your product.
How to Invent Step Three
: Evaluate Research
Time: 10-20 Hours
It is extremely important to evaluate your research before you speed on. Many inventors become overly excited about their idea, and run to patent their idea without considering the results of the research. The reason that research is so important is because it will tell you whether or not you should move forward with your idea.
Reasons you should NOT move forward:
o The idea is already patented by someone else.
o The industry is not profitable and is not anticipated to become profitable.
o The sole company involved in your industry, is already selling a product like idea.
o Your product will cost more to make then people are willing to spend to buy it.
o The problem your idea is a solution for, is not a problem most people care about.
Reasons you SHOULD move forward:
o There are few patents related to your idea.
o The industry has grown rapidly and is expected to continue to grow.
o The leading companies in your industry are actively researching and developing new products.
o Manufacturing costs are estimated to be 10% or less of what similar products are selling for.
o Many people have the problem your idea solves. Or, if only some people have the problem, it is a large obstacle that they would greatly spend money on.
Once you have completed step one, you will know if this is the right invention to take to Phase Two.