With all the false starts that come with inventing something, it is easy to feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of inventing: like you get “no respect” from credible figures in your field. If investors are turning you down, business partners are flaking out, and you can’t even seem to get your calls returned, it may be time for a change of priorities. Believe it or not, there is actually a tried-and-true formula for establishing yourself as a respected inventor. It begins be creating credibility for your invention.
Their article on prototyping offers some helpful guidance on how to approach the process:
“So what exactly should a prototype look like? First, it depends on your idea. Second, it depends on your budget and your goals. If possible, it’s great to start with a handmade prototype, no matter how rudimentary. For example, I’ve seen prototypes made from the simplest of household items: socks, diaper tabs, household glue, empty milk containers–you name it. If it works for your initial demonstration purposes, it’s as good as the most expensive materials.”
The number one thing to keep in mind is getting your prototype to solve the problem it aims to. Early on, it is not important whether it looks glamorous. It does not need to exactly mirror the ultimate vision you have for it. Get something up and running – something that works – and you will have taken a bold and important step toward gaining credibility for your invention.
In addition, a patent gives you some peace of mind that a sleazy ripoff artist can’t clone your operation overnight. It won’t stop all of them from trying, but it will give you the right to sue them for damages and legally compel them to stop.
Above all, being a patent holder puts you in a position to capitalize on your invention by conferring on you the status and rights you have earned.
Priority # 3 – Set some initial sales targets – and meet them!
Another good step is to avoid overextending yourself. There is a temptation among many inventors to hit the market in a huge way. They want to get their product in as many stores as possible right up front. While the excitement is understandable, this is not always the smartest choice. A better idea is to start off by selling in one or two stores and use that to test the response. How did people respond to your invention? Were sales high? Are you maybe pricing your invention too high, or low? These questions are easier to answer on a small scale. There is an old piece of marketing advice that applies here: fail early, and fail cheap. If you can learn from mistakes at smaller stores, you can apply that wisdom and approach the bigger retailers with the most important thing of all – a track record.