How to Fast Track Your Invention to Market
If you are the kind of person with a million ideas and not enough time to pursue them, you might want to consider “fast tracking” your invention to market. In this way, you essentially become a hired gun. You, the inventor, perform the tasks of researching and developing the product. Then, you “outsource” the manufacturing and marketing to partners with money. Those partners will develop, market, and fund the startup costs. In return for their greater efforts, they will receive a greater return. The benefit to you, however, is that this is one of the quickest ways to bring a product to market and exit with cash in hand. If you are a serial inventor, this can be a great way to build up some cash and move on from one idea to the next.
The best way to get the ball rolling is to find an angel investor, ie, a private person with personal wealth and the skills necessary to fast track your invention. INC.com has a comprehensive directory of angel investors. Using it, you can locate investors in specific areas, with specific skill sets, and find one that is sure to meet your fast-tracking needs.
Once you have found an investor, the next thing you will do is determine how profits will be split and who is responsible for what. Typically, you will be the one researching and creating the product in question. If it was your idea, this is only logical. You should make it your business to know the market inside and out and formulate a product that can be profitably sold in it. Then, you want to create a prototype for it. Since the extent of your responsibility is creating the product, it makes sense to do this as quickly as possible. Then, responsibility shifts to the investor to put up the funds and get the product to market.
In his landmark text “The Time Trap”, Alec Mackenzie stresses that the single most effective way to get more done in less time is writing a list of things you are going to do that day. It sounds simple – and it is – but it takes a high level of discipline to actually put it into practice. Accordingly, this is an excellent way of ensuring that you develop your prototype as quickly as possible. Not a day should go by when you are not doing something to advance this goal.
When you finally do have your prototype ready, you should waste no time hitting the market. How can you do this? The best way is to use a tried and true formula: start with smaller stores, build a track record of success, and use this as leverage to get into bigger outlets. An article on BusinessKnowHow.com imparts a very specific strategy that you can use to get your product to market in a short period of time. Here is the course of action recommended:
“This is where reps come in. They have had to change their ways of working. It used to be that they would spend the majority of their time with the big chains. The little guys got whatever time was left over. In some cases, reps would use sub-reps to call on the little stores. Well, it ain’t that way today. Some big firms such as Wal-Mart say that due to their volume they don’t need the rep to call on them and they want the commission usually paid to the rep for themselves. That means that reps have to look for other ways to make money. They do this by two methods: One, call on smaller retailers and call on them more often; two, take on lines that the smaller retailers are looking for.
“So, as a supplier to the retail market, seek out the reps. Ask some stores that might be potential candidates for your line who they believe is the best rep that calls on them. Interview several reps, see what other lines they have that would cause them to call on the same type of firm you believe your goods could go into. They are your best bet for getting into all types of stores both large and small, that is their profession.”
For the best results, you can have your investor start working on this while you are creating your prototype. Optimally, you can do these tasks side-by-side, wasting as little time as possible and getting to launch as fast as you can. If this is not possible, you should at least begin this process as soon as the prototype is ready. When it comes to fast tracking, time is obviously of the essence.
Keep your objective in mind with the eye on the prize to compress time and shorten your time to market.