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Inventor insights and home truths

The road to nowhere

‘Failing to plan is to plan to fail’ is no more appropriate than in this industry. To set-off not knowing what to do, how to do it, the resources needed, milestones and targets, is madness and will be a costly mistake. Plan, apply and assess, plan, apply and assess, plan, apply and assess is the only way.

Stopping before you even start

There is only one way to commercialise a new idea invention, and that’s the right way. If you cannot take this path, for whatever reason, you should seriously consider not setting off in the first place.

Building on sand foundations

Just like all building and development projects, unless you get the fundamentals right and build solid foundations, the project will come crashing down in the future - resulting in either the cessation of the project or having to start again – both of which will be costly. Taking the right steps from the outset, is the only way to build the foundations for success.

The big picture from the start

Before you set off guns blazing, its vital you step back take a breath and assess your end goal. e.g. create a brand, go into production and build a business, license or sell, hand it over to open innovation for all to use. Your end goal determines your development path, commercial pipeline and what needs to be achieved. It’s essential you understand your focus to establish the achievability of your goal based on your resources.

Assessing your position and being truthful

Coming up a new idea invention is one thing, commercialising it is another. One of the biggest reasons why most inventors fail, is because they fail to understand and appreciate the rules of engagement. The expertise, knowledge, money required, and the emotional, time and commitment demands. Pursuing a new invention is amazing, but you need to evaluate the strength of your position and whether it’s enough to pull it off.

Selling or licensing your idea

If anyone tells you, you can sell or license your idea, they are lying to you. Manufacturers etc don’t buy or license ideas, they buy and licence commercial products. If a manufacturer etc has to develop your idea, then whose product is it once it’s been developed. Also, most manufacturers (on a weekly basis) receive countless proposals from design studios looking to sell or license their products. There is no reason to look at ideas when there is no shortage of commercial products to consider.

Inventing without or little money

Unless you are a product designer with your own prototyping facility, who can design brand packaging and write patents, you need to stop or put the project on hold until you have the necessary finances to move forward.

You have to consider it a competition

Whatever your product idea invention is, it is unlikely to be unique in product category. Therefore if you have invented, e.g. a new DIY tool and you plan to license or sell it to e.g. Draper or Stanley Tools, you will not be the only one pitching your idea. So what will make Draper or Stanley consider your tool over the others ? You must surpass the standard set by the competition. Answer this question. If you were a buyer at Draper or Stanley with limited time on your hands and two ideas landed on your desk. A letter from Dave, a plumber informing you he’s got an amazing new invention or a brochure from David, providing a link to a professionally designed and branded website showing videos of the product in action. Which one would you take seriously.

Consider who you are competing against

The reason why we take our cars to a garage or call a plumber to repair the boiler – is because they are experts in their line of work. Expertise that has taken years and years to master. We are therefore always perplexed, when an inventor with no commercial development, engineering or production design experience, disregards the need for expertise and decides to develop the product themselves. Whilst we acknowledge the right to pursue an idea in a way of your choosing. Its commercial madness to presume you can compete with the best in the business without the necessary expertise. If you cannot meet standard, you need to employ someone who can.

Prototypes Yes or No.

Overwhelming yes. How can you be confident of achieving perfection, without the ability to test, validate and fine tune, or satisfy a buyers need to assess fit-for-purpose etc without a physical product.

Visuals will not get you anywhere

If you were in the market for a new car, would you pay 0000’s simply for a picture. No ! you would want to see it, sit in it and drive it to access it right for you. So why do so many inventors think potential licensees or buyers are any different. They are not. Marketing a new product based on uncommercial visuals or story boards will not deliver a result. You need a physical product based on a commercial specification.

Overvaluing the importance of your idea

Don’t think your idea is worth more than it is. The only reason why you should consider it to have value, is to provide the motivation to drive it forward. Likewise, don’t over think its importance or presume retailers and manufacturers will be missing out if they don’t embrace it. You have to prove value and importance through product development, marketing and commercialisation. If the idea remains just that, and is not developed out, it has no value or importance and will never be missed. Life will simply go on without it.

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