Successful inventors learn early on to conserve cash. It is way to easy to spend cash to an extent that precludes an inventor from making the investments necessary for success.
Tooling is one way to eat up a great deal of cash in very short order. With all of the technology available today that makes prototyping and small lot production runs possible, it makes little sense to spend money on tooling until the concept is completely finalized and accepted. Do not commit to hard tolling before you have proven the commercial viability of the product. Not only is this an expensive proposition, it may prove to have been a huge waste if the first parts need to be redesigned or if the tooling is made for one producer and will not work for another.
Mass Mailings are an area where inventors waste resources in search of a silver bullet to bring them instant commercial success. There are a number of firms that solicit new product ideas and for a fee create a flyer which they mail to manufacturers in hopes of prompting the sale of the idea. Sometimes they are sent individually and sometimes included with a number of other new product ideas.
The first problem with this approach is that it is a one size fits all approach to a solution. Businesses don’t want one size fits all solutions. They want solutions customized to their business, their needs, their special situation.
The infomercial is the siren call that separates inventors from their cash.
Most inventors are not marketers. A strong belief in their new product idea combined with little or no understanding of marketing causes most inventors to look for an easy way to achieve commercial success. Sadly, many spend their time, effort and money on get rich quick schemes that drain them of resources before they achieve commercial success.
Probably the most common get rich quick scheme is the infomercial scam. A number of companies cater to inventors. They promise to present the inventor’s product to the market via an infomercial for somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000. The poor inventor has visions of someone like the late Billy May making them into over night millionaires.
We are at the beginning of an Innovation Renaissance.
When technologies converge, great progress is achieved and today we are on the leading edge of an Innovation Renaissance. The coming renaissance is the result of the convergence of 3-D printing and Crowd Source funding.
Patent Strategy must be based on the understanding that a patent is an expensive, time consuming undertaking that allows the patent holder to defend the patent in court. Consequently, there should be a business assessment of where best to spend time, money and effort in product development. Wendell Leimbach of MLE Consulting uses a matrix for strategically evaluating new product ideas, which I have modified slightly.
This product matrix divides ideas into four quadrants based on ease of entry into the market on one axis and uniqueness of the idea on the other. Ideas below the line should be discarded unless there is some way to move them above the line. Ideas above the line should be evaluated for intellectual property protection.