Do you have a great idea for an invention? No matter how fantastic your contraption, turning it into a product will not be as simple as contacting a manufacturer or entrepreneur and asking them to make your dream a reality. There are steps you need to take to make sure that you protect your intellectual property and get the right people interested in your product.
Patent your idea
This is the first and most important step to ensure that you protect the rights to your invention. Sit down and type up every single detail you can think of about your idea – what it is, who it benefits, how it works, what industries it could be used in, everything. You’ll want to keep all of this information in an inventor’s journal and have it signed and dated by a witness who you can later call on to prove that you came up with this idea. Then, do your research by visiting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website to determine if there is already a patent out for an invention very similar to yours. Even if you think you have a unique idea, patent law is extremely complicated and can be difficult to understand. You want to ensure that you are not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property and opening yourself up for a future lawsuit. Consult with an intellectual property attorney who can help determine if you are at risk of violating someone else’s patent and help you get your own.
Develop a prototype
The most basic definition of a prototype is a three-dimensional version of your vision. You need to create one, so you can show potential investors and manufacturers that your invention is capable of being made and that it can work. If you have the skills, you can create this prototype yourself, or you can hire an engineer to help you with your vision. Creating a prototype allows you to see what type of materials perform best for your product. It also allows you to make design changes to ensure your product functions and lets others get a clear picture of your vision.
Create your elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a short, sweet, and to-the-point description of your invention that could be given in the time it takes to ride an elevator. If your invention is overly complicated and you have trouble explaining it clearly, you will have difficulty pitching it to potential investors. A good elevator pitch should convey what your product does, who it benefits from, and why it’s more effective than anything else on the market. The key to keeping it concise is to focus on what your invention does rather than what it is. Don’t get caught talking about the mechanics; that’s less important than explaining the consumer pain point it solves. Once you’ve come up with your elevator pitch, write it down and keep it with you at all times. You never know when you may encounter someone who could be interested in helping you produce it, and it doesn’t hurt to have it on hand to study when you have free time so you can recite it with ease.
Workshop with people you trust
Once you have a patent and are no longer worried about someone stealing your idea, you should start workshopping your product with people in your life. Before you put yourself out there and spend too much time and money on an invention, you want to make sure it’s something that other people think is essential or at the very least interesting. Sometimes, we can get so carried away with our own good ideas it’s hard to see them clearly, so it’s not a bad move to discuss it with supportive people in your life who you trust to tell you the truth.
Start thinking about marketing
If you plan on trying to make your invention yourself, at least until you can attract larger investors, then you need to consider how you will get the word out about it. The first step is to create a fantastic website that features a clear explanation of the benefits of your invention. Look into companies like Square Ship, who can work with you to create a short, entertaining video that can clearly show how your invention works and who it benefits. This will be a great tool that you can show to manufacturers, investors, or stores to compliment your elevator pitch.
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About the Author
Victoria Howes is an entrepreneur, traveler, and consultant to multiple brands including Travelocity, Hotels.com, and Homeaway.