You have come out with a great new product idea and you can already imagine it on the shelves in a store. The journey between the idea in your head and your product in the store can sometimes be a difficult trip. The success stories have some common elements: Taking an invention off the ground must have good intellectual property (IP) protection and a commercialization strategy including the right partners, advises James Baxendale, Executive Director of Office of Technology Transfer of Kansas University.
Protect your concept with a patent application. First write an invention disclosure that needs to be witnessed and signed by two persons (friends or colleagues). This action marks the day of the invention, as described by Lynn Wilson, Adjunct Marketing Instructor at the Rogers State University. This disclosure becomes the basis from which a provisional patent is built and submitted to The U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). This government organization issues the U.S. provisional patents and full patents and gives detailed guidelines about the submission. This application brings to you a preliminary 12 months of protection while you refine your invention. Finally, once the concept is firmed up, file a patent with the USPTO to be granted 20-year ownership of the invention rights.
Seek funding to support the development of your idea. You can find money through donations or grants from government or foundations who will not request financial returns for their investment in you. In contrast, investors such as banks and venture capital firms will ask you to repay their investment with additional interest. (References provide sites of government grants, philanthropic donors, and list the top 100 venture firms.)
Find partners with complementary knowledge to yours. Baxendale explains that a team with balanced expertise will accelerate market entry of the product and will improve the likelihood that the product will succeed. Consider bringing on board a manufacturing partner who will know what it takes to make the product easy to manufacture as well as inexpensive. Then add a partner expert in distribution channels who knows where to place the product to reach the customers. Finally, seek the talents of an attorney to draft and execute the partnership agreements.
Stay flexible with the product definition. The market can change rapidly in the presence of a lower price-competitive solution or a disruptive product concept. Keep the pulse of the customer preferences and adjust your strategy frequently.
Relationships with the partners may become strained pending the difficulties faced during the product launch. Be ready to become a mediator and keep the team focused on the goal of getting the product in the stores.
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