How To Find The Best Path To Bring Your Product, Service to Market

bulb-40701_640It’s an interesting time in product invention and development. When a good idea comes to an inventor or entrepreneur, two opposite paths are being walked today. One is to guard the idea closely, the other is to spread the idea far and wide.

The direction you choose depends on what kind of idea you have, how far you have developed it and your resources – both financial and business acumen. Apple is famous for being secretive and filing patents more often than Lady Gaga changes costumes. However, if you need others to work with and put the right spin on your concept, crowdsourcing or networking can be the fastest way to get something accomplished.

When you have a physical invention, securing a patent – or at least beginning the process – is important. If your invention is software, the patent laws are rather murky, and quite controversial. You need an expert to let you know your likelihood of receiving a patent.

The patent process

There aren’t many shortcuts around the patent process. However, the first step in any patent process is seeing if anyone has already patented your idea, or something quite close to it. Google has an excellent patent search feature, so you can enter important words and phrases to see who else has gone down the same path. If you’re certain that you’re onto something truly original and that it qualifies for a patent, you can file the paperwork yourself. You need to be able to fully describe everything about your invention. Nolo Press has a more detailed description of what you’ll need to do.

The companies that spend a lot of money advertising to inventors, trying to get them to sign up for their patenting and marketing services, tend to pile up poor user reviews. They receive fees for their services and few inventors ever make money. If you have a great idea that is marketable, people will pay you to help you develop your idea – we call these folks venture capitalists. If, on the other hand, you’re paying fees to people, they are probably the only ones who will ever make money off your idea.

The subject of venture capitalists brings us to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. If you have a great idea, the first step is to turn the corner from idea to viable product or service. Cambrian House was one of the pioneers in “open innovation.” They developed technology to crowdsource R&D, product innovation, brand collaboration and business improvement. Others in this general area are Wazoku and Ideatrr.

Send in the crowds

Once you have an idea that is beginning to look like a viable business, there are many crowdfunding sites to choose from, or you can bootstrap it with the group you have pulled together during the idea crowdsourcing step.

Many times, it’s not the “big idea” behind the product or service that determines success; it’s its form and marketability. For example, Isaac Merritt Singer didn’t invent the sewing machine. Elias Howe did and Howe held the original patent. However, it was Singer’s various improvements that made propelled the sewing machine to widespread marketability and popularity.

So whether you think you have the “next big thing” percolating in your brain, or just some important tweaks or new applications for an existing product or service, plan out your next steps and start.

Sponsored by AT&T