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From prototype to ...?

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NMdad

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Longtime lurker, first time poster. :)

For an existing outdoor/recreation product, I've hacked together a prototype that's basically an add-on feature to the main product. (My prototype is an electronics thing--I'm not really an electronics guy, but the prototype works & does what I want).

Some quick research revealed that one of the main manufacturers for the existing outdoor product created a similar add-on product a few years ago, but it's since been discontinued. Their execution of the add-on product didn't work well & got bad reviews--but buyers liked the concept.

Market size is kinda hard to gauge:
  • the 2 main manufacturers of the main product have 100-300 employees each
  • the leading manufacturer of the main product generates ~$150MM annual revenue
  • monthly search volume for the main product is ~10,000
So, not sure what my next action should be:
  1. contact the 2-3 leading manufacturers about licensing my idea
  2. refine the prototype & get feedback
  3. validate / gauge interest with a simple PPC campaign (using a simple demo video or photos), and send would-be buyers to an "out of stock" page
My gut says to try #3 (simple, quick validation).

I'd prefer to just license it, since my hunch is that getting it retail-ready, manufacturing, marketing, distribution, etc. may be a lot of effort for relatively small return.

Any ideas & guidance are much appreciated. I need to get out of my own head.
 

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Vi2397

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Hello! I'm a lurker too.

Disclaimer: I have not done the entire process myself yet.
I'm working on my own prototype at the moment, but will file a provisional this week. I've read Stephen Key's book and advice on this forum. My understanding is that you should file a provisional patent soon. You can then adjust as you go forward after you receive feedback. You can do the provisional yourself and it's around $120 or so.
You can search for patent info in this forum, if you haven't already. And I do recommend Stephen Key's book One Simple Idea. He has a youtube channel, InventRight TV, and he was a forum member. There are some old threads with useful info.
Good Luck!
 
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NMdad

NMdad

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Thanks for the input--I got Stephen Key's book a few days ago, skim-read it, and there's good actionable stuff in there.

With that in mind, my next actions are:
  • Do a bit more market research to gauge interest.
  • Refine my prototype so I can get quotes from contract manufacturers.
Something else I realized after reading Stephen Key's book is that I actually have a handful of prototypes I've built to solve other problems for myself--which I'll put into a licensing idea pipeline. Key mentions that licensing is a numbers game (i.e., have a bunch of ideas in your pipeline that you're moving forward). So, I just need to create a simple way to list those ideas, then manage next actions to move them forward.
 

Woodsman81

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Have you guys had any luck licensing your products?
 
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NMdad

NMdad

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I'm still in process, though I finally took action & got 3D renderings done for 1 of my product ideas (I had better luck finding a designer on UpWork than Fiverr or Freelancer).

This particular product isn't a patentable idea, but I think I might be able to get a design fee for it. Some of the ideas I have are non-patentable modifications of existing designs, and I've heard of other folks getting design fees (and sometimes royalties) for their non-patentable designs. Apparently, design fees are more common in industries like fashion, where it's rare to have a patentable idea--you can't really patent a pair of pants, unless they're, like, rocket-powered pants or some such non-obvious modification.

Anywho, so I have my 3D renderings, and my next steps are:
  1. create a list of potentially-interested manufacturers
  2. start calling them to gauge interest
  3. slap together a sell sheet to forward them if any are interested
 

Woodsman81

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I am in about the same place as you.
Hopefully you can find this motivational. I have cold called 3 companys and sent my sell sheet to 2 of them. I have a meeting later this week with potential licensee.
Keep pushing, and Good luck!
 

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