• Bill Holmes

You still need a product to sell!

The patent application had been filed, we had a name for the product and we were working on the logo. But we still had no product!

We had done initial drawings of what the product would look like and provided them to the patent attorney, so they could file for the mechanical patent with the USPTO. We had also provided those drawings to the marketing company so they could design an online showcase for potential manufacturers. But how do we test the idea? How would we get a physical product in our hand so we could determine if it really worked or not? We didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on patents, logos and trademarks if the design was fundamentally flawed.

So we went back to the internet!

I began to search for vendors who could help us do actual CAD/CAM design work so we could begin to work with physical prototypes. And I found many “internet shepherds” willing to help me! I am not going to name the companies, but I am going to share the experience I had with two of them. For an idea exactly how many companies do this kind of work, type in the search phrase “bringing an invention to market” and you will get over 8 million hits!

The first company was a large company out of Pittsburgh. They advertised that they could complete our design work, make sure that it was mechanically viable and provide us with prototypes. The promised confidentiality so I contacted them. I was immediately contacted by a very nice salesman who tried to convince me that they were the right company for me. And of course we had a winner! He took my information and promised to get back to me the next day with a quote to get our design to the prototype phase and to connect us with manufacturers.

While he was coming up with the quote, I researched the company. I quickly learned that you need to research the company before you talk to them! There were multiple complaints on the internet calling the company a “scam” and saying that they took peoples money and they got nothing in return. You have to be careful about everything you read, so I looked at the company’s web site and found this disclaimer buried deep in footnotes:

“The total number of consumers who submitted new product ideas to XXXX during the past five years is eight hundred thirty nine thousand six hundred fifty seven (839,657). XXXX does not provide evaluation of commerciathirty nl (sic) potential; thus, it has provided no positive or negative evaluation of this or any other product idea in the last five years. The total number of consumers who were offered a Pre-Development agreement (or similar contract for research services) is two hundred eighty eight thousand nine hundred forty seven (288,947). The total number of consumers who were offered a Contingency Agreement (or other contract for licensing representation) is two hundred eighty eight thousand nine hundred forty seven (288,947).The total number of consumers who purchased a Pre-Development Agreement or similar contract for research services is fifty six thousand eight hundred thirty six (56,836). The total number of consumers who signed a Contingency Agreement or other licensing representation agreement is fifty six thousand eight hundred thirty six (56,836). The total number of consumers who were offered a New Product Sample Agreement (or any other contract for design services for a virtual or a product sample) is thirty six thousand two hundred thirty one (36,231). The number of consumers who signed a New Product Sample Agreement or similar agreement is seventeen thousand six hundred eighty four (17,684). The number of consumers who obtained a written license with a company that is not affiliated with XXXXXX is one hundered thirty six (136). The total number of consumers in the last five years who made more money in royalties than they paid, in total, under any and all agreements with XXXXX, is five (5). The percentage of XXXXX income that came from royalties paid on licenses of consumers’ products is .001%.”

Read the closely. Five people out of 839,657 people made money! That is a sobering statistic! Also, the grammatical errors are theirs, not mine!

The next day I got my proposal. For approximately $10,000 they would provide me with a CAD/CAM ready design and connect me with a manufacturer. They could provide discounting if agreed to a licensing deal, but that wasn’t much! I was not discouraged because I felt we had a great idea, but I decided to look elsewhere.

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