The first question I have for you is, how do you plan to sell directly to the end consumer?
The reason I ask this question is that you need to first develop a product that you know consumers will purchase. If you are in the begining process of developing your process I hope you are in fact developing a product that you know consumers need and it is unique. Then you need to develop a marketing plan how you are going to position the product to the consumers. You can create a product, get it in to a large retailer like walmart and still have lousy sales because you do not have a good sales and marketing plan. I have seen this happen first hand. Focus on making sure you have a product consumers need, then build the marketing plan and finally complete the product. Do not get analysis paralysis and never get the product done like thousands of other inventors because you are unsure of how to get your product picked up by a major retailer.
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There is nothing wrong with your approach, however it not necessary to venture and sell an ideas before you license it.
My business partner (Stephen Key)is a very successful inventor. He teaches our students to sell the benefits of their ideas. If you have a hammer that hit's a nail straight every time, we'll that's the benefit. That's what you are really selling. You don't even have to have a prototype quite often. Stephen teaches people how to sell using a sell sheet instead.
He's licensed over 30 products this way!
You don't have to sell your product before you license it.
Andrew Krauss - http://www.inventRight.com Co-founder
I agree with Andrew. I approach companies all the time with just a sell sheet and have licensed products spending less than $100 and some for as little as $8. My products are in the toy, tool, eyewear, Kitchen and nuclear industry. It can be done. You just need to do your homework up front and not rush out the second you get an idea and start throwing money at it.
One of the biggest failings I see Inventors make is they don't understand one of my basic rules and that is "Patentable does not mean marketable." For example: You could patent edible sneakers, but who would buy them?
You must first gain credibiliy then move into the larger market. Once you have a start then you can move up the ladder.
A friend of mine and I actually had one of our inventions on the Walmart shelves for a short while.
The first thing we did was do a Patent Search to make sure our invention was actually an invention. uspto.gov was handy, however, we also had to search the European, Australian, Japanese, Russian, and Chinese patent literature to make sure we had something unique.
Neustal Software, Inc. www.PatentHunter.com has a handy patent search program "Patent Hunter" that works well.
It took a ton of work. We did our own Provisional Patent, then sought companies that might like to license our invention. We made sure we had Confidentiality Agreements with the companies we approached before we told them what our invention was. There were several companies interested and were willing to pay for registering the patent.
Here's how we cut costs.
1) My friend took a semester course in Patent Law.
2) I learned how to draw patent drawings according to Patent Office Guidelines.
3) Both of us basically copied the format of patents accessible to everyone on uspto.gov and wrote the verbiage. Both of us were on the phone for hours making sure the verbage was right, the right claims were made in the right order, and made sure all references were correct. We then took our final draft to a patent lawyer to touch up what we wrote. (Saved us a ton doing it ourselves.)
4) We presented our ideas to several corporations that might be interested in our invention and several were. So we went through negotiating contracts with them and lost two big accounts because of our not understanding the proper licensing royalties generally accepted. When we found out, we found a company interested and they paid for registering the patent in the US, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and Europe. (BIG BUCKS!
NOW THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS...
1) We were not allowed to contribute to the final design of the product, and what resulted was the cheapest, most unattractive product on the shelves.
2) We were kept out-of-the-loop in everything.
3) Once the product was introduced and on the shelves, we noticed a quality issue with our invention, poor package design and message.
The company that licensed our invention cut off all correspondence with us so we couldn't discuss the quality issue let alone fix what was wrong. Because of this, the product failed and was soon off the shelves at Walmart.
In retrospect, I believe we learned a lesson.
1) Beware who you do business with.
2) Include in your contract(s) that you must be involved in the product development and have a say as to how your invention will be made, presented, and sold. We trusted, DON'T!
3) It's a dog eat dog industry, and you've got to be careful with whom you are dealing with. I expect it's common practice for many industries to try to get out of paying you royalties. (I got one check.. then nothing.) I believe they are hedging the bet that we won't maintain the patent, then grab it for themselves, and make a good product out of it and enjoy all the profits.
In any event, I still learned a valuable skill set, as did my friend, and am not afraid to go ahead on the next invention. There's a lot of ways to capitalize on your ideas, like sell your patent or provisional patent outright.. we've done that and it's OK.