The Invention Roadmap
Michelangelo once said that his statue of David was embedded in the block of marble and he merely chipped away the edges to reveal it.
Is your product idea inside your mind just waiting to come alive? Or, is your product already formed and you need only to smooth out the edges?
Having a clear invention roadmap helps you navigate and capitalize on the many opportunities that lie ahead.
I've created the Market-Step Process to take you step-by-step from idea to market.
The diagram below outlines the main steps to move from idea to market success. Use this roadmap as a navigational tool to guide and monitor your progress.
*** Download the Invention Roadmap Adobe PDF file.
The 7 Steps to Get Your Product to Market
There are 7 steps to take whether you want to self-manuafacture and market or to sell or license your invention.
Protect Your Idea
When you have an idea, you need to protect it. But don't file a patent or provisional patent application until you evaluate your idea for marketability.
One tool to protect your idea is a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) when discussing your idea with others. A non-disclosure agreement is a simple document to keep others from disclosing your idea. When you discuss your idea with others, have them first sign an NDA.
• STEP 1: Market Evaluation
Start the Market-Step process by evaluating the marketability of your invention. With a quick evaluation of the market, you screen out bad ideas before wasting time and money.
Your invention is marketable when it solves a problem, meets a need or want, overcomes competition (products and patents), and generates a profit.
Sometimes a quick Google search will help you. I've had ideas in which a Google search revealed several similar products already in the market. So, I moved on to other ideas.
• STEP 2: Concept Evaluation
The second step of the Market-Step process is to determine if people like your invention concept. A simple Concept Evaluation is an easy-to-use survey method you can create yourself.
The results provide you with valuable feedback so you have a better feel whether to proceed with your invention. In addition, a concept evaluation allows people an opportunity to provide helpful suggestions and advice.
• STEP 3: Prototype Evaluation
The third step is to create a prototype and have an evaluation. A prototype can be a physical model, detailed drawing, or animation. With a prototype, you obtain opinions to make sure you're on the right track.
In addition, a prototype evaluation helps you uncover any necessary feature changes before moving onto the next stage.
Marketable? After each of the first three steps, you need to review the evaluation results to determine if your invention is marketable.
If results are encouraging, advance to the next step. If results are mixed, you might need to go back and revise your idea and re-test. If results are discouraging, revise the invention or cancel the project entirely to save yourself time and money and move on to your next idea.
• STEP 4: Patent Review
If you intend to sell or license your invention to a company, you need to review existing patents. If your invention is patentable, then file for a patent. Start with a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) for a year of protection while you test the market.
To self-market, a patent is not required. However, a patent can serve as a competitive advantage and valuable business asset. You need to review existing patents to make sure your product does not cause an infringement.
If you were granted a Utility Patent, make sure you pay the maintenance fees to keep the patent enforced. There are three sets of maintenance fees. The first is due at three years and six months from the grant date, then at seven years and six months, and finally at eleven years and six months.
Failure to pay any maintenance fee will result in your patent being abandoned (you lose all patent rights).
Decision to Self-Market or Sell / License
Do you prefer to sell or license your invention to a company? Otherwise, do you prefer to market yourself? In the Invention Kit Decision chapter, there are exercises and examples help you make a good decision.
SELL / LICENSE Path
If you decide to sell or license to a company for royalties, your path is the following:
• STEP 5: Product Proposal
Companies need to understand your invention from a business perspective. If you leave it up to the company to figure out your invention, you're much more likely to be rejected.
Before approaching a company, write a summary of your invention's market need, benefits, competitive advantages, and profit potential into a Product Proposal document. See the Invention Success Kit for all the details.
• STEP 6: Company Search and Contact
Search for companies who make, market, and sell products that are comparable with your invention. Then find a prime contact in the marketing department to pitch your invention.
If there's a fit, email or mail a cover letter and Product Proposal to your contact for consideration. By not performing a proper search strategy, you waste time and money, and increase the chance of rejection. See the Invention Success Kit for all the details.
• STEP 7: Negotiate Deal
If the company likes your invention, they will ask you what you want. You need to discuss and agree on the many terms and legal clauses. You or the company will create a licensing agreement for royalties or assignment agreement for a lump sum payout. See the Invention Success Kit for all the details.
If you decide to bring your invention to the market, your path is the following:
• STEP 5: Product and Market Plan
Once it's determined your invention is marketable, the next step is to create a simple plan. You need to plan your product's design and marketing before starting development.
Having a thought-out plan increases the chance of a successful product.
To self-market, you need money for research, development, marketing, and startup expenses. To entice investors, write a business plan to tell investors the opportunity your invention presents. See the Invention Marketing Kit for all the details.
• STEP 6: Product and Market Development
By developing a product with the needs of the customer in mind, you can't go wrong. The first step to develop your invention is to hire an engineer or designer.
At the same time, your marketing plans begin to take shape, and manufacturing can be outsourced or you can set up your own production process. See the Invention Marketing Kit for all the details.
• STEP 7: Product Launch, Market and Sell
The launch phase is the most exciting part of your journey. You are finalizing the product, packaging, marketing, and distribution.
On the day of the launch you announce product availability. Thereafter, your focus is primarily on marketing, sales, and customer support. See the Invention Marketing Kit for all the details.
Like a recipe or formula, following a proven process will help you achieve your goals quicker and easier. I've launched several products that have generated millions of dollars. The Market-Step process is refined and tailored to the new inventor, entrepreneur, or idea person.
Your Next Steps
- Sell or License ? — Do you want to license or sell your invention to manufacturers?
Get the complete step-by-step process with the "Invention Success Kit".
- Self Market ? — Do you want to bring your invention to market?
Get the complete step-by-step process with the "Invention Marketing Kit".
About the Author
Matt Yubas is a Certified Professional Marketing Consultant for the Small Business Development and International Trade Center.
He has developed and marketed products for 24 years as an Engineer, Product Manager, and Consultant for startups, small business, and Fortune 500 companies. He has helped launch several new products such as software applications, wireless devices, photography equipment, auto accessories, soy candles, children's clothing, sporting goods, digital art, and home decor.
Mr. Yubas is the author of the book "Product Idea to Product Success: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making Money from Your Idea" as well as several articles, eBooks, Kits, audio programs, and DVD.
He has been featured on television, radio, and in syndicated publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Inventors Digest.
He has earned a B.S. in Engineering from Pennsylvania Spring Garden College in Philadelphia, and an M.B.A. in Management from San Diego State University.
Mr. Yubas is a professional member of Inventors Forum, Licensing Executives Society, and Product Development & Management Association.
See also: Coaching