an invention: License or 'make and sell'
world of business, innovation means turning an idea into a product that
value to a customer. The customer is motivated to buy the product and
gets a return.
Basic science research is
fundamentally different from research into new product
development for commercial applications. Basic science research is
founded upon objectivity, not popularity. Profit is never an issue. But
the inventor whose goal is to monetize
an invention needs to focus on some basic market realities that will
determine if an invention
can potentially be successful in the marketplace. A large part of this
on the proposed path that could lead to the invention becoming
successful. There needs to be some kind of narrative developed which
provide a path that leads to success. The inventor should outline the
the problems that are solved by the invention. The more serious and
widespread the problem, and the better the solution provided by the
the greater will be the expectation of success. This can be confirmed
sufficiently large number of potential customers have shown a positive
of Patents in a start-up business venture
depends on the type of business operation, as well as the initial
available. The value of a patent is only as great as it's owner's
deter any competitive threats from infringers or from those claiming to
infringed, and that requires a large amount of cash. It is worth
a patent is a sword, not a shield. If you hold a patent, but have few
to launch an assault against an infringer, then what is its value? In
such a case, a much more effective strategy is to publicly disclose the
invention to ensure that it falls into the public domain, thus
strong competitor from attaining the advantage of exclusive ownership
invention. Such an action allows a bootstrapper freedom to grow by
superior product designed to outperform any competitor.
about software: It is important to note that in the case of
software, this does NOT mean that the developer should necessarily
source code in an open source forum, without understanding how such a
will affect the developer's business. Releasing the source code may not
restrict someone else from obtaining a patent on functionality
performed by the
software whose code was released, then retroactively blocking
using his own code. (just one more rathole in IP law)
simple fact is that a patent is very low on the
list of determining factors.
stick to the real world of business. The following applies strictly
to the minimalist inventor whose mission is to convert the invention
world-class business operation. Many factors determine the direction to
taken, including, but not limited to, the personal preferences of the
governed by such things as dedication to the invention (is it a
Define your goal
the goal might be, it essential to try to remain as objective as
possible. Far too many inventors tend to fall in love with their
their objectivity, and pursue a path that leads nowhere. Let's assume
are past this obstacle, and on the road to a well thought out
step is to get a rough assessment of the value of the invention. This
does not mean undertaking a full-blown market study at this stage;
is essential to get some understanding, however preliminary, as to
invention has some genuine value to the prospective customer. Does the
invention address and meet a real and defined need, or does it merely
problem that no one cares about.
working prototype. No matter how clunky, it is important to demontrate
that the idea actually works, and will do the job it was designed for.
next step is to show the prototype to a few potential end users in
order to get outside opinions and frame an estimation of its value to
Don't include your Aunt Sally, or cousin Jim in this group, for obvious
reasons. They won't give you an honest opinion, but instead will tell
they know you want to hear. Therefore, bouncing your ideas off friends
relatives is pure self-deception.
have a working prototype and some indication that the final product may
have some value to the end user.
Eureka, it works, what now?
point it is time to decide the fundamental process to be
used to monetize the invention. This road has two paths: Make or
decision can be fairly straightforward. Unless you have the energy and
ambition to take on the heavy lifting task of a maker, you should
licensing path. Let's take a brief look at each of the paths to show
how to get
the relatively easy approach to undertake, but not so easy to complete
successfully. You can start the process while sitting on your sofa with
laptop on your lap. Go online. Start by preparing a list of potential
that may be interested in your invention. Examine their products and
lines. If your invention falls neatly into their product line in such a
that it fills an empty niche, there may be a fit. If your invention
company to perform an essential task better, faster, or more cheaply,
be a fit. Contact such companies directly, by identifying the most
person to contact. You can Google the company website, and select the
"About Us" web page to identify names and email addresses of
individuals. Large multinational corporations likely have a head office
that person can be found. He or she will likely hold a high position,
Vice President of a technical area, such as Research, or Manufacturing,
something similar. Getting this person's attention is important, since
she has the required authority and potential interest level to focus
on your offering. Anyone in lower positions will likely ignore your
especially in a corporation that has a culture of
In such organizations, employees are less likely to want to
issues outside the scope of their job description.
legitimacy of companies that advertize services to find licencees
for inventors. Better yet, avoid dealings with such companies entirely,
focus attention on more likely possibilities.
B. Becoming a Maker
You don't necessarily need a lot of money to
begin a business to manufacture
and market your invention, provided you have access to some form of
facility, such as a garage, or basement workshop. Why not; Bill Gates
out in a garage. Depending on the nature of the product, you may need
a simple space to begin production. But you also need
to create a business plan and have the vision and passion to carry it
In addition, you may need a
team of people who share the passion and willingness to
devote their lives to making this work. Such powerful resources can
moutains. However, even this is insufficient without a winning product.
makes it all the more important to establish the markers of a potential
clear, unambiguous indicators of high potential demand, not just mild
who is a software developer has the advantage of starting in a
office, and expanding into larger premises as the business grows.
a maker is hard to carry out successfully, because of the high risk.
There are various estimates ranging from a low of around four out of five, to 99 out
of one hundred attempts which will
fail trying to create such a business.