November 7, 2020
“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” - Thomas A. Edison
What Edison left out was money. You need money to create and launch your invention idea, or a creative way of getting some cash. If you don't have the capital to create, market and sell your idea don't worry! We'll explain how to get around that small mountain.
Creating your own physical or digital product can pay off exponentially in a variety of ways. But we're going to tell you ahead of time if someone already hasn't, it's not going to be easy. This article will be just the tip of the iceberg in your invention and innovation journey. To get you started here are a few vital steps you need to complete after that lightbulb idea pops into your head.
This is possibly the most important phase in the invention process, and guess what? It's free! Researching your idea whether it be a physical product or a hot new mobile app, from a business and legal perspective allows you to collect the information you need to make pivotal decisions in your invention creation process. This also saves you from the dreaded black hole of business. I cannot begin to explain how many hours I have sunk into an idea that was doomed from the beginning.
Write down and document every single detail. Any and all information backing the fact that you were the original creator(s) is going to be a huge benefit to you later in the patenting process. You might have heard of "the poor man's patent" where you write down your idea on a piece of paper and mail it to yourself post dated. This is highly unlikely to hold up in court or have any legal precedence, so we recommend keeping an inventors journal.
Physically creating or coding your invention idea may prove to be the biggest hurdle of them all, especially with no money. Building something people can tangibly touch or take for a test run allows you to collect customer feedback and validate if this idea is actually worth putting thousands of hours of your time into. There are a few ways of building a physical or digital prototype on a budget:
Rough Prototype - This consists of creating your prototype out of materials lying around your house, or items you can easily obtain at the hardware store for a small amount of cash. Harness your inner-MacGyver to get the job done. I once built a tattoo gun out of an electric toothbrush, phone charger, legos, super glue, and a guitar string. There are ways.
3D Printing Your Prototype - 3D printing has become more and more common over the past decade. For $200-$300 you can buy a printer, filament and print your physical prototype with ease. More complex prototypes involving materials such as steel, carbon fiber, copper, onyx, and nylon require more advanced printers.
Hiring a Development or Prototyping Team - The designing of your physical product can be completed on sites like Fiverr, however creating a physical product for an affordable rate can be more difficult. If we're discussing developing a mobile application or piece of software, overseas development teams can be hired for somewhat affordable rates but it still takes cash.
Finding a Technical Partner - Finding a Technical Partner can be the key to unlocking success. You can bring a Technical Partner in by offering equity and/or royalties and their role will be to assist in the software coding, mobile app creation or physical prototyping of your idea. If you're interested on getting more information on finding a Technical Partner click here to read more.
People around the world have awe-inspiring ideas every single minute. However, there's a strong chance no one will ever hear about them if the transition from invention idea to business doesn't occur. To summarize this process, you will hear us recommending "smart" partnerships consistently. Depending on how great your invention idea is and whether it carries a scalability factor will determine whether a reputable partner will take on you and your idea. It is strongly recommended to at least have a product assessment, most long-term technical partnership companies will offer a 30-60 min session for free.
There are a few different patents to look at when patenting your invention: provisional, utility, design and plant. We recommended patenting your intellectual property after you have validated there are a group of paying customers that will back your idea or business. That is two fold: So your idea or business has longevity and the ability to grow and scale. Second, patent attorneys can be expensive! There are a variety of complexities when dealing with intellectual property and patents. There are resources like the United States Patent and Trademark Office or a your local Patent/Intellectual Property Attorney.
Funding your invention idea can be done from one or a combination of traditional ways. We will always promote the bootstrapped, lean startup way but many entrepreneurs with great ideas have had successes in these categories:
Creating an MVP (minimum viable product) - to sell and generate revenue
Crowdfunding - Crowdfunding in the past 10 years is an extremely popular way to validate and fund your physical or digital project. Here
Equity Crowdfunding (https://circleup.com/)
Popular Crowdfunding (https://www.kickstarter.com/)
Non-Profit Crowdfunding (https://www.causes.com/)
Finding an Investor - Finding an investor to back your invention idea can be a quick way to a large sum of cash. Whether that be a local investor or an angel investor found on sites like https://angel.co/.
Federal or State Innovation Grants - Obtaining an innovation grant can be a strenuous process, but very worth it! A quick Google search will yield a variety of options for innovation grants.
Loans From Friends and Family - Taking loans from friends and family can get your invention idea, physical or digital off the ground. This also creates a motivation factor. Most people end up working harder because they simply do not want to waste their family and friend's hard earned money.
Making your invention idea come to reality with absolutely no money, IS POSSIBLE! It will take some creativity, a ridiculous amount of time and work, but it has and can be done. By following these initial steps you will be pointed in the direction of pursuing your invention idea and potentially changing the world for the better.
Hiperion is here as a resource to help the creators, innovators and inventors of the world build, grow and scale their software, app or physical invention.