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You Have a Product Idea but No Money. WhAT NOW?

Let’s say I’m an inventor with a problem: I have an invention idea but no money. Is there a way for me to move forward with my idea and even turn my idea into a business with the resources I have? The answer is yes. In this post, we’ll explore some solutions to the “I have an invention but no money” predicament and discuss how to get an invention started, even if you don’t have the financial resources you need to complete the process right now.

Research

First of all, learn about the market environment where you plan to introduce your product to increase your chances of success. Here are some free research methods to get you started:

PRIOR ART SEARCH

Seeing what has been patented and what is already on the market could save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. There are plenty of free online resources available for researching patents (Google Patents) and available products (Amazon).

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COMPETITION RESEARCH

Searching and analyzing your product idea’s existing competitors will help to reveal what their (and your future) consumers do and don’t like about the existing products. Consumer reviews are packed with valuable info that you can analyze to understand what features your product design needs to have or what pitfalls you need to avoid. In addition to learning about product features, analyzing your competitors’ marketing approach and positioning will provide you with insight on how to market your new product.

In particular, your competitors’ website info can tell you where their customers are coming from, how they position on google, and even how much they spend on online marketing and ads. You can get this info through tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs, or similar.

CONSUMER SURVEY

When you’re learning how to start an invention, don’t be afraid to directly bring your idea to potential customers for feedback. Ask them questions about their needs and what they would want in a product. Resources like SurveyMonkey and Google Surveys help to get opinions of hundreds and even thousands of people within days.

When putting together a survey, remember to first ask 3-4 questions about the respondents’ experience with and relation to the problem your idea is addressing. In other words, before you present your product as a solution to a certain problem, you need to make sure the respondents are aware and thinking about the situation where they faced with that given problem. That way their responses will be more thought through. It’s also a good idea to use as many open questions as possible. This way you may learn something you didn’t even think of because some respondents might share more info than they were asked to.

FREE CONSULTATION

It’s good to know that business consultants, patent attorneys, manufacturers, and product development companies (like us) sometimes offer free consultations. Even if you tell them “I have an invention but no money”, many experts will still meet with you and share some advice about how to get an invention started. Don’t be shy, ask them as many questions as they can answer. The wealth of knowledge you’ll accumulate will help you to make educated decisions and follow the established and proven practices and processes. You can learn about our standard product development process here.



DEVELOPMENT

Even without the ability to build a functional prototype, there are plenty of ways to improve your idea and realistically move forward.

WRITE IT DOWN

Before taking any further steps, get your product idea on paper. Don’t just sit around thinking “I have an invention but no money” because that will get you nowhere. There are plenty of free apps out there that are useful for sketching a virtual copy of your idea on a device. LA NPDT’s Realizr™ is another great tool for brainstorming and developing your idea.

PRODUCT DISCOVERY

Since product design and development is a serious commitment, understanding what your product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is important. It will help you to maximize the potential of your idea while avoiding possible pitfalls. Conducting as much as possible research, analysis, and development at the idea stage will save you time and money while reducing your risks in the long run. It’s also important to have a good idea on who your target audience is going to be and how you are going to market your product to them. For example, selling a pen to a 40-year old construction worker and to a 20-year old college student will likely require using different marketing channels and messages.

Moreover, product design and prototyping is expensive, so it’s a smart idea to reduce the number iterations to the minimum. It takes less time for a product designer to create a CAD model of your product if he/she is provided with a defined list of features and a few professional and descriptive sketches. Product Discovery gives you the liberty of defining your product in a way you can easily communicate to others. This is extremely useful when you are talking to potential contractors, investors, licensees, or business partners.

BUILD A MOCKUP

Now that you’ve developed a concept, build a non-functional prototype with the resources you have. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to convey what your product will be able to do and how approximately it will look. Many initial prototypes can be built at home very inexpensively using off-the-shelf components. If you are not a DIY type, you can always contract a product development team to build a prototype based on your sketches.


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PITCH

Present your idea to accelerators, investors or potential partners and obtain the financial capital you need. When it comes to pitching you need to make sure that your product idea is presented in a simple, clear, informative and authentic way. Your goal here is to spark interest of the future investors and networks of business partners in your invention idea by having a dialogue through visual and auditory means.

Also, you will likely need a website to show your idea to investors, partners, and future customers. Try UP Builder, a FREE website builder for entrepreneurs and inventors.

PRESENTATION

Create a professional-looking presentation (on PowerPoint, Google Slides, or other presentation software) to present your idea to investors. Use simple but meaningful images where possible with straightforward word combinations that tell a true story of your product, thus creating an emotional attachment of the audience to it. Consider choosing large and easy-to-read fonts, so that your message directly targets the key points of your idea. Try not to overwhelm your presentation with too much information, keep it short and simple, but, at the same time, show that you’re serious about this project and explain how you’re solving a problem that matters to consumers.

PITCH COMPETITION

At a pitch competition, you’ll have the opportunity to practice presenting your product to potential investors and even receive feedback from experts. Here you want to capture their attention and engage them by using your voice and body language in coherence with your slides and additional information. Be confident in what you’re saying, use eye contact and gestures that reflect and express your passion about your project. Don’t forget to smile when it’s appropriate and keep your facial expression suitable to the topic you’re addressing. Simply, be professional but authentic.

On another note, there is a very important component of your speech that will help you to really hit home with why your invention idea deserves attention of the investors. And that is a question “Why is your idea relevant NOW?” Showing the solution that your product provides to the consumers’ problem with strong foundation of its applicability up to date, will attract interest of the future partners, give rise to the follow-up questions and, most importantly, will help you and your product to stand out. When you built excitement of the audience for your project, leave some room for Q&A after your pitch and be prepared to give substantial and clear answers.

ACCELERATORS AND INVESTORS

Accelerators play quite an important role in the development of present-day start-ups and entrepreneurship. These are entities, like the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP), that help other businesses start and grow, provide mentorship, education and investment opportunities for your company. They have experts who can help you network by connecting you to their partners and potential investors, who will be willing to assist and invest in your project.

Remember, “I have an invention but no money” simply means you need to do everything you can to make your invention idea and business attractive to people who have money, but no time or desire to be entrepreneurs. After having gone through these steps and gained the necessary knowledge and experience, you will get your invention started and will be ready to pitch your idea to investors in a way that allows them to understand your vision and motivate them to contribute the financial capital you need to move forward.

You will likely need a website to show your idea to investors, partners, and potential customers. Try UP Builder, a FREE website builder for entrepreneurs and inventors.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I need a patent before I start product development?

No! In fact, we recommend beginning the product development process before pursuing a patent. Here is why: First, it’s hard to describe an invention without a CAD model or a prototype. It’s easy to not think through some nuances or forget to mention some key features or elements. Second, during the development process, your idea will evolve. When our team works on a new product we almost always improve the initial idea during 3D modeling or while building a prototype. That is because with digital and physical models engineers and designers can interact with the design optimizing it for better user experience, aesthetics, and performance.

I have an idea, but how can I bring it to its fullest potential?

Take advantage of our Discovery Stage , a process where we can find opportunities to make your product idea impactful and relevant to today’s problems. Read more about it here and here.

What is the simplest and cheapest way to patent an idea?

It depends on what you are trying to patent. Your best option is to get a few free initial consultations from different patent attorneys to learn about your options and the recommended paths.

How are prototypes made?

There are many ways to build a prototype. Professional prototyping companies typically use rapid prototyping equipment such as various 3D printers, CNC milling machines, thermoforming equipment, and laser cutters. Once a 3D CAD model of a product is made it can be broken down into individual components. The 3D models or 2D drawings of the parts are loaded into software controlling the rapid prototyping equipment. The software prepares the models for the machines and controls the production. Computer-controlled machines are capable of producing dimensionally-accurate physical parts based on CAD data. Once all the parts are produced the prototyping specialists assemble and test everything. In most cases building a prototype requires utilization of a combination of CNC equipment, manual tools, and off-the-shelf components.

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So if you’re an inventor thinking to yourself, “I have an invention idea but no money,” don’t give up! With dedication and perseverance, you can make your idea live up to its full potential no matter what your budget may look like right now.

 

Ready to start developing your invention ?

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