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For you entrepreneurs business minds
Old 09-23-2018, 01:45 PM   #1
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For you entrepreneurs business minds

My question is that I have a product that I would like to build and see if I can market it. I don't see any product like it for sale and would like to make a dozen or so and see what happens.

It is a product that would consist of a small portion of fabric and some strapping/plastic buckles/clips.

So, there will need to be a manufacture and how do I go about that? The materials I need, I can buy bulk or in small quantities. So that part doesn't need to be made the materials need to be sewed and put together to make this product.

What should I know and be aware of about doing a venture like this?
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Old 09-23-2018, 02:45 PM   #2
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If you have a local SCORE office they can help you with these questions and many more. www.score.org

The short answer to your post is that the marketing must guide the product. "Find a need and fill it." is a popular aphorism. Start this by contacting people, describing your idea in very general terms, and asking "Can you give me any advice?" Friends and business acquaintances first, then at the end of every phone call or meeting: "Do you know anyone else who might be willing to give me some advice?" This is the way you build your network.

From what you describe as the product, I suggest you look at building it yourself. The components are easily available and a decent Craigslist sewing machine won't cost more than a couple hundred bucks. But forget about doing this until you have explored and understood your market. That will probably cause your product idea to change or even be abandoned.

Sad story: My SCORE mentoring team met with a guy a few months ago who had an idea for a device that went between the side of the car's driver seat and the console to prevent dropping cell phones, loose change, etc. into the gap. He was very intense; he had even paid for a 3-D printed plastic prototype and a design patent. One of my mentoring partners went on the internet and in one search found 183 similar products, many superior to his idea!
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Old 09-23-2018, 09:11 PM   #3
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^ thanks for your response I really did appreciate the site you shared with me. I have made a prototype and have tested it in the field and has been an excellent improvement from what is available on the market.

I will show it to a couple of people that could make this product not sure they will but have the tools and type of business that could do the work.

I do believe I could sell these at outdoor sporting stores. If there was one out there I would already have two of them. LOL
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Old 09-24-2018, 10:34 AM   #4
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@street, with respect let me try to make my point more clearly.

The fact that you have a product design is not particularly relevant to whether you can have a business or not. If no one wants it or they want something different, you are dead meat. You have to get out and talk to a good sample of potential customers, explain your general idea to them, and ask for advice. IOW, you are not out pitching the product. People won't respond well to that.

Re manufacturing, your only need in the near future is for a few prototypes for show and tell AFTER you have talked to a bunch of people. Possibly you could make those yourself. Hunting for a manufacturer is premature because you don't know what the market might be and you don't know whether your first product idea is something that the market wants.

Re sporting goods stores, try to find smaller ones where the buying is managed locally. Maybe also locally owned/franchise hardware stores with outdoor sections. Then try to meet with buyers, asking again for advice. Forget about big chains like Cabela's/Bass Pro Shops, REI, if there is no local buying. You will not get into a large chain central procurement until you have some successful product history.


HTH
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Old 09-25-2018, 04:42 PM   #5
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Some people have success with dogged-determination of product ideas. A friend of mine figured out a better paint spraying nozzle, built a few prototypes, and spent years promoting it to anyone who would listen, mostly trade shows. He maxed out his credit cards and darn near went under when all of a sudden things started clicking. He ended up FIRE'ing in a big way. He now has private airplanes, multiple expensive houses, etc. So building a better mouse trap can lead to success, but I agree, if you don't have marketing, a good mouse trap can easily end up going nowhere.
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Old 09-25-2018, 05:18 PM   #6
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Some people have success with dogged-determination of product ideas. A friend of mine figured out a better paint spraying nozzle, built a few prototypes, and spent years promoting it to anyone who would listen, mostly trade shows. He maxed out his credit cards and darn near went under when all of a sudden things started clicking. He ended up FIRE'ing in a big way. He now has private airplanes, multiple expensive houses, etc. So building a better mouse trap can lead to success, but I agree, if you don't have marketing, a good mouse trap can easily end up going nowhere.
I call that kind of situation, developing a product and then trying to sell it, "rifle shot marketing." The market is like a flying duck. It is clearly possible to hit the duck with a rifle shot and it is very satisfying. But it is also very difficult and success is infrequent.
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Old 09-30-2018, 04:20 PM   #7
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Thanks for the great advise. I would assume that the people you are talking about went through the process and filed for a patent.
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Old 09-30-2018, 04:43 PM   #8
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Developing the product is your ticket into the stadium. You need to play ball after that. Know where your first order would come from.
I own a business where I work with all size businesses and the new ones that turn out successful know there’s a market for the product and they know who is cutting the first PO. Short of that it’s a lot of educating the market and most don’t have the money to go down that road.
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Old 10-01-2018, 11:15 AM   #9
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@street, I just got a notice for an online "virtual conference" that may have some sessions that you'd be interested in: https://www.score.org/event/small-bu...ence-fall-2018
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Old 10-01-2018, 06:15 PM   #10
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Thanks for the great advise. I would assume that the people you are talking about went through the process and filed for a patent.
No. Usually you will get a successful business running and then apply for a patent. A patent without a business is seldom useful. Patent Pending is what entrepreneurs use. The key is to be the first to apply. Anything subsequent will then have yours as prior art. It is always helpful to have a working prototype. Have you done a search yet to see if anything similar exists?
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Old 10-01-2018, 10:07 PM   #11
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Yes,
You need to be first to file for the patent. Anyone you show it to can file a patent on your idea. If you have already filed, then they canít get a patent on your idea.
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Old 10-02-2018, 12:13 PM   #12
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and you can amend the patent when you have more details as you progress with the product development.
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Old 10-02-2018, 01:22 PM   #13
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... It is a product that would consist of a small portion of fabric and some strapping/plastic buckles/clips. ...
@street, I would suggest taking it easy on this patent idea. Thoughts:
1) Patents are expensive. If you can find an "inventors club" in your area or an internet search will find info on DIY patent applications, which are difficult and time-consuming. A number I saw at least 10 years ago was that to use a patent attorney is a $20K expense. The patents I hold were prepared and filed by Megacorp, so I don't know what they cost but they definitely were expensive.

2) A patent doesn't get you much, except the right to spend money pursuing someone you think is infringing. This is easily a 5-digit cost and can be driven up if your possible infringer has deep pockets and a serious interest in his product.

3) A product like you describe, if even patentable, is probably vulnerable to simple modifications to work around your patent claims.

4) There is a thing called a "design patent" which is easier to get, but it is a sort of look-and-feel patent, like Coke would get for its bottle shape. These are usually very easy to work around.
Your best defenses are being first to market and, ideally, being in a niche that does not attract competitors. Alternatively, being in a big market where you can share the pie might work.

I doubt, though, that the time and money you might spend pursuing a patent is the best use of that time and money. If I were you I'd probably invest it in marketing instead. YMMV, of course. Your SCORE mentor can help you with this decision.
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Old 10-05-2018, 07:22 PM   #14
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OP - you have a lot of research to do about starting a small business, learning about manufacturers willing to produce small quantity minimum orders, marketing, etc.

Chris Gillebeau's book "$100 start up" is a good place to start. Most libraries have it. But it's popular so you have to request it.
His Side Hustle book is also good. So is his Side Hustle School podcast. Each is only 8 minutes or so but lots of issues are covered.

SmartPassiveIncome.com is terrific. Pat Flynn mostly talks about writing books & blogs and doing videos. But his marketing info is sound. His podcast sometimes has terrific guests.

Gary Vaynerchuck (sp?) is king of social media marketing. His videos are odd: he looks strange and has a weird voice. But his books are spot on. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook might be the best.

Good luck!
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