My area of expertise is licensing. But some inventors choose to bring their inventions to the marketplace by manufacturing the product themselves. Jim DeBetta’s area of expertise is in this type of new product development. I interviewed him to bring you his best tips and advice.
To manufacture and sell your own invention, you’re going to need the right team. This team doesn’t need to be large, but it must possess specific talents. DeBetta recommended approaching people you know and trust for recommendations in both your personal and professional world. But what team members can you not live without?
“I once thought that I needed a lot of employees. That it was cool to have a bunch of people milling around and working towards this goal. But in this economic climate, you need to be lean. First, you need someone who is good at business development. And by that I mean a person who can find new customers – someone who is likable and can talk to anyone. The second person I recommend finding for your team is someone who is Internet- savvy. You can reach hundreds of thousands of potential customers on the Internet. You are going to want someone on your team who knows exactly how to use the Internet to do that,” explained DeBetta.
Many inventors I mentor have seriously underestimated the type of funds it requires to launch their own product. The cost of launching HotPicks was very expensive – and those guitar picks cost little more than a penny!
So what does it really cost?
“People ask me this question constantly. The short answer is: it varies. If your product is simple to manufacture, meaning that it has no moving or electrical parts, it will be less. Your molds might be only a few grand. But fundamentally, if you’re making your product on your own, if it’s going to be factory produced and imported, you’re going to be spending thousands of dollars.”
Many of the issues DeBetta introduced here are reasons I’ve chosen to license an invention in the past, rather than manufacture it myself. But inventing your own idea, manufacturing it, selling it, and seeing it in a retail store can be unbelievably gratifying as well. It’s a completely different process. The energy and time you invest is much higher, but so are the returns – if you’re successful.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 25 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas and the skills needed to succeed. You can ask questions and get advice on the inventRight forum, check out the resource center, and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing.