My background is in licensing, and as I’ve stated before, I help and educate individuals about how to bring their products to market through licensing. Licensing is a great opportunity for those with ideas – it’s been a great route for me. It can be achieved after only a few steps, such as studying the market place, filing inexpensive protection in the form of a provisional application patent, trademark, or copyright ownership, and calling companies soon thereafter to receive some initial green lights.
I’ll detail these steps later in greater length, but it’s important to realize that licensing is fairly easy and basically risk free. It had worked for me for over twenty-five years. But something was different with this new guitar pick idea. It presented the ideal opportunity to try something new.
Rob had just quit his previous job as the owner of a musical accessory store and the royalties from Spinformation had ceased. We knew a man who had achieved success manufacturing his own guitar picks – he had the ingenious idea to put the face of an alien on them. We had enough knowledge, the right timing, and a travel guide in front of us: we were ready for change, and we thrust ourselves in a new direction.
We started a business.
How many times have people thought, “let’s start a business!” knowing little to nothing about exactly what that means. I wasn’t very comfortable with the idea, but I wondered, “How hard could it be?” Which was obviously a little naïve, but that naivety has certainly helped me many, many times. But because I thought Rob and I could probably dip our toes into the industry before getting drenched, we pursued it.
But before we spent money making molds, or registering for a trade show, I knew we needed confirmation from a test audience about the skull pick. I thought it was cool, and Rob thought it was cool, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted a real test. I needed to check my gut. There are ways of testing your ideas that will give you the confidence to really know, “I am on track! I do have a good idea”.
I had James draw up a variety of designs that appeared 3D. Some skulls, some monsters, a bulldog… basically an entire line of fun shapes kids might enjoy. But how was I going to get the feedback I needed?
James and I stopped by a local music store with the following proposal. We asked the manager if he would be willing to show his clients photos of the different guitar picks. In exchange for every picture shown, or really, survey filled out identifying the favorite designs, we would pay both the employee and send the client something free. Everyone would benefit. It was as important, if not more, to inspire the store employees to push the survey and support our efforts – we wanted them to have a vested interest in how many guitar players saw the photos.