You have an idea for a great new product. Now what?
What you choose to do next is key to your success (or lack of it). Here are your first three steps:
- Do your own free patent search on uspto.gov – the US Patent Office website
- Search everywhere for similar products
- Get at least a crude working prototype done
Inventing is an extremely risky business venture because the process is front loaded with costs and most promising new products fail in the marketplace.
You must critically scrutinize your product early in the process; your goal should be to eliminate the product from further consideration if possible. Why? Fail early and fail fast.
Eliminate the bulk of product ideas to focus on the few that have the best chance of success.
Step 1 then is to spend some time doing your own patent search on the patent office website. There are excellent search tools available on uspto.gov. If you find a patented product that is the same as yours or very similar, its time to move on to another product idea. If you find a crowded field: lots of somewhat similar products that are patented, your chances of a strong patent are not good.
Step 2 entails providing a similarly critical approach from a marketing perspective to your product. Search and research everywhere to see if something similar is already selling on Amazon, eBay, in catalogs or in retail stores. Check catalogs.com as a resource for a variety of online catalogs for a great variety of products. Both eBay and Amazon has many products not sold elsewhere and don't forget to check alibaba.com. Check not only mainline retailers but also specialty retailers. Lots of otherwise interesting products fail this step.
If your invention survives scrutiny through the first two steps, it is unlikely to fail the third step of prototyping. But, and idea that works on paper sometimes doesn't translate into a working prototype. Your prototype doesn't have to be perfect, but it needs to be functional: a good proof of concept.
If your invention passes step 1, then step 2 and you create a working prototype, you now have a firm foundation for a successful product.