Five Things To Do When You Think You Have a Million Dollar Idea
So you think you’ve got an idea for the “next big thing?” Tiffany Krumins, who successfully pitched her idea on Shark Tank, has these tips to turn your million dollar idea into reality.
Do Your Product Research
Search high and low to see if your idea already exists. Entrepreneurs often jump to, “I need a patent!” when they haven’t even done the work to see if their product idea is truly novel. More importantly, if the idea is already protected with intellectual property, you could be infringing on that IP and it could result in a lawsuit. I always recommend searching as if you want to buy this product. Use multiple different terms describing each word. IE – Medicine Syringe, Medicine Dropper, Medicine device. You never know what you might find it filed under. You can also start a preliminary patent search via gov.
Create a Prototype
Create your own prototype, if at all possible. I created the prototype for my first invention, Ava the Elephant, using sponges, fabric, a store bought dropper and the inside components of a recordable greeting card. It gave me the ability to do exactly what I needed to do – find out if it WORKED. It did and it showed me that if it worked at it’s worst, it could be a game changer when actually manufactured. I used it for months to further evaluate the changes that needed to be made.
Do Your Market Research
Do market research to see if this product idea is something that will actually SELL. Market research does not have to be done with a firm, you can do it with a group of people you trust. First decide who your target market is – aka, who will buy your product. Is it women? Then break that down even further, is it women with children/without? Is it women in a specific region – IE a cold weather product? Once you’ve narrowed down who might be purchasing your product, put together a group of those people who can give you feedback on the product. Accept and WELCOME criticism. You would much rather hear it in the early stages that after you have already invested time and money in your idea. If you do this upfront, you will enter the next step with more knowledge and the ability to skip steps that may have cost you more money in design. For example, if this group sheds some light on design features you need to change, you will know that going into the design phase.
Find a Design Consultant or Engineer
Find the right design house – aka, an engineer that can help you create an actual prototype. Speak with multiple companies and make sure you feel good about who you are working with. If they talk down on you, move on. Sadly, this is common in the manufacturing industry. I’ve encountered it time and time again and it is the reason I now have a strong, respectful, talented team around me. I trust them with my projects and I enjoy working with them. Believe it or not, that is important and should be a requirement.
Locate a Manufacturer
Work with your design house to find the right manufacturer for your product. Finding the right factory can be a very lengthy process, the sooner you start, the better. I went through 3 factories (8 months) before finding the right one to manufacturer my first product. I then stayed with them for 7 years. If you have the right design house they should be able to help you with so much more than just the engineering. For example, if they have been in the industry long enough, they will be able to advise on if the quotes you are receiving for your product are reasonable.
What About a Patent?
You’ll notice I didn’t mention “File a patent” anywhere in these first 5 steps! I am a firm believer that you should file your patent at the right time, if in fact you need to file a patent. This is not to say you should do it earlier if its needed. But oftentimes, entrepreneurs spend funds on a patent and have nothing left over to do steps 1-5.
If you would like to learn more about this topic, visit Product Genius with Tiffany Krumins to listen to our shows covering this topic!
Tiffany Krumins, founder, MomGenius.com (and first winner of “Shark Tank”)
About Tiffany Krumins
Tiffany Krumins, the first Shark Tank winner, is an Atlanta native and the inventor of Ava the Elephant, a child friendly dispenser that takes the fear out of taking medicine. Called a modern day Mary Poppins, Tiffany has gone from nanny to entrepreneur, and has seen her passion to help children grow into a business that is now known and loved all over the world.