It all comes to you as a flash of an idea. “Why don’t they make this?” or “They really need to solve this problem.”. We run into an issue in everyday life that we think we can solve. It seems so simple. But rarely is it that simple.
Most inventors don’t create something with the idea of getting rich overnight. I mean, some probably do. But, for the majority of us, the challenge is to build on the idea and see it work. That is the motivation. And if fame and fortune come your way as a result, so be it.
I am a coffee drinker. It tastes good and gives you a boost of energy in the morning (when you most need it). Sometimes, I will visit a restaurant using their drive-through to pick up a delicious cup of coffee. I usually get two creams and either two Splenda or three sugars. That combination is what makes my taste buds happy. Many times I have received the coffee and it didn’t taste quite right. Either they didn’t add the right amount of condiment or the condiment is sitting at the bottom of the cup, un-stirred. So, I’m in this dilemma: Do I want to risk taking off the lid and super-hot coffee spilling everywhere? Or, do I wait until I get home to add the preferred amount of product? Both choices are not ideal. This is when I came up with the idea: “What if they handed you a coffee that had a lid on it which you could stir the condiments without removing it or even add more condiments and stir if the flavor wasn’t right. Boom. The genesis of the idea. Now what?
There are plenty of online blogs with invention advice but if you read more than one or two of them you will get confused. This is because each author has his or her own preferred method to approach the task of developing a new product. I can tell you the very first thing you should do is search Google and Google Patents (yes, this is a real thing) and see if anything like your idea exists. If it does exist, is your idea better? Can you improve on the existing idea?
If you are satisfied that there is nothing exactly like your product, then the next best thing to do is hire a professional attorney. Have them do a professional patent search and give you an evaluation as to the feasibility of your idea. You will have to spend some money on this first step, but trust me, it is money well spent. If the product does not exist, now you can file a provisional patent. This protects your idea for a year and allows you to really decide how you want to go about this. Do you want to start working on the prototype now? Or do you want to create 3D renderings and move forward with the full patent? Only you can decide.
So, back to my lid. The coffee lid with built in stir and hatch is now patented. What a relief. Right? Kinda. We are not even half way there. Now we have to create the prototype. This involves many meetings with engineers and prototype developers. You can see your vision easily working in your mind’s eye, but getting it created is a whole other reality.
The prototype developers and I eventually were able to create the basic lid with the condiment hatch. We made it from a plastic. We also had the center cut out for where the spinning, inside-portion would go. I then took these rough, physical raw copies to the home workshop and started experimenting. A precision craft knife and model glue were my tools. I created the working prototype. Now we have to get the prototype shop to duplicate what I have done and tighten up the specs. The price quoted to finish the project was higher than I thought it would be. So, with some searching and vetting, I found a company that will finish the prototype for about half the price. We are now finishing the prototype with that new company.
That basically sums up where I am now with my own project.
As you can imagine, working with patent attorneys and prototype developers isn’t cheap. I paid for the patent process myself and I launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for the prototype development. Now, twelve of my friends own small interests in my design.
It is important to remember that you have to pay the lawyers to set up their paper work as well. This ate up 20% of the money that was raised from crowd funding.
In conclusion, I would like to say that if you think developing a product is easy and will make you rich overnight, I have to say you are most likely wrong. It is a real process. And other people do not see what you see in your head. Your biggest challenge will be getting the people around you to see what you see.