Can anyone give experienced advice on a good product development company in America? I've got an idea for something I've never seen sold anywhere, but I swear almost every household in the free world would buy at least one.
I have no idea how to move through the process of developing the idea for sale, and I'm afraid if I chose a shady company they will run with the idea and leave me behind.
Depending on the idea that you have, Give http://www.quirky.com/ a try. They have taken many people's idea's to market. In fact, some of the products that they have developed are being sold right now at your local big box store. I would suggest exploring the site for a while before submitting your idea so that you can determine if it is the right choice for you.
I'll share with you some information to hopefully save you a ton of money and maybe make your dreams come true. What your are asking is asked way too little in this country anymore. The same fear you are sharing is what holds back most inventors. The truth of the matter is very few people actually take the next step and explore what can be done to move it forward. I have a couple of tests for you to perform before asking for outside help. 1. Do the math. Don't assume "this can be made for $0.10 in China and we could sell them in the U.S. for $30 each and make millions! What it costs here is what it costs there - and you only have to make 1 here, not a container full, you have control of the process and THEY won't rip you off and sell your product in the rest of the world! Most product development companies want to see you have done some market analysis. It isn't impossible to do even with your "unique" item.
Now that you have some numbers, some idea of the real market potential, cost to get it to market, you can find a small manufacturer that makes similar products (that is, say you think blow molded plastic or an extruder or whatever the process is going to be). You get a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) signed by the manufacturer to meet with you. The idea being you are going to fund the manufacture paying him to do it for you. He/she can help you with making your numbers more realistic including his cost plus his profit, then your marketing costs, then your profit all leaving room for your retailer making their profit. If that can be done, and you have the funding (or now with a good picture can sell a relative or someone with some money) to agree to fund the project, you can make some.
I do this a lot. I work in an incubator for new product development. We have inventors on a regular basis that know their product is the next XXX that everyone wants one. Usually, by the time I work through a financial analysis, there is a reason "everyone" won't want one - but someone might. Then the next reality check of how hard it it to make - and how much will that cost. Then the question of can it be sold at a profit to someone that will retail it with enough profit that they are happy too? If it passes all of these tests, we start talking to possible investors, manufacturers, and make sure we have cleared all the possible legal claims/requirements (FDA, USDA, safety, liability, etc).
Notice, I haven't mentioned anything about a patent. No need, really, unless you are talking about a $100 million market or more. Why? Because it costs about $1.25 million to DEFEND you patent on average. Why would you spend $4,000-25,000 on a patent or more to just have to spend 40 times that defending it? When going first to market - making your profit, being first, largest best and selling it to someone else to worry about?
Your state's university system, or the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) near you may be able to help you locally in the U.S. Or find someone like me that does this for a living. We have to remain above board - or the next opportunity won't come find us!
Thanks for the info. Most of what you said is what I already assumed, but it's nice to here someone in the know saying it. And I wouldn't dream of involving China. If there's money to be made, I'd rather keep it at home. A little less for me, if it could create decent jobs, would suit me better.
In the UK there are business advisors that work for the government under a scheme called "business link", I believe there is a similar outfit in the US. They offer free business advice and signposting and often have someone who can look at your idea and help you to evaluate it honestly and help you to find the people to move the idea forward - and even find funding to help you in the way of grants if any are available. The advisor will sign a confidentiality / nondisclosure agreement to assure you that they will keep quiet!
I did this role in Cambridge in the UK and must have helped about 100 companies that came out of the university and surrounding area to get grant money to develop new ideas and products.
Most were high-tech ideas but I met one man who had a huge folder full of ideas for everyday items that could be made for pennies in many cases, the man was an absolute genius for coming up with ideas, but as far as I know he still has yet to bring one to market!
Well, now that's interesting. I'll have to check into that. I got some preliminary info from one company, but it appeared more to be an offer to be my big brother during development. The costs involved are staggering. I would love to be able to have someone evaluate it honestly and help me see if I'm not blowing smoke up my own backside and then give me some type of advice on directions to head.
Honestly you have an idea in mind and even though most of the replies here give good information for specific processes you need to make the choice for yourself. That means you should educate yourself by looking for anything that you can consider a competitor or similar product and then learning as much as you can about how it is manufactured and marketed. Fact is if you can find a factory in America willing and able to produce it then you can produce a few prototypes and possibly get crowd funding for your Idea. I don't have fancy patent info for you or business jargon because you seem to just want some honest no BS info on how to start. S.C.O.R.E is a small business mentoring and advice organization that will freely provide you with someone who can unbiasedly sit down with you and go over things. They are a great organization and they have multiple offices in every state so I'm sure you can find one close by. Full disclosure in case you don't read my profile but I actually consult on these exact scenarios with micro and small business start-ups and entrepreneurs for a living. I am not soliciting you but I just think you should talk to someone who is neutral, don't get overwhelmed with technical business talk especially if it comes from an individual or organization who has no idea what you are trying to make. Often times their aim is to find a way into making you think it is too complicated to go at it alone or as a small partnership. Many many inventors bring their products to market through unconventional methods and become wildly popular and profitable. The trick is to not get moving to quickly or too slowly, leave yourself some breathing room. I feel almost shark like adding this comment after all the rest but I really do hope you understand that there are literally hundreds of ways to make and sell a product depending on what it is and how unique it will be. Again to be transparent I do this for a living not with a large firm or investment group I just enjoy showing people that with some creativity and hard work they can do anything they put their mind to. At the very least check with your local S.C.O.R.E office (you can google it and find them almost instantly)
I will definitely look S.C.O.R.E. up. But I've scoured the internet. This product doesn't exist in any manner. There are things out there trying to accomplish the same goal, but nothing similar to this. Which is odd. It's the most logical means to the end. The possible sales are tremendous. I'm surprised I never thought of it before.
Oh, and if you truly do this for a living and could provide credentials I'd be more than willing to explore the possibility of discussing this. I honestly think it's very marketable. I could be completely wrong, of course.
The industrial design houses, that typically specialize in this sort of endeavor for large companies are also open to working with individuals (and frankly prefer it when they come with money). They are professional, have a process for all of this in place, and can work with an “idea person” to generate a working product from beginning to end.
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