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How Do I Create an Invention Idea?
It’s probably the most popular question we get asked here at MAKO Design + Invent. In general, every great idea starts with two things:
- It needs to solve a problem for a specific group of people.
- The idea should be simple for the end-user.
So before you go about developing and manufacturing the invention, try to simplify the idea as much as possible. Focus on the one or two key features that your problem is solving.
It’s important to realize that, a simpler product allows the designers and engineers to focus on making the one or two key features the best that they can possibly be. For this reason, a simple product is easier to manufacture which means fewer defects and most importantly, happier customers.
That’s the key to coming up with a great idea. And the nine steps below will help you get there.
1. Decide on Your Invention
If you’re reading this, you might be thinking about how to begin creating an invention. Every great idea starts with a structure to be successful.
Thoughtful choices must be made about your idea first to begin the process of development.
- Will you manufacture and market your invention on your own?
- Will you license for royalties or a lump sum?
These are factors you will need to think about to know what’s right for you and your lifestyle.
If manufacturing and marketing is the path you would like to take, be prepared to become an entrepreneur and build a business based on your idea.
This enables your invention to have a higher success rate with a higher payout, but also means a lengthy process is ahead. Hard work will eventually pay off if you do decide to go this route.
The second option of licensing leaves you with the choice of receiving royalties from the company you end up selling your idea to or receiving a single lump-sum payout. While royalties may sound enticing, you may be acquiring significantly less than if you were to market the invention yourself.
The standard royalty rate is between 2-5% of the gross profit the company receives. The lump-sum choice gives you a one-time payout from the company that is purchasing your idea. Essentially you are selling the rights to your idea.
Whichever option you choose, these companies are looking to mitigate risk. Thus, in addition to the idea itself, you should also consider how to create an invention prototype. That way, you can sell units after product prototyping to help prove that your product has traction in the market. If you can get positive reviews from customers, even better.
2. Research and Conceptualize
The conceptualization phase is where you’ll really understand your invention’s potential value.
- What problem is my invention solving?
- Who is my target audience?
- Are there already existing products in the market
- What is the size of the market?
- How saturated is this market?
- Do you understand how you can build/direct others to build your invention?
Mentally preparing yourself to execute the idea you have decided on will be your next move.
One thing many first-time inventors forget about when they think about how to create an invention is that coming up with the idea is just one small part of the process.
Indeed, your job is not over once you’ve come up with the idea, seeing the invention process through requires careful and strategic planning, self-motivation, and good developers (being that yourself or a professional design firm like MAKO Design).
Developing an invention doesn’t mean you should quit your day job and work on it full time, especially if you’re partnered with a developing firm to design, engineer, and bring your vision to life.
Your invention will, however, require a long-term commitment.
3. Document the Process
Record all the progress throughout every stage for organizational purposes and legal protection.
You will need to protect your idea, privacy and not disclose any specific information to the wrong parties. Ensure you have your concept written somewhere in print, that way if anything should happen you are covered.
Don’t hesitate to go the extra mile and create disclosure documents where you see fit.
For even greater peace of mind, MAKO offers a copy of our Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) for free for you to review at any time.
4. Market Research
Once you are mentally prepared, organized, and have made important decisions for your invention, start doing some research about how to create an invention for a specific market.
- Does that product have a patent?
- Does my invention have advantages over theirs?
- Is the product design better?
- How efficient is the product design in comparison?
- Is mine more environmentally friendly?
- Does mine cost less to make?
- Are there any other benefits to my product that theirs doesn’t have?
This market research will help you decide if you need to rework your idea or if it’s original enough to succeed. Answering these questions will help you know when and how to create an invention prototype after the design phase and before you start manufacturing.
We want you to be excited and confident in your idea to be successful in achieving your product goals. In fact, most inventions are modifications or combinations of existing products. Never give up!
5. Design Your Invention
Now for the fun part; designing the invention.
Three-dimensional computer aided-designs (CAD) are required to bring your 2D concept to life. Visualization is key in understanding your true product design and learning how to create an invention prototype.
Ways of achieving this can be either by yourself using an engineering software like Solidworks or leveraging the experience and expertise of professional design firms like MAKO Design + Invent that can provide product design services.
Photographic renderings are next as you delve into the true design of your idea. You can find some examples of what these look like in our work. Here at MAKO, we believe including mechanical and electrical design is key to truly understanding the way your product will function.
Many firms do not design for manufacturing or know how to create an invention CAD, they might just create a 3D model of your invention. This can lead to a costly rework. MAKO brings together industrial design, mechanical engineering, and electrical design all in-house to ensure products look great but also function as they should.
6. Start Prototyping
To cut costs, ensure you use good quality designs to limit the number of prototypes you create. Whether you’re building the MVP version or a near-final prototype, these prototypes will help you begin your pitches to someone evaluating your idea.
This stage helps you test the functionality as well as locate any weaknesses/improvements to be made.
As a result, it’s imperative that you do not skip this stage. In fact, learning the importance and how to create an invention prototype will lead to more costly errors and potentially faulty products down the line, and no one wants that.
7. Patent Your Invention
You are ready to get serious now and apply for a patent.
We do recommend acquiring a provisional patent so your idea is protected for a 12-month trial first. Once you learn how to create an invention prototype, you have time for trial and error to market the product yourself before applying for a full patent.
The trial period gives you time to build credibility for your brand as well and helps you get your name out there.
That way, when you’re ready to sell the idea, your invention may be worth more to potential buyers.
8. Begin Manufacturing
Seeking out a manufacturer is your next move.
This is for entrepreneurs gearing up to open their own business, with a focus on their new invention. For those looking to license, this is not a requirement, however, it will increase value to potential buyers, as mentioned before.
Most products have more than one part to them, meaning you may need to seek out more than one manufacturer depending on the complexity of your product. You may need to seek different companies for each task as well. For example, parts manufacturing, assembly, packaging, and shipment.
Outsourcing on your own is a good idea as well in order to keep a competitive edge in the global manufacturing marketplace. MAKO Design offers this for our clients, at the time that we produce the prototype. As we can utilize this collected information with our suppliers in Canada, the US, and overseas to finalize the production logistics for you.
9. Sell or License Your Product
The final phase of creating your product after sourcing out your manufacturers and parts is to either sell your units to a product buyer or license your invention.
This is the exciting part!
While still under the 12-month provisional patent, we recommend you promote your invention to as many buyers as possible. Find the decision-makers within these potential buyers. Work out improvement opportunities while you have the time to experiment.
Licensing deals can sometimes be more difficult to obtain. If you keep busy and market your product under the 12-month provision patent trial, you will earn your product more value in the eyes of potential buyers. Once you’ve obtained some sales under your belt, you can sell the product outright or license it at a much higher premium, because it’s worth more now.
Know your buyer, do your research on them, and brush up on your negotiation skills. Be realistic and don’t get greedy and blow a good deal.
How To Create An Invention: FAQs
To get your invention made, you should follow the nine steps below:
1. Decide on Your Invention: Determine the problem that’s worth solving and for whom.
2. Research and Conceptualize: Learn if your invention is the right fit in the existing market.
3. Document the Process: Protect your idea and yourself.
4. Market Research: Research how and where customers will use your invention.
5. Design Your Invention: Conceptualize and visualize the invention in both 2D and 3D.
6. Start Prototyping: Test functionality and identify improvement opportunities.
7. Patent Your Invention: Protect the product and build credibility.
8. Begin Manufacturing: Build and ship the final product.
9. Sell or License Your Product: Earn royalties or enjoy a lump-sum payment for your hard work.
It starts with a CAD file, a 3D representation of the invention. This file also has information about the functionality, dimensions, and other critical details required to manufacture a prototype.
It depends on what stage you’re at in the product development cycle. Depending on the development phase, you may need a designer, engineer, patent attorney, manufacturer, or a combination of these. That’s why MAKO Design offers end-to-end product development services to help simplify the process and minimize risk to the inventor.
The recommended steps above are based on our renowned product development experience. And as the pioneering end-to-end product development firm catered to inventors, small manufacturers, eCommerce brands, and startups, we understand how daunting it can be to start bringing your idea to life. Trust us, we have over 20 years of experience doing this.
Each step is designed to minimize risks, costs, and revisions to help ensure all timelines and budget requirements are met. In addition, we’ve outlined the details above to help explain why a great product is more than just a great idea. Successful products go beyond the idea. It’s a combination of the right parts, materials, engineering know-how, manufacturers, and other elements that make up a successful product launch.
And in the end, if you work with us, you’ll be at the helm. Of course, it will be a collaborative experience, but we won’t make any changes or updates to the design without your approval.
It’s truly your vision come to life.
About: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry's leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Click HERE to learn more about MAKO Design + Invent!