In the 90s, Joy Mangano was a simple airline booking agent struggling with money and a complicated family life. However, Joy also had an idea: frustrated by using a regular mop, she invented her own self-wringing mop, which she later patented as the Miracle Mop. And the restis history. Joy Mangano became one of the best-known entrepreneurs in the world and the star of the US television shopping channel HSN, holding more than one hundred patents tied to her name. Apart from the best-selling Miracle Mop, she also invented the Huggable Hangers, Performance Platforms, Clothes It All Luggage System, Shades Readers, and much more. Joy’s story, which was also turned into a biopic by 20th Century Fox, starring Jennifer Lawrence, is a source of inspiration for all aspiring entrepreneurs coming from a not-so-great background, but all the more so for inventors. Joy shows that, most of the time, a brilliant invention comes from one’s frustration and desire to solve a problem that others hadn’t thought of or create a product that does the job faster and better.
However, only a small handful of great ideas end up becoming products on shelves. Most of the time, creative ideas end up left for dead in a notepad because their owners didn’t know how to materialize them. So, how do you do it? After you’ve had that Eureka moment, how do you turn it into an actual profitable product?
Research the market
If the first part of product invention (coming up with the idea) depends on creativity and personal experience, and it can happen in a moment, the next part involves a lot of market research. After all, your idea needs to have a practical application in real life and offer something new.
Does a similar product already exist?
Your idea may have come out of the blue, and it may seem unique, but are you sure you’re not the only one who thought about it? There are millions of amazing products on the market and just because you haven’t heard of them, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. So, before moving forward with your invention, google it. If you can’t find anything like it, you can move on to the next step.
Does your product have real-life applications?
So, you’re the only one who thought of this product idea. That’s great news. It means that your idea is unique, and you can apply for a patent and start developing it. But first, to avoid losing money, ask yourself:
- Does my product solve a real-world issue?
- Would people actually want to use it?
- Why would people want to buy my product instead of something similar that already exists?
If your idea is also practical, not just unique and quirky, it means you’ve reached that magical Goldilocks zone where a product really has a commercial potential to become a bestseller. But first, paperwork.
Patent search and patent application
If you want to be a successful inventor, you have to file a patent for your idea. It’s a crucial step of the invention process because it protects your idea and prevents other people from stealing it, selling it, or claiming it as their own. Unfortunately, there are many cases of promising inventors who had their ideas stolen by other people or even big companies, so you can never
be too careful.
While you’re applying for the patent, it’s really important to be as private as possible about your idea and not talk about how it works to anyone – not even your friends. It’s better to be safe than sorry. This goes without saying, but don’t share details of your invention on social media until you obtained the patent.
Also, if you want to save money, you might be tempted to file your own patent. That is a huge mistake. Filing for a patent is actually a complicated legal affair that requires extensive knowledge of state laws, so you should instead work with a company that offers you expert help for your invention idea. It would be a pity not to see your idea turned into reality because
you used the wrong wording in the documents or because they forgot something when they submitted the paperwork.
While you’re filing for a patent, you should also work on prototype development. Not only is this a crucial step in making sure that your product idea is original, but also in perfecting your product. You will see if your idea looks as good in real life as it does in theory, and you’ll be able
to tweak it. But keep in mind that, usually, the final product isn’t 100% identical to the prototype, so you should keep an open mind and accept feedback.
If you’re worried about budget, there’s nothing wrong with cutting costs on prototype development. It’s not the version that will reach shelves, and it’s actually advisable not to go over the development budget. If you have enough disposable income, you can spend it on hiring a professional design company that can suggest ways to improve your product and analyze all the human factors that go into it. As the product’s inventor, you may know how to use it best, but sometimes you need an outsider’s fresh perspective to find out how users would interact with it.
Now we get to the fun part. After you’ve moved past the paperwork, you’ve obtained the patent, and you perfect the product’s design, it’s time to bring it forward to users and investors. Fortunately, in the age of digital marketing, promoting an innovative product is easier than it was in the 90s when you had to get on TV for people to find out about you. Now, you can
create a website for your product, sell it on Amazon, send it to bloggers for review and, most importantly, promote it on social media. By investing in ads and outreach campaigns, you will make sure your product gains exposure and becomes a part of customers’ homes.