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Long time reader, first time inventor!

Postby normie » Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:31 pm

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Hello Everyone!

I'm going to try to do this with some decorum because of the nature of my invention, but i will give you some background first.

I've had a few (what I believe) great ideas in my time. however, one such idea is so good, I am certain that it will market and sell like wildfire! It does originate in the adult/sex toy industry so I will try to class up my discussion!

I have actually done a lot of research in the industry, and am very sure that the item has not been marketed, or even visualized by the makers of such products yet. So I did an exhaustive patent and prior art search through a seemingly qualified patent attorney! Much to both of our pleasure (pardon the pun) no prior art or submissions were found, so I retained the same attorney to draft and submit the patent application! Which as of may 5th is filed with the USPTO and I have my application number and the ever so important "Utility Patent Pending" status!

Now, I have tried to market my idea with a few of the "Major Players" in the industry, and have met with the dreaded "Wacky Inventor" procedure that most companies seem to have. I've gotten a voicemail of a "Non-existant" player, and a very polite "I'll have someone from our sales department call you" response. So I began thinking...

"This idea is good, simple, and easy to market; why don't I design, manufacture and sell this item myself!"

After much of the reading I have done here, I believe I am on the right track. now for my problem..

I have done absolutely none of this before, so I need to get started!

I have spent days on thomasnet looking for manufacturers, mold and die companies, etc. but I am at a loss, since I really don't know what I am doing or looking for! And you probably can imagine the difficulty of trying to explain my device to someone on the phone, without being crass, or divulging too much information without an NDA.

I sense that I am so close to having a prototype in my hands, and a marketing strategy that could launch this into high gear once I am ready for production, but it's everything in between that baffles me!

Help, Please :)

Postby GrillCharmer » Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:48 pm

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Hello Normie! You are going to get some wonderful advice here, but I just want to throw in my 2 cents real quick. The best book I have read is called "The mom inventor's Handbook by Tamara Monosoff" (even if you are not a mom) She goes through all that in-between stuff. You can probably get it at your library or buy it used for really cheap online. You can totally do this by yourself! I like going through a sourcing agent here in the US. There are a lot of steps to take before jumping into production though. Some might disagree, but at the ripe ol'age of 36, I tend to lean towards the old school approach to business. You need to start with your prototypes, your primary and secondary market research, your business plan and then that will help you decide if you should open up shop. Feel free to email me if you need to. I'm sure any minute now you'll get a lot more GREAT advice. This forum is such a wonderful resource! :D
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Leslie Haywood, Founder and President, Charmed Life Products LLC <a href="http://www.grillcharms.com/">www.grillcharms.com</a>
</p>
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</p>

Postby normie » Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:06 pm

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leslie,

Thanks for your reply, I shall look into the book you mentioned! While I am not a "mom" I've been called a mother a time or two in my life, so I guess that qualifies me just enough ;)

I am currently working on a business plan, and getting some stylistic drawings of the item done for some market research. I am also thinking about using the market analysis research company that I've found here.Thanks for your reply, I look forward to the helpful advice I've seen in other sections of this forum!

P.S. I've seen some really cool ideas here so far, yours is one of them!

Postby minnesotainventor » Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:23 am

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Your protection is in place...now here comes the real work...

Taking the concept to the market is the difficult steps. When you research your potential sales in any market you have to look how big the market segment is and how yours will fit within the specific market for your concept. I think in your market your pursuing...it is not main stream...so you are limited. You only have one product...so ask yourself will the retailers you contact...are they willing to accept just the one product? They normally like making multiple purchases at a time...can you expand your line? Colors, sizes, etc? Make your brand larger than you think your ready for...present yourself as the leading edge company in the field. Can you find another established company in the field you can partner with? You stated your not having much luck...but are you ready to approach them yet? When inventors come up with concepts they are so eager to launch it to the sharks when not ready to swim. The costs can be high when launching new products and molding as you are already finding it can be very expensive. If possible use temporary molding for your prototypes/production, refine you concept (check out industrial art supply companies). Try to think of expanding your line from the start...your patent lawyer should have instructed you already to do this. Create your brand, get the look and graphics ready so your the one companies want to work with or partner with.

Good luck in your venture, I hope this insight helps. Business plans help you refine your direction and scope/steps...I think sometimes one can get lost in them...but keep the creative aspects going! Never give up if you really believe in your product!

Sincerely,
Steve[/url]

Postby makeworldbetter » Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:33 am

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Don't put any real money into it just yet. In your case: one product, special market segment. You need to find a distributor to review your product idea and know his price range first. The alternative way is to visit retail store one by one and try to sell it, do you really want to do that?

Many distributors are not even listed, or listed under warehouse. Talk to a retailer and find out who is his supplier. Call and maybe arrange meeting. See if he agrees with your product concept and most importantly, his price recommendation. Talk to another distributor if you want to.

Expecting demand price at somewhere around 1/4 of retail price. Then you can try to find manufacture quotes that can meet that price. In fact you have to take shipping cost into consideration which has gone up significantly.

If the numbers add up, congrats. Otherwise, you need to think twice about this idea.

One alternative you can go is sell it yourself. Like my sunshade product. I couldn't get distributors to agree on my price since they are getting use to conventional sunshade prices, which is like sh*t; and my shade is very special. Weight almost two pounds but very easy to use and effective. So I make small inventory and sell it online directly. That's a totally different experience, if you are interesting, drop me an email. tim@xshade.com

Postby normie » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:20 am

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Steve/Tim,

Thanks for your replies and feedback, I am getting a lot of good information from you all! Allow me to touch a few bases that you both covered.

The adult industry is very mainstream, and not very limited anymore.

Breakdown of adult industry sales in 2006:

Video sales, rentals $3.6 billion
Internet $2.8 billion
Exotic dance clubs $2.0 billion
Cable/pay-per-view TV $1.8 billion
Novelties $1.7 billion
Magazines $950 million
Mobile $39 million
Total: $12.9 billion

That is roughly 50% of the annual US toy revenue for last year! or the estimated coffee market income.

Also, my idea is the actual "utilitarian" use for the item, which I have three such products using the same concept, just different designs, configurations, colors etc.... Additionally, believe it or not, my products actually target a portion of the industry demographic that have not been catered to at this time.

The market is there, and is prime for the devices, I just need to get it there. I would love to find a company I can partner with, but it seems like every major player in the field doesn't like the inventor types :( Or I haven't found that one yet!

I already know the price range of the devices, retail price anyway.. the retail price will be somewhere between 49-69 dollars per unit, so I can expect about 15-20 per unit build cost (I am assuming).

I already have sales people on the east and west coast so if need be, I can sell the items direct to the retail outlets, as well as online.

What I really need to find is a company to assist in making my prototype, and molds for the final product! I really appreciate the feedback and thoughtful replies!

Postby makeworldbetter » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:37 am

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When I said main stream market, I meant those you can see at Walmart/Target... So Your product still doesn't count. Heck, even auto sunshade is marginal.
It sounds like you want to be the distributor/warehouse. Well, good luck. Many people went that route and some fail; some success. The one who success most likely also pick up other products in addition to their own.

If product like yours retail at $49-69, expecting retailer ask for $25-$35 from you. That's right, about half of retail price. your profit is revenue deduct build cost and shipping and other fees. Have you calculated how many of these you have to sell per month in order to support your organization? including sales at east and west coast, that's couple of families to feed. And last, keep some cash reserve since sales most likely won't pick up in just few months. Good luck.

I would go find manufacture directly and ask them to build prototype for me, most of them are very good at building prototype. Since you already have production in mind, they won't charge you too much since they want your continue business.

Postby normie » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:50 am

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I see what you are saying... Luckily I could market and distribute if need be, since I have a 5k sq ft warehouse for storage..

What I need is that manufacturer that will prototype and production run for me!

Postby makeworldbetter » Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:05 pm

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You said you have tried thomasnet and came out empty? Maybe you have to go China. You can try Alibaba.com and find a good supplier.

Postby CriterionD » Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:54 am

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Hopefully the "seemingly" qualified patent attorney was both qualified and credible. Anyways, you seem to be making a solid attempt to do all the right things.

Just note, this doesn't have to be a cut and dry matter re: licensing versus marketing. Even if you don't move forward with full scale production runs or what not, if you can just brand your product well, create enough of a buzz or reputation to speak to your product's marketing viability that can certainly help you overcome the typical "wacky inventor" objections among prospective licensees. If seeking to generate a buzz in this manner, don't underestimate the importance of a well designed website (especially in an industry like this where many feel most comfortable purchasing and research purchase options from the comfort of their own home).

Also, in general, when seeking to license, don't call major players and expect a secretary to get you in touch with someone both willing and able to help you out. Do research, find the names of truly relevant contacts, if you want to go all out visit a trade show or two and collect business cards. Foster relevant relationships, even if you eventually scrap any and all licensing plans, maybe the relationships you establish will be able to help you in terms of establishing distribution or what not at a later time.
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