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Inventors' bootcamp helps ideas come to fruition

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Photo by Pat Sunderland Rita Crompton, aka The Inventor Lady, offered practical advice to inventors and product developers at a bootcamp hosted by ENGAGE. Ray Burrasca, a crowdfunding expert, discussed funding options.

As Gary Chism discovered during the five-year-long process of obtaining a patent for his invention, it takes time, money and perseverance to get an idea to the marketplace (see story above).

"This will cost money! Be prepared to invest in yourself," said Rita Crompton, The Inventor Lady. Recently, Crompton and Ray Burrasca, a crowdfunding expert, led an Inventor Bootcamp hosted by ENGAGE, Small Business Development Center and The Inventors Roundtable™.

Inventors and product developers learned how to develop, protect and market their inventions. They also learned about funding options and how to successfully launch a product into the marketplace.

"Don't spend a dime before it's time," Crompton and Burrasca repeatedly stressed.

The first step is market research; the next is conducting your own initial search for patents that may already be in place for similar concepts. Your time is the biggest investment here. If you need a prototype of your idea, look around the house for cheap materials, like cardboard and duct tape.

When it's time to launch a professional patent search, employ a registered patent attorney. A licensed engineer may be needed to put your concept on paper. These steps also require some research, to locate professionals who will provide value for their fees. "There are a lot of predators out there," would-be inventors were cautioned.

If, in the end, inventors decide their idea is not much more than a hobby to be marketed locally at craft fairs, that's fine too. Online marketing is another option.

Inventors who are ready to either license or take orders from retailers were encouraged to target industry trade shows appropriate to their product. Crompton recently returned from the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, where she showcased 25 inventors/products, many of which she brought to Delta.

"Determine your ultimate goal," she said. Then take the steps necessary to achieve that goal, from securing internet domain names to determining how best to package your product. The consumer will help set the price, she added.

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