I have an idea but I don't know what to do with it.
August 20, 2013 1:39 PM Subscribe
I have an idea for a product. I live in Chicago so I feel like there have to be some ueful resources around. I have never had something made or produced. How do I do that? And once I do that, what comes next?
posted by smeater44 to work & money (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I was laid off from a dead end job earlier this month. It was a bessing, really. I was becoming lazy, comfortable and complacent in following my own dreams and ambitions. Having been laid off has made me realize it may be time to venture on with my own ideas. Let's explore entrepreneurship! For the past year or so I've been tinkering with, what I think, is a useful product idea. I have made two really crappy prototypes just to make sure the idea works. It does. I made these prototypes by first drawing them, then trudging through Home Depot searching for the parts that would work. I encountered many flaws and did my best to correct them. Then I perfected them. After hanging out in Home Depot more than I ever thought I would, I now have a well developed idea of what the "real" product could be. And a really shitty model of what it would look like. But it works! Yay!
Here's the part where I get pretty lost and overwhelmed. I would like to turn my crappy prototype into a package-able, or at least sell-able, well designed product. I don't even know who to talk to first. Do I need to work on gaining a patent for this first and foremost? And if so, how do I know that someone hasn't already come up with this idea? When I hunt around on Google, I see people with ideas vaguely similar to mine but definitely not the same. But just because I can't find it on Google, doesn't mean it doesn't exist somewhere else, I'm sure.
How does someone have a product made? Is there a company that deals with making prototypes for people? This product would involve several kinds of materials but mainly I would like to use recycled plastic as I need something light and waterproof for the bulk of the product. And recycled just...because I care about stuff like that.
Several friends have seen what I've made and they like it and think it's a good idea. Some of them have offered to invest in it. I'm grateful that my friends would want to give me (probably smaller amounts of) money, but I am not even all that sure at what point I would need investors. At what point does a person need investors? If I wanted to make a few professional prototypes just to have and to show to people, how many would I need? Also, how much does something cost to have it made professionally. Obviously, I know this answer will vary widely depending on what the product is, but let's say you just invented the "Slip 'N' Slide." You need to pay someone to make the real McCoy. How much does something like that cost?
A few more thoughts; I know about KickStarter. Maybe that'll work for me down the line, who knows. But when I go to KickStarter, most people seem to have a polished product ready to sell. They just need a bunch of crowd funding. For what? To mass produce things? What stage of the game are most KickStarters in? I don't even understand that. Or it's so simple I'm overthinking it?
I probably need a hard education in how all of this works, for my own protection and my own peace of mind. This is why I'm turning to my always brilliant MeFites for help. I'm in Chicago. I know there are excellent resources for me here for starting a business, but do you know of any resources for people that want to produce a product? I could use help finding those resources.
I really want to turn being laid off into the best thing that could have happened to me. And I want to make the most informed decisions that I can. If you're familiar with any of these situations, please share your knowledge and experience.