How do I bring a widget to market?
October 24, 2005 11:13 AM   Subscribe

How do I bring a widget to market?

I have about 5k to spend. I am aware of a few basic steps. Any insights, advice, or books to be borrowed from the library is always appreciated.

In my case, the said widget is a children's toy based on balancing a ball, and a sensor that can sense if the ball is still in play.

1. I know I have to do a mock up and write-up of the widget. Done.
2. I need to have a prototype. Since the widget will have simple electronic components, who could help me here?
3. Marketing-totally lost-how can this widget be marketed? Toy companies, direct vendors, Home Shopping Network?
4. Manufacturing-I know it will probably be manufactured and assembled in Asia, as it looks like most cheap electronic toys are made there. But I live in NY-how does one even go about lining up a manufacturing/assembly/shipping point in Asia?

Is this even reasonable to contemplate at the $$$ I want to spend, and the fact that I have a totally unrelated full time job?

Oh and if this works out, one widget to all best marked answers as a thank you.
posted by MrMulan to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
And you might want to think of getting some protection in form of a patent.
posted by sour cream at 11:43 AM on October 24, 2005

Best answer: You almost certainly cannot do this entirely by yourself for $5k. Therefore, you're probably looking for someone to buy you (employment) and/or your idea. In this case, #3 and #4 will pretty much be taken care of for you.

Much as I hate patents, that's the first step you should take to protect yourself as you shop this around.

Next, if you can make a working prototype, that would certainly help.

Then...I don't know. Contact toy manufacturers? Get a booth at the NY Toy Fair?
posted by trevyn at 11:49 AM on October 24, 2005

The Hudsucker Proxy, will tell you all you need to know. (Not really but it is fun and maybe inspirational.) Good luck!
posted by Mr T at 12:11 PM on October 24, 2005

Best answer: For the prototyping, there are places that'll do short-runs of printed circuit boards for you: ExpressPCB is one such example.
posted by Laen at 12:21 PM on October 24, 2005

Best answer: 2. I need to have a prototype. Since the widget will have simple electronic components, who could help me here?

Go to your local university and ask one of the E.E. professors if they know any talented students looking to make some cash on the side. Or put an ad up on your local craigslist if it's really simple. Make sure you write up a contract and all that.
posted by cmonkey at 12:47 PM on October 24, 2005

Best answer: Spend some of the money on an NDA before you take cmonkey's advice. It's cheaper than a patent, and will provide some protection.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:51 PM on October 24, 2005

Best answer: On Preview: What Trevyn said.

Take a look at Don Lancaster's Patent Avoidance Library - Chock full of ways around patenting, or at least issues you should be aware of when trying to get a patent.
posted by Orb2069 at 12:59 PM on October 24, 2005

Best answer: Besides worrying about your own patent, you better make sure you're not infringing someone elses patent!
posted by falconred at 1:17 PM on October 24, 2005

Best answer: Re: Making a prototype, in the past I've gotten excellant electronics help from asking for help at various robotics or other enthusiest groups.
Normally I do this online, but that probably won't work if you can't reveal your concept, (unless the circuit is both simple and challenging, ie can be phrased as an interesting problem to design a solution too, stripped of any application or implementation information. Doing that has worked for me in the past :-)

Perhaps look for a local club that actually meets, contact the organizer, s/he'll hopefully introduce you to a few likely candidates on the day, bring a mockup and some NDAs, (bring extra, as there may be people who initially don't care to help, but are just curious to see what you've brough, and hey, maybe they'll get enthused and help?)
posted by -harlequin- at 5:58 PM on October 24, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all your replies. I had thought about a patent, but figured, it would be easy to cicumvent. Thanks orb2069.

I do have somebody who may be able to get a prototype built...but even with a working prototype, it seems like a huge investment in time at least.
posted by MrMulan at 10:00 AM on October 26, 2005

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