Discover how trademark, patent, and software law can help small business, entrepreneurs, and inventors. Check my blog for questions and answers.

Can anyone help market my idea?

I would like to know if there is actually anyone who can help me get my idea on the market and help with the money needed to get it sold etc, as I have hit a downhill slide in my life.

~ Anywhere

Sure. Absolutely. The people who can help you the most are the people with whom you already have relationships and trust.

Friends and Family

One very common source of help is friends and family. Venture capitalists even call this the friends and family round, which is the less formal (but preferably written) agreement with friends and family to fund a new business startup. Think about your family, close friends, and then, business associates, former classmates, church members, and neighbors. Each of these people has skills and savings; they could all contribute time, skills or money.

Many people are reluctant to risk approaching people they trust. They do not want to disappoint their family and friends. They do not want to risk their reputation. For some reason, many people think that there is an industry that takes your idea and hands you a check -- there is not. My advice: check your ego and ask your friend and family for help and advice. Most will say: Nope. or *your idea is crazy." You are not looking for broad support, you are looking for at least one or two other people that see some merit in your idea and will back you up. If you can't get any of your friends and family to invest in your idea, how can you expect the public to buy it? Of course, there will be nay sayers in your family, maybe most of them. Likely if your idea has any merit, you will find some support.

Kickstarter (and kin)

Kickstarter is a kind of microfunding. Lots of small donations from lots of people with the promise of a new product. Of course, the companies that do best raising money this way are companies that already have some track records of success. You can still try. Of course, if you list on, be sure to let your friends and family know so they can support you.

Additionally, there are other sites that offer similar types of services. Look for a service that is popular for your type of product idea. If you find a good one, let me know and I'll add it to this article.

Angel Investors

There is something called an Angel Investor. They are qualified investors that usually contribute a small amount of money (think $50,000 to $300,000, but sometimes $1M to $2M) to get a new business started. Finding them is a problem. Look locally. The best way to find them is to ask your friends and family.

Where not to look: Invention Promotion Companies

Don't bother with Invention Promotion Companies. These companies typically advertise on the internet and on television. They might offer engineering and/or patent services. But really, these companies will take a raw idea and write it down on paper for you with something that resembles a marketing plan. Their services are usually expensive. You can check with the US Patent Office; they have a list of invention promotion companies where citizens have filed complaints.

If you will file a patent, hire your own patent attorney. Do not let anyone else hire an attorney for you.

Final Thoughts

Ideas have no value, and almost no legal rights. Patents have legal rights, but almost no value -- until someone starts selling something that earn a real profit and that something is described by the patent claims. So, patents have value when they describe something (service, business process, software, consumer product drug, etcs) that is actually bought and sold in the marketplace. Ideas have value when they are captured in a patent that describes a commercialized product. So, what is a good way to commercialize a product? I have no idea. I am patent attorney. I just help people at the US Patent Office.

On the other hand, I see many clients commercialize their ideas. There are three factors that lead to successful commercialization of an idea: speed, money and luck. Luck could be the most important factor. Lots of speed can offset a shortage of money. Lots of money can offset a late start. Just remember, no one is likely to copy you until after you have had at least some sales or some commercial success.

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