Introduction: How to Develop a Product and Possibly Make Some Money

Picture of How to Develop a Product and Possibly Make Some Money

Every one has ideas, inventions, and dreams but only a few people ever make any money from their thoughts. This Is how Ive been doing it (or trying to). This is how ive gotten an invention the Hard Drive Zapper ( From a simple thought to an actual product as a high school kid. Im not trying to show off or anything, im simply trying to show that it is possible for a kid to actually make money and start a small company based off of their ideas. Also this isnt about my invention, i dont care if you dont like it, its a consumer product, designed to be cheap, quick to manufacture and secure enough for most average consumers. So please, constructive comments only I dont want to be flamed.

Step 1: First Learn How to Build Things With Your Hands

Picture of First Learn How to Build Things With Your Hands

Learn how to build things, everything using simple tools. Unless your rich or extraordinarily lucky, you will have difficulty launching any product that you can not build with your own two hands (and a dremel tool). Investors, companies, and business partners have all seen thousands of inventors with ideas but absolutely no clue how to build them. By showing them a working prototype or even a detailed mock up you will have one step above most other "inventors" . If you can develop a clear model in your head and and then build it with your hands, then a manufacturer will be able to do the same.

Step 2: Invent a Product

Picture of Invent a Product

This can sometimes be the shortest and simplest part of product design, often though it will take a long time for the idea to come about. Simply look for everyday problems around you, brainstorm simple solutions to these problems. Usually you should discard solutions that are outside of your field of expertise and focus on the most likely solutions. If your really into it you can create a gant chart to analyze the best solutions.
For example, My product, the Hard drive zapper was a solution to the problem of getting scrap computers for my company. Businesses and schools refused to sell me obsolete computers without some type of data security. I put together the Hard Drive Zapper as a simple cheap and relatively secure solution. Although it is not as secure as a several other data destruction methods, it is secure enough for the average homeowner who just wants some peace of mind while disposing of a computer. i have made this fact clear to all of my customers.

Step 3: Design a Method for Manufacturing

Now that you have built a simple prototype of your device and tested it, you have to figure out how to make thousands of that device very quickly. An easy way to decide on the best manufacturing method is to use flow charts. Figure out the path of every component you plan to use from the raw materials to the packaging. Next figure out each process that take the components from one step to another, (soldering, gluing, .etc). Now you can attach price tags to each component or process. Time yourself going through each process, take the average of these times and divide by 60 minutes, then multiply by minimum wage(about $7.50). this gives you the aproxamite price per action on each device. Now to Optimize you must look at multiple routes that you can use and find the absolute lowest cost with the highest volume.

For Example It took me over 4 Hours to build the first zapper. After optimizing my design, i reduced the time down to 3 minutes when built by a mentally retarded person.

Initially I built a bunch of zappers and recorded all the steps i went through. then i timed each motion. Using flow charts and gant charts i tried to find and eliminate the slower steps in construction. I optimized production by reducing multiple actions into 1 swift motion. I also built tools and machines like a small plastic extruder and crude injection molds to help speed up production. Unfortunately i failed to finish everything when i left for college so my extruder and more complex machines are on hold till Christmas.

Step 4: Find a Manufacturer

Picture of Find a Manufacturer

This is not as difficult as it sounds, you just need to start small. Without a long sales record it will be difficult to get a large manufacturer interested in investing the tens of thousands required to retool machines .etc. so it is usually best to go to a medium sized corporation that you can contract out to build your device. Often it is cheapest and best to look for a manufacturer who employs mentally disabled people, to work on essentially an assembly line.Through my contacts i found a local company that hires mentally disabled people to perform repetitive rudimentary tasks, this was perfect because i had designed the zapper to be manufactured without any skill at all. The manufacturer did time studies to figure out the cost for manufacturing each unit. The time studies showed that the device could be produced in approximately 4 minutes. Between parts and labor and packaging the total price comes out to under $4. As soon as i start getting larger orders i simply have to send a check and the address to the manufacturer who will ship it to my clients.

Step 5: Setup Supply Chain

My parts need to get to the manufacturer, But how? the easiest way is to design the product from unwanted trash. In my case 90% of my device is produce from recycled electrical products. My manufacturer picks them up from local stores weekly. By using ewaste i get $10 worth of components for 20 cents. This took alot of negotiation with the store manager but in the end worked out well.

Step 6: Get Press

this is easy especially if your a kid doing something unique, Just call up your local news paper, and any others you can find. So far my company has gotten into 5 papers so far. An Ewaste recycling company contacted me after the president read about me in the boston globe. They bought a sample zapper and want to help me market it.

Step 7: Patent It

Before telling everyone about your idea , file a provisional patent application. The provisional patent application basically says to people, "if you copy me, ill sue your asses down the line". Its not perfect and expires after a year but its only $100 and it tells people that you are seriously pursuing this.

Step 8: Make a Website

Make a professional looking site in publisher, and host on hostmonster. It gives validity to your business. Check out my site i have a bunch of product listed on there as well as projects.

Step 9: Find Distributors

This is the hardest part, you will have to make many phonecalls and get turned down many times. Look online for distributors of similar products, dont even bother with any large retail stores they'll just turn you down. call distributors and ask to speak to the market manager or buyer, start off like this.
"hello, my name is Mclovin(or what ever your name is), I'm working for the manufacturer (insert name). We are looking for distributors who would be willing to carry this new unique product that we have recently developed...." you describe it and tell them why its the best out there, and any disadvantages they may ask for samples (oblige them). In my case they agreed to show my zappers to retailers to gauge there interest before ordering a larger number

Step 10: Cash Your Checks

Picture of Cash Your Checks

Ok fine thats a little hasty and for brevity I've skipped many smaller steps. but if your willing to work, you can make it as l have which isn't half bad considering ive only spent $20 for parts and have made $85 so far from the zappers. There were other start up costs but in all ive spent under $300 + i have an investor who is anxious to send me $500. So i havent figured it all out but not half bad for a few months of work from a kid


ProductStartup (author)2016-02-08

Congrats on following through on your idea and sharing! I'm an engineer, and the process is similar to how we take products to market:

If you're still involved with product development let me know - I'd be happy to bounce ideas around!

skst14 (author)2012-03-21

this is genius.

Lorddrake (author)2011-07-17

looks like your hard drive zapper website is gone .. i get redirected to a diy laser site

funnyfoo0 (author)2009-10-06

is it possible to start a buisness for under 200 british pounds

Sandisk1duo (author)funnyfoo02009-11-07

depends on what you want to do

drmjj55 (author)2009-07-04 works too.....

Rotten194 (author)2009-04-13

Unfortunately, this didn't help me much, but that's only because I've read quite a few books on this stuff. Good job, a little sketchy in places. and nice job in developing your product, its amazing you got as far as you did! :D

Krumpet (author)2009-02-21

Don't listen to any of the people who are bashing on you. The fact that you have actually created a real product is a huge accomplishment for any person. Moreover, taking the time to create this instructable is icing on the cake. If your intentions were to promote your product...great! There is no way this could be described as spam. Good on you, geckowil! Keep up the hard work. You should be very proud of yourself.

trebuchet03 (author)2008-08-07

I see a ban in your future....

geckowil (author)trebuchet032008-08-07

what did he get banned for?

jeffconnelly (author)geckowil2008-08-26

yeah, I think I would rather see the words. whenever I see those words "(removed by community request)", I wonder ..."what did he say"...

=SMART= (author)2008-08-10

Wow very impressive, i had a look at your site and your products, their really good. How old are you? im 16

thebluemartyr (author)2007-08-30

no one wants to be told that their ideas are outlandish or unrealistic, sorry, but i didnt like this instructable, it wasnt really usefull for me

geckowil (author)thebluemartyr2007-08-30

i wasnt trying to put down your ideas because i have no clue what they are, im just saying stick with ideas that you can actually make money on. then with that capital and experience you can move on to crazier ideas.

chooseausername (author)geckowil2007-08-31

Did you make money with your inventions yet ?

geckowil (author)chooseausername2008-01-14

between this, my computers and a bunch of other inventions ive made about 4 grand

chooseausername (author)geckowil2008-01-15

Since August 30, 2007 ?

thebluemartyr (author)geckowil2007-09-01

you do make a good point, thnx for the reply.

royalestel (author)2007-11-02

Wow! Go YOU! Great Job! Could use a bit of tweaking with the capitalization, but still! Thanks!

lhm1138 (author)2007-08-31

I think this instructable would be a better 'starter' or 101 type instructable if you combined stuff like "get press/start a website" into one step and went into the patent process a little bit more. Some details on your manufacturing plant you found would be cool, if it's not proprietary. A little tweaking like that will make this a better instructable, and thanks for contributing it, not too many instructables I've found on inventing, mostly prototyping stuff.

geckowil (author)lhm11382007-08-31

thank you for your constructive critiscm, honestly i was dismayed to have so much negative feedback after spending several hours on an instructable, and several thousand on my project, this has been the first useful comment ive recieved, im going to try to tweak it somewhat

lhm1138 (author)geckowil2007-09-01

It's easy to talk to somebody online in a way you wouldn't normally talk to somebody in real life. It's just an online phenomenon, take it with a grain of salt. I thought the invention was fine.....jesus, it's not like it's some QVC crap or an electric backscratcher or something. So, don't sweat the negativity of some internet uberdork and keep the ideas coming.

MisterSlippy (author)2007-08-31

I'd call this "an 18 year-old's attempt at marketing" rather than spam, but it still doesn't really impart anything new. Any small business advisor would tell you pretty much the same things. It's much harder to protect an idea here in the UK - patent registration is incredibly expensive. Hell, just having a patent search carried out by a specialised lawyer is prohibitively costly. Still and all, thanks for the link to hostmonster - That looks like a pretty good deal from here in the UK, what with exchange rates being what they are I may even migrate my site there! (No, I'm not being paid for saying that, I'm genuinely mildly impressed, lol) Point of interest - to render a hard drive unrecoverable before disposal, simply pop the lid off (drill out the screws if you don't have the right tool), take out the actuator magnet, smash it to powder (in a plastic bag), sprinkle the powder on the disc platters, hold the lid on with your hands and give it a shake. Having worked for a couple of years in an IBM clean room both building hard drives and extracting data from damaged and "destroyed" drives, you can trust me on this: nothing short of complete destruction of all magnetic data on the disc platters will render data on the disc unrecoverable. Powdered magnets are the best way of ensuring this. If someone with the right tools tries to extract any data from the platters after you've done this, the magnetic particles adhering to the surface will actually destroy their reading equipment. This happened to us on one occasion. The magnetic contamination meant that the clean room had to be completely stripped out and scrapped, and a new clean room build in its place at a cost of several million dollars.

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-08-30

...what... so in a half paragraph how do we make money :-| Also a hard drive zapper? wouldnt the same effect be done by formating it? or if throwing it away take a capasitor and zap it with couple thousand volts?

geckowil (author)!Andrew_Modder!2007-08-30

no reformating it just erases the addresses not the data itself. using tools everything can be recovered, also the point is to make a consumer product, somthing simple fast and cheap that saves them time and money.

Ramnosity (author)geckowil2007-08-30

No, actually formatting the hardrive will erase EVERYTHING. I've done it before and it really deletes everything. And a plasma gun?? lol

That depends on what options you choose when you format. If you "fast-format" your disk, it may only erase the table where is stored the list of file and thier position (adress) into the disk. The contents of your files will remain into the disk and may be recovered using a special tool ...

LasVegas (author)chooseausername2007-08-30

IDE drives are not formated unless you have very specialized software. Using the "fast format" command does nothing more than create a new empty directory. The standard format command creates a new directory and verifies the drive. No other data is actually removed from the drive and a skilled person (or unskilled with the right software) could easily extract most of the data from the drive. It is possible to securely erase a drive by writing over every block with alternating data (zeros and ones) multiple times. The more "Erase" passes the more secure the erasure.

j626no (author)LasVegas2007-08-31

i believe that macs have a special format option so they write "over every block with alternating data (zerox and ones) multiple times"...7 if i remember correctly. There is still a single format option but the 7 times format is much more secure...just takes a really long time.

LasVegas (author)j626no2007-08-31

This is not a part of the default Erase option, but the additional "Erase Free Space" option also available to Windows and Linux users. On the Mac the option can be set to just zero data, overwrite 7 times or overwrite 35 times. The later is an overnight job for large drives, but is most secure other than the hammer method. Again, a common misconception is that drives are formatted. They are not. This process is done once by the manufacturer. Throughout the rest of the life of the drive it can only be "erased" and/or "partitioned."

In conclusion, i dont need this product :-\

geckowil (author)!Andrew_Modder!2007-08-30

im not trying to sell it to you, techies and geeks arent really the market im trying to reach. If a few buy it because it saves them time, then great. But im really trying to market towards the average consumer who knows little about computers and is terrified of identity theft

A hammer can also preform this job much more reliably, I doubt you are doing much beyond frying the controler board and leaving the platters largely untouched, and readily recoverable. I'm trying not to be harsh here, I'm just being realistic.

finally, a valid concern! Its actually a good deal faster then a hammer because there are fewer screws to pull out, also unless you have data worth millions of dollars. it is logisticaly difficult for a identity theif to find a specific drive that they are certain has data on it so they can invest the time to repair or replace a logic board. It adds difficulty, thats the point, also u cant market a hammer. Finally drives are designed to handle shock so they are struck by hammers a few hundred times during testing. even a heavy sledge will only make minor dents(beleive me i tried), the point is its an alternate solution. and the fact is ive gotten pretty far and did more than my fair share of research. id like to see your product. i never said ive invented something astounding, personally i dont like it as much as some of my other ideas its just designed as a springboard.

geckowil (author)geckowil2007-08-30

look, ive never lied to a single person, company or anything, the whole point of my instructable is to show people that they can actually do something cool if they try. Im not marketing towards businesses, nor am i marketing it towards you, so quit flaming. im not trying to lie about the drives either, they are built from heavy quarter inch steel, a finishing hammer is rarely sufficient to get into them, maybe i have the numbers wrong, but i read that toshiba tests their drives by shocking them repeatedly with small hammers. Look the whole point of marketing a product is that it will have competition. its not a half assed product, it is designed for the average person. for $20 it gives a fair amount of protection, safely, quickly, and effectively.

Ok lets take this statement by statement. "finally, a valid concern! Its actually a good deal faster then a hammer because there are fewer screws to pull out" if I'm scraping a drive I'm going to take it out of the case weather I zap it or smash it, if I'm scraping the entire computer well then I don't care if I put a couple holes in the case before getting to the drive do I? and you still need to open the case to zap the drive. "it is logisticaly difficult for a identity theif to find a specific drive that they are certain has data on it so they can invest the time to repair or replace a logic board." You think that a business would bother buying and using a tool for destroying a HDD unless there was data worth keeping privet on it? I have swapped out controller boards it trivially simple, some of the time you don't even need to get the same exact drive just on reasonably close. Then take in to account that at this point there are really only 2 or 3 big drive manufacturers used by the major resellers aka dell and the like, and it becomes rather simple to find the rite board. "It adds difficulty, thats the point" yes and a couple of good hammer blows makes it impossible without a clean room and vary good luck. Security through obscurity only works until some one smarter than you comes along. "also u cant market a hammer." Stanley Works begs to differ. "Finally drives are designed to handle shock so they are struck by hammers a few hundred times during testing. even a heavy sledge will only make minor dents(beleive me i tried)" Here it seems you are either just plain lieing or some how managed to get your hands on some mill spec HDDs. You have never taken a hammer to a hard drive or you would realize just how obvious of a lie that was. Secondly hard drives are not designed to take shocks, why do you think apple and Leveno put accelerometers in there laptops to detect free fall and part the write heads before impact with the ground? Because if you don the write heads gash nice long tracks in the plater while it is spinning at over five thousand RPM. "the point is its an alternate solution. and the fact is ive gotten pretty far and did more than my fair share of research." Yes an easily defeated solution that offer false security to businesses, businesses that buy your product for real security. You have not done your research at all, see my rebuttal to your previous statement. "id like to see your product." I'm sorry I never claimed to have a product, just a different way of doing things that works better. "i never said ive invented something astounding, personally i dont like it as much as some of my other ideas its just designed as a springboard." just because you don't like the product as much as your other ideas is no reason to half ass it and release a poorly thought out product. Yes I realize that their are many companies that work this way, but its not the way to start a good businesses and its certainly not good practice. You don't want to get a reputation for doing things the lazy way, its not worth it it the long run.

Kiteman (author)2007-08-31

"Also this is pat. pending so ill sue you if you copy anything."

Sorry, you patent isn't worth anything, since you've shown it at an inventors' fair and told us about it.

However, I don't think anybody here will be infringing your patent, since there are other cheaper and more reliable methods for destroying data on a hard drive.

As for inventing stuff being the easiest part of the process, who are you kidding? A good idea is not an invention. Check out the autobiography of Trevor Bayliss to find out what a real inventor spends his time doing.

geckowil (author)Kiteman2007-08-31

actually i havent divulged any proprietary information. i was trying to show people something cool. a patent pending means nothing except an earlier filing date. which means that in court, i can easily prove that this idea is my intellectual property. therefore i can pursue it exclusively, and charge others to pursue it

Kiteman (author)Kiteman2007-08-31

Oh, I checked your site as well.

It looks nice, but it still needs a lot of work, such as fixing the link to the description of your zapper.

nak (author)2007-08-31

Hey it was me who called you,

This is how to fix a zapped hard-drive:

Either way, keep on inventing. My problem is:
1. IDEA, wow this is a good one this time!!!
2. HEY MOM GUESS WHAT <insert idea here>
3. Uhm, pretty sure that has already been invented...
4. ????
5. no profit

Keep on truckin'
(Yeah I think the main reason people don't like this instructable is because its more of a showing off instead of spreading the knowledge, I viewed it as more of a possible inspiration for people)

nedfunnell (author)2007-08-31

Or, use a cheapo $15 drill from Walmart and a 1/4 drill bit and KNOW that nothing short of the FBI's crack team of recovery specialists and 3 months are going to get anything off of that drive.

ljuwaidah (author)2007-08-31

Humm... I like the instructable because it's inspiring but I don't like the product. I'm not sure of this but since it's about magnets, shouldn't putting water on it solve the problem? It will even destroy the circuits. I remember in my Computer Platforms class, the teacher asked us not to touch the platters or the drive will not work any more, etc... she said that the trace left by your finger is 5 times thicker than the layer on the platters... So you see, I think that destroying CDs is much harder... That's all I've got. Cheers!

LasVegas (author)2007-08-30

This appears to be a SPAM vaguely disguised a an extremely useless instructable. It's only real purpose is to convince us of the validity of the writer's useless product and get us to visit the website and purchase it. Magnetically "zapping" (if it actually did this) a drive would render it useless since there's no consumer product to actually write sector information back to an ATA drive. As I stated below, multipass overwriting a drive is the most effective way to securely erase a drive and retain use of it. If you really want to permanently destroy the data so that it could never be extracted, Open the cover and hit the platters with a hammer. They're made of ceramic which will shatter when hit. No data will ever be recovered from this process.

geckowil (author)2007-08-30

my point was to focus on the ideas that you can actually handle without a big investment, ive spent $300 on this which i made running my computer company

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