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Taking a functional prototype to the next level? Answered

I have built many one-off products for friends and myself over the years. I have always wanted to create full time, and have taken steps over the past 10 years to "Learn from doing".

I am not an Entrepreneur, but I can visualize and create with existing products in my environment. Should I try some one off products at a Flea market type environment or is there a forum that working models can be demonstrated to explore viability in the market place?

I usually get reactions like" You should be an engineer" or "That is really a unique light" from friends.

I feel I am not even coming close to using my full creative potential thus far.

I created a serving device this week after a casual conversation with a friend.Total time spent on this was less than 8 man hours. He was over this past Friday and I showed the device much to his surprise.

I could see this item being in a "dollar store" or a higher end version in a "Home sense" or "Winners".

We are always looking for a cost effective gift that is functional, and I feel this could be a great product.

Where do I go from here?

Bob D

2 Replies

Paige RussellBest Answer (author)2017-09-28

Hi Bob,

I fully support your desire to expand your creative potential and I hope I can help.

To turn a passion project into a money making one there are 3 potential paths to take:

1. Start a company and manufacture/sell the product yourself.
2. License the design to an existing company that will manufacture and distribute the product for a fixed fee or royalty (royalties are usually in the range of 5% of the gross wholesale amount).
3. Submit your idea to a crowdsourcing platform and hope that it gets chosen.

You've already stated that you're not an entrepreneur, so let's save you a huge investment of time and money and cross number one off the list.

That leaves licensing or submitting to a crowdsourcing platform.

Licensing offers the most return on your time investment, but also requires more time to research and connect with appropriate companies – and depending on the product and the companies you're targeting, it may be required that your idea be unique enough to be patentable.

Crowdsourcing platforms like Edison Nation provide a service where you can upload your design, they review it, and decide whether or not to submit it to one of their partner companies to be produced. The amount you make going this route is significantly less than licensing and once you've submitted it, the design and any decision making around it is completely out of your hands. But this definitely offers the least barriers to entry.

I suggest researching both options and choosing the one that is best suited to your product and business experience.

The craft show/flea market route is also a valid option if what you enjoy most is the making of a thing. Making one-offs is generally not a huge money maker, but if you just love making things and want a wider audience for your designs – plus want to make a bit of your material/time money back – then it can be super fun and satisfying way to go!

I hope I've helped and please feel free to follow up with more questions.


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Hi Paige,

Thanks so much for providing a well thought out answer to my questions. It is food for thought and some soul searching.

This class you presented was so enjoyable and you have a great deal of skill and talent.

Thank you again,

Bob D

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