How to Sell Your Invention

So you’re an inventor, and you think you’ve finally struck gold with your most recent invention. This one, unlike all the others before, is going to make your name and your fortune. The names of Edison and Tesla, Ford and Bell are running through your head, and you know, if you can just get this idea out there, you’re sure to be mentioned in the same breath as all of them.

But how do you do that? How do you get your idea out there?

This is a surprisingly difficult problem for inventors. Your invention, after all, isn’t just a book you can self-publish. To publish the specifics may well ruin your right to recuperate any money at all from all your work.

So, where do you go? There are a number of options, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

First, you could go to businesses that specialize in the area of your invention and see if they are interested in buying it from you. The benefit here is, if you can get a willing ear and sell them on it, you are likely to get a decent payday from it, and the problems of production and selling are taken out of your hands. The downside, of course, is that you’d probably be required to sign over the rights to your invention. This would mean that you wouldn’t see the major money if the product took off (nor would you suffer the major losses if it didn’t), and you’d most likely remain an anonymous inventor. You could, however, use the success of this first invention to build a name for yourself in the industry. You’d then find the next invention has an easier path to success.

Another option would be to show your invention at trade shows to try to garner some big money investment. Should be successful, you’d likely have the capital to push your product into the mainstream, however you may not have the knowledge of how best to use that money. You would also be suffering under the requirements placed on your by your investors, who are likely to want to see a return on their investment in a set amount of time. This extra pressure can be quite daunting for those new to the business side of the invention.

A final way and perhaps the preferred one of the 21st-century inventor is to use sites like Kickstarter to launch your invention yourself. By getting small investments, it is easier to accommodate your investors with small gifts instead of major returns on funds. You have more time to develop your product and its brand. You may also make incidental connections that might lead to larger markets.

The downside is that you are still on your own to develop the means of reaching the mainstream market. However, a Kickstarter, or similar fundraising site, does immediately raise your profile so that a transition to Amazon and other sellers might be a little easier than through a more private fundraising system.

For an example of how an invention can launch quickly and lead to a big profile and success, check out the story of the Growler Chill.

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