Developing an Invention

Invention design work is great and I  love working with individuals to help bring new ideas to life. Unfortunately, if you are an individual inventor looking to design, patent, license, or bring a new product to market, the odds are stacked strongly against you.  Developing an “invention” is no different than any other new product development effort except in one important way – An existing business pursuing a new product typically has experience, an existing network of support professionals and manufacturing partners, and the finances to execute. An inventor often lacks in one or all of those key areas.

Finding someone like me (who can design, engineer, prototype, test, refine, and document for manufacture) is only one cog in a larger machine. If you haven’t stumbled on to it already, read my post The 5 Things I Tell Inventors to better understand my philosophy.

Inventors Face Challenges

There is no perfect data available, but I can confidently say that less than 2% of ideas pursued through patent protection even recover the money invested in the product. Some smaller percentage become profitable. And some very, very small percentage become highly profitable. The problem with “invention help” companies is that they over promise and under deliver. While they may not technically be scamming you, they are not being up front and transparent about your chances of success and if their services really help that effort. Please, do not ever fall for the “invention review and and valuation” trap. Ideas have ZERO value. Executing on the idea is where the value is created. Those companies have a business model where they’ve never met a bad idea and sell you additional services. The market determines the value of a product, and really smart people guess wrong all the time.

How Much Things Cost

Getting a new product to market is going to be measured in the 10’s or 100’s of thousands of dollars. Research, design, engineering, prototyping, branding, marketing, manufacturing – it’s an expensive process. Existing businesses have the advantage of tapping existing sales and distribution channels. A new business or inventor that lacks these advantages faces even bigger challenges.

As an engineer, I’m always looking for the elegant solution to a complicated problem. But elegant solutions don’t fall in your lap or appear in a dream. Instead, they are the result of many hours of research, sketching, brainstorming, and failed prior attempts. What if you don’t need the elegant solution? What if you just need the bare bones solution? Well, that might be OK to. I do my best to scale my level of effort to meet your needs.

I work with clients for as little as $1,200 who have simple and straight forward needs. I also work on more complex development efforts with budgets of $50k. Don’t be afraid to tell me your budget. I’ll be brutally honest with what we can accomplish.


The patent system makes this even worse for inventors. The typical first time inventor I talk to places an over-inflated value on acquiring a patent. Patent protection should be evaluated like any other business decision. Does the investment (risk) justify the potential revenue (reward) based on the profile of the investor? You also have to evaluate the investment compared to other uses of those limited funds, such as developing the product, investing in manufacturing tooling, marketing the product, or other general business expenses.

So what should you do?

There is not correct path for inventors, but there are many incorrect paths. Realize that you are probably going to fail, especially with your first product. Do not spend money you can’t afford to loser. Hire professionals who can help you, not “invention help” companies that promise the impossible.

Start by scheduling a free consultation with me. I don’t care if you completely broke – I love hearing about new ideas and meeting the people behind them. I’ll share as much knowledge as I can with you during our call and I promise you’ll be better off than you were before.

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