By Jay Short
There can be little doubt that the power of the internet has revolutionised how new product infrastructure and interest is built up. The typical profile of an entrepreneur is also changing. Typically, 20 years ago, you would almost certainly need to be commercially astute or business-minded to be able to do the relevant research and development to get your idea off the ground. For new inventors, product designers and entrepreneurs these days, the goalposts have shifted.
By making use of the internet, it is now possible that an individual can research the market to ascertain whether their idea is unique, both from a commercial and intellectual property perspective. A quick Google search will let you know 9 times out of 10 whether your idea is on sale in the UK, or potentially anywhere else in the world! You can research manufacturers, and source potential retailers to sell your product to once developed.
If you have questions at any point, then you can 99% of the time drop these companies an email. At Innovate Product Design (www.innovate-design.co.uk), there has been a rapid shift from the primary methods of communication. 5 years ago, 7-10% of enquiries were made via email. These days, it is closer to 40%. There can be little doubt that the entrepreneurs of the future will undoubtedly need to embrace the various tools of the net, whilst avoiding the potential pitfalls.
Alastair Swanwick, Managing Director of Innovate Product Design has seen how the world has changed in terms of how entrepreneurs connect with their intermediaries, as well as potential buyers and feels there is more to come: “Years ago, everything was done by telephone, letter, or face to face. If you wanted to find a manufacturer for your gadget, you would head up to a factory somewhere in the UK and talk to the manager. These days, you can go to Alibaba.com, source hundreds of potentially suitable manufacturers globally and negotiate via an online message service, or via Skype, without ever having to leave the comfort of the office or your home.”
The same is true in terms of finding investment for your product, with crowdfunding opportunities springing up all over the place. Alastair believes that there are real opportunities for those with limited funds: “The idea of crowdfunding is an exciting one. The idea that you could obtain investment just based on the quality of your internet pitch from individuals who see the potential in your business is fantastic. The exponential benefit of having their expertise involved as well gives added value. For our clients, we are keen to let them know that Dragons’ Den is not the only option!”
In today’s digital world, it is possible to develop an idea from scratch, protect it, have it designed, prototyped, manufactured, packaged, launched and marketed without ever anyone meeting in the same room. For many people, traditional in-person contact can never be bettered, but for an increasingly tech-savvy world, there are opportunities that mean that a new product can go from a bright spark to a launched product within 18 months. Who would have thought that this was possible 10 years ago?!
About the author
Jay Short is Client Manager/Intellectual Property Paralegal at Innovate Product Design
Innovate Product Design Ltd is a group of award winning product designers that specialise in turning ideas and inventions into viable, marketable products. Innovate offers support and advice through the whole invention process: how to patent an idea, advice on patents, product design development and prototyping to sell the idea to industry. With over 10 years experience in helping inventors and entrepreneurs to get their products to market, and with offices in both the United Kingdom and United States, Innovate are ideally positioned to help the next generation of entrepreneurs in understanding the processes involved in protecting an idea and taking a product to market.