When inventor Abby Appelt had a new idea for decorating crutches and canes, she was excited at the prospect of bringing a fun new product to market, but apprehensive as to what it would take to do so. She had successfully created one item, MyShowerStuff® – a convenient and practical shower bag for shared or public shower situations, but through that experience learned that it takes quite a bit of energy and resources to make the jump from idea to tangible product.
Abby shares tips on how she has navigated the often unclear road of product development for her new product, Crutch Skins™ – the self-adhesive ‘skin’ decals that bring personality to crutches and canes.
“Once I put the Crutch Skins™ prototype on my ‘necessary accessory’ I found everywhere I went strangers would come up to me and compliment me on my crutches.” Abby said “It was such an emotional boost in a particularly trying circumstance! Just as I had brightened up my spirits with this product, I was affirmed that I could do the same for so many more who use mobility aids.”
“I felt compelled to see if this idea was truly original and if there would be potential profit in pursuing it” Abby stated. “At the time I had recently met someone who was part of an invention production company; I decided to find out more about what his company offered.” For a flat fee the invention company did a product evaluation and market potential analysis, which supported the idea behind Crutch Skins™. Abby said, “I did need to go into this initial meeting with some research completed already, such as potential manufacturing costs and an idea of price points – but with that, the company fleshed out other details and provided valuable feedback.”
From there, Abby decided to move forward with the invention development company to bring her Crutch Skins™ product to market. Working in tandem, the company helped with legal advice, patent filing and some of the nuances of the invention. Abby still decided to get additional legal support for creating the actual business that would be behind the product; this included setting up a Limited Liability Corporation and applying for copyrights and trademarks.
“There have been some challenges with the Crutch Skins™ endeavor, there usually are with any new venture, but we worked through them and have a stronger product and company because of it.” Abby commented. “One of the hardest things is keeping a positive attitude, it is easy to get discouraged but it is important to have a network of colleagues and friends to help you keep looking forward.” Abby mentioned that a local inventors association is a great place to get plugged into – “you meet people there who have been where you are, and who have insights that they are happy to share with you. You meet people you need to know, it is a great resource.”
Abby’s final advice is to trust your instincts. It is important to learn as much as you can about the industry you are in and the many aspects of running a business. She said that she is constantly immersed in various resources, and she reads as much as she can picking and gleaning what she feels is the most valuable; “What one source tells you is the most important, will most likely be contradicted by another source, ultimately I go by my instinct – what feels honest, what feels like the best answer to my question.” “You must keep your direction fluid, something will come up that will require you to alter your path and you must adapt; you can’t be so married to your ideas that you won’t adjust.”
Bringing a new idea to market is a large undertaking, but with the right strategy and a strong professional network it is possible. Research, seek legal counsel, partner with knowledgeable colleagues and be willing to learn as you go to turn your ideas a reality.
- Crutch Skins: http://www.CrutchSkins.com
- A listing of Local Inventors Associations: http://www.inventorsdigest.com/?page_id=164
- The National Inventors Association: http://www.uiausa.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=79775&orgId=uia
About the Author:
Rachel Jackson is a freelance publicist and marketing consultant, who is enthusiastic about helping small businesses. She has been supporting entrepreneurs and startups for a number of years by implementing bottom-line focused ideas. www.RachelJackson.com