by Todd K.
(Grand Rapids, MI)
I have an invention (a paint roller) that I hand built a prototype for. I tested the prototype and it works as intended. So...I know I have a product that works, and the people that have seen it (family, business owner that I worked for while testing the paint roller, and a few of his customers that happened to see me using it) have all given positive reviews.
The problem is that I'm not sure about the market for this product, or how to research it. My roller paints very specific parts of wooden decks. The style of deck that it paints is extremely popular where I live.
The majority of houses and condo complexes have these decks. I realize that the market, is limited geographically. But the number of people I could market to is pretty vast including three large metro areas (as well as others, I'm sure) containing a large number of people.
Also, there is no other product like it on the market. So 100% of a fairly limited market could be as good as, or better, than a small percentage of a nationwide market, correct?
In summary, I have a working prototype, illustrations, and a provisional patent on this product, as well as positive feedback. I feel like I should be getting somewhere, but instead I'm stuck. I did contact 5-10 companies so far. 2-3 seemed interested, but conversations eventually died. I believe this is because they are not located locally and do not understand the market for this product. It definitely seems like I need to market locally and slowly expand outward.
Any advice, suggestions or comments as to what I should do next?
Evaluating your market and validating your product idea are the most important things you can do as an inventor. Based on what you describe, your market is limited to an area of the US that has a certain type of deck.
For a company to invest in an idea there has to the expectation that they will be able to sell enough of the product to be worth the expense to launch it. I see this as an issue if you intend to license the idea to a company with wide distribution.
You may want to try to contact smaller companies that offer niche products around decking and painting. Larger companies will likely not be very interested.
If you cannot find a company willing to take a chance on your invention you always have the option of selling it yourself.
With this type of product (niche, smaller market), selling yourself might be your best bet for success. It is a tough road with a single product, but you can be successful.
Try to add complimentary products to go with the roller. This will make it easier for retailers to take a chance on you and will make you more profitable.
If you take this route I suggest selling on the internet to customers directly and then selling to smaller retail changes (1-10 stores). As you become successful in smaller chain stores you can work your way up to larger retailers such as Menards or Ace Hardware.
If you don't think starting a company to sell your product is right for you and you cannot find someone to license your idea, you may have to move on to the next one. It is hard to let go sometimes but it can be for the best. I know, I have been nursing a few ideas for 10-15 years now.
I wish you the best of luck.
You have done everything correctly. The
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