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A Resource for Idea Commercialization

Realizing that most inventors have limited resources and time to devote to their projects, John McMillan has found ways of helping inventors inexpensively determine whether an idea has merit or not during the early development stages. Each test phase is a prerequisite for the next. It is recommended that the order of the test phases be adhered to as much as possible. As an idea passes each test phase its VALUE increases. This VALUE is essential to the inventor for making commitments for the next phases as well as attracting investors and manufacturers, should the inventor decide to bring others into the picture.

John understands the importance of confidence in dealing with proprietary matters. An initial 1/2-hour consultation at no charge is offered in order to get aquainted and ensure a trusting, beneficial relationship. A Non-Disclosure Agreement can be signed by McMillan Design and returned to the inventor before any sharing of proprietary information.

John is also a big believer in DO IT YOURSELF. By doing all or most of the work yourself you, the inventor, will be keeping costs down, maintaining control, and developing pride in your achievements. Most of the fun in product development is exploring and learning how to do it yourself. When you face something beyond your scope, seek the services of those such as McMillan Design, who at reasonable rates, will provide you with no less and no more than what is needed. Since a lot of seemingly great ideas turn dormant or fail, it is best to keep the costs as low as possible in these early stages of development. Unnecessary expenditures can be fatal to your project. Bear in mind however, that as an idea passes each test, it increases in VALUE.

For the sake of inventors on a tight R&D budgets needing assistance, McMillan Design can assist with one or more of the product development test phases that follow. They can be administered individually or in groups at the discretion of the inventor.

MARKET RESEARCH

The successful inventor or product developer has a thorough knowledge of prior art, current products on the market, and trends relative to the invention and its market. McMillan Design can help the inventor become an expert on the subject. Working up a business plan may be helpful but most importantly, we will try together to answer the following key question: How many units of what design can be produced and distributed economically and sold at what price with what margin of profit?

PRODUCT DESIGN / SHOP DRAWINGS / PROTOTYPE DEVELOPMENT

User interface problems must be solved early with detailed product designs and model-making if necessary. Designing, prototyping, and patent protection must happen simultaneously for best results. Optimize the design to meet consumer requirements but keep the production costs down. A lot of thought will go into making sure that all multipurpose features are built in and all contingencies are accounted for. Shop drawings may be required at this time. McMillan Design can assist the inventor build a working prototype, one that functions repeatedly and functions as intended and made with materials and a process most closely resembling the proposed (low or high volume) production. Working prototypes, user-tested in the field with plenty of feedback are the only way to fully evaluate the production processes, materials, cost of goods, user responses, and product function. Only then will you be able to include in your patent disclosure all the features that make up your novel idea. A good design will address the following concerns (listed in order of importance): (1) utility and safety, (2) maintenance, (3) cost, (4) sales appeal, and (5) appearance.

LOW VOLUME PRODUCTION

McMillan Design can assist with setting up a low volume production process - one that manufactures quality products as inexpensively as possible. To cut costs one might work out of a garage or suitable low rent work space and solicite help from friends. The first units that are produced should be tested by users in the field or even sold to whoever is willing to buy them. Feedback from these first users is vital in making sure the optimum design is created. First impressions are lasting ones so concentrate on the details and project an image of an efficient company. Only by successfully passing this stage will you have answers to the key question in the Market Research Section above. Several months or years of low volume production is a low-risk way to test all the aspects of production and marketing before plunging into expensive tooling and the costly leasing of commercial space. Bear in mind that it is hard to predict the life of any product in any given market.

PROMOTION

McMillan Design can assist in finding inexpensive ways to promote the product such as word of mouth, simple and attractive B&W brochures, and free press releases. To maintain a "presence" in the industry, a small ad can be run every other issue in the back of trade journals. A website can be created and low-cost webhosting sought. Developing a catchy trademark, logo or slogan can be a good promotional option. One can participate in local trade shows, make industry contacts and set up discounts with dealers. And most importantly; network, network, network.

PATENT & TRADEMARK PROTECTION

To avoid surprises down the road or stepping on other's toes an infringement search might be advisable. If protection is important and the idea patentable, filing for a provisional patent might be the next step. Should a formal patent application be filed, it must occur within one year of the provisional filing. McMillan Design can assist with an infringement search, a provisional application, formal patent drawings, and the complete specifications for patent filing. A patent attorney is highly recommended to complete the claims, review the final application, make any necessary changes and file the application on the inventor's behalf with the Patent and Trademark Office in Washington DC. Trademark protection is also an option if the mark is key to identifying your product.

BUSINESS AND PRODUCTION SETUP

As profit is realized, McMillan Design can help set up an efficient accounting system to maintain a tight ship. If patent protection is not possible, ways can be sought to maximize market share and stay ahead of copy-cats by developing a trade secret such as a cost-effective method to cut out or assemble materials or using a special material few know about. Customer loyalty also helps ensure repeat business. Should the project warrant the development of a high volume production process, soliciting the services of a manufacturer, or seeking venture capitol and business partnerships, McMillan Design can assist with these options that are open to you. However, the rewards of having control of your own successful small business can be very attractive, especially when you did a lot of it yourself.