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What's my next step?

PostPosted:Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:34 pm
by todpunk182
Hello, everyone!
This summer I worked for an uncle who owns a deck painting/staining business. As we worked we tried coming up with a few ideas on how to get each deck painted in a shorter amount of time...the time = money concept. I came up with a fairly simple but cool idea for a new paint applicator and made a few sketches of it. I showed my uncle and he thought it was a pretty good idea and said if I made it, he would try it out for a few days. So I did and he did. Anyways, this new 'brush' worked great and even by the end of the first day he was complaining every time he had to go back to using a regular paint brush. Over the summer we worked out all of the flaws, but since this applicator is cut/welded from parts of other brushes on the market, it isn't very pretty! It works well and on paper it looks great, but it could use a little professional design help. My uncle swears by it and the time it saves, and he's been painting these same style decks for a little over 10 years, so he would know.
I'll get to the point. What's my next step here? My uncle says I definitely need to try to sell it, but I'm not sure where to start. Patenting is far too expensive, patent pending is still too costly (college student + books/tuition = flat broke!) but possibly an option, and I've heard it would be difficult to get companies to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Who do I contact? I'm assuming I make a list of paint brush/paint supply companies, but not sure where to find an extensive list. A website, perhaps?
ANY help would be much appreciated!
Todd

Re: What's my next step?

PostPosted:Sat Dec 15, 2007 10:05 am
by greghill
Hi Todd,
Congratulations on your invention! It is important to protect your idea. Any company that refuses to sign a non-disclosure agreement is not a company that you want to work with, so don't be afraid to require it, and don't be afraid to walk away if they refuse. There are two directions I can see you go, either partner with a financial backer or go for it on your own. Working with a financial backer means that you may have to make compromises to maintain the relationship, but the financer may be able to add business expertise that you may not yet have. Going for it on your own means no compromises, but its all up to you. You can try to do it on your own and pick up a partner later, but you can't start with a partner and dump them easily if it doesn't work out.
Anyway, this is what I would do next either way:
1. Make a materials list. Rather than cannabalizing other products, you will want to get semi-finish materials from existing vendors. For instance, 500 3-inch nylon bristles, 1 1x5-inch metal strap, 1 tack, 1 wooden handle. I don't know what you need, but you get the drift?
2. Find out who manufactures the materials you need. This is a balancing act. You might find that it is cheaper to buy a spool of bristle material and cut it to size yourself, then you'll have to consider what time costs. It is better to purchase materials from manufactures you can visit, as opposed to distributors (who mark the price up) or manufacturers that are far away (or speak another language).
3. Contact the manufacturers of the materials. It is likely that small quantities will have a higher per-unit cost than larger quantities. You want to know what quantities qualify for better pricing, so you can take it into consideration.
4. Write out the manufacturing process, time required and materials costs.
I have more to tell you, but if you get this much done I'll know you're serious enough for me to take time to tell you.
If you have questions or want clarification, please don't hesitate to ask.
faithfully, greghill

Re: What's my next step?

PostPosted:Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:14 pm
by C-Chamberlain
WHOAH don't forget to start that patent process!
Patents are the best way of getting your idea protected and the law states that if you sell one BEFORE you start the patent process... no patent. So just start the process. Go to the USPTO web site and see how it's done. You can file a preliminary patent initially - costs about $50 I think. This states you will get the ball rolling within a year and holds your idea on file as well if anyone were to contest the origination date ("HEY, I thought of that first!" battle is won this way). Also, with a patent, you can liscense it out to one company for money and make money off of each one sold and they deal with the manufacturing costs while you get paid for having a brilliant idea. Or you can liscense it to many compaines in different areas like England, Japan...(once you hit it big).
I hope you succeed and I also hope to be in your shoes someday...