How Do You Ensure Your Invention Will be a Success Before You Spend Tens of Thousands of Dollars and Years of Your Life Fighting for it?

Product Development Professionals Hedge Their Bets on New Products and You Can Too.

You can't fully ensure. But there are steps you can take to better the odds. (This is long, but you're new to inventing, well worth reading.)

Inventions are high risk investments. In my experience over the past 30 years, the most commercially promising inventions, even with careful vetting, are still, at best, only 50/50 bets. Why? Because there are always evaluation errors and unknown unknowns.

50/50 is a terrible bet if your life savings are on the line. But if you can afford to lose all of the money you're betting, a bet of $10,000 to $100,000+ that could pay off $5-$10 million, is a FANTASTIC bet.

So the question is, whether you're an independent inventor or a large corporation, how do you better the odds?

You do it step by step by focusing first on what would kill the idea most quickly and stop you in your tracks. If you don't kill it in step one, move to step two... and so on.

The first step is to search online for products that perform the same function and see if your invention idea is already being sold. If you find something similar you need to ask, "why will mine perform better and/or why will it be less expensive?" Being just a bit different isn't good enough (99.9% of the time). Next you need to search for patents at and and ask the same question. Use search terms that describe the structure(s) and procerss(es)of your invention. If you don't find anything you're not using the right terms. There is ALWAYS something similar. Once you find something similar drill down by looking at citations and prior art references.

Now you're ready to evaluate the invention idea using the Inventicator - Going through that process will give you more to think about.

So far you've spent $0.

Now, if you haven't killed the idea, you're ready to spend some money. At this point you'll need: a) a presentation of the idea that you can show to prospective buyers, b) at least a provisional patent application to claim priority because... c) you're going to do a survey that confirms there's really a market and a survey means public disclosure. Read more about surveys here: You may want to perform multiple surveys to get a deeper understanding of something the first survey revealed. You could do the presentation, provisional patent app and survey on your own for less than $1000; or you could hire someone like Invention City to do those things for around $3-$10,000 (details matter a lot).

If the survey results are good... then...You're ready for a refined working prototype and additional patent filings (hopefully you've already made a rough prototype on your own before this stage). This may well cost you between $10,000 and $100,000++ depending on details. It's hard to take this step on your own. So, before you take it, do all you can to ensure that spending that kind of money (and time) is a good bet. Now, with the refined prototype you can make better presentations and perform better surveys and discover yet more improvements.

Somewhere between the first survey and the final prototype you'll be ready to start seeking investors and/or a licensing deal.

One last step is recommended before going into manufacturing - a commercial test where the product is actually offered for sale and you learn whether or not people will actually buy it. The product is offered even though it doesn't exist yet. Some companies run web tests where they offer the product for sale and then cancel the orders and refund the purchases afterwards. You can do the same thing with a Kickstarter or Indiegogo project. Companies love licensing products that have been successful at crowdfunding because the market (and the engineering and design work and the patent work) have all ben done for them.

If all of that sounds exhausting, you can get great feedback and a chance at a licensing deal (you spend $0 going forward if your invention is licensed) with a Brutally Honest Review from Invention City(only $95):

- Mike Marks

share this article: facebook