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Feeling really overwhelmed

wifsterwifster subscriber Posts: 1
edited March 2007 in Business Planning
HiThis is my first post to the site.  You all sound like you really have your respective acts together, so I`m just going to lay it all on the line and see what advice you can give me.Without giving too much away, my mom and I have an idea for a product that is geared toward parents of infants and small children. I don`t know if you can even consider it an invention.  I guess you could say it`s an embellishment of an existing invention.  We already know the product works because we are using these in our respective homes.  It`s my idea to try to sell them.  I figure that if I found them useful, others might as well. These items are handmade, and while I know that doesn`t mean mass-market opportunity, I like the idea of keeping these handmade, at least for awhile.  I think it adds to the boutique nature of the product.  I think this also allows me to charge a little more for the product. I spent 11 years in the corporate world now I`m a stay-at-home mom with an infant daughter.  My mom is raising her grandsons (my nephews). With these scenarios in mind, money is a bit tight all over.  We want to start somewhere, but we don`t know where to start. I can`t really see shelling out money that I really don`t have to apply for patents and trademarks if I don`t even know that people will want the product or that the patent will be accepted.  I did my own search for a trademark and my name doesn`t seem to be taken.I`m nervous about getting the product out there without the trademark and patent protection.I can`t raise money to apply for the patents or whatever if I don`t sell these things. It`s like a vicious circle, and I need to start somewhere.Any advice would be helpful!


  • wifsterwifster subscriber Posts: 1
    I haven`t tried the ten steps yet (though I plan to)....I hesitate to get myself further in debt at the moment (credit cards, student loans, etc), so I`m trying to steer clear of a small business loan, at least for a while.My product is fairly inexpensive to make (about 4 dollars),  but I`m hoping I can sell for $40.   This is something that parents would use for at least 5 years, so I don`t think it`s unreasonable.  Thanks for the input, I appreciate it!
  • smurph05smurph05 subscriber Posts: 2
    Try some grassroots marketing. Make a couple of your products and give them to some of your friends who have young children and ask them to use them in areas where mom`s tend to gather. Other mom`s will take note of it and probably ask questions about it and your friends can then tell them where they can get one of their own. I remember when my kids were little and we would go to the park and it seems as if I was always able to strike up a conversation with someone. Mothers of little kids like to talk, especially about kid related stuff.  If you get a chance you should read the story of how Under Armour came to market. It was much the same tactic as above. The founder made some of his shirts himself and gave them away to some teams to wear, that started the ball rolling. A patent will cost you several thousand dollars so don`t be in a hurry to get one just yet. Another story you might like to read is about how Jibbitz came to market. Those are those little rubber buttons that decorate Croc`s. Again, started out hand made, gave some away, people became interested, and it took off. Good luck to you!
  • RichRich administrator Posts: 582 Site Admin
    to add to the smart posts provided here already, sell a few> learn a lot> refine your product> sell a few more. keep it local and manageable. use current customers as reference accounts to attain future customers. but to contradict smurph, i`d say, apply for a provisional patent. it`s an inexpensive way to establish a priority date (which gives you an edge over later applicants for something similar).one other thing: WELCOME TO THE CLUB! what i mean is, we`re ALL overwhelmed at times. but remember also, unless you push yourself into this uncomfortable territory (and sometimes become overwhelmed), you will miss out on the INCREDIBLE rush of seeing people enjoy your product. you can`t have one without the other... and it`s a deal i`d take any day of the week.here to support...rich
  • smurph05smurph05 subscriber Posts: 2
    While I agree that  some form of idea protection is a good thing, I am still going to differ with Rich and Campsteve. Given the fact that money is an issue, and given the fact that she is producing a product geared for children, wouldn`t it be even more important to obtain a General Liability policy for the business first? Kids do the darndest things, and there is no telling when a product may cause unintentional harm when it comes to children. I may be really off base here, but insurance is my first instinct, and as you can afford it, some type of patent or trademark protection. Perhaps I am thinking backwards....what do you think?
  • wifsterwifster subscriber Posts: 1
    Thank you all for your continuing input...you`re making me feel very welcome here!What I`ve got on my hands is the baby shower gift that you didn`t register for because you didn`t know it existed.  There is nothing on the market that resembles this - I`ve looked
    everywhere from Babies R Us to the smaller baby retailers to specialty
    boutique sites. Again, without giving too much away, it`s a way to organize your baby`s clothes.  I just gave a set of these for a baby shower gift and got a lot of compliments, so that`s encouraging.  Using these as a standard shower gift or new baby/adoption arrival gift is my first way to market my product.  Hopefully, the word of mouth thing will go a long way.  I might see about the provisional patent, which as you mentioned would give me some protection.  I must confess that I`m not familiar with a General Liability policy (seems like the more I learn, the dumber I feel).  While I can`t imagine how a baby could get hurt on these (or even get her little hands on it), you never know. Please keep the comments coming, I really appreciate all of your help!
  • smurph05smurph05 subscriber Posts: 2
    OK, in this case it doesn`t sound like anything that would come into contact
    with a child so I am not as concerned about liability should the product
    cause harm to a child. The provisional patent sounds like the way to go. So
    much for the playground idea! Giving them as shower gifts is an excellent
    idea, and you would probably do well at craft fairs as Steve mentioned. Best
    of luck to you and please keep us posted on your progress!
  • GrillCharmerGrillCharmer subscriber Posts: 7
    Product liability insurance will be required at some point from your customers (retail customers, not so much end consumers) so it is something you will be required to learn about eventually. I TOTALLY understand the feeling of the more you know, the more you find out you don`t know.  Welcome to the world of Entrepeneurship! (you are not alone, lean on us anytime)  AND Welcome to the board!
  • MNGrillGuyMNGrillGuy subscriber Posts: 2 Member
    I believe you can sell the product for 1 yr, then get a PPA, then 12 months after that you need to file the real patent.  So, you could hold off on spending big money for a patent for up to two years after your first sale.  Some of the patent guys can clarify if I`m wrong.  Who knows, after 2 yrs you may feel there isn`t a need for a patent. 
  • KteaKtea subscriber Posts: 1
    I am kind of in the same boat.  I too have a product that I`m looking to bring to market thats aimed at parents and caregivers of infants/toddlers.  I am still deciding what to do, but I believe my plan is this:  start out giving them for shower presents, etc - I have a couple made for showers this weekend, also I plan to contact hospital gift shops as well as mom-and-pop type baby stores, and sell them on my own website - which you can make for free at first.  I believe I will also file for a provisional patent while looking into the whole patent idea.Depending how sales go, how much time I have to make them, and cost, I will look into a manufacturer.Do you have the book -"The Mom Inventor`s Handbook" by Tamara Monosoff?  It is really a great book for these kinds of things.  I got mine at the local bookstore, but she sells them on her website, http://www.mominventors.comI know there are other good books for inventors out there too.
  • wifsterwifster subscriber Posts: 1
    I just ordered the Tamara Monosoff book at the request of Leslie the Grill Charms Lady.Craig - I`ve been selling stuff on Ebay for awhile now (maternity clothes, baby clothes, miscellaneous stuff), so I already have a Paypal account.  I do have a separate bank account for PayPal for just the reasons you mentioned, Craig.I was thinking about opening an Ebay store devoted to my item and marketing to the people who`ve recently bought my maternity and baby items. I have a 100% feedback rating, so my reputation is impeccable.  Hopefully that will help with sales.Ktea - I`m intrigued as to what you`ve come up with!  Maybe when we get to know each other a little better and build up that trust, we can share some ideas!MNGrillGuy - the road you`re suggesting seems to make the most sense for me.  If I can`t come up with the money for a provisional patent one year after my first sale, I might as well forget it.  Thanks again for your continuing advice.
  • KteaKtea subscriber Posts: 1
    I agree w/ CraigL, I would caution against an Ebay store.  They are just really expensive, especially to start and money seems to be a big issue.  Etsy would be a good idea.  I guess there have been problems with people copying others` stuff, but that would be a risk you would take when putting your item(s) for sale anywhere.I totally agree with getting a domain name of your own, if only for emails.  It looks a lot more professional than crafterlady@yahoo or hotmail, or whatever.  You could also set up your own website (many people have them in addition to their etsy site).  I know people will say you have to have a professionally done site, but to start I think a do it yourself site would be fine, and use the paypal shopping cart option as mentioned above.I have the book Patent it Yourself also by David Pressman.  I will look in it and find out about the provisional patent thing and whether it actually could give you 2 yrs to apply for a patent.  For some reason  I think that not the case.There is also a great message board for people who make handmade items at www.theswitchboards.com/forum/I believe you have to register to post and your items have to be handmade, but it is really helpful. People there are in or have been in the same boat that we are.  I`m back and forth here and there all the time.  There are a few others from SuN on that board as well.
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