If you are an entrepreneur, you want to see your idea turned into a product or app. But the journey from a sketch on a napkin to something you can touch or download is not easy. So we asked the CEO of IdeaPros, Fred Cary, to answer some of your questions and make your road a little less bumpy.
I Have An Idea but No Prototype. What should I do first?
Thank the lucky stars you don’t have a prototype. The worst thing you can do is go through the process of getting a prototype or a patent before doing some research. You need to know if someone wants your idea, if it’s patentable or manufacturable at a reasonable price point, and if the competition will crush you.
“Research before you do anything.” – Fred Cary
Do a Google search and a patent search first. Then check out who is there offering something that addresses the same need. If there is no competition doing anything remotely similar, the danger is nobody wants what you have. Building a prototype, going through engineering, getting a patent, etc., comes after making sure you have something compelling and in a growing market.
How Do You Achieve The Impossible When You are Not Sure What’s Possible?
“Anything you can imagine is possible.” Pablo Picasso
Just because no one has done it before doesn’t mean it can’t be done. There are a couple of factors you should consider. The possibility scale varies. More capital means more possibilities. Surrounding yourself with the right resources, connections, and partners makes the possibility greater. Everything starts in the possible. Your job is to add building blocks and turn them into a reality.
Why Are So Few Inventions Ever Successfully Created?
“We fail as entrepreneurs because we build things that WE like.” – Fred Cary
The number one reason businesses fail is that there’s no market for their product or app. As a result, 97% of all patented things never get built. Your invention can be possible, but that doesn’t mean there is a market for it. It’s not only about having the fortitude, a game plan, and the right people around you. It’s the understanding you are making something people really want.
Don’t focus on the novelty. Focus on the need. Is there an audience dying for your solution? That starts with the name. We have a lot of difficulties convincing our partners the name they chose is not the right fit. They feel as if we were naming their baby. But what you need to understand is who’s going to buy it, not what you or your friends and family think of it. So talk to your target audience in advance and figure out what they need, who is already providing it, and how you can go in there and sweep them all up.
At one of his companies, Fred and his colleagues had a preset notion of the top three reasons customers would buy their product. Then they did a customer survey, and it turned out they were wrong. Quickbooks started with a personal financial tool. When they asked their customers how they used their product, they realized that they should adjust it for small businesses. Now 95% of their revenue comes from that.
“Find the voice of your customer and continue to listen to it all the way through the process.” -Fred Cary
What’s the Most Important Thing About Being an Entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, you don’t have an easy life. There is no predictable paycheck or reasonable working hours. But there is a reward of being able to control your life and figure out what you can do to make a difference in the world. It can be hard and frustrating, but in the end, it pays off, contributing to your, or in some cases, the world.
How Much Funding Does a Business Need and How Do You Go About Getting It?
Your business needs as much as you can get. But, you have to be careful. If you’re raising equity at the beginning of the process, you can’t get that much value for your company because you don’t have any sales yet. Often you don’t have employees either, as you are raising the first funding for employees, advertising, or manufacturing.
Don’t ask too much at that point because it can take a big chunk of your equity. Figure out what the first steps are and raise enough capital to do that. The initial money can come from family, friends, your second mortgage, 401k, etc., and it is where you have the most reasonable terms.
Once you get rolling, you can do convertible debt, where people lend you money that they can convert to equity. It is a good option for everyone. When it comes to how much, try to get the minimum for manufacturing, tooling, initial advertising budget, and raise that amount by 50%.
Can You Get A Patent For An App?
Yes, but not for the zero and ones in the code, but the process. You can patent the order you do the things, how it works, the design, and get a copyright for the look and feel of your screens, the fonts, the presentation, etc. It is not a utility patent, but you can protect your intellectual property. Dating apps are a good example. Everyone can make one, but they are all unique.
The “Idea Pros” at IdeaPros have the resources, experience, and tools to help you at this step or any step in the entrepreneurial journey. We partner with entrepreneurs at any stage and who are ready to invest their ideas. Apply for an interview and let’s explore partnering together.