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I have been an inventor for a number of years and am the former President of the Tampa Bay Inventors Council - a non-profit group dedicated to educating and helping inventors. As an inventor, you face many hurdles. There are companies that claim to be in the business of helping inventors that do not. There is the whole field of Intellectual Property, which includes Patents. There is the desire to move forward without the testing necessary to make sure you are on the right track. And, of course, all of the competing obligations depleting your time and money.

The first step is to decide that you will make it go right. Once you have decided that, you need to educate yourself. A good book to start with is Inventing On A Shoestring Budget! by Barbara Russell Pitts and Marry Russell Sarao. If that is the undergraduate course, graduate school is contained in Patent It Yourself by David Pressman. This is the “Bible” for inventors. Another book I highly recommend is How to License Your Million Dollar Idea by Harvey Reese. Also, find an inventors group in your area and go to the meetings.

At some fairly early point, you will need to test your invention. You may need to see if it works as envisioned. You may need to see if any design changes are needed. Before you commit too much time and effort, you definitely need to see what potential consumers think of it. If you decide to move forward, you may need to impress potential investors or companies that could license the invention from you. For all of the above, you need prototypes.

Your first prototype may be a crude combination of glued together parts to prove that the concept works. But, for any real consumer research, you need a realistic prototype. It needs to look like a product on the shelf at Wal-Mart (or not too far from). At any early stage, you certainly do not want to spend thousand of dollars to get such a prototype. The answer is to get my DVD: How to Make Plastic Prototypes. This DVD trains you in an inexpensive method to produce your own realistic plastic prototypes.

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