I have an idea for improving a product that has been around for a while - how can I do that?
Without giving away to much information - I have a product that I use personally. This product has been around for many years but by many means is not perfect. It has a flaw that no one has been able to figure out but I think I have found a company that can fix one of it's main problems. There are about 4 main producers of this product.
There is a small possibility that the company that can fix the flaw is a client to one of the main producers.
I want to get started as soon as possible but I do not want to ruin my chances of making this work. Do I send an NDA to the company that I think can fix the flaw first to find out if it is even possible?
What if it is? Then what? I do not have the Capital to go up against these 4 major companies.
To be honest fixing this flaw and making a better product would be great but this would not be a huge money maker. It could bring in some nice income and I think it could lead to other products in the future but it would bring a lot of happiness. .... Thank you for any advice..
I am not a great writer so I apologize for any grammatical errors or if this is hard to follow.
So great to hear you are considering an exciting new venture. I understand that this stage can be filled with uncertainty. Not knowing a lot of what you are discussing it is harder to determine the best advice to give. That being said, I can offer the following generic suggestions:
1) The NDA is a great idea but remember that any legal document is only as good as it's enforcement. IF you have an iron clad document that details to limited scope of your solution prepared by a lawyer and IF you get the company to sign this document they could still take your idea and run with it and you get nothing. It will cost $ to have a lawyer draw up an NDA and you don't want to use a generic one found online. They won't hold up in court if it comes to that. You really have to consider if you would be willing to take it that far as the NDA implies.
2) The NDA is kind of putting the cart before the horse. You may have already done this but first you need clearly define your solution. You might also start working on a pitch deck. Fully vet the idea before bringing it to someone. Likewise, consider the costumer. Will everyone think it is as valuable as you do? Have you interviewed people about your idea? Would they use it and more importantly would they be willing to pay more for it? There are a ton of great ideas that aren't worth a nickle. I have found walking a mile in the shoes of the customer can be helpful. Be sure to focus on the benefits not the features. Consider the following exercise for all the stakeholders: "As a..." (CEO of this company I'm going to approach, or Customer already buying this product, or as the inventor of this new feature, etc). "I need....", "So that...." what do these stakeholders want and what do they need to accomplish their desires? The "As A..., I need..., So that..." has helped me clearly define my products in the past.
3) All in all, is the little revenue you are going to gain worth your efforts? With any new venture understand that most people underestimate just how long the process will take and just how much money it will cost to do it. You also need to consider if one of the 4 companies you mentioned tried your solution already but for one reason or another it didn't work and they gave up on it. If this is a tangible product, perhaps the tooling to created this solution was too expensive or it would cause a complete redesign of their assembly and that wasn't a route they wanted to go or perhaps a patent for your solution already exists.
4) On that note, you could pay a lawyer to conduct a patent search to ensure no one else has already done this. The search can cost a couple grand and then the patent can cost a few more and then it can take at least a year to establish. And you still have the problem of enforcing it. Its not a bad idea to reach out to a lawyer and see if they can offer you a free consultation.
5) Finally ask your self what success looks like. Does the sole success of this idea rest on just one company saying yes? IF that company doesn't say yes is your idea dead? Could you do it yourself or approach another company? As Mark Cuban says on SharkTank, you need to own your own destiny. If you don't it is less likely to succeed.
Hope this helps. Best of luck. Reach out to me on LinkedIn if you want to connect in private.