Prototypes are wonderful. They allow us to see, touch, and feel our ideas, leading us to improve them. Prototypes can also be helpful when pitching our ideas.
In this article about pitching a prototype of your idea, I explain how to limit your exposure by providing tips and strategies to help you protect yourself.
When you are using prototypes to pitch your product idea, you need to be very careful. Prototypes are helpful for demonstrating proof of concept, especially when pitching your idea to a company for a licensing deal or an investor.
But, things can go terribly wrong when pitching a prototype. Prototypes break. Often, it’s not obvious how to use them. And if people fail to review your instructions beforehand or don’t follow them? There’s a good chance they won’t even use your prototype correctly. There’s also the fact that many prototypes do not look very professional.
So, what does all this mean? It means pitching a prototype can actually hurt you. Your prototype can derail a deal by making a poor impression.
It is exciting when someone asks to see your prototype. But that doesn’t mean you should send it off in the mail right away.
Here are my suggestions for how to protect yourself when pitching your product ideas with prototypes.
Best Practices When Pitching A Prototype
Record and share a video.
This allows you to show how your prototype works in the best possible light. There is no need to worry about your prototype working properly, because you control everything when pitching this way.
Do a video call to pitch a prototype instead.
When your promo video generates interest, you can offer to demonstrate your prototype on a video call. This could be using Skype, Zoom, or any other platform where you can pitch your prototype in the comfort of your home or office. This way, you’re in control. Make sure to practice so everything goes smoothly!
Demonstrate your prototype during an in-person meeting.
If the person or company is close enough, you can do an in-person demonstration with your prototype. This is highly recommended. Once again, you control the pitch and demonstrate exactly how your prototype works. I recommend bringing a second prototype with you in case anything goes wrong with the first.
Do a live demonstration using your prototype at a trade show.
Should you pitch your prototype at a trade show? Yes and no. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this. The wrong way is to purchase a booth and hope that someone walks by you. If you are not in business yet — meaning taking orders — this is way too much risk.
Here’s what I recommend doing instead. Walk the trade show floor and have prototype with you. When and if it’s appropriate, do a live demo using your prototype. This way, you control exactly who sees it. The right companies for licensing will work with inventors and will be open to new product submissions.
If you’re not sure, make them sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
Before you show your prototype at a trade show, make sure you have filed the correct intellectual property.
Sending a prototype through the mail is my least favorite thing to do. For one, I can almost guarantee it will break. If you do decide to mail your prototype, make sure to provide a video showing them exactly how to use it. At the least, include very detailed instructions. Please be aware that most companies will not send your prototype back.
Use a virtual prototype first.
These days, I use virtual prototypes to test my ideas first. A virtual prototype is a 3-D computer-generated rendering. Some look extremely real. This method is very inexpensive, and you can do this before you actually build a physical prototype. If you need a virtual prototype, consider working with inventRight’s Design Studio.
Here are three important takeaways when pitching a prototype of your idea.
- Be careful. Before you show anyone your prototype, make sure you have the correct intellectual property filed—most likely, a provisional patent application.
- If you’re worried about disclosure issues, make sure to have them sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
- Before you present your prototype to a company for licensing consideration, make sure they have a great track record of working with independent inventors
Curious what my early prototypes looked like? Watch this video on inventRightTV.