You’ve spent excessive hours in the lab, but you’ve done it.
You have a widget that will end global warming. Or a hover board that actually works like they do in the movies. Or a cure for cancer. Now what?
There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before embarking on an endeavor as big as commercializing your reality-altering product. And it’s totally worth looking into courses that can help with training in this area. Or even hiring consultants who rock at commercializing new products in whatever area you’re about to revolutionize. But here’s some initial (non-comprehensive) food for thought.
Does your invention solve a problem that people are actually worried about? There are two questions here. What’s the market need? And is your invention the answer the market is looking for? Who else has an answer that might compete with your stroke of brilliance? You’ll need to do some research, define where you fit in the market space, and estimate what your market share looks like.
Commercializing something is a whole different animal than research. Are you comfortable with extending into this area? It’s a lot of work to start up a company. Do you have the time? Are you at a point in your life where you can really pull this off?
Is this profitable? How much more research and development do you need to do to get this thing to market? What will it cost to get to a prototype phase? How much time will it take? How will you fund the R&D? In the end, can it be mass produced? Do you have the people you need to pull it off? Will the end product be so cost-prohibitive that no one will buy it, even if it is the best thing since sliced bread?
Might be a good idea to get a numbers guy/gal to help you out here. Putting together a capitalization table (Cap table) to provide an analysis of founders’ and investors’ ownership, equity dilution, and value of the equity in each round on investment (seed round, Series A, B, C…) is a good idea. Speaking of investors, can you get people to invest in your idea? You’ll need to understand contracts, liability, financial structures, and business processes. This is all totally achievable, just make sure you’re in the right frame of mind.
Things to consider. Patent-protecting your invention is a must. There’s a nominal fee to get a provisional patent, which gives you a full year to file for the actual patent. The patent itself is pretty pricey, coming in at a few thousand dollars. But obtaining the provisional gets your invention protected earlier. Then just make sure you file the patent within the 12-month limit.
If your product is in the medical realm, keep the regulatory considerations in mind. The path to the market is a tough one, with the need to clear the clinical trial process. While some of the clinical trial pathways are less overwhelming (e.g. the 510k for a medical device), they still warrant serious consideration.
Lastly, you’ve got to be ok with the increased demand on your time, putting in the effort to find good people that you trust to work with, being comfortable working in a team, and the possibility of failure. But also be ready to celebrate when your technology makes it – you will have earned one heck of a party!
Lisa Sproul Hoverman, PhD has a BS from Carlow University and a graduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh on the kinetics of Kinesin motor proteins. In her Postdoc at Penn State University, she examined the kinetics of DNA polymerases. She has since formed her own company in scientific and medical writing services. Dr. Hoverman’s largest long-term Client is the Microsoft Health Solutions Group where she serves as one of three Senior Grant and Proposal Specialists as part of the Business Desk in Sales.
Copyright Lisa Sproul Hoverman, PhD
Published with permission