Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply choose the first product development company they find. It is folly! OK, all jokes aside, it’s extremely important to choose your product development company with great care. Because, sadly, not all invention companies are created equal. When people think of working with a company on an invention, they tend to split the available companies into categories of black and white or good or bad in their heads. They’re convinced a company is competent or they’re scammers and they’ll be able to tell the difference right away. But, the truth is, there are a lot of different factors to consider when you’re looking for the right company for your product…not just your gut intuition. Your invention is, dare we say, your precious and deserves to be treated as such. To help you find the right company, we’ve compiled a list of factors to consider:
1) Factory or Outsourcing?
When you’re looking for an invention company, one of the most important things to check is whether the company will be building your invention in-house or whether it will be outsourced. A lot of invention building companies tend to outsource the bulk of the building work to a factory across the country and sometimes even across the world. They typically do this to save money on production costs, which may make them seem appealing as the cost will likely be lower for you as well. But this savings comes at a price.
Companies that outsource tend to be less customer-service friendly as there will be a constant back and forth between the customer, the sales company, and the outsourced production company. This means if you have a question or concern, it will likely take days or even weeks for the company to get back to you with an answer. And, because the company itself isn’t directly overseeing the invention process, there can be a ‘telephone effect’ where you tell this company what you want and then, when they communicate it second-hand, it doesn’t result in the outcome you expected. As a general rule, look for a company that does its inventing work in-house.
2) Getting products in store and on shelves
Another important thing to look at is a company’s ability to get inventions on the shelves of stores. Once you’re finished going through the actual production process, a lot of product development companies will leave you high and dry. Many may be able to create your invention, but there are very few that will help you with what comes after the invention is completed. Those next steps can be scary and difficult to navigate. When you’re looking for a company to build your invention, see what they can do to help you in the next steps.
When you’re choosing a product development company, have them take you through their process from signed contract to the completed invention. It’s important to make sure they’ve included one crucial step: Prototyping. For those unfamiliar, prototyping is the step in which one makes an early sample or model of a product or invention to act as an example or something to be learned from. This step is crucial because it’s the time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Without this step, your invention will likely not look or function as you envisioned it.
4) Customer Service
This is another aspect to keep in mind as you’re having a company walk through their product development system. It’s important to know how heavily involved you’ll be in their process. Ideally, you’ll work with a company that involves you in the procedure each step of the way, rather than a company with a more hands-off approach. If the company isn’t willing to take the time to talk with you in detail about your invention throughout the process, you run the risk of them building a product that wasn’t at all like what you had envisioned. So, when you call companies, you should not only make sure you ask about your involvement throughout the process but also make sure you like the people you speak with.
This is one of the more common fears for inventors: how do I know my idea is safe? It’s absolutely crucial that you make sure whichever company you choose to work with takes measures to ensure your confidentiality is protected. This typically involves a confidentiality agreement of some sort between yourself and the company as a whole. However, some companies take the extra measure of making each of their employees sign a confidentiality agreement as well upon hiring. Both of these measures ensure that you’re working with a trustworthy company and that your idea is safe from those with unsavory business practices.
6) Awards/Proof of Excellence
This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but it is helpful to have further proof of a company’s good track record aside from their word. Knowing they’ve won awards or even seeing some good reviews is a way to further make certain that you’ll be in good hands. There are several different awards that a product development company could have won or been nominated for. For example, it may be helpful to see if they’ve ever won or been nominated for an International Design Excellence award, which is an awards program co-sponsored by Businessweek Magazine and the International Designers Society of America.
Summary: Questions to Ask Product Development Companies
1) Do you build your inventions in-house or do you outsource them to another company?
2) Have you gotten products in stores?
3) Take me through your inventing process. Do you prototype inventions?
4) How involved will I be throughout the inventing process?
5) Is my invention idea protected? If so, what steps do you take to protect it?
6) Have you won any awards? Or do you have any other proof of your expertise?
Do you have a better understanding of things that make an invention company a good one? Are you comfortable with looking for the invention company that is right for you? Check out what kind of inventor you are by clicking our link below!