To create, communicate and commercialize an innovation requires lots of money. The money can come from your existing company, from outside investors or from your own savings. Note - when it’s from your own savings it’s not uncommon for that to not be fully your decision - you often have a spouse or partner who has a financial and emotional stake in you investing your money.
I’ve spent over 40 years selling companies, outside investors, family and friends on investing in ideas that I’ve created or helped create. I’ve sold multi-national corporations, small companies, non-profits and even governments on investing in my ideas.
From this I’ve learned three secrets that I believe are nearly fool proof.
- MAKE IT REAL: Step one is to make your idea real. By this I mean you MUST craft two prototypes:
Concept Prototype: This is ideally one piece of paper that presents your idea in the way you would show it to a possible customer. When you don’t have the actual innovation use illustrations to help potential investors see your idea as you envision it.
Functional Prototype: This is a works like demonstration of the “magic” that is your innovation. It doesn’t matter how ugly it is - it just needs to help potential investors see, feel and experience the WOW you envision.
- GET THE NUMBERS: If you want investors to invest you MUST have the numbers. Numbers include: 1) Customer Research on your prototypes, 2) Sales & Cost forecasts and 3) R&D, Production and Marketing investment needs. NO MATH = NO PROJECT this is what I tell inventors inside and outside of companies.
- PROTECT YOUR INVENTION: Define in writing how you can protect yourself from being copied. Investors like to “own” something - and know that no one else owns anything close to it. The easiest way to protect your invention is to file a patent. You can also use trade secrets, specialized supply chain or in some cases trademarks.
When you can make your innovation real with prototypes, share your math and your proprietary protection then you have what you need to get investors to write you a check to support your innovation. In my personal experience over the years this process works both inside corporations and with outside investors.