Question: I would like to get a prototype made for my idea, but I can't make it myself and can't afford the $4,000 it would take to have it produced. How can I proceed?
Answer: There are three ways you can move forward. The best solution is to find an engineer, designer or prototype builder who will work for a percentage of your idea. Mark C. Williams, an Indianapolis inventor, granted 20 percent of his invention to an engineer who was willing to do the necessary patent drawings and engineering design work that moved his invention forward.
The best way to find people who can help in this way is to attend inventor or entrepreneur club meetings in your area. If you can't find an inventor's club, leave your name and address in the question-and-answer section on my Web site (http://members.tripod.com/~Donold), and I will try to get you the name of a group to contact.
A second strategy is to try to find a manufacturer who will make a prototype for you at its own expense. You might be able to get help from a manufacturer if you agree to hire the manufacturer to build your product or if you offer the manufacturer a small percentage of the product's profits. You can find manufacturers who might help you by looking in the Yellow Pages or business magazines for companies that want contract manufacturing work.
The third option is to find investors among your family, friends or business acquaintances. If possible, try to get contacts in the market to invest $500 to $1,000 in your product in order to produce a prototype. People in the industry are a better choice than family and friends for two reasons: First, their investment shows others in the industry that knowledgeable people believe in your idea; second, they are in a better position to help you introduce your product after the prototype is made.
Mimics Alternative Bedding and Designs, P.O. Box 157, Kennett Square, PA 19348, (800) 3-MIMICS
Marc C. Williams, c/o Alert Systems Technology Inc., 4915 N. Kenwood Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46208, (317) 259-1649