While working her way through Clark Atlanta University by styling hair, 26-year-old Fatima Sokera kept running into a problem. When she removed artificial braids or other hair extensions that had been in a customer's hair for months, the client's real hair was often matted and full of glue. Since she was studying for her bachelor's degree in biology and a minor in chemistry, Sokera put her learning to work. The perfect solution to the problem was a cream she later dubbed Take Down. The wonder product dissolves and removes glue and other attaching media while loosening tangled hair.
While still in school, Sokera started her business by following a simple three-step process that can work for any underfinanced inventor:
1. Prove that consumers will buy your product in a test market.
2. Persuade people in your industry to support the product.
3. Get major distributors or buyers to purchase the product.
Don Debelak (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a new-business marketing consultant who has been introducing new products for more than 20 years. He is the author of Bringing Your Product to Market (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95, 800-225-5945).