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Product development companies make getting your invention to market a cinch.

This story appears in the December 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You've got this great idea, but you don't know how to take it forward. You haven't the foggiest notion how to evaluate your idea, research the market or build a prototype. Well, an industry has cropped up to help you with this dilemma: product development companies.

Although the two are sometimes confused, product development companies and invention development companies are not the same. When you thumb through the backs of many magazines, you'll see advertisements for invention development companies or invention marketing companies. The ads offer a quick and easy way to get your idea to market for an upfront fee. These companies offer such services as a patent search, marketing reports, development and distribution contacts, and more. The services are all done for a variety of fees and for a percentage of profits from your idea. The companies' sales approach is usually high-pressure. They will flatter you by telling you how great your idea is and appeal to your sense of guilt for not having what it takes to develop it.

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