I have a lot of ideas for businesses and products, but no experience with business, manufacturing, sales, marketing and supporting a product or service. And it's not something I want to spend a lot of time on. I'm good at and enjoy thinking of ideas and making prototypes (I'm an electrical engineer and programmer, and I also have experience with 3D modeling and printing). But if I spent the time to develop each one into a business, I wouldn't have time for new projects, and also it's very expensive to do.
Maybe this is a naive question, but is there a way to sell my ideas or projects at the prototype stage for a more experienced entrepreneur to take over the project? Ideally I'd like to have some say over the direction that's taken with it, but I don't need to. And I don't necessarily have to make a lot of money off of it. Even equity or a percentage of profits would be okay.
Sorry if those are a lot of questions and maybe something basic, but I'd really appreciate any input or pointing me in the right direction to research this myself. Thanks.
‘’Ideas are cheap, execution is everything.’’ - Chris Sacca, Investor in Twitter & Uber
Corporations will not even talk to you because they do not want to put themselves in a position of violating confidentiality agreement. They think they have smart enough people to come up with the idea you have.
So the problem you must address is to define enough value about your idea with the minimum amount of money on your part. Not simple. So you need to find young people like yourself that have nothing to loose and the knowledge to define value. They need to feel the effort to help you is worth their effort.
The people you want to talk to, you must show in theory that the development cost can be recovered in a few years after the product goes into production. That the market is compatible with the profit they expect from products, have enough customers. And finally to need to convince them that you will develop it yourself.
Dison presented the cyclone vacuum cleaner to my last employer and they turned him done. Dyson is in the market and it appears Eureka has dropped out of the consumer upright market.
Being not experienced with this, my answer may not be the right one but is the one I've heard the most and have practiced at smaller scale in Product Management. I am hoping someone would correct this if I am wrong so we both can learn from it.
- If you do have an idea and the skills to develop a prototype, validate it. You can put your prototype out in front of the people who would fit the user category and see how they react to it. It is important to note that you try to simulate real life as much as possible and not go by only getting feedback from people you know. The best way I believe is to make the users commit to something (payment, providing email etc) that way you'll know how many of the people are really interested in the idea.
- No real way of protecting it. You can make cofounders sign NDAs but hard to expect an investor do that to even show them your idea. One rationale I've heard is, "what if I have already invested in something like this?"
- Getting funding might be possible, but you still want to have information and metrics about the market size, users, revenue model etc.
I'm following the question to hear from more people. All the best! :)
One option would be consider licensing your product to another company. It has a cheesy title, but I actually found a book called "how to license your million dollar idea" helpful and reasonable practical for this type of effort.
I'd worry less about someone stealing your idea than about getting it off the ground. An undeveloped idea is worth zero dollars. Licensing your idea could be significant, the odds of getting an idea outright stolen is very low and even if it does you could have potential legal recourse.
Getting funding to hire a team to develop would be tricky. Potentially you could do a kickstarter campaign, raise some cash and get some initial orders, and then raise some cash. Given what you're passionate about (building products) I'd not recommend this avenue for you.
Hope this is helpful.