Most successful inventors and product development companies will start with a Proof of Concept Analysis before they start spending money.
A full Proof of Concept Analysis consists of three important parts. These consist of Business Analysis, Ownership Analysis and Product Analysis. You might want to consider starting with the one that you consider to be the weakest link in the chain. For example, if you think ownership might be an issue, you might do a pretty strong patent, product and industry search, especially if you think you have seen something similar.
Next, you probably want to do an overview and make sure your invention is worth pursuing. The questions you come up with will help form the basis of your development process.
For the Business Analysis, you want to identify the market’s size. You can do this by using statistics found in trade magazines and websites, the Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics or by comparing a similar or competitive product.
After identifying the market’s size, you should consider the basic cost and price point, which you derive from by comparison. For example, a motorized sheet metal cutter could be guesstimated by adding the cost of a drill with a motor approximately the size you need and a manual cutter. You could simply add them up with a factor for assembly and you’ve got your retail price point. Do you think that this is in the price range of your potential customer? If so, you could move forward. If not this will give you some idea of what you should do.
A business analysis cannot be complete without having an understanding of how the industry works and who are the players.
For the ownership analysis, you should do a preliminary patent, Product and Industry Search so you can determine how much you could own and how important this is to the success of your product. You should also look in the stores, catalogs and on the web for competitive products that are not patented. Also look at company or manufacturers catalogs and websites to find products that may not have a patent and have failed miserably in the market and therefore will not be found for sale. These also still count.
For product analysis, you need to have a working prototype to work with and find the flaws.
By doing this product analysis, you can better allocate your hard earned resources to a winning invention or come up with something better another day.
You could always discuss your inventions or products with a patent attorney and they can help you determine if your invention is worth your time and money.