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If you want to find a manufacturer to produce your product or a company to license it, these firms won't make the decision after seeing an idea. No matter how much you believe in the product, it's likely you'll have to spend some money on it before you can market it or license someone else to market it for you. Remember how frustrated you were the last time you opened a product package, tried it out and determined it didn't work? Prototyping is the main process used for inventors to figure out if their idea not only works but can be produced on a mass scale and still work each and every time someone buys it. It often takes a series of prototypes to get your product to its initial successful stages and another series of prototypes to make sure it can be manufactured quickly and inexpensively.
Inventors have been known to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on prototyping; that's why many pursue finding investor help for the costs. But, investors don't want to pay money for something they don't know will work so getting your idea to work is likely going to be your responsibility initially. You wouldn't buy a car if you couldn't get in it and drive it, right? Well, licensees and sellers don't want to see a prototype that does not look and work exactly as you have imagined it. You must be sure that your prototype works well and is durable because executives will use it hard, and over and over again.
To get your invention to the next step, you need a confident pitch, a well supported plan and a great prototype that can hold up to someone's tough eye and testing. So, setting up a series of tests on your own first is a great idea. For example, if you invented a toy, give it to some kids and see how it holds up. If you invented a way to improve a machine, ask a local manufacturer to give it a good test. Always be sure that people exposed to your idea sign confidentiality agreements. Also, investigate with a patent attorney all you need to do to protect your idea if you are going to expose it to the public or you might forfeit your exclusive rights to it. Two places you might find help with invention prototypes are local universities or a local inventor's association.