Q: I created a baby product that I would like to sell to Toys-R-Us, but I need a prototype built for the presentation. What company can I use to create a prototype?
-T. Merges, Atlanta
A: Transforming your idea into a prototype is one of the most exciting and rewarding stages of creating a product. It also makes practical sense to see if your idea works. Here are a few steps you can take to build a product prototype.
The first step is to look for is similar products that are available in the market. You want to make sure that your idea is not already taken before you begin working on your prototype. A patent attorney can help you with this.
If you didn’t find any products that fit your specifications, it’s time to consider hiring a designer to build a working model of your idea.
“Normally, it’s hard to present a prototype to a corporation unless you are an established vendor or you already have a strong relationship with the buyer,” says Antonio Anderson, an invention consultant who produces a seminar series called Take It to the Market (www.takeittothemarket.com). To find a broker or sales representative to help you, Anderson suggests visiting the Website for the United Inventors Association (www.ulausa.com),a nonprofit inventor’s support group. To find professional prototype developers, search online at www.thomasnet.com and use the keywords “baby product prototypes.” This resource will supply you with a comprehensive list of companies nationwide that offer prototype design services you need.