I got a great idea for a new kind of running shoe but ...

… I haven’t got a clue what to do next.

I have no background in shoe designs, manufacturing or being an entrepreneur so I’m struggling with this part. I built a prototype of a new kind of running footwear (I probably shouldn’t call it a shoe) and it works, feels, and looks like nothing I’ve run in before. I run about 50 miles per week and after 600 miles I’m still amazed by this thing. I got an attorney and got a provisional patent. Now what?

I’m thinking of doing a Kickstarter project but when I tried to get help from manufacturers to talk about how to go about manufacturing this new footwear all I got was silence. Then I stumbled upon someone with experience in the industry who was kind enough to explain that manufacturers need “specs” in order to take you seriously and for this I would need an experienced designer in the shoe industry. The problem with this is that I don’t think I’d have the money for a shoe designer.

So is there anyone with experience as a shoe designer interested in hearing about the design and possibly joining me to pursue a Kickstarter Project for a novel kind of running footwear? All I have is a good idea but no money. I just want to emphasize, I have built a number of working prototypes and they really work well and look like nothing currently out there. There’s a lot of design possibilities.

Start with a business plan.

I’ll start writing a business plan today. Thanks for the advice. But I’m still interested in finding someone who might want to hear more about the design.

Bringing a product to market requires thousands of hours of commitment and hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it happen.

Sure a designer can give your idea the once over and determine if it is “feasible”, but that cursory look is pretty much meaningless in the overall process.

That is why you need the business plan to determine the resources you need. Determine the steps and go/no go points, be prepared. From your OP, it sounds like you are doing this by the seat of your pants, being reactionary. “This is neat, now I need money.” I don’t know if that is your next step because you have not shared a plan. Anyone jumping on without a plan in my opinion is a fool ready to waste a lot of time and money.

And as you got charged by your lawyer for your patent in the $200-$350/hour range, expect to pay a designer in the $125-$200/hour range.

One other thing, are you qualified to make a plan on bringing a product to market? Have you done it before?

If not, I would see though anything you wrote as being worth less than the paper you wrote it on.

Ideas are easy. Bringing them to market is not. Nothing matters though until you have money.

I design and develop running shoes. I work with startups a lot. Read this PDF. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2074253/DC_Entrepreneur_Concept_FAQ_02.pdf

Also, make sure you idea doesn’t exist. Do your research.


Topic moved to Footwear/Softgoods forum. Might get more feedback there.


All of the above is sound advice.

It sounds like you have some working prototypes. One thing you could try to do is find a designer in your area who you could buy coffee and just chat with to better understand what the process might be like.

Also, think about what you want to do with the idea. For example, Nike did not invent the Air Technology, they bought it from an inventor who tried to sell it to other, more established (at the time) footwear companies. You might not want to go through the effort to replicate what an existing footwear company has built (design, development, sales, logistics, distribution, warehousing…) or on the other hand, maybe you do want to own it from cradle to grave.

Also, there are some footwear development houses that can be helpful. I think there was one in Portland called Shoe Dogs for awhile.

Whenever I hear someone mention that they have a good idea but no money it reminds me of the idea multiplier equation Ideas are just a multiplier of execution | Derek Sivers

joevortex - Good luck with your project! You are just at the very start of the process and although I can’t help you out it would be awesome if you could keep updating this post with your progress.

rkuchinsky - That is an awesome little PDF and easily applies so much broader than footwear.

I like that multiplier thing. Going to have to use that.

Glad you like the PDF. Hope it is useful for the OP. I get so many inquiries about “I want to start a shoe brand…” It got tiring answering the se questions over and over again. Some firms like to keep the basics secret. I’d rather have someone come to me at least well informed.

I probably still get 10 or more inquiries like this a year. I take only maybe 1 every 2 years. I only work on projects I think can succeed. It’s both a combo of idea, execution, available budget (or potential to get investors) as well as personality and understanding of what is required.

OP, feel free to drop me a line by email. I can probably tell you with a quick look if there’s anything there or not.


This is a really productive conversation. From what it sounds like, the OP could spend the next six months learning from the information that has already been offered here.

Rkuchinsky, that PDF is an amazing resource. I remember referencing it many times when I was starting my company. Even as… or maybe especially as… a designer I found it incredibly helpful. Too good to be giving away.

One thing that I found really interesting/helpful when I decided to start a company was to look at documents like rkuchinsky’s from entrepreneurs of all different backgrounds. It allowed me to create my own educated vision of how to go about starting a company.

After a few years of this, I can bring a product to market fairly quickly and inexpensively. That is only because I have been able to streamline our production and we can design and develop our products internally. If I hadn’t spent a decade developing these skills, it would probably cost at least $100k to develop each product that I bring to market. And we don’t even need tooling. The thing is, I know I still have a ton to learn, not only about design, but also about running a business.

One thing I would suggest is that you should learn what it takes to do a business plan… but maybe don’t get started yet. Depending on how you want to go about raising money, it may not be the document you want. I know many of the startup incubators and venture capital firms here in the bay area have begun to rely on other forms of planning. Take a look at Y-Combinator for example. They focus mainly on software/tech companies, but their application process and the writing of their founder has been really helpful to me. Y-Combinator was the incubator that helped launch Dropbox and AirBNB among many others.

Keep the advice coming.