taking an idea to market

so heres a question for all those independent designers out there:

how do i take a concept to market?

i know this is a big question, but say i have a great concept for a simple product and i’d like to make some money on it. Do many companies license concepts that aren’t exactly patentable? lets say its a lamp thats innovative but more about style than something you could get a utility patent on. and lets say you don’t have the kind of capitol or business experience you’d need to bring it to market. Are there many companies that license these sort of things even though you wouldn’t have many ip rights to the product?

how do designers that have their own ‘line’ work? are they usually producing that line in partnership with some corporation in the background or are they usually fully independent?

i know the answer to most of these is ‘all of the above’, but i’m more asking what the best and/or most popular solution is.


Well I can’t help you take your “product” to market. But I can give you a bit of advice…you are not going to get too much help with this problem here (as you have prob figured out by now). Your question kinda falls into the same catagory as the “How do I get an ID job?” catagory. If you have been trained as a designer, then you should be good at researching, problem solving, and creative thinking. You can’t just have the answers handed over to you for free! And even if you did, that doesn’t mean they would work for you and your ideas anyway. But don’t get discouraged!

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt

The best advice to give you is in asking those who have done it already, just as you would consult a mentor about getting how to get an ID job.

If you want to license, it’s a matter of identifying potential companies where your design ‘fits’, and approaching them in a professional manner (good presentation, prototype, market research, competitive audit, features/benefits). If this is a one time thing, that may be the best approach. If you see yourself pursuing additional concepts/designs down the road, why not learn the process of taking one to market now? If you want to ‘make some money on it’, pursuing it yourself will usually yield higher returns, at the cost of more sweat equity on your end.

Two recommended books that provide inspiration to do your own thing:
All Marketers Are Liars (Godin)
Rich Dad/Poor Dad (Kiyosaki)

Check out http://www.charlesandmarie.com. They are very much interested in helping young designers get their product out, and will retail for you online. They have been helpful with my first product to market (CritBuns).