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Mary Schmidt Business Builder & Renovator


Idea Pool

Are You (Really) Developing A Product?

Mary Schmidt

Nov 02, 2009

boy playing sand...or are you playing with an idea?

Of course, you need an idea before you can have a product…but you can patent anything (rather it’s a defensible patent…or a good product idea…that’s two other entirely different matters.)

Three Sanity Checkpoints:

1.  What does it do?
No, not what you’ll put on the patent application.  How would you explain it to: your Mother,  your bartender, your five-year-old daughter? If the five-year-old gets it - you’ve REALLY got something with potential. And, she’ll ask a lot of embarrassing questions that us grown-ups are too polite to ask.  Yes, I realize you may be developing something very specialized in - say - biotech. But, your potential investors (and bankers) most likely don’t have PhDs in biochemistry.

2.  Who would buy it? Really? How do you know?  Do they have money?  Have you talked to them about it?

3.  What will you do when it breaks? It will.  It also won’t work the way it “should” once it’s out in the real world.  You can build and sell one of anything.  But, you don’t make real money until you can make and sell a lot of the thing, over and over, which means the product has to work - well and consistently.  I once worked with a client who was going through sheer hell with unhappy (and very vocal, all over Da Web) customers.  After a bit (okay - a lot) of digging and discussion - the root cause became apparent.  They’d rushed to market with a beta - charging full price and papering the world with ads…for something that broke (a lot.)

In Start-Up Sanity Checks, Marketing Troubleshooting


Start-Up Sanity Check for B2B Tech Ventures

Got a great idea? Are people telling you it’s crazy? Good! You’ve got to be a little insane to take that start-up leap – rather it’s out of your garage, the lab or a day job. I'll help you decide where and when to leap (and what to do when you land).

Investment: $500.00 (Why do I call it an investment? Two reasons: 1. If you’re willing to pay, that tells me you’re serious. 2. When you pay for advice, you’re more likely to value and use it.)

Drop me a line and we’ll see if we’re a good fit. If I can't help you, I’ll tell you (and if possible, tell you who can.)

Got funding? I work with one to three start-ups a year, on retainer (minimum of three months, maximum one year).

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Social Media Isn't Free, Easy or Magic.

If one of the self-anointed experts contacts you, pitching magical thinking, ask:

1. What results can I expect if I work with you? (Note: Twitter followers aren't necessarily customers.)

2. What kind of time will I have to invest? (Social media, properly done, is all about personal relationships. You with your customers...and a good relationship takes time.)

3. How do I integrate social media tools with my current operations? (Your salespeople need to know what you're saying on Facebook. Your customer service process and policies should be consistent across the board, from phone to Twitter.)

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