Frequently Asked Questions
Should you start your own business? Does licensing your product make sense?
How can you be sure you’re doing your planning in the best way possible? Those
are the basic question we seek to address. Not every inventor has the resources
or skills to start a company but some products aren’t appropriate for
licensing. When an inventor is exploring his or her readiness to commit his
time, energy, and resources, it makes a lot of sense to do it right and to
create a plan that will create as little risk as possible. This is where we can
help by applying our real world and specialized knowledge of new product
development commercialization in various industries, as well as sales and market
issues, to your situation.
What trips up inventors trying to get a new product to market?
- Not having a plan – or not having much of one. Products don’t sell
themselves. You will come up against unanticipated
problems or expenditures – but you’ll also find new opportunities along
the way and will want to be able to capitalize on them. We assist with your
- Putting the cart before the horse – or in other words, using up resources
such as time and money or using them unwisely. Many inventors spend all their
money on protecting their intellectual property only to discover a range of
other issues that make successful commercialization unlikely. We can help you
maximize the likelihood of success.
- Not anticipating the strategies or resources required for developing a new
product to the point where the consumer or licensee will consider it viable.
We fill that gap.
- Not understanding the appropriate sales route for the new product or
understanding pricing. We’ll make sure you cover all your bases.
What benefits does Pelham West offer?
Pelham West has been on both sides of the table. We’ve been involved with
companies bringing new products to market for several years – with both retail and commercial products. We’ve worked with companies as product scouts
– and had the opportunity to see what it takes to get a new product produced
and marketed successfully. And we are partners in a small manufacturing company
that has been successful – and has failed – in introducing new products.
Over time we’ve realized that we are in a position to anticipate the types of
problems companies can encounter – and we put that experience to work for you.
We ask the questions that need answers and we don’t use a one-size-fits all
What should you do before contacting Pelham West?
Define your needs. We are happy to respond to specific questions targeting a
particular area of new product commercialization or we can work with you on
developing a full-range strategic plan for bringing your product to market
yourself or for putting yourself in the best possible position for licensing
your product. You may even practice your pitch to a potential licensee with us.
If you feel that you are ready to explore licensing, see our section on
How do we get paid?
As consultants, we are paid a fee for our services. We make it cost effective
to use us as we cut through many of the myths that abound in the world of
invention, fill gaps in your experience, and provide down to earth and practical
information important to your success. And we promise to work effectively and
efficiently with you. We are also very selective in our consulting. We only
offer advice and never represent inventors as agents and do not present
inventions to companies for a fee.
As product scouts, we have a contract with client companies and are paid by
the client when we bring them successful products. This makes our services
risk free for inventors – we get paid when you do. However, very few products
come to us ready to be shown to potential licensees.
How does Pelham West’s consulting fee compare with other product
commercialization consultants? We continue to explore
what our competition charges and what they provide and find ourselves priced
appropriately. There is a great deal of free
advice available (some of it is quite good) and we suggest you avail yourself of it. We
set our fee based on two factors – the specialized knowledge acquired over the
last several years and the emphasis on addressing your very specific needs.
As we’ve described above, as product scouts, we are paid by the client.
Do we work with inventors for a share of the royalty?
No, we only work as product scouts for companies that have demonstrated their
ability to introduce a new product successfully.
How may I be assured that my concept for a new product or information about
my business plan will be kept confidential? We ask that you provide
basic (and general) information to us in order for us to determine if your
product is in an area in which we have expertise. Depending on the task you are
interested in working with us on, we will sign non-disclosure or confidentiality
documents. You will also find that because we focus on commercialization of the
new product, it is often the case that proprietary information need not be
What other services does Pelham West provide?
We have established relationships with product developers and can connect you
with product designers, industrial designers, engineers, electronics experts,
prototypers, off-shore manufacturing experts – the whole spectrum of expertise
necessary in developing a new product.
We also offer workshops at various
locations – allowing participants to learn from others in the process of
developing their product.
What common mistakes do inventors make trying to get their products to market?
Lack of adequate research. We cannot emphasize enough the
importance of doing a thorough search for your product. Begin by exploring what is
already on the market. Do so by checking retail outlets, web sites and
catalogues. Take note of what the product sells for, what the competition to
your product is, who sells it, and how the product is sold. Do a thorough
patent search – keeping in mind that most products that receive a patent do
not make it to the market and that most products that are on the market are
not patented. Stay current with what is coming on the market. It’s a small
world and it isn’t unusual for us to have very similar products submitted to
us by different inventors in a short period of time.
- Deciding to seek a patent first, prior to developing a plan for
identifying and development commercial potential.
- Not talking with enough people about the many paths to product
Does licensing your product make sense?
We have found, after being involved with commercializing a number of products
and after speaking with many successful inventors, that for many products the
inventor is better off producing and selling the product him/herself.
Although each product is different, two factors are very important to remember
when deciding to license or produce the product yourself.
- Access to the market. Many specialty products are sold in commercial
catalogs or in high-end retail stores only. An individual can usually
commercialize products of this type because there are rarely barriers to
being a single product company. Profit margins are much higher; an inventor
can often generate 30-40% on an item instead of a 5-6% royalty.
- Cost to produce the product. In many cases, partnerships with job shops or
other types of manufacturers can enable an inventor to bring a product to
market for less than expected.
Do you need an agent?
Many inventors believe that they need an agent to get their products
licensed. Through the years we have met many inventors who have successfully
licensed their products themselves. This group of inventors shares a common
characteristic: they have done their homework – by making use of all available
resources and by talking and learning from the experiences of other inventors
and qualified individuals.
There are exceptions to this statement. The toy industry makes use of agents:
read The Toy and Game Inventor’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to
Pitch, License, and Cash-In on Your Ideas by Richard C. Levy and Ronald O.
Weingartner, if you are not familiar with how this industry operates. You might
also find that an agent can make sense if additional development and patent work
needs to be done and the agent will pay all the costs in exchange for a
percentage of the royalties. This may be your only option if you are severely
short of funds.
- We offer workshops on new product
and invention commercialization.