Develop and License IP
One approach to getting a product developed to market is to secure a patent and license it to a company with related products to expand on their line. This works well, since they’ve got manufacturing, sales and distribution channels in place. On the down side, one loses control and reaps a small royalty. BlueSky followed this approach for the Garden Rocker (Vertex) and Freedom Tent (Eureka!).
Garden Rocker Licensed to Vertex
Di, Cheryl Volkman and Sherry Rovig formed White Pine Concepts, a separate LLC to develop and license a universal design solution for Baby Boom gardeners with aches and pains. The design went through many iterations and testing; and design and patent applications were filed and awarded. Rather than manufacture it themselves, they sought out and found a manufacturing partner in Vertex, another Minnesota company.
Freedom Tent Licensed to Eureka!
Accessible tent designs and zipperless doors for tents were developed as a result of a SBIR from the USDA. BlueSky “pitched the tent” to a couple of key companies in the outdoor recreation world. Eureka licensed the design and manufactured the Freedom Tent from 2006-2012. They also incorporated the fan door in other products, including an ATV “garage”.
Become the manufacturer
Another model is to develop your idea and produce it yourself. This takes a Leap of Faith a large upfront investment– for tooling and inventory, and an even larger ongoing commitment–for marketing and, most importantly, Staff.
In 2008, BlueSky Designs launched the Mount’n Mover. Our goal was to become self-supporting and reduce our reliance on grants. Within 3 years, we had turned the tide. We put new product development on hold in order to focus on selling product.