Developing your intellectual property into a new product takes time and money. Especially if you have to do it alone. Thanks to the Internet there is a better way. Crowd sourcing speeds up the process, not only in ideas for a new product but also getting early customer feedback.
Rather than guessing what your customer wants, you can use crowd sourcing to find out if what you invented is what customers actually will want and buy. Crowd sourcing reduces product development risk because it’s done at the concept stage. It also gives you new ideas for your product that you wouldn’t think of on your own.
Quirky is one of the more popular product development sites. You send your product idea and the community of inventors, designers and product experts give you advice and feedback. In return, you can offer a share of your revenue So, and you can sell your product direct through their on-line store. Zazzle is another site where you can upload your designs and test them out on all sorts of products. Some sites are product specific, such as Threadless.com, where artist can upload their artwork and sell it on different types of t-shirts and sweat-shirts. There’s even a crowd sourcing site to design your own custom tattoo – CreateMyTattoo.com.
You save time and money because you don’t have to invest in building a fully developed prototype. It also reduces the risk of product failure by learning whether the product will be accepted by your customer. By engaging a community in the development stage, you also create ambassadors to promote your product. Since they helped you co-create it, they have a vested interest in its success. Basically your using your customers ideas to create a product they want to buy.
Many big brands use crowd sourcing to get ideas from the customers on everything from developing new products to brand positioning. Lego set up a dedicated website for fans to submit their ideas for new Lego products. The ideas are shared with all fans and if enough of them like the idea, Lego then decides whether to produce the product. Dell set up a similar crowd sourcing site, Idea Storm which attracted hundreds of thousands of votes and comments on new product ideas, resulting in Dell developing over 500 them. Unilever created an Open Innovation Portal, listing different challenges for improving current products or solving problems such as reducing water usage in showers. Kraft Foods used the crowd sourcing site eYeka to help them come up with a unique position and advertising campaign for its Mini-Oreo cookie product.
Crowd sourcing is an open innovation platform. The concept is the wisdom of the crowd is better than the wisdom of one. It provides more resources inexpensively. Customers become more interested in your product, service or technology, and in some cases, have a vested interest in its success. One thing to keep in mind is your sharing your idea and intellectual property with lots of people. That leaves you open to the risk of someone else using your intellectual property. Before using a crowd sourcing platform to develop your product (or any other form of your IP), make sure you verify that you own the all the crowd sourced work.
The key to being successful in licensing your IP is to prove the marketability of that property. This means proving the marketability of your IP…that it works and customers will buy it or use it. There are a number of ways you can verify marketability (and build value) for a newly developed IP.
Rand Brenner is President / CEO of Licensing Consulting Group, an intellectual property management and licensing company specializing in assisting clients in IP Management, Strategic Consulting, Acquisition of Licensing Rights, and Property Representation. Rand has licensed some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, including “Batman” and the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, both of which generated billions of dollars in worldwide merchandise sales. He has lead various international licensing programs as both licensee and licensor, and through consulting projects focused on licensing strategy, brand development, sponsorship sales and property representation.