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There has never been a better time to have a product idea. Pulling the trigger is easy. You can test the market, raise funds, and build a loyal following all at the same time. I’m referring, of course, to crowdfunding. What an absolute game-changer. Thanks to the success of sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the crowd can vote with its wallet now.
There are enormous benefits to running a crowdfunding campaign, including less risk, no equity, exposure, ease of use, validation, free publicity, the opportunity to leverage social media, the ability to dialogue with your customers and more.
There’s also a major drawback: Getting beaten to the punch.
If your campaign is successful, you’re going to get knocked off — potentially, within a week! And unless you’ve planned ahead, definitely before you’re able to ship a single unit. Chinese manufacturers have become incredibly adept at capitalizing on the hard work of product developers in the United States. To market their inferior version of your invention, counterfeiters will pilfer and make use of your original marketing materials, including photos, video and name.
Antonio Papageorgiou, a patent and trademark attorney who represents startups, was frank with me on the phone: “The scope of the problem is enormous,” he said. “The way dealing with copycats works right now is a losing proposition, especially for smaller companies starting up. The cost of attending to every instance [of infringement] is so burdensome, they’ll never be able to attend to the real work of growing a business."
For entrepreneurs today getting to market first is imperative — which is why Papageorgiou recommends keeping your invention under wraps for as long as possible.
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