Market Your Bicycle Invention
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Have you ever thought of an idea, a gadget of some sort for bicycles, and thought someone should market it? Perhaps that is in your future. Even if you haven't thought about the perfect bicycle widget, perhaps knowing that you could make a fun and profitable business from it sounds like a good idea. I'll bet inventing something unique would not be hard. In fact, for the purpose of writing this chapter, I figured I ought to mock-invent something. OK, here it is:
My invention is a six-inch adjustable wrench with an eight millimeter section of six millimeter allen wrench, and eight millimeters of five millimeter wrench brazed onto the back end. Also brazed on, arrayed around the ring of the back of the wrench, would be a short section of standard and phillips-head screwdriver. Oh, we need a 14 and 15 gauge spoke wrench on there, too. That's my invention. I think it would retail for $20, easily, and lots of people would buy them. Now you have to think of your own invention, this one is mine, but there's lots of things you can come up with. We all need better ways to light ourselves up at night, to carry luggage, to carry all the tools we need in a tiny kit, and so on. Also, when you think of it, a bicycle derailleur is horribly archaic. There must be a better way to transfer varying amounts of torque to the ground!
In the case of a simple little bicycle widget, something which is easy to have manufactured, or something you might even make yourself, marketing can be as easy as showing prototypes at your local cycling stores and taking orders.
Great possibilities for bicycle widgets include training or entertainment videos related to bicycles, and computer software. If you can grab your camcorder or computer and put something of value together, it would qualify as a bicycle widget you could sell through bicycle dealers or directly to the public. The nice thing about videos and computer programs is they carry intrinsic value way beyond the cost of manufacturing. In other words, what is well worth $20 to the customers may cost you thirty-five cents or a dollar to make.
In the case of a whole new drive system, well, you ought to invent something small! Of course, if the drive system is great, and you get it patented, and you find a big manufacturer to buy it from you, it can be big money, but you may have to spend big money pursuing it. So this chapter is about selling the little bicycle widgets. And I think I've said about all there is to say about it!
Oh, one last thing: If you find that your new invention is pretty-well received by local retailers and their customers, the next logical step is to expand to a wider market. Two or three approaches are at your disposal:
You can show it to the bicycle wholesalers, who might buy it in huge quantities and sell it to all their dealers.
You can hire people to travel around and show it to cycling store buyers.
You can advertise on the Internet and/or in magazine advertisements and sell it by direct mail.
You can find independent distributors representatives who want to take on a new product line. These independent reps go to bicycles stores, typically within a one hundred-mile radius of their homes, and represent product lines from one or more wholesalers. If they are truly independent, they may represent products by more than one company, provided the product lines do not compete. For instance, a representative may sell an English-made mountain bicycle line, French sew-ups, and a line of Japanese car-top bike carriers. How do you find yourself an independent rep? You ask your local bicycling shops to tell the rep about you, or tell you about the reps.
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