How Inventors Should Assess Manufacturers

What you need to know and need to ask.

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Editor’s Note: Andre Woolery created the MagnoGrip Magnetic Wristband in 2005. The Velcro band with embedded magnets was designed to keep drill bits and small tools close buy. In this blog series Woolery takes readers through the process of brining his invention to market. In his third blog entry, check out his advice on assessing prospective manufacturers.

Previously I talked about gaining leads at tradeshows and industry events. This is crucial for any inventor looking to bring a product to market. It’s also important to have a few prospective choices. Once you get to the stage where you’re talking to potential manufacturers, it’s important to keep the following in mind as you go through the process.

  • Aim to have at least three serious candidates that you’re considering, this will allow you to not get too emotionally attached to any one supplier and give you some leverage in your negotiations.
  • Obtain a sample and a detailed quote from each prospective manufacturer.  The quote should spell out their payment terms, order minimums, lead times for delivery, etc.  Usually this part of the process can be hashed out virtually via emails and phone calls.
  • Visit the factory and meet with the team.  There’s just no substitute for the first hand knowledge that you’ll acquire from a factory tour.  It’s also a great way to send a message to the supplier that you’re serious and can go a long way to you developing a bond based on trust.

This was the process I went through before setting up manufacturing in Asia.  I took a trip to China and spent a week on the ground visiting all the factories that I had been talking to that summer.  This visit demystified China and made me realize that although we’re different, we have a lot in common.  It was that understanding that allowed me to establish a strong working relationship with my supplier that goes beyond business.

-Andre Woolery

For more about Andre and his invention as well as taking your own idea from concept to creation, pick up the November 2010 issue of Black Enterprise Magazine to read the cover story, Code Name: Inventors.

  • htttp:// article like this make me restless, because it show what one could do with persistence.

  • Cherra L

    Greetings Andre! CONGRATS on your new product. I know the journey has not been the easiest process, but you persevered. Which has paid off! Yeah!!!

    You are quite correct in regards to inventors should visit the manufacturing company if they are interested in building their own company and not interested in licensing their products.

    However, no one seems to discuss how “Inventors” can actually connect with “Investors” for seed or working capital. Sure you can use every dime you have, borrow from family & friends, seek business grants that is suppose to be available which isn’t.

    You can have the best product in the world, even have patents, prototypes, trademarks etc., though it takes capital to bring your idea into fruition.

    My question:
    1: How were you able to fund your project?
    2. How can we get the message out there to investors that there are new innovative products produced by independent inventors everyday. That could possibly generate income more income than they could imagine.

    If it were not for independent inventors, most of the things around us would not exist. I am happy that you have started this blog.

  • Are there any black owned and operated and civic minded manufacturing companies out there?

  • My company which is black owned and operated is in an unusual situation. We have patents, products, manufacturing, even licensing of the technology but investors are no where to be found. On paper its hard to believe that we have built the company to its current status without any real capital. In a nut shell we are receiving the silent treatment from the industry.

    • this is amazing because my company is in the same place. right now i’m trying to get investors interested in my product which is a green product but no takers, i even got to the point where i looked into craigs yes i know its that bad,

      • Raymond D. Sweet

        Darren/Bert: Ok. I am not an expert by any means. I have helped a few people move along this block. 1. Do you have customers? If you have a block of customers you can reinvest your own capital. 2. Do you have a web presence? 3. Have you installed or given away any of your products for free? 4. Have you tried to connect with another business that is small to offer a leg of service for them? 5. Is your credit good enough to make a loan? Your loan will be your first bit of capital outlay. Once you prove success with the loan you can then leverage your success for another loan. But there is no group of investors out there looking for your idea contrary to what you may have been told. Fyi – loan money comes from banks who use their customers’ capital to invest. So, if you have been getting a loan then yes you have investors. Also, don’t keep quiet about whatever it is you are selling. Make youtube videos, don’t say stuff like we have patents and products (Say I have product ABC that does EFG). But the biggest way I help people is through spreading the word about the product and helping folks understand the reality or business. No one knows who Darren K is and no one trusts you. It’s not personal it’s business. So, make it yourself. Go get a pizza delivery job to raise money for your first run if you have to. Connect to a large church and give some members the product for free. But for Gods sakes stop saying what people won’t do for you or invest in you. Go invest in yourself.