How Inventors Should Assess Manufacturers - Black Enterprise

How Inventors Should Assess Manufacturers

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.