Building a team

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In the early stages of an invention, many inventors work alone. But as soon as external funding is needed, it often helps if the inventor is part of a team. This is because most investors want a fairly rapid return on their investment. They may think this is unlikely to happen if they see you struggling to do everything on your own. You have to prove to them that you have the resources to make things happen quickly and successfully.

In many cases, one or two other people may be enough to form a credible team. But any team must include business skills. These are often missing because all the early focus has been on technology. Technology skills may be important, but for most investors only the business potential of the idea matters.

Sources of teams

You can build a team in several ways. For example:

  • Recruit from among ‘family and friends': people whose abilities and personalities you know well.
  • Create a team of specialists you can call on when needed: for example a product designer, a prototype manufacturer and an accountant. They will have their own ‘day jobs', so keep them fully informed of progress if you want them to be effective at short notice.
  • Contact a local inventors' club and see if you can recruit a team from among their network. This may include retired professionals looking for new challenges.
  • For major projects, form a ‘virtual company' with a professional management team which does not become operational until investment is available.

However you build your team, you must be able to convince them that your idea has good commercial potential. If you cannot, you will have little chance of convincing investors!

You should decide how everyone is to be rewarded from future profits, and with appropriate legal advice construct a reward agreement that everyone is happy to sign.

You should also ask every team member to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being allowed access to key information. (An exception may be solicitors, lawyers and patent attorneys, as their professional code of conduct requires them to observe confidentiality.)

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