Since 2007, Idea Gateway has made the greatest impact upon business startups with a demonstrable product or service. At this point, the cost (and consequences) have been low and the risks escalate considerably in the next phase. We tend to save a lot of time and capital and prevent a lot of pain by using our knowledge and resources to further pinpoint the product/service scope, minimum viable product criteria, market penetration strategy, and enterprise value progress map.

The desired scope ranges from a single entrepreneur with a proven better mousetrap (prototyped) to a small team creating their first prototype software, product or service where the development requires funding and guidance. Idea Gateway usually provides some or all of the “seed round” and as we go to market, participate in a “series A” as needed.

For companies that have proven their product and market demand and need to SCALE, the field is ripe with hazards and questionable deals. Here is where entrepreneurs sometimes make bad deals with outsiders. Idea Gateway, as an ACTIVE investor, working right alongside the team with a deal structure that is only win-win. Idea Gateway usually provides additional growth capital and will sometimes bring in other classes of capital as the business progresses.

For the many creative minds who walk this earth with great ideas, at the earliest stage, we have built The Idea Filter. This tool can help the ideator pinpoint gaps and next steps in research and product development to get further in their quest. We start earlier with the idea polishing and move toward prototyping by using early user reactions to the anticipated value proposition.

Very few companies will make the cut due to weaknesses in the business model potential and/or weaknesses in the management team. For startups, we sometimes discover the lead entrepreneur “doesn’t know what he/she doesn’t know” and we feel he/she is un-coachable. Highest risk occurs with single, untested entrepreneurs who have an unproven product. Preferred risk involves two or more business managers and a minimum viable product is nearly complete. Idea Gateway selects companies who need the boost as well as when our expertise will exponentially impact the result.

Investors are too busy investing to steal an idea. Tell people your idea only if they can really contribute to the idea’s progress. You’re looking for CONFIDENCE in the idea from other respected people. However, don’t underestimate the value of a little caution. It will only cost you a $100 to file a provisional patent and it’s well worth it.   It will be helpful if you diagram (even by hand) the process and product/service you are envisioning, describe the problem you are solving, the unique features to your idea that solve that problem, include all your notes and drawings, etc. Consider what other benefits COULD be gained by your invention and write them down. Visit USPTO to learn more about the process of protecting your ideas.

All the official patent office steps are described in the link above. Submit all your stuff. It’s only going into a black hole in Washington. Nobody will ever see it unless you file a real patent later. It’s really easy – so don’t wait. It buys you a year until you need to file a formal patent application and by that time, you better have moved the marble forward or you should not spend the money. Remember, an idea without speed is hard to cash. So get going.