Diary of a Young Entrepreneur – finding funding

In the sixth of her monthly blog posts charting her journey towards taking an invention to market, young entrepreneur Rowena Mead secures funding and goes in search of blue chip contacts.
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16th November 2007 at 10:13 am

In the sixth of her monthly blog posts charting her journey towards taking an invention to market, young entrepreneur Rowena Mead secures funding and goes in search of blue chip contacts.

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I can’t believe I’m writing my sixth blog post – the time has flown so quickly. Luckily I’m still here with things to report on my journey as a first time inventor!

With all my prototyping work completed by Pd-m International, I was ready for the BBC filming, which was a great experience, and will hopefully generate more interest in my products. The documentary ‘Britain’s Brilliant Ideas Boom’ was aired on Friday 2nd November at 7pm on BBC2.

When you start out, lots of people tell you how much funding is available ‘for people like you’. The reality is, unless you fit into certain categories and jump through the right hoops, it can be very hard to get a grant.

My situation meant it was very hard to get funding – I wasn’t a limited company yet, I wasn’t going to employ people, and my product wasn’t likely to be manufactured within Europe. This excluded me from lots of grants, but thanks to support from Business Link which doesn’t offer grants, but knows what’s out there and whether you’re eligible, I was guided to a grant that was right for me. My advisor at Business Link did a great job in helping me secure the maximum amount of funding available (£5k), which has been a godsend in paying for some of my prototyping costs and intellectual property bills!

The final part of my journey, and probably the longest, was to start approaching companies who may be interested in doing a license deal with me. I had, from the very beginning, been looking into how I could access the right people at large companies. This can be a very difficult task, as the bigger the company, the more layers of people there are to filter you out.

Most big multi-nationals have some kind of ideas submission protocol through their website – which I would never use. The small print on them gives no rights to the inventor, so I would recommend steering clear.

Using as many business contacts as you can to aid you is the best way to go about it. To give an example – when I conducted my market research back in May, a man approached me who was very taken with the idea and I ended up chatting to him for some time – he ran a PR company, and had a few useful contacts so I kept in touch with him. 6 months later, he helped me get a meeting with top paediatric dentist who worked closely with a world famous oral hygiene company.

I have had a few very positive meetings with companies, but as yet, nothing concrete. It’s very early days, and as I said, licensing deals take a long time to secure. I have learnt a lot by reading Sir James Dyson’s autobiography – a real eye opener, and a must read for anyone attempting to tread the same path as him.

Who knows what what my next blog post will bring? A deal? A patent approval? Let’s hope so!

Rowena Mead

Rowena Mead is a freelance copywriter and entrepreneur with ambitious plans to bring a new type of children's toothbrush to market. Married with a 20 month old mischievous daughter named Saskia who was the inspiration behind her invention, Rowena shares her business trials, tribulations and successes with SmallBizPod readers. http://www.subservientcopy.com

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