I have built and exited high tech startups and raised many millions of dollars in financing. My focus is strategy and team/product/story alignment. I leave many of the operational details to others.
I have helped companies to focus on their customers, to build IP portfolios and to create billions of dollars in value.
I see an MBA differently from most people. I think that there is very little to learn in an MBA program that is as essential as humility. The MBA program provides opportunities for you to see that you are not the most qualified at any particular aspect of business. Leaving an MBA program, one should be saying, "If I run a company, I better make sure that all the work is done by my awesome classmates." This humility and self honesty helps a leader to compensate for their failings by hiring the best and brightest and simply overseeing them and directing their excellent work.
Thus, an MBA teaches us to rely on the brilliance of others to achieve great things instead of relying solely on our own abilities.
I too can review the deck briefly for you if you send it to me.
The pitch deck is really inconsequential though. It is the pitch (deck, appearance, personality, etc.) that matters.
So, please send me the deck, the intended tone/style of the pitch, and a list of who will attend (from your side), their roles in the company and their roles in the pitch.
The answer is quite straightforward. If your competitor has an European applicaiton and a kickstarter, you are likely barred in most countries (other than the US) and need to hurry to a patent lawyer to have the facts analysed so that you can get your US (and maybe Canadian) applications on file as soon as possible. This is an urgent matter and may be costly.
You also have certain issues relating to the right to actually pursue your project (in Europe) that needs to be reviewed.
The questions should be able to be cleared up in 1-2 hours so it is not costly to get advice, the cost, if any, is in the filing process to ensure that your rights are protected.
It is impossible to give better advice without a patent number, etc.
yes. Many jurisdictions have rights in a mark that arise simply from use. That said, it is not the same as the rights flowing from registration and in some jurisdictions, it is not available.
A quick call to a trademark lawyer should allow you to clear up if the rights you get through use are sufficient for your purposes.
Note: Branding and brand strategy is the most overlooked aspect to starting a business and a little expense now can save you a whole lot of problems later on.
The main issue in licensing is finding the right person to speak with who will be honest with you about the idea, the patents, and the prospects. When you deal with a seasoned licensing executive, they often have contacts that they can run ideas by to vet them out and improve the "pitch" portion of the licensing effort. This is very important as many great ideas are not great businesses or great products.
The right angle, the right timing and the right person need to come together to form the licensing deal.
If you do not have a seasoned licensing executive and are intent to pursue this on your own, try joining linked in (paid) and contacting people in the licensing/patenting/business units relating to your patent and discuss their similar products and product fits. This will help you adjust yourself to their business and to their business approaches/needs. Once this is done, you can then select someone to vet your patent with and to discuss how it will fit the business and see how this goes. Remember to ask for honest feedback. It is often very helpful and allows you to hone your communication to improve the chances of success.
P.S. As an example, I was pitching a retail idea and found a retired retail executive (senior VP) to discuss it with. It turned out to not be such a good idea from within the retail organisations and there was no way to improve it. It died there and I saved months of effort trying to pitch a bad idea. Retired people are generally excellent resources both in terms of experience and knowledge and in terms of contacts within their former and their competitors' organisations.
Typically, no one buys provisional patents unless they are really beyond amazing. most aggregators purchase issued patents or portfolios of applications. Most companies license issued patents. I know it is not what you want to hear, but it is essentially true.
That said, if you do your research, you can identify those companies that may be willing to pay for your patent pending idea and you may be able to negotiate an exit or a royalty deal, depending on the value of said idea.
This is a tough question to answer because you don't know what you need to know and yet you are ruling out paying for advise. I think the better question is what is the best way to determine how to achieve a competitive advantage in the market? This may involve business, marketing, financial, and legal advice, but is more likely what you are looking for. If you wanted patents, you would know that they are around 10K a pop just to get an application filed and that would already be in your budget.
If you came to me with your above question, I probably would think that success does not lie ahead. It would prevent me from investing or from buying into your product, offering, or vision.
Always search for and be willing to pay for what you ultimately want/need. In my opinion, this is the key to getting what you need to grow and scale. This is also key to planning your strategy moving forward.
It is very hard to build a business and the most important qualities moving forward are perseverance and commitment. both of these are impossible in view of your "disbelief" in the approach of your partners. Therefore, IMHO you will find it difficult to satisfy a key role until you agree with the plan or accept your position as an underling. Both of these are hard to do.
I suggest that you evaluate the business to decide if you want to keep or sell your shares independent of the decision to move on.
That said, often times people view their partner's plans as flawed because they do not fully understand them and English is a horrible language for communicating ideas and plans. So, don't jump before you have somewhere to jump and spend time trying to understand the benefits of the current plan. Maybe you will come onside and realise that it is you who failed to see the bigger picture. This has happened to me before and to people who worked for me.
Don't rush unless you have somewhere else to be!
The area in which you are working is quite complex both in terms of describing inventions and in terms of the changing legal landscapes. An expert is definitely suggested. Even then, the terms of an agreement would be difficult to protect under patent law. This makes such a business model harder to protect than others. That said, there is often some technical aspect to software that is patentable separate from the business model itself, so you may want to look there as well.
I have very little advise on how to go about the process. I am an expert at Patent Law and can easily review people's work to determine its quality. That said, I could not do that for at least 10 years while working as a patent professional as the small nuances, etc. make it difficult to see what is poorly thought out vs. what is very well thought out - they often appear similar to an untrained eye. Most people look for the most thorough description, though this is not an indication of the planning and strategy in the application.
Most noteworthy, noone really reviews patent work, so even success of practitioners may not be the best indication. I know the answer is not helpful, but it is honest.
Here is my short checklist that anyone can look into:
1) Do they have their work reviewed and by whom?
2) Do they work with other attorneys to improve their work quality on a regular basis?
3) How do they approach strategy for claims?
4) What is their success rate for broad claims?
5) Do they handle a lot of software applications?
6) When do they call for help?
General questions include
1) Do they bill by the hour or on a fixed fee basis?
2) What is the time frame?
3) What do you need to do?
Every client has a best fit representative so don't think that there are best answers to the second set of questions. I have worked with excellent entrepreneurs who love working with me and with others where the relationship was better handled by someone else in my firm. Personality, style, etc. play a big role in the feeling that you are being well-protected.
In general, I personally look for someone who is business minded, who requires no work from me, who has their work reviewed very regularly by people from other firms, who call for help often, who handle a lot of software, and who bill on a relatively fixed fee basis for the drafting work.
I hope this helps.