if i recall my history somewhat, Sam Colt would create beautiful engraved samples to show around, and would also make sure people of influence and distinction had some of his guns.
know any talented engravers? know any rich or successful people?
he also innovated, and kept innovating to respond to market changes. your buddy going to make a 5" 1911 that takes single stack mags? everyone is doing that. he better have something to offer besides shiney or mean looking.