Smart inventors understand that the inventing process is a number’s game: the greater the number of product ideas they imagine, the higher the likelihood one of these ideas will be licensed and produced. It’s likely that you will contact a potential licensee more than once. Although the popularity of open innovation has caused many companies to streamline the process of submitting an outside idea (through an online form, for example), I still recommend establishing a more personal relationship with the companies you want to sell your product. If you’re coming back more than once, you want them to know who you are and respect what you do! And that’s why you’ve got to pick up the phone and dial.
To get a better idea of what companies you want to work with and which are most likely to license your product, start creating your own database of information. Before you ask to submit your product, delve a little deeper. For example, after you’ve introduced yourself as a product inventor (or whatever you prefer) on the phone, ask whom would be best to talk to about outside submissions. Save that name. Learn more about each company’s individual process and preferences. Some good questions may include, “Do you accept outside submissions?” “How often do you review submissions?” “What type of products are you looking for?” “What requirements do you have?”
Getting all this information will help you have a more enjoyable and more successful licensing experience. If you know what to expect out of the process, you’re much less likely to be disappointed or surprised. Make sure to write all of this information down and save it. It will soon become clearer which companies are a good fit for your products. If one company only reviews products in January, you’re not going to submit a product in March. If one company demands that your product have a license before it’s considered, you’re not going to waste time submitting an unlicensed product.
I’m not opposed to submitting an idea and I don’t want to warn you away from it. By all means, give it a go! Having an established process makes it easier for companies to be organized. But understand how valuable it can be to have employees recognize your name and voice.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
and the skills needed to succeed. You can listen to the weekly radio
show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media
outlets find you for news stories.