If you are a terrific salesman and if you have a really good track record of previously developing a product from the idea stage to MVP, then yes, you MAY be able to sell an idea. If you don’t have that track record, or if you don’t have an insider connection with the company you want to present to, you really don’t have much of a chance. Sure, products may go viral and ideas get sold that way but that is a really small chance of happening.
Here are some of the reasons it will be difficult to sell an idea.
- Most companies are reluctant to look at ideas from outside contributors unless you have an inside connection. The primary reason is fear of being sued. If a company has any type of R&D program, or an active, creative merchandising department, they may already have something similar to your product in development. If they look at your idea and they reject it, but then release their own version of your idea, you will probably get all butt hurt and accuse them of stealing your idea.They didn’t steal your idea, but still, you sue and spend a lot of money on legal fees and lose anyway, since bigger companies usually document product development, step by step, and protect themselves with patents.
- If they do agree to look at your product they will usually find your innovative, earth-shaking idea is really just a same old, same old redo of an existing product, or even worse, a product that did exist but failed because there was no market for it.
The proper way to approach your idea development is to actually invest some of your time, energy, and money and develop a prototype.
Do your research. Does your idea serve a purpose? Does it solve a problem? Does it really need to be developed?
Hire a patent lawyer to research your idea for prior art. This means to check if the product was every patented in some form before. The lawyer can advise you if there are any ways around the existing patent such as adding new functions and features.
Hire an engineer or do it yourself if you are qualified to map out the internal design and circuit boards if applicable. Depending on the product you will need an electrical engineer or mechanical engineer familiar with manufacturing techniques. There is nothing worse than spending tons of money on product development, only to find out the product cannot be manufactured on an assembly line because of design or layout issues.
Hire a product designer familiar with production techniques. They will develop the face of the product the consumer will see. Make sure your designer knows about assembly line product techniques and tooling designs. I have seen products brought to our factory that have fantastic designs. Unfortunately when we give it to or tooling engineers they sometimes come back with extremely expensive tooling cost estimates due to design issues.
Build your prototype. Once the engineering and design is complete, a prototype is the easy part. 3-D printing or rapid prototyping for external parts, hand built electronics or mechanical parts, assemble and get ready to submit to the patent office.
You have now gone from an idea to a real tangible product. Once you have achieved this stage of development you are ready to move on to the next step. Begin contacting companies and try to either sell your product and patent outright, license your product to them so they can sell it, or begin to manufacture and sell product thru your own distribution channels.