Being a serial Inventor and Product Licensing Agent I am in an interesting position. I contact a wide variety of companies, do negotiating, get contacted by companies wanting me to submit ideas, get Inventor emails asking for help, review/evaluate ideas, sell sheets, etc. I have friends that do product reviews within various companies so I get to see and hear all sides of the inventing process. So I see what we are doing right and wrong on both sides of the industry.
Below is a list to try and give everyone a leg up on where they can increase their odds of success. Look over the list and see if you are DOING or NOT doing any of these items. They can be keeping you from success.
1. Stop sending in submissions to companies handwritten.
2. You are not putting your contact info on each piece of paper you send. That includes samples/prototypes.
3. Don’t waste the reviewer’s time reading how you came up with the idea. Focus on the benefits and why it will make them money.
4. Never use the phrase “My idea is worth millions.” Let the company decide if it is worth millions.
5. Don’t use the phrase “There is nothing else out there like my idea.” most of the time you will be proven wrong.
6. Don’t say you have researched your idea thoroughly when all you did was walk into Wal-Mart and didn’t see it.
7. Do not send a prototype to a company unless they have asked you to and are expecting it. They do not want to keep up or be responsible for items they did not ask for in the first place.
8. Be realistic in your expectations.
9. READ everything a company sends you more than once and make sure you understand everything you have read. Don’t assume everything is fine and sign it. Even the person with the best intentions can make a mistake. I send people my two page NDA to read and sign prior to sending me anything for review/evaluation. I have to include in my email an explanation to make sure they fill in their address on the top of the first page where the blank lines are for that information, because so many people don’t do it. This is in the first two paragraphs of the first page. So, if they are missing that what else are they missing in a longer document?
10. Don’t write a novel to explain your invention. Be concise and factual. No one wants to read 22 pages to get your idea. Look at the short blurb on the back of a novel. It needs to be that short and to the point.
11. Know your product. You should be the expert on your product, do not assume they will just “GET IT” because you want them too.
12. Be able to explain your invention over the phone or in person in 30 seconds or less. Practice your pitch until you can say it in your sleep. It does not look good if you are constantly losing your train of thought or having to start over multiple times when explaining your product.
13. Don’t say the phrase “Everyone will buy one. Or Everyone will have to have one.” Because even if you came up with the next new phase in TV’s can you HONESTLY say everyone with a working TV will toss their current TV out tomorrow so they can buy yours?
14. Don’t send your submission to a company on Monday and call them Tuesday to ask when they will be sending you a contract.
15. When entering any invention contest make sure your submission actually fits the contest criteria. You don’t submit a lawnmower idea to a soap company.
16. Don’t send your invention submission in care of the general bulk mail of the company. Get a specific persons name in charge of that department. Normally new product development, marketing, inventor submissions, etc. Don’t send it to “To Whom it concern”
17. If you call a company asking for the person in charge of invention submissions, be ready to speak to them if they put you through. Once they answer is not the time to remember you need a pen and paper, ask them if they can hold on for a minute while you get something, forget what your pitch is, or if you get their voice mail be prepared to leave a short intelligent message with your call back number.
18. Know the time difference of where you are calling.
19. Do not send a company any material they did not ask for expecting them to pay the shipping charges.
20. Don’t send a company anything you can’t afford to lose. Accidents happen and things can get misplaced. If it is a one of a kind item you may want to video it in use and send a CD or link to a video. If your product is not covered by and NDA, PPA or patent don’t put it on Youtube, Facebook or any other site for public disclosure.
21. When sending attachments to companies make sure it is in a program they have installed on their computer. Everyone does not have Filemaker Pro or the latest version of Microsoft Office. So, if they have Office 2003 some things will not show up in your submission. You also need to ask them if their company has a size limit on attachments. You don’t send a 12 meg attachment to a company whose servers only allow 5meg or below attachments. Plus, some company’s software will automatically kick out any email with an attachment that is not on a safe email list.
22. Stop sending your same idea to the same company under your relatives name once they have rejected it under your name.
23. Stop sending emails saying they have attachments, when they don’t. Also, minimize the amount of attachments you send in one emails. The largest I have received so far had 17 attachments
24. Don’t send your sell sheets to a company in a locked file and tell them to contact you for instructions on how to open it when they didn’t ask you to send them any material in the first place.
25. Don’t make demands on what you want as compensation for your idea before they have even reviewed your idea and shown interest in it.