Companies around the globe are continually seeking new and innovative ideas from private citizens. Companies search for ideas that they can create and sell for a profit, but some companies will pay for your idea to keep it from appearing on the market. If your great idea would make their product obsolete, then they will buy the rights to your concept to protect their product(s).
How to get paid for your idea
To increase the odds of being able to sell your ideas for a top price, consider building a prototype. It is easier to sell a concept that is proven to work, and that someone can see how the finished product will look. Once you have a working prototype, there are numerous ways to get your idea in front of companies willing to buy your invention. You also need to have a plan in place to protect your ideas before you attempt to sell them to a company. As soon as you know, you have a great idea that could be worth money, you need to file a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) to keep someone else from stealing your idea or invention. A PPA is registered with the U.S. Patent Office and marks an early patent date. It is generally good for one year from the date of filing and will expire if a patent application is not filed. The PPA exists to help avoid the costs of filing for a patent while you work on perfecting or selling your idea, while still protecting the concept itself. Prepare a professional presentation to help companies understand the full scope of your great idea. Along with your three-dimensional prototype, you will want to prepare a sell sheet. The sell sheet should include, at a minimum, the following:
- The inventions features and benefits
- The intended market
- The problem, need or challenge the invention meets
- The legal status of your idea, including your PPA, copyright or trademark
Companies that buy great ideas
Now that you have prepared a prototype and a sell sheet, it is time to focus on getting paid for your idea or concept. Start by identifying the field best suited to your idea and then look at the most innovative companies within the field. Some companies have an established reputation for their willingness to buy ideas or concepts from private individuals. These companies include:
- The Sharper Image—The company has a reputation for seeking out the latest tech toys and gadgets to market to consumers. The company has a team of technicians that review product ideas submitted by private individuals. You can email them at email@example.com, and they recommend that you include a description of your idea and a video or a picture of the prototype.
- Henkel Partnership Program—Henkel is the parent company of Dial and Right Guard bath and body products. The Henkel Partnership Program is an ongoing contest that allows individuals to submit their ideas and prototypes for potential development by Henkel. Their current most significant interest is in the field of sustainable living products and products that have environmentally friendly technology. Send videos or pictures of your prototype, along with your sell sheet to Henkel Corporation, 10 Finderne Avenue, Bridgewater, NJ 08807
- WirthCo Engineering, Inc.—this company is always seeking new ideas related to RV and automobile products. You can send your information about your invention or idea to WirthCo Engineering, Inc., New Products Dept., 6519 Cecila Dr., Minneapolis, MN 55439.
- Hearlihy & Company—The company is explicitly seeking products related to education, including technology and curriculum. Send your proposal to Hearlihy & Company, Attn. Scott Papenfus, 714 W. Columbia St., Springfield, OH 45504.
Companies also routinely sponsor contests for new and innovative ideas, so do your research about any ongoing contests once you have the presentation of your idea ready to go. Make sure you do a thorough vetting process of any company before submitting your idea because even a PPA isn’t a guarantee that an unsavory company won’t attempt to steal some part of your design for their use without paying.