I have a fully patented product that I believe could be of interest to a big infrastructure builder like GE, bombardier, UTC etc. There are tons of articles on how to sell small trinkets but this idea is much larger. I have already had an offer to be bought out by an IP company, but I think I can get a better deal where I still own the patent. How would you start in on getting a product licensed by one of these companies? Due to the nature of the project time is of the essence! Thanks so much!
First off, stop calling it an idea. (might be just that, but in licencing efforts you don't want to call it that).
Second, what do you mean time is of the essence? This already started sounding risky.
With that said, I believe you have two options, assuming that you can spend the next quarter reaching out and performing poorly in presentations and pitches to executives for licencing deals.
1. Learn the art of pitching and presenting, in my blog I have listed some books, one of them is presentations like Steve Jobs. Check it out here: unthinkeverything.blogspot.com (books are listed on the right) and hopefully secure a deal. The risk with this is that if you don't is time wasted.
2. Figure out a creative way to launch your innovation yourself, even if is simply to test for validation. It can be relatively inexpensive to do this (you didn't provide information on your patented idea so I can't help you on that yet). The upside of you launching your product or validation effort yourself is that it gives you exposure, it gives you business experience and most importantly it adds tangible value to your idea no longer putting you on the spot putting a random price point for it. This also makes it easier for you to approach companies and executives and if the licensing deal doesn't go through you have a business out of it. The reality is that if another business can make profit off a license, so can the owner of the product itself. Just have to figure out how.
Even though it seems may seem obvious that your product should be desirable to one of those companies, it usually needs to fit very well into one of their long-term strategic roadmaps. Learning whether that's the case and at which company take a lot of digging and you need inside info that can only come from talking to someone already at one of the companies or that recently left. That's where I would start -- speak with as many of those contacts as you can and zero in on the right target -- then build as many warm intros as possible at the target.
The main issue in licensing is finding the right person to speak with who will be honest with you about the idea, the patents, and the prospects. When you deal with a seasoned licensing executive, they often have contacts that they can run ideas by to vet them out and improve the "pitch" portion of the licensing effort. This is very important as many great ideas are not great businesses or great products.
The right angle, the right timing and the right person need to come together to form the licensing deal.
If you do not have a seasoned licensing executive and are intent to pursue this on your own, try joining linked in (paid) and contacting people in the licensing/patenting/business units relating to your patent and discuss their similar products and product fits. This will help you adjust yourself to their business and to their business approaches/needs. Once this is done, you can then select someone to vet your patent with and to discuss how it will fit the business and see how this goes. Remember to ask for honest feedback. It is often very helpful and allows you to hone your communication to improve the chances of success.
P.S. As an example, I was pitching a retail idea and found a retired retail executive (senior VP) to discuss it with. It turned out to not be such a good idea from within the retail organisations and there was no way to improve it. It died there and I saved months of effort trying to pitch a bad idea. Retired people are generally excellent resources both in terms of experience and knowledge and in terms of contacts within their former and their competitors' organisations.
I've worked on a number of licensing deals on behalf of individual inventors and have contacted quite a few companies on behalf of the inventors as part of the licensing deal process. The first step is to identify the pipeline of companies you think might have an interest in licensing your product. The next step is to develop the value statement that you'll communicate to the companies you've identified.
After that, you'll want to find the right person at each company to contact and communicate the value proposition. If the company expresses an interest, you then may get into the details of a possible licensing arrangement.
In my experience, getting to the right person at each company and holding that person's attention long enough to make a decision is the key to getting to the go/no-go decision. It can also be one of the most difficult and time consuming steps in the pre-negotiation process, especially without an established network of contacts to draw from at the outset.
Remember that the person and the company has to invest and justify investing time and money in evaluating the opportunity you present. A couple tips I would offer is to make your initial offer as compelling and concise as possible, while making the job of the person at the company you are contacting as easy as possible. The less work that person has to do to evaluate the opportunity, the more likely it is that they might consider pursuing it. Another point to consider is when approaching the company, be careful not to put them on the defensive with your offer and make it clear that you're approaching them from the perspective of collaboration and not threat.
Hope that's helpful and happy to discuss further on a call.
Best of luck to you!
As stated in all of the other answers here, you need to find the right person to pitch to (duh).
Many companies have divisions setup just to evaluate external product development. Sometimes it's best to go around all of this and find someone in the sales department with the vision to see that your product concept could potentially be a real money maker for the company.
If you haven't read it already, check out "One Simple Idea" by Steven Keys. It's essentially the bible of licensing product ideas. The book is well layed out and can easily be skimmed as a reference without having to read the whole book.
There is a whole chapter dedicated to finding the right person to pitch your idea to. He even includes e-mail and cold calling templates.
I hope this helps!