The Invention Addict 12 Step Program to Invent—Going from Inspiration to Innovation.
This is a series of posts on the 12 steps how to invent a product. A DIY class for Inventors.

The tenth step is CONVERSATION– We are getting close. You did your homework and now you have the interest of a potential licensee. Don’t freak out!

I prefer to e-mail over a phone call but the time will come when you need to talk to someone about your invention. People are people. A CEO of a small company may be the only employee. You would be surprised how helpful people are. Even if they are not interested, they can sometimes give you guidance.

The outcome from sending you sell sheet can be one of these responses in an e-mail:

  1. “Are you kidding, this is the most stupid invention I have seen in my life, why did you waste my time!” No, they won’t say this. The will say thank you but it’s not a good fit.
  2. “I need to see more.” They may want to see a working prototype, details of the PPA, or even you. They might want to meet.
  3. “This is what we are looking for. Please send me a terms sheet for the licensing agreement” (more on that in the next post).

Here is an actual e-mail I got back; a kindly worded rejection letter. I’m not sure how much is boiler plate or did they really struggle with turning me down.

Thank you very much for sending us the product submission for the _____.  We also appreciate your patience on giving us the time we need to review the product.Unfortunately, after extensive consideration, we feel your product does not fit within our merchandising objectives at this time. Although this product was not right for us at this time, we hope you will contact us again if you have any other kitchen-related products.

If you get the first response, the rejection, send them note back. You don’t want to burn bridges. Thank them for their time.

One bicycle company said it was not a good fit with their market segment. I asked if they knew of companies that might be a better fit. He sent me back a list of three companies. I already had contacted these, but I was a nice gesture.

I had a converastion with a CEO and got a response like #2. The product was not a great fit because it used different technology than he was acoustomed. He said when you get a prototype, I can show it to my people at the company and give you more feedback.

Still waiting for #3. Stay tuned …

Summary
Here are the 12 steps to invent a product:
1. Realization
2. Frustration
3. Ideation
4. Exploration
5. Investigation
6. Simulation
7. Productization
8. Confirmation
9. Communication
10. Conversation
11. Negotiation
12. Celebration

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