The Right Way to Contact Big Companies About Your Invention

When you’ve invented a new product, it’s only natural to work with the biggest company to help you bring it to market. Market leaders have excellent distribution and brand awareness. But agreeing to license your invention to a large company is not easy.

Many of these companies do not want to work with inventors because of liability issues. They may have been burned by inappropriate inventors in the past. Their R&D departments are large, which makes it difficult for them to know what they are working on at any given time.

They may feel like they already have the best and brightest working for them, so why open their doors to working with outside inventors and product developers? It is a variant of the “not invented here” syndrome, a phenomenon in which ideas that do not arise internally are discounted. Large companies also require idea submissions to be patented, which is a deterrent. That said, few market leaders have truly embraced the benefits of open innovation — and these are the companies that should consider licensing inventors.

but how? Many of these companies have created portals for you to present your invention ideas. On their websites, you’ll find buttons that say “Submit Ideas”. They’re charming—but there’s a better way to reach out.

Licensing deals are forged on the basis of personal relationships. Using a portal is like depositing your invention into a black hole. A better strategy is to send a simple three-part message using LinkedIn, which has made it easier to build and connect with decision-makers at leading companies than it used to be.

First, before you send a message, I recommend filing an intellectual property claim on your invention, such as a provisional patent application.

Polish your LinkedIn page.

This will attract others to accept your requests to connect. Your Page is like your personal sales sheet.

So, look straight into the camera and smile in your profile picture. Don’t waste the space under your image on praise. Instead, describe your mission in one sentence. People who share your mission are more likely to respond to your message, and this is an opportunity to highlight your value proposition loud and clear. For example, if you are inventing and developing a new type of sustainable packaging, you might write, “Creating sustainable packaging solutions.”

There is no harm in filling out your profile completely.

Do your homework.

When You’re Submitting Your Invention Idea to Large Companies, Targeting The right people are important in the right companies. The only way to be sure you’ve identified a great potential partner is to first take the time to understand the company’s mission and goals. This information is easily found by reading the company’s press release and social media posts.

Determining who to actually contact with your idea can be a challenge. So, I asked Lisa Rose, Chief Marketing Officer lifescan, 40-year-old glucose monitoring and diabetes management provider, straight for her insights. Rose is a marketing veteran who has fully embraced open innovation to develop and commercialize new products at some of the largest companies in the world, including Procter & Gamble.

In general, the best intake places for ideas and innovation in large companies, he told me, are business development, product development, and marketing. These groups can influence product choice, gain access to budgets and resources, and serve as internal advocates. To get the most out of LinkedIn, Rose recommends seeing if you or someone in your network is already connected with an employee. This person may be willing to give you more information about the company’s priorities, help you navigate the company, and ultimately connect you with the right decision-makers – saving you time and effort.

Get your message right.

After you’ve sent requests to identify and connect some great candidates, it’s time to prepare your first message. By the big picture, your objective is to present the benefits of your product idea. It’s not just pitching your invention. It’s too early for this. Please, no attachments or links. You’re trying to find out if they practice open innovation because you have a product that’s a good fit for them. And if they say yes? Follow up with a sales sheet.

First, acknowledge the company’s mission. Remember, this information is easily found online.

“On LinkedIn, the notices I get are effective ones that say, ‘Hey, I’ve been looking at LifeScan Online and I see you supporting people with diabetes with digital health and wellness as a strategy. Doing,” Rose explained.

She tends to respond to people who tell her that they are working on something proprietary, and have a proof of concept, and/or data on their invention.

Then, end your inquiry with a direct request. Like, “I’d love to meet someone in business development to share my idea with you in 30 minutes or less.”

When Rose receives messages that include these three elements, she will respond, she said.

“We’re actively scouting. Some people on our team spend all day, every day talking to people about what they’re working on,” she explained. “The way to cut down on clutter is by showing that you’ve done your homework and that you have something to offer.”

When you prepare each of your messages to employees of large companies, study the language these individuals use to describe themselves and their mission. The insights you gain will help you write a better value proposition, one that is more targeted to their employer. If you’re not sure whether they actually practice open innovation, ask directly: Do you work with external product developers?

In short: Be concise. Do not disclose any confidential information, including intellectual property. Instead, share the profit of your invention.

It’s easier to approach bigger companies when you do and say the right things. It all comes down to doing your homework well. This is the only way to pitch the right person to the right company with the right product.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.