Approaching companies with speculative work

Hi guys,

What is the best way to take my speculative projects to companies?

I would like to send presentations out but am afraid they will say no thank you then pursue the product on their own. On the other hand if I don’t show them the concept, how can I get them interested in doing business.

I am new at this so any opinions would help.


get them to sign a NDA (Non-disclosure_agreement)

Would it be best to just grab their attention with a portfolio teaser, and maybe a concept overview. Then the NDA?

yes I guess so, It de[end whether you are trying to get a job with them or get them to manufacturer/develop your idea…two different things.

My first thoughts were about looking for companies that might want to develop my idea. I suppose I would take work if they were interested in working with me on a different project, but my goal is to present a product for them to develop and produce.

thanks again

Are you just showing people pretty pictures or actually laying out a business proposal/product strategy that will demonstrate how your idea will make someone money?

If you actually want somone to buy off on your idea, you should be providing relevant marketing data that backs up the need for your idea as well as demonstrate that if it is sold at a certain price point, it will generate X amount of revenue or allow ABC company to capture X percentage of market share. Do you have a preliminary merchandising strategy worked out?

Did you do some kind of preliminary patent search to make sure your idea is actually novel? Anyone can do that by visiting the USPTO website.

Do you have the rough details of the engineering of the product figured out? Are you aware of any testing standards it will be subject to?

Realize that you are talking to bean counters, marketing people, engineers and then maybe other designers when you pitch your idea to a company.

At this point I have not sent anything out. I am still in the process of development and wanted to find out exactly how I should go about getting the idea out there before I get to that stage, so that I am prepared.

I have planned to present a concept for a furniture product with some market placement information as well as rough engineering estimations. The other areas you mentioned I had not yet thought about in detail but are areas I plan to address in my proposal. I think my main issue is that if I send all this info out, who’s to say the company could not just look through it and say “yeah that sounds like a great plan,” then pursue it on their own, leaving me with nothing.

Again I am new at this so I am just trying to get the right information so that I don’t invest all my time and money only to be screwed over in the end.


…that is why you do a non-disclosure first…however, much like a patent, if you don’t have the $$$ to defend it in court, you are sol…until the rip-off has sold enough to make the potential damages such that a blood-sucking lawyer will take your case on for 30% or more of your judgement…

This is why it is difficult to get rich selling your idea to another company. If you have a bulletproof patent(s) then there might be something of value. If not, then at most the company is buying a 6 month head start in the market as most ideas (including most patented ones) are fairly easy to copy once the idea is seen on the market unless they have a non-reverse engineering technical edge or the patent is difficult to work-around. If it’s really a good idea then the copying will start as soon as the company starts selling it to retail, well before it gets to the market. So how much is that head start worth?

Value starts to increase with solid IP protection (patents), engineering issues resolved, compliance, safety, and testing issues resolved, manufacturing investment, etc. All of which bring the product closer to market ready. However the first paragraph still holds true in most cases without also having a barrier to entry (eg. IP protection) that blocks competition. Where you start to get into better value is when your product is already on the market, successful, and you have a brand and product that is well recognized by consumers. At this point you have a value to consumers that you can sell as a business that is worth something and will take longer and be more difficult to replicate.

There are a few stories you hear about someone who came up with a great design and got rich. Often, they sold their idea so a PD clueless company who knew they needed innovation but had no idea how to get it. I’ve wanted to take that route myself, but I think that’s kind of like winning the lottery. Those cases are few and far between…