Pitching your invention to potential licensees is a crucial step in the process of commercialization. A successful pitch could lead to lucrative deals, while a poorly executed one could mean missed opportunities. Here's a guide to some best practices, pitfalls to avoid, and lesser-known secrets to help you prepare an effective pitch.
Research the Licensee: Understand their product range, market focus, and strategic interests. Tailor your pitch to align with their goals.
Clearly Define the Problem and Solution: Start with the problem your invention solves and then explain how your invention is the solution.
Use a Sell Sheet or One-Pager: This should be a visually compelling, easy-to-read document highlighting the features and benefits of your invention.
Be Ready with a Prototype or Demo: A working model or simulation can make your pitch more compelling.
Keep It Short and Focused: Aim for a pitch that lasts no more than 10-15 minutes but thoroughly covers key points.
Discuss Market Potential: Use data to show market size, customer demand, and how your invention fits in.
Cover Intellectual Property (IP) Status: Clarify the patent status and any other intellectual property protections you have.
Be Clear about What You Want: Whether it’s licensing, partnership, or investment, be explicit about what you’re looking for.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Overcomplicating the Message: Keep jargon to a minimum and explain your invention in terms that a layperson can understand.
Being Too Secretive: While it’s good to protect your idea, being overly secretive can turn off potential licensees.
Unpreparedness: Not having answers to questions or not having a demo can send signals that you’re not serious or ready for market.
Ignoring the Business Aspect: Licensees want to make a profit. Failing to discuss the business case is a missed opportunity.
Lacking Enthusiasm: Your passion can be infectious; lack of it can be a deal-breaker.
Follow the "10/20/30 Rule": 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font. This is a guideline offered by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki for keeping pitches concise and impactful.
Tell a Story: Humans are wired to remember stories. Weave a narrative around your invention to make your pitch more memorable.
Use the “Foot-in-the-Door” Technique: Before asking for a licensing agreement, ask for something smaller like a second meeting, pilot test, or NDA. This can increase the likelihood of compliance with the larger request later.
The Power of Silence: After making an important point or asking a question, allow for a moment of silence. People often fill silence with additional information or concessions.
Record Your Practice Pitches: You can pick up on subtle nuances in your tone, pace, and body language that could make or break your pitch.
Talk Less, Listen More: Sometimes the questions asked by potential licensees will reveal what they are truly interested in, which can help you tailor your pitch in real-time.
The 'Puppy Dog' Close: If appropriate, leave a prototype behind for them to "play" with. The idea is that they’ll become emotionally invested in it, similar to taking a 'puppy' home for a night.
Never End with the Pitch: Always have a next step planned—whether it’s a follow-up meeting, a prototype demonstration, or the initiation of contractual discussions.
By incorporating these elements, you increase the chances of not just capturing the interest of potential licensees but also moving towards a successful partnership. Remember, preparation and practice make perfect, so hone your pitch until it's a true reflection of both the utility and potential of your invention.