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Large well known company asking for prototype of my product idea

sytayl4's Avatar

Hello all,

I am in need of some advice or referrals for my idea.  I submitted a sell sheet a month ago to the V.P of Merchandise and Buying of a huge well known company.  I followed up this morning, as I have been getting alot of  back and forth from members of their hard goods team asking to review my sell sheet.  I finally got a response from the V.P saying "Please send a sample of your new product to their attention for review". 

First, is this a good sign?  Or is this something every company does after reviewing a sell sheet?

And two, my major problem is that although I do have a prototype, its not professional at all!  It's just my take on my idea to see if it works. Its basically a bunch of different material I found around my house and it doesn't even depict EXACTLY my idea because I didn't have the resources to create a professional prototype.

My problem is, I could send my makeshift prototype and pray and hope it best shows my idea.  However, I don't want to ruin it by sending a makeshift prototype.  Have any of you been down this rode?  Any advice or comments would be awesome!

Thank you!

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sytayl4's Avatar

Thank you for reply.  Should I ask them to sign an NDA before I send the prototype or should I just send it out?  I don't want to mess this up, but then again I want to make smart decisions and not have my idea ripped off. 

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sytayl4's Avatar

Oh Crap!  Well I filed a provisional patent on it before sending out the sell sheet.  I hope that protects me some what.  I'm just going to send what I have and hope for the best I guess.  

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sytayl4's Avatar

Hi Roger,

Thank you for your response, it was very helpful!  Also thank you for congratulating me, I didn't even think about the possibility of them asking me for a sample.

I am completely new to this all.  The invention that I created was my first.  I have been using the internet, mostly Google to help me along.  I have also been listening to Stephen Key and his advice on licensing since this is the route I intend to take.  

I made the prototype of my idea, and incorporated the product in my sell sheet.  It is for animals, so I had pictures of the animal clearly wearing it and using it.  However it looks really good in pictures, and the person I hired to create my sell sheet did an amazing job at depicting my idea and showing it's abilities.  

That's the problem.  I thought that with all of this in the sell sheet, pics etc, and an awesome presentation through the sell sheet, that this would be enough.  Now they want a sample sent to the attention of the V.P of Merchandise and Buying and I'm freaking out. 

Stephen Key made it sound so simple and that I would be offered a licensing deal just through the sell sheet, video and pictures.  Fake it to you make it is what he says.  

I didn't think about the what if's.  Pricing, royalties, etc. But I do have some idea about those things  I honestly feel discouraged.

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sytayl4's Avatar

Great points and advice!  I did include "Patent Pending" in the sell sheet.  I will however express that I filed a provisional patent application and answer any questions since I have decided to call the V.P.myself and talk to her.  She has provided me with her office and cell phone number, and so I think I will use that to call and get some clarity as to what exactly they want.  I do however love the idea of providing a note along with my prototype if they just tell me to send what I have.  I was thinking about doing that anyway so the suggestion just validated my thoughts.

I also noticed that the emails between me and the company do not express that I am just looking for a licensing deal.  I am no way interested in manufacturing and selling bulk items.  So I hope that we can make that clear on the phone call as well.

I will keep you all posted on the outcome of my phone conversation today.

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sytayl4's Avatar

Frank,  this is awesome.  It puts everything I was thinking into a professional way that's clear.  I called the V.P at her office.  I'm too scared to call her cell (Just being honest), and left a voicemail message with my return number since she wasn't in the office.  I'm hoping to get a return phone call today.  If not I may try her cell tomorrow.  

In the meantime I am boxing up what I have, with a note reflecting some of the advice I received from this forum, just in case.  I know you guys are telling me to just send what I have, but I still want to wait to hear back from her to see if its okay to just send the rough prototype.  What if she tells me that they won't except anything other than a professional sample?  After all, when I reached out to the Executive Vice President of Buying and Sourcing initially, he stated that he would not even look at my sell sheet unless it was "patent pending".  So they were clear on their standards, which is why I'm so intimidated. 

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kdc's Avatar

Shalonda, never let a company know you feel intimidated by them. They will sense that in your voice and in your correspondence in a matter of seconds and they will take advantage of that and take advantage of you. Stay positive and confident!

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sytayl4's Avatar

Kathleen, Thanks! I think I sounded pretty confident in my voicemail and in my emails.  I have been persistent with them since sending in my sell sheet. They were being so vague with everything.  I was expecting to hear "oh this is a great product, we would love to move forward with this etc. but I didn't get any of that.  They were very short with me to the point where as you can see in my first post, I wasn't even sure if them asking me for a sample was a good thing or not.  Thankfully I got good feedback from this forum and another source.  I am still waiting for a call back from the V.P of merchandise and buying. Hopefully I will come off as a confident business woman to her.  I certainly don't want to be taken advantage of.

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kdc's Avatar

Good for you...and best of luck. Keep us updated!

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sytayl4's Avatar

UPDATE!! I called the company and no one ever answered my calls so I left one Message asking for a return phone call because I just had sone questions and wanted clarity on a few things.  I sent the prototype out and notes anyway yesterday.  Only 2 days after they requested a sample.  They haven't even recieved my prototype yet because I made sure that someone had to sign for it to show proof of receiving it, and already I get an email today from the Director of Merchandising and buying that my invention is not a good fit for the company.  Did I miss something?  Why would her boss show interest and then they turn around and say Thanks but no Thanks?  Especially with it being already in route.  So the only prototype that shows my invetion works is in route to a company that has all of a sudden rejected me.

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kdc's Avatar

Maybe once they receive it, they will have a better understanding of the idea. Not to get your hopes up, but who knows?

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serge_graisse's Avatar

Hi Shalonda, 

If I were you, i would like to make a presentation quality prototype first, the first impression is very important.

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crystaldiane's Avatar

This happens. Not to be cold but move on.  One of the only reasons that a company would license a product from an inventor is IF it is more economical for them to pay you something for your idea than to spend the resources to develop it in house themselves.

Whats keeping you from making and selling your own product?  You are essentially asking some stranger to accept ALL OF THE RISK for your idea in the present scenery.  If you say MONEY is keeping me from doing this then you need to reconsider what you are trying to get done. Its no small feat to start up a business but it is possible even for people with limited means. I say this because its what II have been doing (and why I have not been on this forum of late)

I am on my fourth idea and this time rather than putting it out there I am making and selling it on my own to good results.

No one will care more about your invention than you.  With the advent of Kickstarter, other crowd funding platforms, friends, family, sba help, score mentors, FIVERR.com resources and nearly free web hosting you could probably set up a little test of your products to see if you have 'proof' of concept because when people actually give you money for your item it proves it economic value.

Im tired of seeing well meaning people get their dreams squashed because they place the hope in someone else.  If you believe in your product then find a way to make it and sell it yourself.

Best to you and good luck.

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