One of the best resources for finding your licensing partners is trade shows. They happen everywhere. I attend many trade shows and it’s one of the quickest way to learn about an industry, make contacts, and find the right licensing partner. In one case, I found an international distributor for a client who ultimately wound up licensing the product for Europe.
First of all, they are a venue in which you can see all the manufacturers and distributors in an industry. You can also see lots of the different products and services available, so you can figure out where your IP fits in the market. You’ll also learn about competitive products, pricing, and other valuable information you’ll need when presenting your IP to potential partners.
Second, trade shows are an efficient and fast way to meet potential partners. It’s a great opportunity to see their products and talk to their sales reps. There is nothing more effective than one-on-one meetings with potential licensing partners. When you meet your potential licensing partners in person, you can quickly learn whether they are right for your intellectual property. Meeting in person gives you an opportunity to learn about the company and their interest in licensing your IP.
One of my clients invented a new hair care product. It was an accessory for curling irons. We attended a beauty products trade show to find possible licensing partners. In some cases, we showed them the product. In other cases, we learned who to contact about licensing. Our goal was to get some initial feedback on the product and their interest in licensing the product.
If you don’t have a prototype to show, you discuss it in general terms, such as “the product is a patented hair accessory item”. If they’re interested, you can find out what information they need and who to send it to.
A third reason to attend trade shows is to learn about an industry. They offer seminars and workshops during the show. The information is invaluable and you can use it in your licensing presentations.
The most important opportunity trades hows offer is networking. They have evening and morning events where you can meet people informally, discuss your IP one-on-one, and start to develop a relationship. It’s a great way to find out who the right person is to discuss licensing, and generally that’s not a salesperson. Salespeople are interested in one thing and that’s selling. You want to connect with someone in the marketing department, business development, or brand management. And trade shows are a great place to get face time with these people.
There are trade shows for just about any type of product, service or technology. Most of the trade shows offer websites where you can find out what companies are exhibiting and learn more about the industry. Here are two good resources to find out about trade shows:
Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid’s action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges and startup events. He’s a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazine including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India. Rand also mentors at the Cal State Fullerton School of Business and Economics and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.