When I read about inventors who have a great idea for a product but are working morning, noon, night, and late night to bring it to market, my reaction often is: “Why don’t you just sell the licensing rights?!”
That’s just me. If I had an idea for a new product in an industry that’s new to me, I wouldn’t want to deal with investors, manufacturing, marketing, and selling. I’d rather share the risk and rewards with people who know what they’re doing.
That’s why inventor Stephen Key’s story appeals to me. His creations include:
• The Michael Jordan Wall-Ball — a toy he licensed to Ohio Art and which sold for more than 10 years
• The Rotating Label — an invention that makes it possible to include twice the amount of information as a traditional label
• HotPicks — guitar picks with images on them (for example, a skull and bones, Disney characters, Taylor Swift)
Key’s expertise grew out of his job in the 1980s as head of the design group at Worlds Of Wonder, which had two hit toys during his tenure: Teddy Ruxpin and LazerTag.
Key eventually concluded that he could make a living as an “idea guy” and not have to deal with bringing products to market.
Key has written a book, “One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work.” It explains in detail how to develop products and sell the licensing rights. In a licensing arrangement, the company that buys the license then manufactures, markets, and sells the product; you receive a percentage of the sales.
I’ve read “One Simple Idea” and I keep it on my reference shelf. I think it’s an invaluable roadmap.
Beware: the sale of licensing rights isn’t as easy as the book’s subtitle makes it sound. Licensing requires a lot of time, effort, and know-how. But licensing is worth exploring if you don’t want to sacrifice the freedom of being a solopreneur.