So you’ve had a brilliant idea that you’re sure people will pay good money for. Great! What’s next?
Well, time to find some companies that pay for ideas so they can maybe buy yours!
If you’re the kind of person that has amazing ideas all the time but are never sure how to put them into action to make some extra money for yourself, this article could be just what you need.
It will, of course, take a dash of creativity combined with a knack for seeing gaps in the market or problems that you think you know how to solve.
But this can definitely be a way to make some real extra cash.
And one of the best possible outcomes of selling your invention to companies that buy ideas is if you get paid royalties on an ongoing basis.
This is ideal for anyone who has an invention idea but no money to bring it to market.
At the same time, having a continuous added source of earnings with no extra work needed on your part is the very definition of passive income – which is something we should all be aspiring to.
Companies that pay for ideas
No matter which market your idea falls under, there’s likely to be a company willing to pay you for it.
After all, they all want to make money too and your idea may be just what they need to do so.
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1. Sharper Image
Sharper Image provides the latest in toys, gadgets and other technology – but in order to stay ahead of the competition, they regularly need new ideas.
This is why they have a team dedicated to looking into ideas that are submitted to them by the public.
When submitting your idea, you’ll have to provide:
- A description of your product
- Photos (if you’ve already developed a sample)
- Mock-up drawings (if the product hasn’t been developed yet)
They also pay for ideas of products that have already started to be sold (unless you’ve already sold the idea to another company, of course). This could be a good option for you if you’ve sold some pieces of your idea that you’ve made yourself somewhere like Etsy, eBay or in-person at a market.
If this is the case for your idea, you’ll also have to provide information like:
- Where you’ve sold the item
- How many have been sold
- How much money you’ve made
You’ve probably heard of 3M given that it sells items in a range of categories. Its main focuses are on office supplies and electronics, but it also ventures into things like healthcare products.
3M is always looking to expand its product line, which is why it welcomes the submission of new ideas for it to buy.
You can submit information about your idea, and see the terms that apply to your submission, here.
Related: 37 of the Highest Paying Online Jobs
Henkel owns, among other things, the company responsible for producing Dial soap and Right Guard deodorant, although its subsidiary companies also sell a range of other products primarily in the areas of beauty care, laundry and home care, and “adhesive technologies”.
They’re also very interested in new ideas for innovation in these areas. This can include ideas for brand new products or solutions to issues with existing product formulation, packaging and processes.
Interestingly, they specifically emphasize that they’re interested in ideas from students and customers in particular.
Click here to find out more information.
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4. Dorman Products, Inc.
Dorman is dedicated to products in the homeware, hardware and automotive categories and is always looking for new ideas in these areas.
This can include brand new ideas or ways to improve their existing product line.
Contact them here to find out more.
BD is in the field of developing and selling medical technology and is always open to hearing new ideas in this area.
Ideas have to be submitted by mail accompanied by a form they provide that involves accepting certain terms of submission.
See more here, including to download the form and find their mailing address for new product suggestions.
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6. Jokari Home Solutions
Jokari Home Solutions specializes in, perhaps unsurprisingly based on its name, homewares, particularly kitchen gadgets and other items around the house, like storage solutions.
They also describe themselves as actively searching for new ideas all the time. Potential inventors should visit this page to express their interest, following which Jokari will get in touch with you to provide more details on the idea submission process.
There are quite a few sports-related companies that pay for ideas, one of the biggest of which is Wilson.
You’ve probably heard of Wilson from seeing its familiar “W” logo on tennis balls or other sporting goods. And if you’re passionate about sports, you could have had your own great idea on something new that Wilson could put its “W” on.
If this sounds like you, take a look at the “Wilson Idea Portal” here.
Rico is another company specializing in sporting equipment, especially for the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.
They’re also on the lookout for new product ideas, which could be just what you’re looking for if you’ve ever been hit by a flash of inspiration while watching a game in one of these leagues.
Their criteria for new product ideas and the process of submission is set out here.
Escalade is yet another sporting goods manufacturer and distributor, specializing in sports such as table tennis, archery, darts, game tables and more.
Their site states directly that those who use their products are also some of the most important innovators in the market.
So if you’ve ever had a brilliant new idea halfway through a game of one of these sports, why not contact them using the information here.
10. Under Armour
Under Armour is one of the leaders in the market for sporting apparel and very openly welcomes new ideas for products from the general public.
Their page on how to do this is extremely detailed and should have all the information you need, so why not check it out.
While society as a whole moves away from single use products, companies are desperate to think of new ways to replace these – and make good money while doing so.
This is why Eco-Products encourages the submission of ideas for new products and services that could fit into its business model. Find out more here.
12. Play with a Purpose
Play with a Purpose specializes in products for active play – essentially, things that get kids moving.
And if you have a working prototype, a drawing, or an original idea that you think would achieve this, they’re looking to hear from you.
You can either give them a call at the number here to know more or submit an email on that page.
13. Idea Buyer
Idea Buyer is interesting in that its work is in launching new product ideas. It claims to have products sold in stores like Walmart, Macy’s, Home Depot, Amazon and more.
Rather than developing your idea itself, they help you to bring it to market with a potential partner store. This has the advantage of potentially putting your idea in front of a major producer like one of the stores above, which you may not have been able to do as just an everyday inventor.
The company is interested in hearing about ideas on any type of product, so go here to find out more.
14. Hyper Pet LLC
Hyper Pet is in the business of selling pet toys and other accessories. Their CEO has also been very open in the past on his willingness to work with people with new ideas.
And given that the pet industry is worth $66.75 billion annually, there’s certainly money to be made.
If you have an idea in this field, contact Hyper Pet here for more information.
15. Mustang Survival
Mustang Survival is in a fairly niche industry in that it provides products for water rescue professionals, military elites and commercial/industrial mariners.
But given the work of these people, their products can literally be a matter of life and death.
This is why they’re always looking for new and innovative ideas for their products. Find out more here.
Unilever is one of the biggest companies in the world and is the parent company for brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Dove, Rexona, Omo and many, many more.
They also encourage new practical innovations from literally anyone. And given the range of products that fall under the Unilever umbrella, your idea could be in almost any product category you can think of.
See here for how to do this.
17. Spin Master
Spin Master is a master at selling toys and states that they are always on the lookout for new product ideas.
For example, see this Hershey’s Chocolate Maker? This came from an idea submitted to them.
If you think you can do the same, take a look at their Inventors’ page here.
Oxo specializes in kitchen and other homewares, such as bakeware, storage items and cleaning tools.
They also have a product development team that welcomes new ideas. When submitting your idea, you’ll also be asked to submit drawings, photographs or videos (if you’ve produced the item already) along with a written description of the idea.
Find out more here.
Companies that buy ideas for apps
These days, it’s not only ideas for products that companies are interested in buying – the market for buying apps is also massive.
Whether you’re looking to sell ideas to Google or to a smaller game developer, one of the companies that buy ideas on this list could definitely be interested in paying for your idea.
The Google Play store lets you sell apps you’ve already developed there. But if you’re only at the idea stage, you can also approach Google to see if they’re interested in investing in the development of your app.
This will only be available to real game changing apps but if you think your idea might fill the bill, then this can be a really lucrative option.
King is the developer of some of the most popular mobile games of all time, including Candy Crush.
They’re always interested in what might be the next big thing so if you think you have an addictive game idea on your hands, it could be worth reaching out to them.
IdeaPros describes themselves as a “strategic partner for entrepreneurs”. They’re in the business of helping people build, launch and distribute apps so wherever you are on the path to selling your idea, they can help.
FundedApps exists to buy your app ideas. You do have to pay a few dollars to submit it but, if they end up putting your app on sale, you’ll get a 25% cut of all revenue going forward.
23. Mobile App Fund
Like others on this list, Mobile App Fund’s business is dedicated to new app ideas. They offer up to $1 million per app for development, distribution and marketing and, if your app gets to the point of being released to the public, you’ll share in the profit
Much like the Google Play store, Apple’s App Store lets you sell your already-developed app. If, however, you think your app has the possibility of making bank (even if it’s only at the idea stage), you can reach out to Apple directly.
In a few cases, they’ve been interested in purchasing app ideas directly – and, as I’m sure you can imagine, getting your app idea bought by Apple is definitely worth it.
25. GungHo Online
GungHo Online is another company that has gotten huge with their own apps and are always on the lookout for new app ideas.
ArtJoker specializes in web and mobile application development. This makes them always ready to hear new app ideas that they may be able to buy off you, develop and re-sell.
Known for developing some major mobile game apps, Supercell welcomes the submission of new app ideas. Just go to their website, submit the information they ask for and you’re on your way.
Companies that pay for ideas through online marketplaces
If you’ve already had your app developed, one way to sell it to companies is through an online marketplace.
There are several websites that exist for the purpose of selling apps and other online products, like domain names. One of the advantages of selling your idea like this is that you’ll take home almost the entire price that you sell it for.
The websites do take a small fee, but it’s much less than what other middlemen companies ask for.
The downside, however, is that you can’t just sell an idea on its own – you have to have the app developed already as you’ll be selling the code.
Flippa is the biggest platform in the world for selling products like websites and other online businesses. This makes it also a great option for selling your app.
Because it’s so well known, you’re likely to have access to the most potential buyers here. Buyers also don’t pay a fee on purchases made through the site (although sellers do), which really maximizes your audience.
While most apps sell on there for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. However, there are also apps advertised with a starting price of $100,000, so the potential for making good money here is huge.
Fliptopia is solely dedicated to people who want to buy and sell apps. This means that anyone who visits any ads you post to sell your app is definitely there for that reason.
The advertised prices are similar to those on Flippa so, in theory, you could advertise on both – then sit back and see what reaction you get from potential buyers.
How much can you get paid for an idea?
It’s hard to say exactly how much companies that pay for ideas will give you if they end up buying yours.
Amounts can vary from anywhere to less than $100 to an infinite amount, especially if your deal lets you collect royalties every time your product is sold.
It’s important to be realistic that, in most cases, you’re not going to make millions of dollars using this strategy.
But the possibility is there to get paid serious money if your idea is sufficiently unique. So if you think that’s you, this can definitely be a way to make some serious cash.
How can I get money for my ideas?
There are different ways to get money from companies that buy ideas:
- They’ll pay you a set amount for your idea
- They’ll give you a percentage of any profit made
- They’ll pay you a set amount for each item or unit of item that’s sold. For example, they may agree to pay $0.10 per item or $10 per thousand items
How much do inventors make on royalties?
Royalties are generally the most lucrative way to sell your idea and can generate literally hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for inventors.
This person, for example, earned $100,000 in one year through royalties for a toy he designed for $10.
It comes down to the ability of the company that pays for your idea to effectively distribute and market the item and whether or not there’s demand. If you manage to hit both, things will generally be good.
And don’t forget that, in most cases, there’s no age limit in terms of who can submit a proposal to companies that buy ideas. This means that if you’re a teenager looking to make money, this could be very lucrative for you too.
Where can I submit invention ideas for royalties?
Many of the companies that pay for ideas on this list will let you submit invention ideas for royalties.
Make sure you read the terms that apply when you submit your idea, as they may specify upfront what the payment model will be.
Otherwise, this should form part of your negotiation if the company tells you they’re interested in moving forward with your idea. At that point, you can start to discuss whether you’ll be paid through royalties or one of the other payment methods.
How do I start an invention with no money?
Not all inventions need money to get them off the ground. Often, all you’ll need is a description and, if it’s an item, a mock-up drawing of what the completed product will look like.
And in most cases, the companies that buy ideas on this list won’t ask for money upfront in order to consider your idea.
How to sell an idea to a company without them stealing it?
This is an important question and is why you should be very careful that the company you’re submitting your idea to is legit.
The terms and conditions for submitting your idea will likely go into the various legal protections that are in place for you as the inventor. Make sure you’re comfortable with these before submitting your idea.
Also note that companies won’t necessarily agree to signing a non-disclosure agreement, even if you ask for it. In many cases, especially for big companies that pay for ideas, they may not be allowed to due to the possibility that they’re already developing their own products that are similar to your idea.
How much does it cost to patent an idea?
A patent can cost anywhere between $750 if you do it yourself to up to $40,000 for a top patent lawyer to process it for you.
Whether or not you need a patent will depend on a number of factors, so it’s best to do your research before spending too much money on this.
What is a poor man’s patent?
A poor man’s patent is the process of sending a description of your invention to yourself by post. The idea is that the date of postage serves as the date of invention and the sealed envelope somehow “authenticates” it.
Suffice to say, this doesn’t work. At best, it could show that you were the first to have an idea, but this is highly unlikely to stand up legally given how easy it is to open and reseal an envelope.
Keeping your idea in a (theoretically) sealed envelope also fails to show any development of your invention, which can be important for upholding your rights over an idea.
In summary: we wouldn’t recommend it.
The road to making money from an invention can be long but definitely worth it, especially when you see how much money can be earned.
If you have a unique idea that solves a problem or fills a market gap, and you’re willing to reach out to potential buyers or investors, then you could absolutely be successful with selling your idea.
About the author
Anna is the founder of LogicalDollar and a personal finance expert, having been featured on Forbes, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, CreditCards.com and many more. She’s committed to helping others get on the path to financial freedom using the experience gained from turning $60,000 in debt into a six-figure investment portfolio. Find out more.