Once in a blue moon, a brilliant idea pops up in your mind. It might be a new invention or an innovative improvement over an old idea.
This ‘eureka’ moment will probably remain written down in your notes for a long time because you probably don’t know where to start or what to do with it.
That’s why we rounded up a list of companies that pay for ideas, and you can use this advantage to start a business on your own.
These companies are reputable brands that can help you nurture, improve, and transform your innovation into a groundbreaking contribution to the world.
- The Best Companies That Pay For Ideas (Overview)
- Companies That Pay For Ideas: An Overview
- At a Glance: The Best Companies That Pay For Ideas
- Features to Look for When Choosing Your Apps and Platforms
- Best Companies That Pay For Ideas: Top 3 Options [Ranked & Reviewed]
- Notable Mentions: Other Companies That Pay For Ideas You Should Consider
- Similar Opportunities to Check Out
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Best Companies That Pay For Ideas (Overview)
For a better overview, here’s a roundup of the best companies that allow you to turn your ideas into profit:
- 3M: Our Pick
- Idea Buyer: Runner-Up
- Invention City: Also Great
- The Sharper Image: Established and Versatile
- Flippa: Good for Digital Assets
- Jokari Home Solutions: Ideal for Household Products
- Henkel: Good for Inventors and Students
- Dorman Products Inc.: Automotive Industry-Focused
Companies That Pay For Ideas: An Overview
What Are Companies That Pay for Ideas?
Companies that pay for innovative ideas include brands or companies that offer you to submit your unique unpatented ideas, inventions, or an improvement of a product.
If the company deems your idea viable for commercialization, they will partner with you to develop the design and turn it into a brand new product.
Depending on the company’s payment details and idea submission process, you and the company can profit from an accepted idea.
A successful idea may earn you royalties and percentages in the future, and some companies may also offer partnerships or a license agreement. However, this will depend on their idea submission plan.
Why Are Companies That Pay for Innovative Ideas Important?
While you’re free to expand and profit from your business idea on your own, companies that pay for it represent a perfect platform for people who don’t know where to start with their ideas.
They’re important to further expand and develop your unique business idea, and you won’t have to deal with the hassle of paperwork, intellectual rights, and patenting.
They can also offer advice on how to approach the invention, get inspired to develop different ideas and adapt them to another product, among others.
Little do most people know, but selling ideas to companies can also be a lucrative side hustle if you can drive enough value to the company you’re selling them to.
Do I Need to Sell My Business Idea to These Companies?
Selling ideas to companies might not be the best or easiest way to make money.
You can’t convince these companies to buy your idea if it’s not deemed unique or profitable, as this depends entirely on their policies and evaluation procedures.
However, if you believe you’re sitting on a literal ‘goldmine’ of an idea, it might be best if you develop it yourself, as is the case of many successful entrepreneurs.
These companies can help you fund your product ideas, develop them to solve serious problems, and guide you on how to properly market them for profit.
Keep in mind that some companies only pay a one-time fee for your idea, while others can pay you a portion of the profit in the future.
At a Glance: The Best Companies That Pay For Ideas
To help you choose the right brand for your innovation, here’s a list of companies that allow you to sell ideas.
All of these companies are reputable and offer a high value in profit for your product ideas, and you will also have the opportunity to see your idea blossom if it becomes successful.
What is the Best Company That Pays For Ideas?
While there’s no ‘best’ company you can sell your idea to, 3M is the best choice for most people who are looking to transform their ideas into influential products.
3M only accepts great ideas from serious inventors, and it goes all the way to develop the idea with great potential.
They pay a one-time fee for the idea, and if it’s a successful one, they will also offer royalties for every unit sold.
Features to Look for When Choosing Your Apps and Platforms
Before you consider selling your ideas, here are some important thoughts to consider.
Patenting Your Idea
As previously mentioned, patenting your idea is the first and most important step before you sell it. Most companies do not accept ideas without a patent.
Having a patent on your idea means that it’s legally protected as your intellectual property, and whoever tries to steal, commercially exploit, or tamper with it without your consent will be prosecuted.
You can patent your idea by filing a patent application via the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), where they can also determine if your idea is eligible.
If it’s already patented or is similarly related to another patent, your application may be declined.
The Importance of an NDA
If you’re worried about your idea falling into the wrong hands, it’s legal for you to ask the company to consent to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
An NDA is a legal document that is signed by an external party or the company in this case.
It protects your business information from being mentioned, disclosed, or shared with any other party besides you and the company.
Keep in mind that some companies may not agree to sign an NDA.
Before submitting an idea to a company, first, consider the option of using an NDA as a legal document, and make sure it’s produced professionally.
Research, Experiment, and Assess Your Possibilities
Your product idea might be good on paper, but is it truly viable as a standalone invention?
You first need to research the many possibilities of your idea before you decide to commercialize it.
Try to think about:
- How you’ll approach your idea’s development
- Which target audience you’ll choose
- How to properly maximize your earning potential
- How much funding it will require
- Improving an existing design
- How you’ll pitch it to the investors
There are many factors to consider when developing your idea, and that’s why you need to proceed with a realistic outlook on your final product’s essential purpose.
Read The Fine Print
Before you pitch your idea, make sure you thoroughly read every aspect of the company’s terms and conditions, and feel free to request more paperwork on other details of the company’s policies.
Ignoring their terms of service can make or break your profits, especially if it’s a game-changing idea.
Some companies might take advantage of a person’s patented ideas with clauses that nullify your rights to ownership or compensation.
This means that they’ll be the new owner of your idea despite your patent for it.
Experiment With a Business on Your Own
If the company’s policies are confusing, hire an expert attorney who specializes in intellectual property.
They can help you understand the company’s legal requirements or advise you on how to move forward with the idea.
Finally, if you think your creative ideas might be worth millions and you still haven’t found a suitable company to pitch to, you’re free to explore the possibilities with business options on your own.
This means finding your team of developers, graphic designers, and other employees that will develop your idea.
Of course, this means sharing the profits with anyone involved in the idea’s development and marketing.
While going solo means difficulties in funding, there are many ways to find the best funding via loans for business, which can provide you with a decent head start.
Don’t Be Discouraged
Don’t ever be discouraged if your idea isn’t accepted.
Countless ideas have been scrapped by companies, either because of an oversaturated market or limited resources for development.
Try your luck with another company, or rethink your entire concept before you have your first breakthrough.
Best Companies That Pay For Ideas: Top 3 Options [Ranked & Reviewed]
1. 3M: Our Top Pick
As the first choice, 3M is one of the most reputable, industry-leading brands that deal in office supplies and adhesive technologies.
3M strongly relies on the advice of experts and science to create products that benefit office workers.
They are known as one of the best idea-driving dynamos involved in developing over 60,000 products.
They are responsible for ideas such as Post-It notes and medical items like ACE bandages.
Key Features of 3M:
3M has a great policy for developing your product ideas. They are constantly on the lookout for brand new ideas to expand their product line.
If you have a patented idea that isn’t included yet in 3M’s product categories, make sure you pitch your idea as presentable as you can, and your place will be guaranteed.
You can submit your ideas directly to them via the Unsolicited Idea Submission tab on their website.
Pros of 3M:
- Reputable company: As a prominent brand, 3M maintains a great working environment with an open-door culture, making them a reputable brand.
- Focus on science-based, meaningful product ideas: The company favors ideas that are patented as consumer products for enhancing the quality of life via scientific methods and standards, often through healthcare-approved standards.
- Innovative business model: With a work culture that encourages cross-fertilization of ideas between scientists, healthcare workers, and business experts, 3M has one of the best business models for innovating, developing, and improving your ideas.
Cons of 3M:
- No patent, no money. According to their terms and conditions, if you submit an unpatented idea, 3M regards it as an unsolicited idea that they own, and they are not obliged to pay you for it.
- You have limited involvement. 3M holds almost complete control over your idea’s development and commercialization.
- 3M isn’t obliged to answer you back. If you submit an idea, 3M may not review your idea or answer you for it, so try to make your idea as presentable as possible.
For every successful idea, 3M will pay you a one-time fee or royalties. They have a closed-door policy, so the total income depends on the scale, nature, and potential ROI of your idea.
Our Take: Should You Choose 3M?
This company is suitable for those of you who like to submit your ideas to a trustworthy company that knows how to further develop them, especially in the commercial field of office products.
If you want more freedom and intellectual property control over the development of your idea, then doing it on your own may yield better results.
2. Idea Buyer: Runner-Up
Idea Buyer is a company that focuses on landing partnerships with inventors who own the most innovative ideas.
While they’re not responsible for manufacturing the product, Idea Buyer relies on marketplace partnerships.
Over the years, they’ve had successful business collaborations with Lowes, Cabela’s, Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot, and other marketing giants for commercial products.
Key Features of Idea Buyer:
The reason why Idea Buyer is among the best companies for ideas is that they have an inventor-friendly business plan that strictly focuses on receiving product ideas in many commercial categories.
If you pitch them a promising idea, their creative development teams will make sure to unlock its full potential.
They will immediately make plans with producers and marketers to launch it for profit.
Pros of Idea Buyer:
- Good reputation. In the idea business since 2007 and a proud member of the 3X Inc. 5000 Company, Idea Buyer is a well-known brand that will make sure your idea is properly developed, implemented, and made into a brand-new product.
- Top-shelf brand collaboration: Idea Buyer is partnered with major producers, so your product idea is in the right hands for commercialization. If successful, your product idea will be marketed on the shelves of Walmart, Home Depot, and their other partner stores.
- Openness to lots of ideas: Idea Buyer is an inventor-friendly company that focuses on ideas in several categories. They are interested in any idea that can be turned into a potentially game-changing product.
Cons of Idea Buyer:
- Partial costs: If Idea Buyer accepts your idea, you’ll have to pay for one-third of the development costs, so you’ll have to have some funding if you want your product to launch. If you have trouble with funding, you can check out crowdfunding on Indiegogo or Kickstarter, which can help you oil the wheels.
- High chance of rejection: Even if your idea might be potentially groundbreaking, Idea Buyer reviews lots of admissions on a daily basis, so they can reject your idea with no further explanation.
- Limited expertise: Idea Buyer is focused on the general development of physical products. If you have an app idea, they may not have the right means or expertise to develop it.
Idea Buyer Income
Idea Buyer offers a joint venture and a chance for royalties for every unit sold.
The exact cost of a successfully submitted idea is confidential, but if your idea turns out to be a successful one, you also have a chance to land an exclusive partnership for a better profit.
Our Take: Should You Choose Idea Buyer?
If you have an idea for a physical product for wellness, firearms, home living, and cooking appliances, Idea Buyer is the right stop for you.
But, if you have an app idea, it’s best to look elsewhere.
3. Invention City: Also Great
Invention City has been kickstarting brilliant ideas since 1986. It is a well-known company that most independent inventors recommend.
With lots of commercialized products and partnerships with famous brands, you can expect excellent collaboration with Invention City.
They are known for allowing anybody to submit ideas, and their most popular ideas usually include home appliances, office products, kitchen products, electronic devices, mobile apps, and more.
Key Features of Invention City:
Inner City has a free and paid method for accepting idea submission forms, and there’s a five-day waiting period for accepting or rejecting your idea submission.
The free version requires you to proceed with a self-evaluation test with their ‘investigator tool’, but they may not contact you if your idea is rejected.
For a $95 fee, the paid submission method offers to review your idea via their ‘Brutally Honest Review’ process to see if your submission is successful or not.
It includes detailed feedback with recommendations and a 10-page suggestion on how you can approach the idea.
Pros of Invention City:
- Thorough process: This company can help you license the idea, develop the concept, and market the product if all goes as planned.
- Great reputation with other brands: Invention City has successfully collaborated with popular retailers like Walmart, Walgreens, Office Depot, K-Mart, Amazon, Costco, Sears, and many others.
- No product category restriction: Invention City doesn’t have a category restriction for submitting ideas. Anyone can come up with an idea, sketch, or minimally outlined concept, and it doesn’t have to fall into a specific category to be accepted.
Cons of Invention City:
- Less control: Once Invention City accepts your idea, they have the right to completely take over the overview process and the marketing method of your idea, thus limiting your involvement in the product’s development.
- Low chance: So far, the company has offered deals to roughly one percent of all submitted ideas, and only 10% of those have successfully followed through with a finished product.
- No manufacturing: Invention City doesn’t offer to manufacture your product, so you’re on your own for that.
Invention City Income
If they like your idea, Invention City may offer you a licensing deal that will get you royalties for the sales that can go from 1% to 5% and a sharing revenue of 20% to 60% per product sale.
Our Take: Should You Choose Invention City?
If you are looking for a company that can actually offer an explanation for rejecting your idea, you can do so with Invention City, but for a $95 fee, of course.
This company is helpful this way because the insight you get from the ‘Brutally Honest Review’ feedback can be invaluable and help you further develop your concept.
Notable Mentions: Other Companies That Pay For Ideas You Should Consider
Now that we’ve mentioned the top three picks, here are the other companies that also offer great options and benefits in helping you develop your business idea.
4. The Sharper Image: Established and Versatile
The Sharper Image is a tech company that’s focused on ideas about consumer goods like toys, electronics, air purifiers, and home appliances that revolve around home tech and lifestyle.
In business since 1977, Sharper Image was one of the first companies that went with the concept of buying invention ideas.
Why is Sharper Image a Great Option?
Their ‘anything goes’ policy can be suitable for anyone with a commercial idea, and their long-time brand makes them a reputable company.
Drawbacks to Sharper Image
You’ll need to have the product developed yourself before submitting it to Sharper Image.
They request detailed product descriptions, photos, and sometimes even a drawing of your idea, so it’s not a great option if you want to develop your sketched concept.
They also request product sale reports if you already have a commercialized item.
Sharper Image Pricing
The total profit of selling your business idea to Sharper Image depends on their idea development policies, which are confidential and individual for every idea.
Once you submit your idea, their merchandising team will contact you within 14 days.
5. Flippa: Good for Digital Assets
If you have an already developed app, Flippa allows you to list your app ideas on their website, where potential buyers will bid for it.
Why is Flippa a Great Option?
It is one of the biggest digital asset selling platforms in the world, so it’s a great company for those of you who are looking to sell mobile app ideas.
While the website can take a small fee from selling your innovative app idea, you’ll get most of the total price if the idea is successful.
Drawbacks to Flippa
Your app ideas must be fully developed if you want to list them, and Flippa takes a listing fee that goes from $10 to $49.
Depending on how good your app idea is, most inventors can rack up from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and some have even earned up to $100,000.
6. Jokari Home Solutions: Ideal for Household Products
Jokari deals with household products, kitchen gadgets, and storage solutions, so they accept only ideas that fit within these categories.
Sending your ideas is simple. Just fill out the forms on their inventor’s page, present your proof of ownership, and wait for their reply.
Granted, the proof of ownership is usually in the form of a patent, so be mindful of that.
Why is Jokari Home Solutions a Great Option?
With 50 years of innovation contributions, Jokari Home Solutions is known for being one of the best idea companies for houseware items.
If your idea revolves around home devices, DIY, food storage or ergonomics concepts, don’t miss out on Jokari.
Drawbacks to Jokari Home Solutions
Jokari Home Solutions handles all ideas via ‘Davidson,’ a third-party company that works on their idea development procedures.
Most inventors recommend not to disclose essential details of your idea besides how it works as a concept unless you have a non-disclosure agreement already settled with them.
Jokari Home Solutions Income
Jokari doesn’t disclose any profits or royalties generated from their successful ideas.
Submitted product ideas are exchanged for royalties, so expect percentages of every product sold if your idea is successful.
7. Henkel: Good for Inventors and Students
Henkel is a German global giant for chemical and consumer goods like beauty products, hygiene laundry products, and adhesive solutions, among others.
This industry-leading brand only accepts ideas that are patented, in the process of being patent approved, or registered as intellectual property, so you know Henkel only collaborates with the most serious of inventors.
Why is Henkel a Great Option?
In contrast to Invention City, Henkel lets inventors join their Henkel Innovation Partnership Program (HIPP), wherein you receive technical support, advisory feedback, funding, and resources.
Henkel is also specifically interested in the ideas of college students.
They encourage all young minds and inventors to send their ideas that also include used product solutions, but only with their unique twist in modifying the concept.
Drawbacks to Henkel
You can receive the partnership program only if you agree to share a percentage of your product’s sales which is a part of their licensing deal.
For a massive company that’s known for world-famous brands like Bref, Persil, and Schwarzkopf, Henkel has a rather meager licensing deal.
Henkel doesn’t disclose the total percentage of royalties of accepted ideas. All their website states is that their innovation rates are fair.
8. Dorman Products, Inc.: Automotive Industry-Focused
Based in Pennsylvania and active since 2018, Dorman deals with automobile parts, hardware, and home living and is well-respected in the motor industry.
The company works with replacement parts for many truck models.
If you have an automotive-related idea, Dorman is a great incubator for your concepts that fit their product categories, but they generally favor automotive repair solutions.
Why is Dorman Products, Inc. a Great Option?
This company is a great idea buyer for those of you who believe they have great automotive solutions.
If you think you have something that may improve your everyday automotive part and make it more convenient, feel free to submit your free idea to Dorman via their New Product Idea page.
Pitching the idea doesn’t take a lot of fancy wording, and you can contact them via hotline for it.
Drawbacks to Dorman Products, Inc.
If Dorman accepts your idea, you are eligible to collect a price of up to $500 dollars which may not be acceptable for most inventors.
Dorman Products, Inc. Income
Dorman doesn’t disclose exactly how much they pay for an approved idea.
For every accepted idea, you will receive a fixed price of up to $500 dollars.
If they fully develop the idea and start producing it, you may be eligible to land a licensing or partnership deal.
Similar Opportunities to Check Out
If you’re interested in expanding your ideas further, or you want to start a profitable business on your own, here are some great guides for you:
- How to Find Your Side Hustle: For those of you with free time on your hands, this guide has 13 practical examples and ideas to start your side hustle for extra cash on the side.
- The 15 Best Crowdfunding Sites: Planning to kickstart your business already? Getting capital from crowdfunding platforms is one of the most efficient ways to ensure your new venture starts off smoothly, and this guide will show you the best websites for soliciting funds.
- How to Start a Business With No Money: If you have a promising business idea but don’t have the right funding for it, this guide will show you the most important tips and tricks on how to carefully start your business without much hassle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Companies Pay For New Ideas?
Companies are constantly on the lookout for ‘the next big thing’ to develop it into a new product for the market. The market is competitive and oversaturated with products, so they encourage anyone to come up with a new product that can be commercialized and turned into profit.
How Much Would a Company Pay for an Idea?
Most companies will pay you a one-time fee per idea along with a royalty payment via percentage for every unit sold.
For example, if they accept the idea, and you both agree on a 3% royalty for $100, you can earn $3 from every unit sold.
Why Do I Need to Sell My Idea When I Can Profit From It on My Own?
While you’re free to work on your idea, companies have the means to develop it into something large-scale and profitable.
You will need funding and creative direction to fully develop your idea into a product, and this is where these companies come in, turning your ideas into reality.
How Do I Pitch an Idea to a Company Without Them Stealing It?
A patent is an intangible asset in the form of a legal document that states you have an exclusive right to the idea.
If the company accepts your application, you should also ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement to oblige the company to avoid disclosing any information.
These companies will hopefully help you turn your dream idea into a real product with commercial popularity.
There’s no better way to break free from the 9-5 than by starting a business from your idea.
Although it’s very difficult to find the right company to develop your idea, you won’t be disappointed with 3M and Idea Buyer.
These companies are trustworthy and have a solid reputation for kicking off great products that we use today.
You’re also free to check out the others if you feel they fit the nature of your idea.
Just don’t forget to patent your idea and have a non-disclosure agreement at the ready when you want to pitch your million-dollar idea to the companies.