How do I find a partner for a joint venture?

QUESTION:

Our company has a patent on a fire gel to start your wood and other fires.  We are looking for someone to do a joint venture with to market our product.  How do I go about this?

ANSWER:

I have some general advice that would apply to any business in your situation, but first, I am assuming you don’t have the money and/or expertise to manufacture and market this yourself.  In this case, you may want to consider several options:

  1. You can do a joint venture, which can be complicated.  This is a higher barrier to entry because some companies may not want to form a joint venture, but may be open to other options.
  2. You can simply license your patent to someone else.  This is simpler and may appeal to a broader array of partners.
  3. You can actually hire a company to market your product for you.
  4. You can seek out investment and hire the people you need to market your product, instead of doing a joint venture.

After considering all the options, if a joint venture still makes sense, here are some suggestions:

  • Look at the major players in your industry and target them.   Make a list of everyone in your market and rank them according to best fit.  You may assign points to different factors in their business, like distribution, market share, location, team, etc.   Add up the points and see who scores highest overall.
  • Look to firms in related businesses that are seeking to expand their product line and move into your sector.
  • Research other joint ventures and licensing deals in your industry.  Find out who did these deals and on what terms.
  • Go to the patent office’s website and find out what companies have patents on similar products.
  • Break things down by territory and form different relationships on a country-by-country basis.  You may find it’s more lucrative to pick different partners in Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, etc.
  • Tap into industry trade organizations and ask for recommendations on who would be a good fit.
  • Contact distributors and introduce them to your product.  A distributor may be able to recommend a good joint venture partner.
  • Contact retailers and introduce them to your product.   A retailer may be able to recommend a good joint venture partner.
  • Hire a consultant who can guide you through the process.  It’s best to find someone who has done similar deals in the past and knows all the players.
  • Consult with an attorney and tax professional and make sure a joint venture is really what you want.  As I mentioned above, there are other options that may be a better fit.

I hope this helps.

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