Bacon Wrapped Business With Brad Costanzo
BWB Stephen | Intellectual Property Licensing

Stephen Key: Turn Your Ideas Into A Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do The Work


Most entrepreneurs are more left-brained, while the right-brained people stick more with creatives. In this episode, Stephen Key shares how you can use both groups of people and turn your ideas into licensing goldmines. Stephen is an inventor, entrepreneur, and educator who has licensed and patented multiple products in three decades. He wrote the book One Simple Idea as a tell-all of how you can rent out an idea and create cash flow. If the worst ideas can roll in that income, imagine what a great idea would generate.

Some Topics We Discussed Include:

  • How to “Rent” your ideas vs selling them
  • You can license anything
  • Why you shouldn’t have the idea
  • How to use “The Multiplying Effect” for exponential results
  • What Stephen would have done differently if he were starting today
  • Feeding the Idea Monster
  • How to use “Design Schools” as Gold Mines
  • How to make the first approach to licensees
  • How to create easy leverage points to win over both sides of a deal
  • Why you don’t need to have an eye for opportunity
  • Why you don’t have to do much (or any) real work
  • Should you have a standard licensing agreement?
  • Other opportunities for licensing
  • Potential profit as licensing agent
  • Minimum guarantees and performance clauses
  • Should you ask for money upfront
  • Licensing the same idea to different industries
  • Licensing to Coca-Cola
  • Capitalizing off unmanufactured products
  • Using the Ad agency as side door
  • How to introduce yourself to ad agencies
  • How to introduce yourself directly to a company
  • Tapping the right departments and guiding your contacts
  • Where to start when there’s too many companies to contact
  • Taking advantage of Google product search
  • Why the dumbest ideas in the world can still get licensed
  • What markets and industries are hot
  • Where to find product designers
  • Where to start building key relationships
  • Invention vs. innovation
  • Is publishing really licensing?
  • Reverse ghostwriting
  • Creating for the marketplace
  • Putting the pieces together, connecting to dots, and creating leverage points
  • How Stephen become a Disney licensee
  • Leveraging the name of bigger brands
  • What is inventRight? What makes it different?
  • Stephen’s thoughts on invention submission companies
  • How to become an idea agent
  • Finding a home for your idea
  • Stephen’s upcoming projects

To learn more about turning your ideas into a goldmine, buy Stephen Key’s book at

About the Guest: Stephen Key

BWB Stephen | Intellectual Property LicensingHe is a successful and award-winning inventor, entrepreneur, and educator. He has licensed over 20 products in the past 30 years, he holds about 30 patients, and manages a portfolio of over 50 patents. Stephen's products have sold in Walmart, 7-Eleven, Disney stores, and theme parks worldwide. His products have also been endorsed by Michael Jordan and Alex Trebek from Jeopardy.

As his way of giving back. Stephen has written the book One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work, a very powerful resource that has personally helped me in my licensing business. Stephen also cofounded inventRight along with his business partner Andrew Krauss, a company which is solely focused on education to help their students become empowered in the licensing industry.

I’ve invited Stephen on the show to share his invaluable insights and strategies about licensing and to help shed some light on just how simple the process of “renting your ideas” can be. Whether you are an entrepreneur, opportuneur, marketer or designer, this episode has the ability to change the landscape of the way you view and do business forever!

Stephen Key: Turn Your Ideas Into A Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do The Work

I woke up excited to jump on the phone with my guest. I could give you a long-winded introduction about how happy I am that you chose to spend your time reading my blog. I want to get into the introduction here if it's alright with you. I'm interviewing Stephen Key.

Maybe you have heard of Stephen, maybe you haven't. If not, after this episode I guarantee you'll never forget him. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time where you know anything about me, then you'll hear me talk about the power of licensing when it comes to business.

Don't let that term licensing scare you. It's not complex especially when you keep it simple. As you're about to find out, simple ideas are what this episode is all about.

If you're anything like me in the idea of simple business with a few moving parts, fewer employees, and the ability to work from anywhere in the world, and a truly passive income. This is one of the true ways to earn passive income without starting off with a fortune.

This show is going to open your eyes. Stephen Key is a successful and award-winning inventor, entrepreneur and educator. He has licensed over twenty products in the past many years and he holds about thirteen patents, maybe more.

Stephen's products have sold in Walmart, 7-Eleven, Disney stores, and theme parks worldwide and have been endorsed by Michael Jordan and Alex Trebek from Jeopardy.

He's the author of the book One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work.

For my copywriter friends out there, you'll realize how genius that is. He inspires readers in this book to license or rent their ideas to companies, from Fortune 500 companies and smaller using a simple ten-step system.

Stephen has been on national television shows many times, magazines, newspapers, and even interviewed by authors such as Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek and Donny Deutsch of The Big Idea.

He was a consultant of the first season of the hit ABC show, American Inventor, created by Simon Cowell. Maybe you caught an episode or two.

He's also the Cofounder of inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors, entrepreneurs, or anyone with an idea on the necessary steps to build wealth through licensing.

Before we jump into this, I want to let you know upfront. This show is not going to be about inventing, it's not even for inventors. It's specifically for people like myself, marketers, entrepreneurs, opportuneurs and anybody who loves the concept of capitalizing by connecting the dots.

That's a cool statement, capitalizing by connecting the dots. It's one of the things that's led to a lot of my success and if you're anything like me, you're going to love this. I'm going to take Stephen down a path that I guarantee most other interviewers have not taken him down.

They usually talk about the necessary steps to take your own idea or invention to market. I'm going to take him down to the path of, “How do I capitalize and use licensing if the product or idea isn't mine, but I wish to go out and connect the dots to create capital?” Stephen, are you with me?

Yes, I am Brad. Thank you.

Thank you. I'm excited to have you on here. A lot of the folks who are reading this, hopefully, they've heard of you. I know a lot of people have read your book. Tim Ferriss wrote a write up on the cover of your book. A lot of my readers, including myself are big fans of Tim.

I actually got into the world of online marketing because I read The 4-Hour Workweek and he talks some good stuff about you and how you had a good impact on his business as well.

The whole licensing and inventing, this whole area is so fascinating for me and I think for my readers too because it cuts away all of the necessity to be an expert in every part of business, does it not?

Absolutely, it does. Basically, licensing is where you come up with an idea and you're going to rent it to a company and let them do all the heavy lifting.

Let them spend their money, time, and resources while you sit back and collect the royalties. It's the perfect partner. It's speed to market now when you have ideas.

I love the fact that you said, “Rent it,” because I have it in my notes. If you didn't say it, I was going to pull it up because it's the best way to describe it.

People think that I have a product, the only way that I can get paid for my product, idea, or information is to sell it to the end-user but that's not true.

You can literally rent somebody else the right to use their product then they can make money and then they can pay you for the privilege of doing so.

For full disclosure, one of my early students you have mentioned was Tim Ferriss and probably the most persistent pest I've ever met.

He claimed the phrase, “Licensing is like renting an idea.” I love that he did that because he simplified it and it should be simplified because it's not complicated whatsoever.

A lot of people make it sound more complicated especially if you start to think that licensing, legal agreements, and lawyers but we're not going to get into that.

I also want to preface this, you know in the previous episode of Bacon Wrapped Business, I interviewed Mitch Axelrod. He's honed his expertise on licensing information and intellectual property content to businesses, so this doesn't have to be a physical product.

This can be an information product. It can be an idea, a process and it can be absolutely anything. The world is your oyster when it comes to this stuff.

Thank you for mentioning that because you're absolutely right. You can license a business method and a service. You can license a product or even material about anything that has value, you can license to another company.

In my practice, I've got my own consultancy and I take this a little differently, a different approach than traditional marketing consultants do. I don't work as a fee for service, pay me this, that or the other.

I usually use proven marketing campaigns that either myself that I've used and I've come up with, and I know they've worked because I've tested them out. I've done it in my own business, in other businesses or in other market segments.

What I'm doing is I'm licensing the right to use these marketing campaigns in my client's business. I am being paid a guaranteed amount plus I've put up a performance bonus in there but at any point if they decide to stop working with me, the rights to these campaigns come with me.

It's an incredible way to switch the phrase and the approach to a service-based business into creating a real, nice income stream that even if you use this proven campaign over and over for years, you still have to pay me for the right to use it.

I want to dive deep into a concept that you brought up on another show, The Art of Charm Podcast, which is a friend of mine, Jordan Harbinger. He was a guest on the show, he interviewed you.

It was an amazing interview and I do recommend anybody go check that in order to get all the fundamentals of licensing especially if it deals with products. At the end of the interview, you talked about what you believe is the future or an amazing opportunity which is being the connector.

You are representing different people who either have different ideas or who need different ideas, whether it’s artists or people who have a design or anybody else. If you don't have the idea, you can still make a fortune connecting the dots between who needs this and who has this.

Brad, I think it's better if you don't have the idea.

Why is that?

If you want to create great wealth, you have to find a way that doesn't require your presence or your hands. Share on X

I've learned that it doesn't have to be your idea. It could be anybody's idea. In fact, the most successful product that I've licensed and collected royalties for over several years was an idea that someone else invented many years ago.

The problem was that they didn't have the expertise or knowledge at that time to figure out how to manufacture it. I went down that road and figured out how to manufacture it, filed some intellectual property and that's put a great income stream for me for many years and still is now.

I don't think you have to. I believe in the multiplying effect. My father taught me early on if you want to create great wealth, you have to find a way that doesn't require your presence or your hands.

He was right and I'm glad you picked up on that interview because if I was going to start over, I would do it differently.

How would you do it if we're starting over?

I would do it so differently because a couple of things have changed. The first thing that's changed it's called open innovation. Companies around the world have finally realized that maybe they don't have the smartest people working for them.

They've opened their doors to look at outside ideas from anybody. That means most of those doors are swinging wide open for anybody that has an idea. They want to see it. That has created a remarkable opportunity so now you can get into just about any company.

Number two, if they're looking for ideas, how do you feed that monster? You can try to come up with ideas yourself. I'm not a creative guy but I know there are a lot of brilliant creative people out there.

I've met them at some of the top design schools in the country. They pay a lot of money to be creative and they have ideas that are brilliant but they don't do anything with them.

When you say the design schools, are we talking art design? What kind of design for a little bit of clarification there?

It was a surprise to me how many different areas there are in design. There are so many disciplines in design but there's a school down in Pasadena that I went to and it's called the Art Center. I showed up one day and I was invited to go down there to give a talk about licensing and I walked in their gallery.

All the students had their projects there for everybody to see for the semester. It was remarkable. People were designing new shoes, new motorcycles, characters, everything you can think about people had designs for. It blew my mind, the talent.

I asked the professor later that day, I said, “What are all these students doing with these ideas?” They said, “They throw them away.” I said, “Are you teaching licensing?”

He said, “No, that's why you're here.” I said, “What are the options that they have now.” Two, either get a job working for somebody else or start their own business.

One thing we probably all know about a lot of young, creative, artistic folks is that's right brain and starting a business is left brain. A lot of the most artistic people in the world are not best-suited entrepreneurs, business people, managers.

They realize that about themselves and I'm generalizing here. That probably shuts them down from ever thinking that there is a market for their creative work.

Most creative people want to stay creative so it kept on dawning to me. If I was going to start all over, I would build a network of these highly-skilled, professional product developers and I would build a network with those guys.

I would contact all those companies that are looking for ideas, build relationships with those guys and say, “I'm going to keep feeding you ideas from the top talent of the country. All I ask for you is tell me what direction we should create in. What are you looking for?”

Build that relationship and then I'd bring the two together. That multiplying effect of having all those companies and now the top talent. All I do is put the two together and take a piece of that income.

That's great and it's not rocket science. You're meeting supply with demand. I've got a principle I always espouse both on the show with my clients, in my life and it's how I saw a lot of business challenges with these three-and-a-half questions.

Who else needs what I have? Who else has what I need? If that's who else has website traffic that can be sent to my product? Who else has a product that I can send my website traffic to? Who else has a distribution channel?

Who else has a product? Who else has anything? Who else has what I need? Who else needs what I have? The “what if” question is the next one. What if we do this? What if we do that? What if I let them sell my product?

What if I let them give my product or information away for a small fee? What if I do this? The last question is, why not? Is there any reason that this would not work as a win for the customer, a win for my partner and a win for me?

That's what we're doing here is you're saying, “Who else needs what these designers have?” There are a lot of businesses out there and who else has what they need, these designers, artists and everybody else.

Let's say somebody is like, “I am sold. I am scrapping everything. This is the direction I'm going.” Would you start to approach the companies first or would you start to build those relationships with the designers first?

Now granted nothing stops you from doing both simultaneously, but if you were to approach it, what steps would you take first?

You could do either one, Brad. It doesn't matter. Those companies are going to want to work with you. I'll tell you the reason why. You're providing a service that's absolutely free. They're not going to say no.

You're a scout. In essence, you're a talent scout for them, but you're an IP scout.

They're not going to say no. The trick is I would build those relationships and be able to leverage those relationships with my designers, saying, “These companies are looking for ideas.”

Those designers, they're going to get excited about it because now they have a door and they don't have to deal with them. They don't have to worry about contracts. You can handle all that.

All they need to work, worry about, “This is exciting. Do I have the next idea for P&G or General Electric?” or who knows who? They're going to be extremely motivated.

If you go to the designers and set that up first and then go back to these companies and say, “I've got the top talent in the country.” They're going to be excited about that too. It's free. It's going to be hand-in-hand.

If I was going to start, I'd build a website and I would put those nice, big logos of all those companies looking for ideas I established these relationships with.

You would be flooded with people that are creative that want you to represent them. This is something I'm surprised that more people haven't caught on about this. It's this perfect situation that's happening at the moment.

If I was going to start all over, I would build a team of designers, a team of the list of companies that I'm working with and ask them, “What are you guys looking for?” I would send that information out to my designers, “You guys, here's your assignment. Let's go.”

There are two points I want to bring up that's great about that. Number one, the first thing that people think of is, “I don't have to have the idea but I have to be able to recognize a great idea or recognize the opportunity.”

What you said even removes the necessity to be able to recognize a great opportunity because if you got an open dialogue with both sides, like the companies.

They tell you specifically what they're looking for. It's almost like they're giving you a shopping list. “This is what we want. This is what we'll pay for. This is what fits into our company culture.”

They would give that assignment to even their in-house product developers. They're telling you what their marketing departments are saying, “This is an area we want to develop products in.” You're just managing the system a little bit for them. You're making it easy.

BWB Stephen | Intellectual Property Licensing

One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work

I wouldn't screen it at all, in fact, the only opinion that matters that a lot of people ask me, “How do we know if I have a good idea?” You don't. The only people that do know, and they don't even know, is the company you're going to license it to so I'm not going to screen it at all.

I'd give them an assignment, let them start submitting it. What I like about this still, Brad, you don't have to do any of the work. You have to understand prototypes. You have to understand sales sheets. You have to understand the process and you put that responsibility on to your designers.

“This is what I need from you to make a presentation.” That's simple. In one-page sell sheet, show me the benefits, maybe a little video, maybe a prototype, maybe file a provisional patent application which you can do for $65.

You give them all the tools that you need to make a presentation. You put all the work on them and then you start feeding these companies with those ideas.

That's even better because I would bet that our readers are thinking, “I've got to be an expert in sales sheets, this, that and the other.”

No, you have to know, you don't have to build them. You just have to know what these companies want and then tell them, “This is what I need from you. Once you give this to me, I will open the door, walk through it with you, and see if we can make this happen.”

When it comes to the legal side, there are a million IP attorneys out there and there are a million resources. You don't have to be an expert in any of those areas as long as you know how to find the experts that can help you.

It's so simple when you think about it. You're going to submit an idea. If they take it, they are going to pay a royalty for that idea every time they sell one in the marketplace. It's that simple.

I know the answer to this but I'm teeing it up for folks who aren't familiar with the licensing concept. The average licensing royalty totally depends upon what you're licensing, the market for it.

Every deal is negotiable so there's no set fee. Typically, what do you see? It’s between 4% to 5% on the low end. On the low end, you can even get 1% or something if the volume is high enough. What would you say like 4% to 15% is probably the general range for mainstream licensing deals?

Basically, yes. For product licensing you're probably talking, you're right about the volume, it's always volumes. It's probably between three and five, rarely does it go over seven.

That's of gross sales?

That's right. It's the wholesale price and there are some things that they deduct from it, but it's standard. You could also have a standard licensing agreement drafted up so you don't have to renegotiate every single time at different terms. It's quite simple.

Once you do it once, you could do it a million times. Licensing, once you learn that skill too, you could help other companies, research universities. You can help them. There are many companies that have IP or intellectual property that they're not going to use.

Google came out from the University of Illinois, if I'm not mistaken, and I believe they may have owned the IP originally and I don't remember the exact story about this but I know that it was developed on campus.

There are many research universities and I've reached out to a few of them to ask their process. How do they license their ideas and it's very haphazard. I was surprised. Maybe not all of them, but the ones I called, in my opinion, they didn't know how to pitch it.

Two things, they didn't realize how to reach out to a potential licensee and then the art of the pitch, someone with these types of skills once you get involved.

You can reach out to universities, other companies that have IP and just be the connector. That's what I like about it and your income stream, there's no limit to it.

The world at that point is your oyster when it comes to the connector's share of this. Let's do an example. Let's say, you find me and I'm a designer. I’ve got a design for a new widget and you have a great relationship with another company that wants that widget.

They're willing to pay 5% royalty on the wholesale price to the inventor. The licensing agent which is what you are at this point, what is the typical, and once more the beautiful part about licensing is that it's all negotiable, but what do you typically see is the cut of the licensing agent of that fee?

I would start 50-50. The reason why, it sounds a little high but it isn't. I would approach it this way, I am going to have an exclusive on your idea.

I'm going to represent your idea with my team, with companies, my relationships, and give me a few months to cut a deal. If I cannot cut a deal, it's all yours. No harm, no foul.

You take no ownership of it. You give himself a certain length of time and if you can do it, fantastic. If not, here you go, it's yours again. You go ahead and you try it.

Most people that are creative, once they see that the system works, all they do is be creative, feed you ideas, and you feed them to the companies and so it's multiplying effect for everybody.

The nice part about licensing and you know this well, some of the readers may not, but the way a lot of these deals work is it's not just, “You get paid when we get paid.”

Oftentimes, there is a guarantee and a percentage of that guarantee is paid upfront for. It all depends upon what you're doing and who you're working with but you can get a large chunk of cash upfront for the rights to use this.

I'd do it a little bit different because that's usually top-loading a deal and some companies push back on that. I understand smart companies do anyway.

I always tell them, “You're absolutely right too, from your perspective, if you're going to give someone an exclusive with an idea, there are minimum guarantees. It's a performance clause. If I'm going to give you the exclusive rights, you have to guarantee me X amount of sales a year basically.”

You’ve got to guarantee that if they don't perform, or for some reason it doesn't sell well or a change of management, you get it back. That's how it protects everybody. Minimum guarantees are one of the greatest tools for independent product developers. It’s wonderful.

The second part, I never ask for money upfront. What I do though I ask, “Instead of a licensing fee, why don't you help pay for the intellectual property of patents?”

That's great because those can be very expensive.

They sure can and especially if you've got a good idea. There's going to be multiple probably patents, maybe international patents being filed. It could add up to a lot of money.

If this has happened to me before, I've licensed it to a company, sold it for a few years and changed their management. They wanted to do something else, they don't hit their minimum guarantees. They paid for all my patents. They gave it back and I licensed it to another company again.

The other beautiful part about this is that this is totally dependent upon what you're doing. You may license this idea, product, or piece of intellectual property to a company in one industry and maybe you've got an exclusive on that industry, depending on what it is.

You may negotiate, “Okay, but I can also license it to this industry.” I can also license it over here. You can have multiple ways to skin that cat and it's all negotiable. It's up to your imagination of what's possible.

What's wonderful about that, the one product that I've mentioned I was able to license it to different categories. It's a rotating label, it's in the packaging industry so I can license it to someone in liquor, in soda, spices, food and pharmacy.

I want you to back up and explain what it is. I'm familiar with it. It's the Spinformation, is that what you called it, AccuDial or something of that nature?

Yeah, it started out. It's basically simple. It's just two labels on the container. The base label has information and the top label has a window that when you spin the top label, it reveals more information on the base label. It's two labels in one.

Be polite to everyone going up because you are going to probably meet them going back down sometimes. Share on X

It's a clever way of delivering more information for maybe multiple languages, drug facts, warnings, games, coupons and things like that. To give you an example, when people are always like, “The label industry, it's consumables.”

One of the top companies in the country is Coca-Cola, they do a billion Cokes a day. Not all of them are that large. I had licensed it to a company Rexsol when I first started and they did. That was a small company and they had it on two production lines.

Their total production lines were thirteen but they had it on two. They did 50 million labels for me a year and that was $250,000 for one account.

The nice part, you didn't have to do any of the business. You had the idea. You built the relationship. You signed the agreement. You cashed the checks. That's what is exciting about this.

Better yet, it wasn't even my idea, it's somebody else's.

Is this the one you said that you had found the idea elsewhere and somebody else had not capitalized and monetized it?

I thought, “Finally, I have this great idea.” I am not that creative and my attorneys, they questioned it because they knew I wasn't that talented but they did some research and they realized, “Maybe you are the first one.”

They found out a little bit later that someone else had invented it and everybody told me, “Do something else.” When I read the patent, there was no mention of manufacturing, and better yet, no one had ever produced it on the market.

I just figured out how to manufacture it and then started licensing it to every company I could possibly find.

How hard was it to get in the door and find companies in order to license it?

This was years ago, so it was a little bit more difficult but it's not that hard. Nowadays, with LinkedIn, with companies looking for ideas with open innovation, it's easy. Getting into Coca-Cola might be a little bit more difficult.

I'd tell anybody, “If you've got an idea for someone that large, go through their ad agency because number one they're not going to pick up their phone because they sell. Number two, they're almost obligated to show any creative idea to their client.”

Because they're obligated, they have to show it. They already trust their ad agency so, you're going into the side door.

You're going at a very high-level door. That's the difference too.

Typically like if you're approaching an ad agency or the company, and I'm also setting you up. I do know that you teach people how to do all this stuff and if you're sitting here, reading, “You're not giving out enough information. I don't know how to do it.”

We're going to give you resources from Stephen and to go out and learn how to do this step-by-step or even help Stephen and his team hold your hand. In general, do you send mail? Do you do a cold call? Do you try to get an introduction? What have you found as the best way for John Q. Public?

First of all, let's talk about ad agencies because that's quite simple. I do it a little quiet. I would call up an ad agency, maybe speak to some low-level account executive.

I’ll say, “I'm a product developer and I've got a packaging innovation that maybe one of your clients might be interested in.” I've already done my research and I know that Coke is their client, you don't have to say that.

You can play a little bit of Colombo.

You have to and it works. He's intrigued. You send them over to a website. You send them a sales sheet, he looks at it and they're like, “This is interesting.” I'll send a sample and they'll see that, and before you know it, they get all excited about it. They start opening the door so I just keep a low profile.

I don't try to oversell it. People like to be surprised. Let's say you want to call directly to a company. That's simple. I would pick up the phone and I'm going to reach the operator. That's your best friend. Don't forget everybody because they're going to help you and they're polite.

That's one thing I've learned from my mentor early on is that, be polite to everyone going up because you are going to probably meet them going back down sometimes. You get in with the gatekeeper and say, “I'm a product developer.” Never say you're an inventor.

Inventor, because it may sound like, “Some guy from his garage has got some crazy idea.”

It's true. It works well if you're going after a PR piece being an inventor, they love that, at a dinner party, yes, but never to a company. You're a product developer. They have product developers.

They know what they aren't and I'd say, “I'm Stephen Key and with Stephen Key Design. I'm a product developer and I would like to start submitting ideas to your company.” They don't know what to do with that.

I know that there are a couple of departments I know I don't want to start with. One of them is legal. If they mention something up going to the legal department, you say that's not the right place, so you guide them to someone in the marketing department.

If you have a new hammer you might say, “I have an idea for small tools such as a hammer. Could I speak to the project manager in small tools?” They'll connect me but those people are a little bit hard to get to as well. You can always ask for someone in sales because they always pick up the phone.

If the salesperson likes it, he doesn't care where the idea comes from. He just wants to sell, you show him an idea and he might be that person that's going to champion your ideas. He might see it and go, “This is fantastic. I'll sell it to all my customers.”

He might run in there and show it to who knows who he's going to show it to and he could get it in there for you as well.

It’s a small twist in the language when you're introducing yourself. If you're acting as an agent on somebody else’s behalf, do you introduce yourself as an agent or do you introduce yourself as a product developer?

You might say, “I represent product developers and we'd like to start working with your company submitting ideas.” It's quite simple. Most people are not going to be prepared for that call and I know that so I know who I need to get to but also some companies are.

Nowadays, you can go online. They've got things to fill out which is a black hole but you still need to make those calls. LinkedIn, if you have a name, that's even faster. If you could drop a name, you can get there much quicker.

There are all these different ways but companies and some industries, have a new product submission division and they've got a person there waiting to receive those ideas. That's how crazy it is.

They're waiting for the ideas and they can't have enough of them. That's what they feed on. I would imagine the typical responses but there are many companies out there, where do I start?

It's almost like going to a Cheesecake Factory and looking at their menu and go, “This is an 80-page menu, I don’t even know where to begin.”

What I'd do, I would go down to a store that you think this particular product would sell well in. Let's say I want this to be in Walmart. I go down to Walmart and I find the aisle that this particular product would be on.

I'd draw this big circle, big target and I'll call all those companies that are in that spot. Let's say I have a hammer innovation. I'd go down to a Home Depot and I'd find all the hammers. I'd look at them all there and I'd write down all their names.

Those are the companies I'd target but realize this, the large companies don't need help. They have a terrible attitude and they've got the business so they're a little bit tougher. They would only bend when you're biting them into their business a little bit.

BWB Stephen | Intellectual Property Licensing

Intellectual Property Licensing: Once creative people see that the system works, all they do is feed you creative ideas. When you feed them to the companies, it's multiplying effect for everybody.


The small guys, too small basically, you'd find that mid-level guy. I'd call everybody by the way, but I know I'm going to find that mid-size company that wants to be number one. They want to be hungry. They're willing to take a risk. Those guys, you'd love them.

Find number two and number three because they're striving to get up to number one. I guess that simple. You don't have to open up the Yellow Pages but you don't have to start dialing every company. Go find out.

Who do you represent? What kind of ideas do you have? Who else is already selling ideas similar to that? Call them up because the one thing you know, they're capitalizing on that.

You could do a Google product search and become an expert in a micro category because you could go there and say, “I want to look up barbecue spatulas.” I could see every barbecue spatula ever made.

I can dig a little deeper and they'll have us back, have it manufactured and all that stuff. It's all there so within a couple of hours, you can be an expert in the field. That's what's amazing about nowadays’ research availability and I love that because now it is all about speed.

That's why licensing is exciting to me. Nowadays, it's not about starting the company and building your way to the top. To me it's about finding that partner that has everything in place, making that connection and then it's speed to market and that's your best protection ever.

Money loves speed and there are many ideas. I had one when years ago I saw it on TV after I had this great idea, I had no idea what to do with it but I was excited about it.

This was when I was in my early twenties, “This is way too complex for me to try to do something. I'm going to go back to my cubicle and work.” It's such a depressing thought when you realize, “There are other ways to capitalize on this.“

People need these ideas, 5% of a big number. If somebody's selling $10 million or $100 million worth of something, that's an extreme but 5%? You can get really rich off 5% numbers.

We have one student of ours that came up with this great organization tool. This is one of the top sellers in the Apple stores and he has 200 SKUs. He was able to take that same idea and apply it to all these different types of ways that he used it.

Is it an app or is it something?

It's an organizer. It's called Cocoon and it's one of those designers. He has a background in industrial design and he went to the Art Center too. He came up with this little way of organizing things for your purse, your backpack or your suitcase. You name it.

It has these elastic bands and you put things in it. It's simple and it's everywhere. I'm very fortunate because of working with a lot of students over the years and I've seen some remarkable ideas but I've also seen some of the dumbest ideas you'd ever seen.

I scratch my head never thinking in a million years that they are going to license those ideas and when they do, I'm always shocked. It's not an easy world.

It shocked you, but it also has to excite you about the field because even if the dumbest ideas in the world can get a license and create cashflow for somebody, that means that a good idea has 100 times better shot of doing that.

I don't think it has to be an A-idea. I think I could be a B and C. I've seen it, we always bring on students at times. We let them talk about their experience and when you listen to them you realize they're not great salespeople and they don't have any special skills.

They came up with an idea and they sent it to a company and now they have a licensing deal. Most people end up scratching their heads about it, “How did he do that?” It's not complicated. You do have to get off the couch. That's the deal.

What do you think are some of the markets? Are there any markets that you see as being hotter than others?

The pet industry has been on fire for years. People love their pets. They're always going to feed their pets before they pay their mortgage. That's a great industry.

That's because in the last couple of years people have been staying home a little bit, so kitchen gadgets, do-it-yourself. The same thing with the economy people doing more themselves, that's popular. Hardware, of course and novelty gift, that is an industry I was in for years.

That's a goofy industry but because it's seasonal, it's a huge demand. If you're creative and likes stupid, fun, dumb ideas, they would love you to death. That's a great industry to be in as well. The toy industry is a little competitive. There are some smart and creative people in that space.

There are only a few big companies now so it's a little bit difficult to get to those guys. You have to go to the toy brokers which is, you could still do it, but it takes a lot of past knowledge of what has been done. The packaging industry is a little bit difficult.

I wouldn't recommend anybody to go into that without a background in the machinery of how these things are made. At the end of the day, it's hard to change equipment because the volume is large that it's all scaling up.

It takes a certain person with certain expertise to win in that category, so it's fun. You never know. I think apps are on fire. Do we need another app? Yes, we do. That's never going to end. The opportunity is wide open for anybody.

That's why I would build a network if I was going to be in the kitchen category, I'd know all the companies in the kitchen category that are looking for ideas. I'd have twenty companies, personal relationships.

I'd get all the top designers, about twenty of them, and say, “We're going to win in the kitchen category here. These are what guys are looking for. Let's keep on feeding them. What do you guys get?”

I'm reversing back in the beginning, you talked about how you went to I think it was something in Pasadena or an art design school. What are some of the places to find some of these great product designers that folks may not know about?

The Art Center, there's quite a few of them. They're worldwide and it's very expensive. It's $200,000 to go to it in two years. They're the best.

If nothing else but go into the Art Center and finding not just people who are making paintings. It's people who are designing all types of things.

There are seven disciplines of design and I would tap into all of them. They have alumni. In fact, I've spoken at their alumni association out in New York. A lot of organizations, they support their trade associations, their members so I tap into all the alumni.

Most of the alumni now have design studios, firms, and they all have ideas too. Those guys are sick and tired of designing products for other people and not collecting royalties that's why I tap into all those guys.

You tap in and it's easy enough to start off the beginning of the relationship and then how do you offer to build the relationships with the designers? Do you come in and try to meet with, whether it's a class or what's the step right there?

I would probably meet with the professor first, teachers, and say, “I'm looking for some of your top talents here to show an opportunity.” Build a relationship with that first and that person may be able to feed you every year new talent coming upright so I would do that.

I would also go back to some of the design firms and maybe start with some of the smaller ones first. Build a relationship with the owner and say, “Do you guys have any ideas lying around that you'd like us to do the push uphill for you?” Of course they're going to say yes.

Build a relationship with those guys too. You might realize you need two or three of these design guys behind you to make a difference. These guys are fast. The thing I like about when it's at this level. Their prototypes look beautiful.

They're gorgeous and they've been taught not so much to invent but to innovate and that's a big distinction because you don't have to invent something new.

That's hard to bring in the market but if you innovate, make an improvement on a product that already exists, and that's what they do.

This is the time to take action because the companies are looking for ideas. Share on X

That's where the real money is because you don't have to convince somebody that there is a market for this. You just built a better mousetrap.

Those guys are trained to do that through observation.

That's not one of my strengths, so I remember I read One Simple Idea and I thought about this for a while. I consider myself a creative guy but when it comes down to thinking about how to improve this. I'm looking at a dog collar sitting in front of me. How do I improve this dog collar?

I don't know and I go to thinking about something else but somebody does and somebody has probably improved that dog collar. He doesn't have a market for it. He doesn't know what to do.

I went to college to study economics. I hated every minute of it and became an artist. I love working with my hands but I wasn't that creative. I loved it but I could tell there are people that were good at this.

Where my strength was I found a creative way to get into companies. A creative way to build those relationships, a creative way to bring it to market, and that's where my skills came.

My ideas were never that great and I ended up licensing tons of stuff and making a good living, but I'm an amateur at best.

The fact that you've had so much success being an amateur, the best is I am encouraging anybody out there. Two of the things sprung to my mind and with licensing different opportunities. First of all, this isn't even an opportunity. It's for folks having a hard time wrapping their mind around this.

One of the oldest industries ever, publishing is nothing more than a licensing agreement. You're licensing content from an author and you're paying them a good publishing deal 10% or 15% royalty on your book on a big mainstream publisher.

They're paying you for the right. They're renting your information because they have the distribution. They have people. They would have the in with everybody else versus in the past if you were to self-publish you sitting there and going, “Now what do I do?”

Granted the whole publishing world has been turned on its head from self-publishing and I've published eight bestsellers myself of other people's things.

One of the things I did in licensing information, I call this the reverse ghostwriting deal, I had an idea for a book.

I wrote the book and I wrote in the author's voice because I knew, “This is a great catchy title and I have an idea for what this should be.” I wrote it, I had it edited and I had it improved.

I licensed the author's name and I leveraged their distribution channels. As opposed to an author or an expert, I'm going to hire somebody to ghostwrite a book for me. I'll pay them a fee or pay them 10% of whatever I make and I was like, “No, screw that.” I have the content.

I just need somebody else's name on this and what they got is a bestselling book because they promoted it to their big following and I owned the copyright on it. I pay them 20% royalty. They did nothing but they get the benefit of a bestselling book.

You know what that is that's creating for the marketplace and that's smart because I talked a little about that but you found an opportunity.

You found someone who had a great distribution. You were able to voice content. It's brilliant and that's what I'm saying, don't ever just try to pull an idea out of your head.

Do you know what I did right after that? I said, “How can I make this easier?” I found another friend who had tried to publish a series of books on Amazon. These are actually recipe books and he was absolutely nobody.

He realized, “This is harder than it looks.” You can get the book published but getting readers to buy it is a different thing. I have another friend who has a large following in the health and wellness space.

I said to him, “How'd you like to have a bestselling book and not do anything except for letting your list know about it?” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “I'll be right back.”

I had to call my other friend who had these recipes and I go, “How'd you like these to get an income stream with nothing else?” He said, “Sure.” I said, “I need the master rights to all the recipes that you created.”

I changed it up a little bit, did a little bit of editing, wrote an introduction based upon the person who owned the big health blog. I don't want to give all of this out because of the names, although you could find it.

There's the health blog, Ultimate Recipe Collection. They didn't do anything. They put their name on it. They put their authorship on it. They didn't write anything. I handled everything. All they did was tell their list about it that, “Guys, go get our book.”

It got up to the bestselling recipe book for a few days on Amazon. The guy who had all the recipes written, I can't even remember what the royalty rate was but let's say, “I'll pay you 15% of everything we sell. I'll pay the other people who had the blog 15% and I kept 70%.”

That ties in perfectly, now I know why you're so fascinated about being the middleman.

Now you know how my brain works.

You've done the same thing but in a different field. You understand it and that's putting the pieces together. That's looking from a different perspective on how to put the pieces together.

Do you know why? It’s because I'm lazy. I am. I don't like thinking about all the other ways. I'm always looking for shortcuts but more so, leverage points. I think that's what everybody should do is look for what are the leverage points in your business? What do you want to accomplish?

I use the same when people ask me these tough questions. Steph, what do you do? “I am an opportunist.”

I am the same thing. I say I'm an opportuneur. This is another thing I love talking about because it opened my eyes and it's something that in the mainstream more of the licensing and it's done all the time.

I was getting introduced to this world and drinking from the fire hose, so I went to the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. Have you ever been to that?


I was a fish out of water. Some of the biggest brands in the world and I was talking to everybody, finding out, asking questions and I loved it. I will recommend anybody going and I think it's free to go to. The tickets are free but there are like 20,000 people there.

I stopped by the most memorable experience. I stopped by Wiley on Dummies' books stand. We were just talking up and everybody's familiar with Dummies' Guide to Podcasting.

What I didn't know is that they licensed out the Dummies' brand for physical products and they gave me a bunch of ideas and different examples. I said, “Give me one example.”

One he gave me, he said, “There's a company,” and it was a very small company. They decided they wanted to license the Dummies' brand and build a GPS like Garmin or TomTom navigation system for dummies and it's called GPS Navigation For Dummies.

He went to China, Taiwan or whatever, and they have one of these made and you can get it cheap. They customized the software enough to where when you first log on, you have the Dummies head on it and it was the yellow and black theme around it but it was simple.

BWB Stephen | Intellectual Property Licensing

Intellectual Property Licensing: Licensing, nowadays, is not about starting the company and building your way to the top. It's about finding that partner that has everything in place and making that connection.


It didn't have all the bells and whistles. It was simple and the guy who represented Dummies went on to explain and he goes, “They licensed out our name, that brings number one is people know the Dummies' brand as opposed to Acme GPS.”

You're competing with Garmin and TomTom, now you have a name brand behind it but he said more importantly, “They don't sell Garmin and TomTom at CVS, Walgreens and a lot of other places, but they sell Dummies' products.”

We picked up the phone and we introduced the person who now represents our Dummies' GPS to our channel partner over at Walgreens, CVS and whomever, even Home Shopping Network and stuff. They're opening doors because they've licensed our brand.

What's amazing about that story, that's called licensing in and the terms are always the same. I became a Disney licensee. Years ago, I started a small company that's the reason why I wrote that second book, the One Simple Idea for Startups and Entrepreneurs. I was in the guitar pick business.

Why would anybody be in a guitar pick business? I realized that we created these guitar picks that were a lifestyle. Some of them were in the shape of Mickey Mouse. We have ones with the lenticular lens, they have thirteen frames of a Disney movie.

We did all these crazy stuff that musicians like but that wasn't our audience. Our audience was just everyday people so we ended up selling more guitar picks than the largest guitar pick manufacturer in the world. In fact, he made them for us.

He was astounded until I told him myself, “You've got great guitar picks but you're only selling to great guitarists. I'm selling to everybody else.”

I started playing guitar when I was in sixth grade or something like this, maybe even younger. At that time if you would have given me a novelty pick, Mickey Mouse, Batman, whatever it was, all that stuff.

We sold them at Walmart and 7-Eleven. People ask me, why would 7-Eleven carry guitar picks? There might be a lot of musicians that go there. I laughed hard but the point is after we had developed our line of guitar picks, we started with the skull because skulls are popular, skull-shaped guitar picks.

We basically ran out of content so I went to one of those licensing shows, this was in New York and I met some people and Disney. I became a Disney licensee. We put Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, you name it, Nightmare with Tim Burton's movie.

We put them all on guitar picks and sold a ton of them. The great thing about it is we were able to leverage the Disney name. They even call companies, retailers for us that we couldn't get.

It's like a big brother to walk you to the cool party.

What was great, the clause is for three years, the minimum guarantee is for $50,000 for worldwide exclusive at Disney. I thought we made that up the first year. I thought that was the best money I ever spent.

It was one of the questions I was going to ask because the bigger the name, the more you're going to have to pay for it and the more complex it's going to be. You got a worldwide exclusive for guitar picks for Disney for only $50,000, you had to pay that upfront.

We had to pay a onetime fee each year for three years.

All $50,000?

No. Divide it, that’s $50,000 in three each year.

Did they finance it over three years?


That's even better.

I remember calling up the licensing person at Disney and I was new to this. I said, “Can you explain to me how this works?” He explained to me and he said, “What do you have?” I said, “I have a guitar pick.”

He goes, “Have you ever considered licensing our images on your guitar picks?” I said, “No.” He goes, “We don't have anybody that's currently doing that. How do you like to be a licensee?” I was like, “You've got to be kidding me.”

Did they give you the idea?


You know that brings me right back to the Licensing Expo when I was walking around the booths and there were several booths. I remember one for Elmer's Glue, I remember for the one that had the Edgar Rice Burroughs who has all the Tarzan stuff.

They had these booths with displays of all different types of products whether it's Elmer's Glue on it or the Tarzan logo. They had Tarzan hot sauce, Tarzan greens drink, and I go, “You guys sell these?”

They go, “No, these are examples of stuff that we would love to put our name on. If you do a hot sauce, if you do greens drink, if you do a protein drink or whatever, we're happy to license our name brand on your products.”

I'm like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. You're teeing this up for me.” My head was exploding. I came out of there reeling.

It was such a fantastic experience with me. I've been licensing for many years but to become a Disney licensee, they schooled me good. I thought I knew a lot but they taught me a whole other world of licensing. The bottom line is you can license in and you can license out.

You can be the middleman that you have been, I've been. There's all this fun stuff. If you don't know what licensing is, investigate it. Look it up because I think it's a fascinating business model.

No, don't look it up. Go to Amazon.

Buy my book.

Buy One Simple Idea.

Thank you.

Your website is What kinds of services, products, coaching, or anything do you do there? How do you help people who are like, “I am sold on this.”

I'm glad you asked. I met Andrew Krauss. He was running the largest inventors organization in the country and we met. It was by accident and he realized that I was good at licensing ideas. He said, “Steph, most people have no idea what this is.”

We decided to start a company called inventRight. What I like about it is that I was doing other things. It was a labor of love. It was a way to spread my knowledge and it gave me confidence.

The only way you learn is by doing. Share on X

It gave me a place to have my voice because I was quiet about that time and now you can barely shut me up. At that time, it was some education that brought it up. It made me feel good to give back.

We have students all around the world. It's a yearlong program where basically we hold your hand. That sounds terrible but that's exactly what we do.

We help you from the start from how to develop a sales sheet, how to identify if you've got an idea that's marketable, to help you reach out to companies, to signing the deal.

We've got six deals on the table now. I help my students cut those deals with those companies and I tell them, “We have a team. It's personalized. It will never be scalable but we're going to win every time. We've got more experience than anybody in the industry.”

I love this business. I have a loyal group of people that I call my students. They're not customers, they're my students. I have students all around the world. It's a good company.

It's a company that's been around for a long time. We're not going anywhere but it's a strict education. We don't ask for any part of the business.

That's rare as that compares to, I guarantee a lot of people have seen those daytime commercials for, “Hey inventors.” What's your opinion on those? I say this is knowing it but go ahead.

Someone asked me that question and I have a tendency to say if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is okay. Always kick the tires on anybody you're going to work with and do some research and investigate yourself. Those guys do things a little bit differently.

We empower people. We’re not the middleman on those things. We need you to go out there and cut your own deals and cut the middleman out. That's what we do. We have a different approach.

It's strictly education. We're not an invention submission company. That's what they are. They have certain guidelines you have to abide by. We do things completely differently.

Let’s do some clarification then because I am not familiar with those companies except that I've heard people losing a lot of money and not getting anything out of it in the past.

How does that differ from what you're saying to set yourself up as a company, like an agent, where, “I've got relationships with big companies and I've got relationships with designers.” How does that differ from what you've got doing?

You don't charge any money.

These guys are charging money upfront basically to submit your idea. They’re like, “You give us money, we're going to make all the money like that and then we'll sit through all the other crap and maybe find one that works.”

That's a good clarification and it does make a lot of sense. You say personal coaching for a year, product evaluation, contract negotiations and how to write your own provisional patent application.

If folks don't know what a provisional patent is, it allows you to get the protection of a patent for, I think it's a full year. Instead of paying thousands or $10,000 or whatever on a patent, what's a provisional patent cost these days?


You get all the protection for a year as you're developing this out.

We save people thousands of dollars but more than that, we increase their chances of success and we show them how they can do this without quitting their jobs.

We show them how they can be empowered, how they can learn to open doors, build relationships, and take that creativity and bring it to market through licensing. It started as a labor of love but it's become much more. I'm proud of that company. It's precious. We do things the right way.

I tell you, I'm not going to say what you're charging for this coaching right now. I'm going to let people go to Click on the coaching tab but it's way too cheap for what you're offering.

I'm embarrassed sometimes and people ask me, “Steph, how can you do it for that price?” Since we've been doing it for so long, we have a process. It's a self-serve where we direct you to the information. I teach a class every Thursday along with my partner Andrew Krauss.

We have more content about licensing than probably any place in the world since we've been doing it for so long. People can find information. They can listen to it. They can learn from it and then we evaluate it for them. We set up meetings.

We go through it to make sure they're always on the right track and that's what we do. It's a lot of hand-holding but we make it so. We put the work back on our students. Simple as that because that's the only way you learn. You learn by doing.

Are there any other success stories of some of the success students that you care to share that you're really proud of?

There are interesting stories. I'm proud of everyone. I love every idea. I look at it this way. You're trying to find a home for your idea. Some of them are going to make a lot of money and some of them are going to make a little bit of money.

We have ideas from one of our students who was an eighteen-year-old that came up with that beer bomb belt, someone that has a little screw on a guitar that has licensed and sold it to every major guitar manufacturer in the world to products that you will see from major companies. It's all over the board.

I would suggest if anybody is interested to hear my student's story, you can go to one of the pages and you can look at. Let them tell their story and we'd bring them on the class and they share with the audience how did they do it.

Instead of me talking about what they do, I love my students to talk about it. We bring them on and we say, “Tell us what you did.”

You're going to waste my entire day because I'm just going to go through every single one of these. Now I'm not going to be productive. It's interesting to me because there is nothing more interesting to me than hearing all these great ideas.

I can't believe that somebody did this with that and because it empowers you to realize that, if you have an idea, there are many ways to capitalize on it beyond the ordinary.

One thing I want to mention, when McGraw-Hill had contacted me to write a book, they have a fairly large audience and I remember calling Tim Ferriss and said, “Tim, why should I write a book?” We talked about that and he said, “Steph, if you're going to write a book, write it like it's your last.”

It was the best advice and we put our entire course into a $14 book. Everybody told me, “No. Why would you give away your tips and your secrets? Why would you give away strategies?”

I said, “This is important information. Everybody needs to have it,” and we've had a lot of people licensed ideas just from the yellow book.

I tell everybody, “If you want more than that, then sign up for my course. Be a student but if not, just buy the book. It works.”

What's great about that is you can buy the book. It can open your mind. I read it two or three times and I remember it was one of the first pieces that I read about licensing. I was like, “I know of and I've heard a little about it, I think I should start to get into.”

Are you familiar with Jay Abraham or not? He talks a lot about licensing, strategic alliance, and then I just started going down the rabbit hole. I found your book. What's great about it is that it opened my mind to some of the possibilities and then I went back a few months later and read it again.

BWB Stephen | Intellectual Property Licensing

Intellectual Property Licensing: If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Always kick the tires on anybody you're going to work with and do some research and investigate for yourself.


I got new things after I read it and now having done several licensing deals on my own and in different ways, I get something new every time I go back to it and whatnot. It is an amazing resource.

I gave it all away. When McGraw-Hill said, “We'd like for you to write another book.” I said, “There isn't anything else I could say.”

I think that the past years or so for myself, have been focused more than anything on information marketing. That's where I made my bones as an entrepreneur and whatnot as understanding how to sell and market information.

Primarily online whether it's on Amazon or my own sites and one of the big changes that I've seen is that information is being somewhat commoditized. It's not as easy to just charge an outrageous amount of money for access to a how-to product. It's still being done but it's harder.

There are many books that have so much great information. What the real premium is coming in is in the hand-holding, the coaching. The book will tell you what to do. The information product will tell you what to do.

If you're serious and you want to do this, there's nothing more valuable and a better ROI than coaching, mentoring, or apprenticing with somebody who's done it before, who knows how to walk you through the landmines that are invariably going to pop up.

If you're serious about it, that's where I think you did it right. I've got the book. Go get all the great information in there.

I got my entire coaching and mentoring program. You're charging probably 10% of what you should be because of the amount of money you can make with what you're doing, which is more reason to go visit your site if you're reading this.

What you said is right. What happens to people, they read the book and they realize and they do it right away. What I love about the book, you can start now. You don't have to read the whole book. You can jump in and get started. They get excited about it.

They might hit a roadblock or they might say, “I want somebody who can help me a little bit,” and that's when they come back and say, “Steph, you've got a great program,” and they sign up.

Some people do, some people don't. I've spoken to many people who have licensed ideas and thank me. I love it when they come back and say, “Steph, you've helped me license an idea. You've changed my life,” so it's a great book.

I think it's going to be around for many years. It still holds its own on Amazon and it was a pleasure writing it.

It was a pleasure reading it too, I got to tell you. Anything else you're working on these days? Any big things you'd like to share beyond this that we may not know about?

I have another business. A company, a private equity firm purchased a patent portfolio of the rotating label so I filed a lot of patents. I manage a patent portfolio of over 50 patents and help to manufacture for those guys. I got a small staff, so that keeps me busy.

InventRight, I've got a great small team that handles that for me. I'm still involved in innovation. I'm still licensing ideas. I still reach out. I'm still finding my own struggles, climbing my own mountains too because people always ask me, “Steph, what do you do?”

I'm happy but I'm never content. I'm always looking for that mountain to climb. I have a couple of other books that are in the works. People are going to be surprised. There's a great opportunity that's happening.

I made the pitch to McGraw-Hill and when they want the green light to go on that next book. It's all exciting. It's a new world and I've expressed this to a lot of people. This is the time to take action because the companies are looking for ideas.

Everybody's creative. Take advantage of the opportunities that exist now because they didn't exist years ago.

You were talking about the ability to research, dive into these companies and reach people that you've never been able to reach, whether it's through LinkedIn or anything else. It's crazy how much we have at our fingertips at this moment.

It's a game-changer for all of us, so this is the time. I don't think you have to quit your job. I think you need to research. You need to find good people to help you. Take that chance. Get your hands a little sweaty.

If this has been informative, eye-opening, enlightening to you my faithful readers, I want you to do a couple of things. I want you to buy either of Stephen's books. You've got two on Amazon that I see, One Simple Idea and then One Simple Idea for Startups and Entrepreneurs.

Grab them. Go through them. No matter what business you are in, if you understand the principles of licensing, of renting intellectual property, of how IP works and how simple it is and you realize that now after this conversation that we had.

I think of licensing as a Swiss Army tool in your business tool chest because even if you're in the business of selling products to consumers, you've got an established business.

There are opportunities for you to license your products, ideas, processes and methods to other people who need those, creating a cashflow for you or if you want to better serve your own people.

Getting another product to sell without going through R&D because there are millions of people out there, you can license other people's intellectual property to help your business, whether that's information, physical, it doesn't matter.

You can be the connector which is much more of what draws me to it. How can I connect ideas? I am highly ADD and licensing fulfills my attention deficit because it allows me to work with all different types of new ideas.

Hop around from opportunity to opportunity. Stephen, you're an opportunist just like myself or opportuneur. Think about it like that. There's nothing wrong with being a little ADD in this business. Some of the most brilliant people are and this is a way to capitalize on that.

I know that it has been working for myself. Grab the book. Go to See what Stephen's got. It may or may not be right for you at the moment but you need to know that the resources are there when it is.

As long as Stephen and his partner, Andrew, are doing this, there's no reason that you can't capitalize on your idea. There's no reason that you can't take it at the next level.

I want to add, this is important. You don't have to have intellectual property. Most of my ideas and most of my students never had any ownership and that surprises a lot of people because there's a grey area there. You never own anything.

Maybe copyright, that's a little bit different. That's a great tool, an affordable tool that you've taken advantage of but most of these ideas go in and out of the market fast that companies don't care if you have a patent or not.

That's a gray area that allows any of us and you don't have to worry about that as much as people think you do because I don't think you own anything. I could not thank you enough for this interview because you brought out the essence of licensing.

I'm glad to hear you say that because I consider it as a part two to Jordan's podcast and the other stuff. It's one of those things that when I listen to and I say, “This is great,” but the one thing, you dropped that little nugget which is I think this is a future.

The most exciting part is being the guy who connects the dots but then I wanted more. I want to hear more of that because that's the things that excite me.

Stephen, if there's any way that I can help you out if there's anything you need, the door is always open and I encourage everybody to check out the show.

If you didn't like the show then you won't like anything else because this is one of the most exciting shows that I've done and I mean I can't think of a more exciting topic honestly just for me. Let me know. Leave a review on iTunes.

If you're not sure how to do that, go to I even give you a quick, little tutorial. It means the world. Share this with your friends. Tell other people, “I heard Stephen Key with Brad Costanzo on the show. You've got to go listen to it.”

The more people understand this and the more of your friends or colleagues who understand the principles behind this, the more that you can brainstorm with them. The more ideas come out of the blue. There's nothing more fun than brainstorming in masterminding and creating these ideas.

Share the podcast. Leave a review. If you have any questions, and you like to get a hold of me, email me at Share your success stories, your bacon-wrapped business strategies and your questions.

If you'd like a second opinion on what you’re doing in your business, I'm happy to see if I can help. Stephen, thank you very much for being a guest on the show.

I can't tell you how much fun it was for me. I'd guarantee for all the other readers and until next time. If you have a problem, wrap it in bacon.

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About the Guest: Stephen Key

BWB Stephen | Intellectual Property LicensingHe is a successful and award-winning inventor, entrepreneur, and educator. He has licensed over 20 products in the past 30 years, he holds about 30 patients, and manages a portfolio of over 50 patents. Stephen's products have sold in Walmart, 7-Eleven, Disney stores, and theme parks worldwide. His products have also been endorsed by Michael Jordan and Alex Trebek from Jeopardy.

As his way of giving back. Stephen has written the book One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work, a very powerful resource that has personally helped me in my licensing business. Stephen also cofounded inventRight along with his business partner Andrew Krauss, a company which is solely focused on education to help their students become empowered in the licensing industry.

I’ve invited Stephen on the show to share his invaluable insights and strategies about licensing and to help shed some light on just how simple the process of “renting your ideas” can be. Whether you are an entrepreneur, opportuneur, marketer or designer, this episode has the ability to change the landscape of the way you view and do business forever!

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