I've created a series of mobile games that could be effectively re-branded with products of large corporations. I'm an independent developer and already have a generic one being sold and can use it as a demo/prototype when presenting to larger companies. However, I'm at a loss when it comes to the business side of approaching these large entities.
Here's a hypothetical order of events before approaching a partner:
Any experienced-based suggestions on handling something like this?
You've got limited time and limited resources. Instead of thinking about the market at large, think about the market segments and companies where you have the highest probability of generating a deal. Use LinkedIn and other social media tools to find connections with anyone you can find at the companies you are contemplating, then narrow the field down to a reasonable number of target companies. Use your connections to get introductions, and just ask basic questions like, "Hey, who in your company would be the right person to talk to about a branded game?" In my experience people generally want to help, as long as you're gracious and respectful of their time.
It took me a long time to realize that transactions between businesses aren't really transactions between businesses. They're transactions between individuals. But transactions don't occur out of the blue. They are an outgrowth of the process of getting to know each other, getting comfortable with each other, and ultimately trusting each other. So once you find the right person inside each of your target companies, give them a little something up front as a gesture of good faith. Maybe that's a detailed demo specifically tailored to their brand. Whatever it is, establish that you're not just trying to come to them with your great idea, seeking to cash in on their brand. Show that person you're interested in helping them win at whatever their job is inside the organization, that you see this as a win-win.
I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell you that in my experience anything beyond an NDA is only going to slow down the process. Too much involvement from their legal department up front will put your contact on guard and give him or her the impression that you're more interested in guarding your interests than in helping them out. If your idea is good enough, it will almost always be faster and easier to work with you than to take off with your idea and have someone else do it. A lot of entrepreneurs focus on the risk associated with working with large companies and fail to recognize just how slow and cumbersome the big guys really are.
Best of luck!
When approaching a big organization the most important aspect (IMHO) is to recognize:
If you don't have both points you are going to waste a lot of time and effort.
In my past experience, even after you pass the first meeting (which is not trivial) you need to make sure both #1 and #2 are valid to the person that is going to do the 'tech due diligence'.
In many cases, I saw how this person will 'kill' your idea base on some political agenda she/he got. It would be cleaver from your side to make sure you show this guy 'whats in it for me' and put her/him on your side.
I would not put energy in NDA (no one will sign it) nor some rev-share plan. It's for later stages.
Here's a novel approach. Just put a huge brand product in your game, like Coke or Pepsi. Get sued. Now you've opened a door. When interviewed by the press mention that you can put all sorts of products in the game, just looking for a buyer.
Non-conventional but it has worked in the past. I have some dorm-mates in college re-egineer an Atari arcade game to give it more levels. They opened a business doing this to the game in bars etc... Atari eventually sued them and they got the product bought out from under them. They went on to form a fairly well funded hi-tech company whose I cannot remember and had upwards of 50 employees at least based on the ads they had on campus at the time. (MIT, early 80s)
Risky approach, of course, very risky. Make sure your personal assets are well shielded.