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How Do I Create A Plan For Developing My Product?

Written by Christopher Bray on 03-07-2020 in Best Practices.

Frequently when I work with startups, they are engaging in the design process to come up with concepts for their product without first validating their chances of success.  Before even beginning the design process, here are some key pieces of information you need establish.

  1. Market Potential - How many potential customers are there for your product?  This information can be found relatively easily on the internet, so spend sometime trying to project what your potential sales could be.
  2. Competitors - Who else has a product in this space?  What makes my product different (better) than theirs?  You must have a compelling story why someone would want to choose your product versus another.  Until you can articulate this, you should hold off on the design process, unless you are hiring the designer to figure this out for you and you’re willing to invest the money for them to do a proper analysis.
  3. Price Points - Most products have a price point consumers expect to pay, and unless your product is really doing something disruptive to make the consumer’s life easier, they won’t pay much more than the common price points found in similar products.  So think about the unique attributes of your product and do some research to discover if your product can be made within the existing price points.  An easy way to do this is to figure the amount of raw materials your product will require in its final form and calculate that cost.  Then add on a margin of 30% to arrive at a ballpark manufacturing cost.  Remember, this number is your cost, not the price you will sell at.  You will need then to figure out what your profit margin needs to be and see if that still falls within the expected price point.
  4. Patent Searches - Your product may have unique characteristics that warrant filing for a patent to protect others from copying your idea.  In the same way, you will want to research to make sure no one else has existing patents out there that would prevent you from selling your product.  Patent searches can be done for free at the USPTO website uspto.gov.  Nothing hurts worse than spending hard earned money on a design just to find out someone has a patent out there preventing you from taking your product to market.
  5. Regulatory Issues - Are there any regulatory requirements in existence that will dramatically affect the price of your product or expose you to liabilities if you don’t meet them.
  6. Level Of Investment - If you won’t have the funds needed to get a product into manufacturing, then there is not much sense in investing a lot of money to get your product fully designed.  Most plastic products, for instance, will need to be injection molded.  Molds for this type of process can cost thousands of dollars.  Even with overseas resources, most molds will cost at least $15,000 per component.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything you need in your plan to launch your product, but these are some of the common things I’ve experienced.  If you don’t know how to get started with some of these things, look for a designer/engineer that has this experience and pay them to help.  Most experienced, quality designers/engineers have quite a bit of experience in these thing and would be happy to help, but they will also expect to be compensated appropriately.

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