Tag: Product Design

15 Feb 2019
Product to Market No Money or Experience

How to Get a Product to Market Without Money or Experience?

The answer is time, a lot of time. There are three resources to any project. Money, Experience (Skills), and Time. At least one of these has to exist in a large quantity to overcome a lacking by any of the other two. The most successful products have at least 2 of these in a good amount, but there are also plenty of products that are created using only one resource to start.
 
So what do you do if you don’t have money or experience, but you are willing to take the time to create your product? Well, here’s the formula.
 
First, you’ll need skills and experience. This can either come from a co-founder or by you learning those skills yourself. You might ask, “why don’t you just go get funding first and spend time on that”? Well, it’s because almost no one buys, invests, or steals just ideas. They aren’t valuable enough. You have to create value before someone will invest capital. The best way to do that is to create a working prototype of your product, whether that’s an app, a mechanical product, or an electronics design. To do that, you need the skills and experience to create that prototype, a co-founder/partner who has the skills, or the money to pay someone else to do it. Finding a co-founder that’s willing to jump in at the very beginning is like finding a needle in a haystack. Possible, and we all cheer for the one who does it, but most people don’t find the perfect person to help them right at the beginning.
 
Getting a prototype that would be convincing enough to get funding has, in my experience, cost anywhere from $10,000 all the way up to $50,000 on average. Plus you might want to get a patent in there too. If you don’t have that kind of budget, then you’ll need to build your own prototype, which will still cost some money, and create a proof of concept.
 
Once you have that prototype, which could take you years instead of months to create by yourself, then you’ll be ready to start spending your time getting investments to move the product forward. There is no way to bring a product to market without cash from somewhere, even if you have a great idea. That money will go to marketing, sales, and production. While you could try to get a larger company to pick up your idea, keep in mind that they have teams of people coming up with ideas with huge R&D budgets.
 
If you want success, your best bet is to create a prototype, get funding, and launch a company. It’s much easier to sell a successful product and company than to get someone to buy a product that has no proven market. Not that it can’t happen, because it definitely does, but the chance of success is not as high. Some people will tell you that luck is a part of this, I’d disagree. Be persistent and enjoy the journey. Even if it takes years of working on it as you have time and money to do so, stick with it. Your idea is important as long as you enjoy it. Happy inventing! 

05 Oct 2018

Supply Chain And Its Importance

Supply chains are what make any product possible and while it may sound like a big word only used for large businesses, it is something every business relies on, even the smallest ones. We’ve mentioned supply chains before in our Kickstarter Manufacturing post, but I wanted to discuss it just a bit more because it’s so important.

Understanding and maintaining your supply chain, even if it’s just one or two people or companies is important. Just to get a single pen for you to use at your company involves a pretty long supply chain, from gathering the raw materials, to manufacturing, to distributing, to you receiving the product. Your product has a supply chain as well, it might involve just a couple suppliers, one distributor, and the end customers, but a breakdown in that chain can mean company failure, bad press, or profit loss that affects you for years.

When sourcing for companies, we look at as much of the supply chain as we can see. Many companies keep their exact supply chain hidden in order to keep ahead of competition or many other reasons. The longer the chain the more potential issues can arise. Always look for the shortest chain possible, go direct to manufacturers instead of buying from end distributors for sourcing your products components. Longer supply chains also make for more expensive parts.

When possible, always create backups for your suppliers in case something goes wrong. While you can’t always have this, especially if you require suppliers to be only from a single country or area, you should always try to set it up this way. Manufacturers close down, change services, make certain products obsolete, stop producing a product, etc. You don’t always get advanced warning for this either, which can cause many different issues for you.

Supply chain management and set-up is an investment. Even if you are a start-up and think that the investment is too high, the downside is a much steeper cost and can cause permanent damage to your company. An investment like this will seem small in the future when you’ve weathered suppliers closing, product failures, and many other issues and are still providing the best product possible to your customers. A good supply chain leads to happy customers.

30 Dec 2017
5 Stages of Product Development Peterman Design Firm Blog

5 Stages of Product Development You Need to Know

We’ve talked a lot about how product development is a process, but what does it really mean? What is this seemingly mysterious process that every product goes through at least part of? When most people have an idea, they think it’s completely out of reach for them to bring their idea to life. It’s not, it just takes finding the right partner who can navigate you through the process of developing an idea into a product that will help people and make you money. What could be a better result of your hard work? Here I’d like to lay out the overall process of Product Development. This example is generic to make sure you learn about each area of the process so you have an understanding of  everything your product designer must be able to help you with for it to be worth your time and money to hire them.

Step 1 – Invent

  • The very, very first step in Product Development is having an idea. Millions of ideas are generated every day by people all over the world. This is probably the “easiest” part. Everything after this point takes making decisions and taking timely action. While you have the first idea, you also need a Product Developer who has ideas and can generate new ones that will help support your idea on its path to becoming a successful product.
  • Once you have an idea, whether you do this first or with your Product Developer, you should validate the idea and determine its market. Is there a need for the product and does it solve a problem are two very important questions. Then, who would use this product? Does it help seniors, children, cubical workers, sports teams, or someone else? This helps you and your developer to understand what needs to be designed into the product, and what shouldn’t be in the product to appeal to your best market.
  • If you can, make a mock-up of the product. Get the hot-glue out and make some models. Or sketch, even if you think it’s the worst sketch in the world. In some cases, your idea is so far out there it’s hard to communicate, or easy enough that you can grab a couple images from the internet and say, combine these three things and make it orange! This is your first prototype, and it’s just a concept one. Take your idea to your Product Developer and have them create concept artwork and possibly a physical conceptual prototype, if you have the budget.

Step 2 – Develop

  • You need an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) if you are going to ever think about getting a patent. Protecting your idea is important, even if you don’t patent. This is also the time, after you’ve gotten some concept artwork from your Product Developer, to think about involving a patent attorney, or at least getting a provisional patent, if it makes sense. Either way, a free consultation with a lawyer who’s singed an NDA will let you know what you should do. Your Product Developer should have at least one referral for you on this. It’s also worth your time for your developer to do a patent search now so you know if there are going to be hurdles that could stop your project.
  • Now it’s time to design your product. Taking your starting concepts, those should be expanded upon and developed into a product that meets your needs, follows your scope, and can be prototyped. This takes it from a rough idea (with possibly some pretty renderings that have no grounding in reality) to (usually) a 3D CAD model or other models closer to a tangible state. Some things, like soft-goods, usually don’t go into 3D, but have more accurate renderings created that show what the product will look like.
  • Once the design has been solidified to meet the requirements of the product, it’s time to get the first real prototype. Initial prototypes may not work completely the first time (in fact they rarely do) but this is where the idea becomes tangible and closer to its final form.

Step 3 – Validate

  • Using the first prototype, and others after it, we begin to validate the design. Does it work, how well does it work, where does it break, what do we like and not like about it? All of these questions are asked, the prototype is reviewed, and revisions are made. This can be the longest part of product development.
  • Testing can be done in many ways, and can include hiring outside testing companies. This also gives the opportunity to get certain stamps or approval markings, such as the UL rating for electronics. Those companies should be involved early on so changes are made earlier in the process to complete the certifications and tests needed for each product’s industry.
  • The last thing your Product Developer can put together is a panel test or survey. Paying people to review your product, under NDA of course, can give you some great outside feedback from people who are not invested in the idea, and haven’t watched the entire process. This type of input can be made at any stage of the process, though better results are usually had when there is a tangible and working prototype.

Step 4 – Produce

  • You have a final design, it’s been prototyped, validated, patented, the whole 9 yards. Now, the final design stage is here. Design for manufacturability takes your final design and makes all the tweaks and adjustments that are needed for full production. Often prototypes start out as  things that would be hard to mass manufacture, and costing is a huge portion of this. Your product developer will be looking for ways to make parts lighter, stronger, or use off the shelf components if that’s what is desired.
  • You have two options now, the first is getting funded. This is usually the next step as full manufacturing can be very expensive. Prototyping has the advantage of using advanced technologies such as 3D printing to accelerate and decrease costs. Full manufacturing usually costs thousands to millions of dollars, depending on how many units you need for a first run, and how complicated your product is. A fidget spinner didn’t take much to manufacture the first thousand units, but the iPhone cost millions of dollars and needed to have tens of thousands of units made in its first run.
  • The second option is licensing. Instead of trying to get an investor, or putting your own money into producing a product, you can look to sell your IP (Intellectual Property) to an interested 3rd party who maybe has an established business in your chosen market, and would rather buy the idea from you than spend the development time to create a new product. You as an individual working with a Product Developer is much more agile and cost effective than a huge company with massive overhead costs just to keep the lights on.

Step 5 – Profit

  • If you license, then you are done! Money has been made and you can set off on thinking of your next great idea! If you don’t license, the next big step to making money is marketing. While Product Developers usually don’t help from here on, the good ones have partners or referrals that they can send you to for developing your marketing strategy. Website, branding, logos, names, advertising, it all falls under this. Everything you brought to your Product Developer to bring the product to life you should bring to your marketers too. They’ll need to know the who, what, and why to provide you the best resources and chance of success.
  • There are lots of options for selling your product, from strictly Amazon, to selling at shows and conventions, or a local Saturday market. Between your marketer and Product Developer, you should have some options of who to talk to about which direction you should take.
  • Now it’s time to ship your product and have the money come in. Good job!

While it is very hard to guarantee that your product will be a wild success, I can promise that every successful product followed a path similar, if not exact, to what I’ve outlined here. Meeting with a good Product Developer is key to navigating, and possibly being able to skip over some of these steps, which means following the most efficient and cost-effective path possible.

08 Dec 2017

5 Reasons You Need a Product Developer

If you’ve ever taken a product into production you’d agree there are many things that need to be taken care of. People who do this for a living are Product Developers. Most people are familiar with what an engineer is, some people know what an industrial designer is, but unless you have spent time in the product development world, you’ve probably never heard of a product developer as a single person. In the middle ground between design and engineering, there are a set of people who can take an idea and turn it into a product almost by themselves. When you are launching a new product (and especially if you have never been through the process before) you need one of these people on your team. You need someone who understands manufacturing requirements and engineering specifications. Someone who can talk to and help bring on engineers, designers, and other vendors. Product developers come from many backgrounds, and have all kinds of titles. Here are 5 reasons you need a Product Developer instead of just an engineer or industrial designer.

  • They can handle almost everything an engineer can, which saves you money and time, letting you only deal with one person.
  • It’s more cost and time effective for a business to hire a single Product Developer rather than put a team together themselves. Good Product Developers know when to bring on engineers and any specialists that might be needed for a project.
  • They understand the whole process of turning a concept into a product, not just a portion of the process. They can handle everything from concept generation to vendor selection and management.
  • Product Developers bring experience across many industries and job roles to be able to bring a product to life. The breadth of experience Product Developers have is what makes them Product Developers, not just an engineer or designer.
  • Great Product Developers have the connections to bring your product into reality. They know the manufacturers, prototype companies, patent lawyers, and other vendors an idea needs to become a manufactured product. Having a great team of experts available to your project is crucial to finishing your project on budget and in time.

When talking to designers and engineers, make sure that you find yourself a Product Developer. It’ll save you time, money, and put someone on your side that will help you navigate the world of bringing a product into reality.

11 Nov 2017

The 4 Things Your Scope of Work Should Have

Every project that involves more than one person should have a scope of work, or SOW. Even very small projects, say under $500, benefit from having one. A good scope of work is a tool that will provide the designer, client, and anyone else involved with a clear vision of what is and should be done and how. A SOW can be simple or complex, depending on who writes it and the project. Here are 4 key parts that should be in every SOW, and 4 things to watch out for.
Brief – This is simply a short summery describing what the project is. It should be detailed but concise. A good Brief will give anyone a clear picture of what the project is about.
Deliverables – This is what the designer will hand you when the project is complete. Some examples would be concept sketches, manufacturing documentation, 3D models, or renders. For the job to be complete, everything listed here must be provided.
Requirements – Technical requirements, specifications, product features, manufacturing considerations, costing, and other related details all are included here. Only quantifiable things should be here. “Looking nice” isn’t a requirement you can quantify while “Water proof” is. This is also where specific tasks can be outlined, depending on the project.
Timeline – The timeline is always important to have as it makes it clear what the expectations are exactly. You could say, I’d like this soon, but that means different things to different people, maybe soon is a day, maybe it’s 6 months. This is a subject for another post, but the basics are you need a timeline, period. It can be estimated or exact, we know life happens but keep things realistic. Also, be weary of timelines that come from designers that seem too good to be true, this either means they are super heroes, they don’t understand the project fully, or don’t have experience in your industry.
These areas cover what is commonly considered a SOW. In addition to this, some include admin/management information, such as payment, change request process, legal information, points of contact, etc. At our firm, we put everything together into a single document that covers legal, finance, and SOW. There are many ways to do this, and each firm/designer has their own way of writing up the entire starting packet of documents.
While designers love when a client comes to them with a clear SOW, great designers can also work with clients to develop a clear SOW through a process we call a discovery phase. We realize many people developing new products may need help, and a good designer will be able to gather this information and write a comprehensive SOW for you.

06 Nov 2017
Peterman Design Firm Concept vs Design Blog

Concept vs Design

When talking to a designer, it helps to be able to speak the same language. The two terms that have caused the most confusion between clients and their designers are concept and design. There could be a lengthy argument for when each word should be used, or even that they are interchangeable. However, defining a word’s meaning can help make sure the right conversation is had.
To put it simply; a concept is a starting point, or an idea.  Concepts come in many different forms including 3D models, sketches, renders, verbal or written descriptions, a scribble, a single sentence, models, or animations. The range of options we have at our disposal to convey concepts are vast. Concepts do not have to exist in reality, they can push the envelope of reality and go places we can’t yet.
Designs are concepts that have developed blueprints and fully defined instructions. A good example from the gaming world would be that the description of a game is the concept, the code that makes the game work is its blueprint, and the game experience is the design. This doesn’t mean that a design is final. Most designs go through revisions and changes, but no descent design remains vague.  A good design is complete enough that every detail has been accounted for and exists in a measurable and definable way. Designs are rooted in the here and now, they follow current technologies and our understanding of physics. There are always “blue-sky projects” the leading edge of design that follows our craziest concepts and pushes us forward, but the majority of design sits comfortably in the achievable realm.
At the Peterman Design Firm we follow this: a concept is any idea not ready for production and a design is one that is. We, along with many designers, work through the entire process, concept to production. In order to go to production, you need a design, in order to create a design, you need a concept, in order to create a concept, you need an idea. We facilitate concepts, designs, and every step in between.

27 Oct 2017

3 Things You Need Before Hiring a Designer

I’ve been working with clients for over a decade, and I’ve found that there are three things I’m always asking for. Every Industrial Designer would love you to have ready for them before talking to them about your project.
1. Have a budget. I know, a lot of people new to product design don’t know what a reasonable budget is, and I get a lot of potential clients asking ‘how much does this cost’? Well, there is no simple answer. The amount of money you put in is directly associated with what you get out of it, to a certain point. I can spend 30 hours and get a quick product design done, I’ve done it, and a lot of other designers have too, or I can spend 120 hours and have an amazing design solution that everyone loves. If I asked a room of people, many would go for the cheapest design possible, but is that what you really want? The average product design, start to finish, is an 80-200 hour process depending on the product. And no, that doesn’t include vehicle sized products. Average hourly rates range from $80-$250 an hour depending on how much experience the designer has, the industry, and if it’s an agency. Keep in mind, top agencies run more around $500-$1000 an hour. As a design firm, we like to work on a by project rate as it keeps things simple and up front for our clients. An average project is about $10,000 for a full design, concept to manufacturing packet. So be upfront about what you expect in price, and timeline. If it’s unreasonable, we’ll tell you.
2. Know your why. So, you have a great product idea, or even redesigning a product. But why? Why are you creating this product, what problem does it solve, how does it help people? If your first answer is ‘because I’d use it’, then we should do some market research to make sure . Working with start-ups and entrepreneurs a lot, I’ve come across some amazing ideas that almost no one would use. Knowing your why helps us to tell your story through the product. People get behind products that have a great story and makes their life easier.
3. Know your market. We’ll do some market research at the start of the project, unless you come to a designer with a full market strategy, SWOT analysis, and information on the competitions products. But whether we do it or you do it, you should at least have a basic understanding of who you are marketing the product to. It guides us if we do the research, and it helps us with the design of the product. You might have an awesome product idea, but maybe it works for two very different markets, like babies and seniors! (look at diapers, both age groups use it, but the product is designed very differently for each market) Knowing who we are designing for, their budget, lifestyle, and age to name a few metrics, helps us create a product they will use, and you can sell successfully.
 
Some of you might notice that I didn’t say have an idea anywhere in there. While most people think that they need to have a product idea already before they talk to a designer, that isn’t the case with great designers. When looking at a product idea, what we really look at is the problem it is solving. We design to solve the problem, fixing a pain point in someone’s life. Maybe that pain point is not hearing the best audio possible, or maybe it’s not wanting to cobble together your own product, or maybe it’s a problem you see frequently for people you interact with. Industrial Design is about solving problems, and we’re happy to work with you whether you have a product idea, or just want to solve a problem but don’t have any idea how to.

Connect with us to turn your idea into reality.