Clearing the Path From Idea To Product
Last week we brought you the 5 Speed Bumps on the Road From Idea to Product, and now we’re going to offer some solutions which correspond to each obstacle. We may only be experts in one of these categories, but we’ve seen plenty of products go through the entire cycle, and picked up some tips along the way.
Discovering Your Light Bulb Moment
“Good” ideas are not easy to come by. Sometimes, inspiration just strikes. You see a problem or an opening in the market and work to fill that hole. Recently, Fast Co Design profiled an inventor who says he would just enter a room and think of what he could make that would fit that room. Whatever your method, one way of gut checking your idea before investing an abundance of time and money into its development is to test it against Dieter Rams’ ten principles of good design. Many of these will apply to the form of a finished product, but there are many great principles that any idea can live by. Is it understandable? Useful? Environmentally-friendly? Long lasting? Thorough through its details? Innovative? Answer ‘no’ to too many of Rams’ criteria and it may be time to head back to the drawing board.
Finding a Designer
This is the step where a lot of time and money can be wasted if not approached properly. Portfolio sites like Behance and Dribbble can be a great way to look for talent, but the large number of choices can quickly get overwhelming. Not to mention, finding a “good” designer is only half the battle. The disorganization and miscommunication associated with the back and forth emailing with remote designers can often lead to less then perfect designs. Here at Red Clay we’ve worked hard to curate the top talent when it comes to designers, and offer you the software you’ll need to easily manage the design process from sketch to rendering.
Manufacturing That Works for You
Nothing beats being able to hold your new product in your hand for the first time, but it’s going to take some work to go from design to production. Luckily there are some great companies out there that are working to take the guess work out of manufacturing. Need a small or large order of 3D printed prototypes or products, take a look at Fictiv. They’ll find a 3D printer closest to you and give you quick turnaround on prototyping. If you’re ready for a full launch, Platform 88 is a network of engineers, manufacturers and retail professional who can help you get that big order made and on shelves. Their manufacturing facilities are compliant with international standards and share production lines with some of the biggest names in retail, including Walmart, Target, Lowes and Home Depot.
Chances are your product is more then just a labor of love; you want to actually sell it. For first timers this can be an especially daunting task. Fear not, there are tools available to help the bootstrapping marketer deliver. If you’re a beginner, consider taking some online classes to learn more about strategy overall, plus all the nitty gritty of creating, filling and managing a funnel, developing email campaigns and content strategies, and utilizing SEO and social media. General Assembly, Kissmetrics and Hubspot all offer resources for DIY marketing.
Need to bring in outside help? Companies like Think Eleven are hoping to alleviate some of the stress. Also based in San Diego, this marketing and sales agency has “a primary objective of acting as a bridge to profitability for new companies and products.” They offer a 360 approaching, with expertise in business, web, and product development, as well as public relations.
Whether doing it all yourself, or bringing in consultants, all of the aforementioned solutions and problems are going to cost you. The production alone of a small electronic can quickly run you over $350k. In recent years, crowdfunding has become a popular alternative to conventional bank and VC loans. Indiegogo and Kickstarter are both great options, and probably the two crowd-funding sites that you’ve heard of. There are some key differences between them, but there are also dozens of other sites. Depending on your product and niche, you can also look into PlumAlley (exclusively for women raising money), CircleUp, or CrowdFunder. If you’re new to the world of startups and investing in general, check out Jason Calacanis’ This Week in Startups to hear the successful angel investor interview successful startup founders.
There is so much to know and learn, but let these resources at least get you started on the road from idea to product. Be on the look out in the coming days for spotlight interviews with some of the companies we’ve highlighted above.
Photo Credit Unsplash