I. Product Development
Product development often is iterative, that is, involving many versions. Trying new ways of doing things and learning from failures is part of innovation.
The steps of product development are:
1. Prototype Development
First, you need to develop a proof of concept prototype. Decide whether to develop the prototype yourself in-house or to outsource it.
2. Transition to Product Production
After developing a prototype, you need to transition to the production of viable products efficiently. Work under a non-disclosure agreement with industrial designers, user interface and user functionality designers, engineers (mechanical, electrical, software), and project manufacturers.
Consider the following factors when planning production.
- Refine design for mass production: Optimize the use of stock materials.
- Technical challenges, costs, and time: Plan for each. Manufacturing is often the costliest. Make sure the cost per unit falls within what the market will pay.
- Manufacturing: Find a manufacturer that produces products in numbers similar to your projected volume. Engineers and designers can help you describe the design for mass production and choose what materials and tooling to use.
- Testing: Plan testing requirements that a completed product must meet.
- Scaling up: Plan to be able to scale up production as needed.
Technology Readiness Level
Technology Readiness Level (TRL) describes how ready a product is to start a business and to be deployed for use. There are 9 TRL levels, with the lowest being “Basic Research” completed and the highest being a product that is “Ready for Deployment.” You might need to describe your technology’s TRL in an application for a business loan, a grant proposal, or a pitch to potential investors. See the “Challenge” tab to learn all the levels.
II. Marketing Plan
Use the results of your market research to understand how best to reach your customer and convince them to buy your product. Examples of marketing strategies include relying on word of mouth from satisfied customers, emailing a list of potential customers, gathering interested parties via a blog or podcast, attending trade shows, offering free samples, asking satisfied customers to recommend your product to peers, and social media.
How will you make your product available to your customer? Will you use online ordering? Will you sell directly to the customer or to a vendor who will sell the product to individual customers? Will you extend credit or offer a bulk discount?