Creating your startup required an exorbitant amount of forward-thinking and planning. Often, startups begin with their ideal product line already firmly seated in the imaginations of the founders. As they work to bring company logistics in order and to onboard the right employees, there is one vital question that is too often ignored until the last possible moment: How do we bring our visions and products alive and get them into the hands of customers?
Before taking your star product from design to shelf, there are a few important startup product development points of wisdom to learn. These information points will give you a solid foundation upon which to move your products forward efficiently and safely. Leaning on these ideas will also give you a concise blueprint for when the time arrives to seek out a manufacturer for your products. Through these, you will build a valuable partnership on all sides of your product development.
#1 Bringing Ideas to Life Requires a Refined R&D Process
Moving your products from drawing to customer starts with having a set of highly refined, concise R&D processes in place. These processes go much further than simply sending out CAD drawings for prototyping or manufacturing. In fact, there are several important “must-have” R&D processes to have in place to ensure that all of the project requirements are met and to limit time and revenues lost due to missed or incomplete steps.
- Establish a set of well-defined goals and deliverables.
- Build and enforce realistic and accurate project timelines.
- Assign and define responsibilities—there should be no question as to who is doing what.
- Decide how products will be prototyped and tested.
- Identify a manufacturer that is proactive in its involvement in all phases of your project.
One last point to consider when developing your startup’s R&D processes is that you must have a dedicated R&D team with representation from all areas of your business. In addition to project managers, you must include your engineers, marketing and sales, finance, and your manufacturing partner. Your manufacturing partner will prove to be indispensable, as they can help you fill in your headcount gaps and provide you with experienced engineering and manufacturing know-how.
#2 Balancing Product Expectations and Feedback
The process of developing a product is full of moving pieces and processes that are dependent on the completion of specific tasks. During the initial screening process, the product you would like to design is assigned specific attributes. These will be an ideal representation of what it is you are trying to produce, including features, operational limits, size, and pricing points. Having grand expectations is a great thing, but only if those dreaming them up are open to constructive feedback.
Unfortunately, many of those expectations are forced back to the drawing board almost at the moment the initial specs are drawn into CAD. Limitations that are not considered in the imagination emerge when engineers try to piece products together. Keeping the lines of communication open during all stages of product development will keep ideas flowing smoothly between teams and help you to achieve a perfect balance between expectations and what is possible.
Adding experienced wisdom to your initial product startup team is not just a great plan but can prove to be a project saver. Having a team of experienced engineering consultants to guide you through the maze of product development, from creating your initial design to prototyping and beyond, will give your project traction. Common points of production delays will be avoided, and your project will gain a high level of flexibility with the least possible financial repercussions.
#3 Agility is Paramount for Success
Achieving a perfect balance between expectations and what is feasible does not mean that your work is done; it only means that you’re just getting started. Staying on top of your game means that you must be open to change and design adaptations, especially when these turn out to be not-so-pleasant surprises. Remaining agile despite the unforeseen will help you to build a better team and product.
Startups often find themselves in a position of having an incomplete team. Being very new and not having the budget or well-timed investment can lead to a feeling of being stuck when a project slumps down. It is here that your choice of a manufacturer can help build your project agility, especially in the areas of engineering or planning. Manufacturers that work with startups understand where you are coming from and can often lend valuable resources to your project team to keep you performing well.
#4 Lessening the Risks of Startup Product Development Starts with the Right Partner
Owning a startup has likely presented you with more challenges than you had initially planned on seeing. You want to remain focused on translating the idea in your head into an exciting product, but you’re discovering fast the need for additional help. Enlisting the expertise of a skilled manufacturer that can offer supplemental engineering staff will be instrumental in keeping your vision on track.
PRL is a full-service product development company that specializes in all aspects of production, from design to product fabrication and prototyping. Our experts are here to guide you through the full product development process, including the ideation, design, creation, and management of your product idea.