- Ben Seaman
Everyone has an idea!
The best thing about my job is engaging with entrepreneurs about their product ideas!
I always say the same thing, Ideas are essentially worthless and the key is in execution over time. The reality is physical product design is an expensive process with a balance of engineering time, tooling, inventory and marketing. Everyone wants to have their idea magically appear on Shark Tank or (Dragons Den in Canada) but the reality is the majority of the people will fail within the first few years. Before proceeding with any product design process, the entrepreneur should have some background marketing/trade study/margin analysis completed to ensure a viable long term company.
One of the biggest advantages a product design company can have is an economic/product Moat. What does the product "Moat" mean?
In today's competitive business environment it is imperative for any startup to have a key differentiation point when developing a product. Having a truly unique advantage will separate you from your competitors and grow your fan base. Here are some examples of some distinct "moat" limits the competition.
1) High Development Cost - I can't help but think Elon Musk is the perfect example of having the largest economic "Moat" for any competition to even come close to him. Both SpaceX and Tesla both require significant engineering talent, time and materials to achieve creating self-driving cars or making a re-useable rocket for space travel/satellite launches. What this man has completed in the last decade is unbelievable and realistically untouchable from competition. 2) Unique Product Feature / Branding - Apple under the leadership of Steve Jobs allowed them to go from a failing company to the largest IT company in the world. His products in the early years set him up for future success but establishing devices were so unique at the time and had incredible branding. I'm sure everyone in their (insert age) like me still remembers the launch of the IPod and IPhone and just had to get one. Today the competition is more fierce but they have the advantage of maintaining their loyal following along with great products. I see them further growing in health/wellness/wearables in the future as they have one of the most integrated platforms and sensor technology is advancing so quickly. 3) Market timing - When I think of timing, my mind goes toward InstaPot. They recognized the 2008 recession would have people reduce their external restaurant spending by cooking at home more with less expensive meals. They designed an MVP (all in one pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, etc) and distributed it to influence/food bloggers and quickly became an "overnight success" . When looking at product trends make sure you understand product lifecycle and consumer adoption curve. 4) Margin / Cost / Scale - This is always the hardest advantage to achieve as the only way you can separate yourself from your competition is by improving your design to reduce costing without sacrificing product quality. I generally do not recommend this unless your volume is so high 100K+ that you can achieve an obtainable goal. 5) Technology - I would say this could be multiple things such as IP protection (Patents) however most small companies do not have the money to send proper injunctions if competitors are in violation anyways. I personally think of this as having a dream team of multi disciplined engineers. Having the strongest core of HW/SW/MECH designers that can come up with the optimal design solution can minimize time to market and improve product performance/features.
In todays modern world, where everyone is trying to create the next "Uber" Software as a service (SaaS) unicorn it is refreshing to see many people still have passion for product creation. Having a physical product over a website or app is one of the biggest advantages you can have as a new company as long as you can manage scalability.
Feel free to reach out for a free introduction to product design process from concept to production
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