3 Questions All Entrepreneurs Ask When Launching a Product Concept
By: Alanna Hlavacek
Launching your product concept can be a daunting process. You may feel confident that your idea is well thought out and will solve a real-world problem, but you also may not know where to start. There is so much uncertainty and excitement within this stage of your product development journey, and you can trust our team of subject matter experts at Bayview Yards Prototyping Lab to guide you throughout the process. Whether your concept is scribbled on a napkin or you have schematics and 3D models complete with a business plan, this is the ideal environment to experiment, take risks, and explore your concept fully. Every impactful product that has changed the world had to start somewhere. Our goal is to be the first stop on the road to launching your idea.
We always welcome our clients to complete our intake form, from which we will reach out to you to learn about your idea and answer your questions.
Here are the Top 3 Questions Asked by Early Stage Entrepreneurs When Developing a Product Idea:
1. What happens from the napkin idea to the store shelf?
The road from napkin idea, to launching a polished product into mass production, doesn’t happen overnight. There are various stages along this journey that are valuable for many reasons. We aim to help innovators in the very early stages of product development so that they can make tweaks and test out their minimum viable product before investing the effort and resources into the long-term journey of design for manufacturing and mass manufacturing.
Phase 1: Conceptualizing your Idea
Using research conceptualization techniques we will work with you to validate your idea and determine whether your product solves the proposed problem sufficiently. Although some ideas may feel like the right approach, they may be based on bias, assumption, or lack elements of feasibility, viability and desirability. There may be a competitor within the market or the initial concept may need some user-based refinement before exploring more seriously. Once our research summary is complete and we’ve agreed on a way forward that sets you up for success, our industrial designers will collaborate with you to develop a digital representation of your concept to better equip you to credibly convey your idea and gain buy-in from investors and beta-testers.
Phase 2: Designing & Building Your Functional Prototype
Within this phase, we will focus on the functionality and features of your concept. This may include a CAD Model (Computer Aided-Design) to fine tune details such as the various pieces, the fit and form of all components, the look and feel, and considerations to make when it comes time to manufacture the design. From here, you will have access to co-design sessions with our team of experts and have input to experiment and make adjustments to your potential prototype. After this, we can look at the most optimal equipment, materials and components to assemble a working and functional minimum viable product. The goal of this phase is to determine the feasibility, viability and desirability of your minimum viable product(MVP) and ensure that those key elements can be integrated into a realistic manufacturable item and enable you to validate the basics of your concept and evolve it as you receive early user feedback.
What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
A minimum viable product is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development. A focus on releasing an MVP means that innovators potentially avoid lengthy and unnecessary work. Instead, they iterate on working versions and respond to feedback, challenging and validating assumptions about a product’s requirements.
Phase 3: Design for Manufacturing
The focus of your work with our team will be to build an initial prototype of your product concept to use for beta testing and to develop stakeholder and investor confidence. The next step will be to further polish your product with the assistance of a design for a manufacturing agency. Although Bayview Yards Prototyping Lab does not offer design for mass manufacturing services, we’ll recommend trusted local partners who will work with you through this phase of your journey.
Within this phase, the design of your product will be adapted for ease of manufacturability. All parts and components of your design will be detailed for engineering, with the end goal of creating the best possible product at the lowest cost. The combination of aesthetic and performance will be optimized to strategize the final version of your product to solidify product verifications and certifications
Phase 4: Mass Manufacturing
At this stage, you’ve fine tuned your concept and are ready to build and launch the final version of your design. You’ve developed the optimal build strategy with considerations of performance, aesthetic, cost, certifications and test standard requirements, and supply chain logistics. Now, with the help of your design for manufacturing team, it’s time to source a producer who can help you output (or produce) large quantities of your product – commonly by using assembly lines or automated technologies. During this phase, you are likely also ramping up your business development and creating relationships with retailers who will carry your products.
2. What is the cost & lead time?
Cost and time are the most critical considerations for early-stage entrepreneurs when preparing to launch their product concept. We understand that it is vital to get your product to market in the most efficient way, however, the ability to experiment, take risks, and make mistakes within a low stakes environment is an important step for entrepreneurs to take. Your first idea may not be the most viable solution to the problem your product intends to resolve. Further, your idea may adapt and adjust as we learn through building, testing, and iteration. It is better to make mistakes now, in a low cost, experimental environment that could help you avoid obstacles and flaws that could be problematic once engaging with a design for a manufacturing firm. Taking the time to really build the foundation of your product will communicate to investors and stakeholders that you’ve investigated all outcomes fully, thus building confidence in your approach.
The Lab offers a set of carefully curated packaged services designed to provide targeted support that meets your specific business needs. The Lab is outfitted with the expertise, capabilities, and equipment to meet a range of specifications and requirements.
- Proof of Concept Package: Explore different solutions, and the feasibility, viability and desirability of potential designs through ideation, brainstorming, and experimentation with our collaborative, expert team.
- Prototyping Design Package: Enhance your design by allowing our team to combine industrial and mechanical design to create a design for your Minimum Viable Product which you can use with beta-testers.
- Fabrication Package: Trust us to build your MVP while we leverage the latest advanced manufacturing tools, technologies and processes.
- Launch Package: Collaborate with our creative team to tell your brand story using our suite of commercial-grade tools and technologies.
Learn more about our services packages here.
The cost and lead time for these packages vary based on the complexity of your project. We’ll help you determine which package is right for you and our experts will provide guidance towards the next steps along your journey.
3. How involved can I be?
Taking a close, collaborative approach to working with our clients is a unique feature of the Lab. To fully understand your vision, we will engage in various co-design sessions in person and virtually using the latest digital tools. Our clients are supported by our client operations coordinator who will manage the overall project and your experience with the team.
Depending upon the package that best suits your needs, there will be touchpoints over the course of your project that will involve the input of subject matter experts such as our industrial designer, mechanical design and fabrication engineer, electronics designer, videographer / photographer, etc. Although there are restrictions surrounding access to our shop for safety and liability purposes and we are not a maker space, our co-design sessions are intended to ensure collaboration, effective problem solving, and ultimately make your product concept a reality.
Whether you’d prefer to be hands-on, sit back and let us handle the details, or somewhere in the middle, we’ll adapt our approach. Remember, at Bayview Yards Prototyping Lab we want you to feel as though we are an extension of your team. We’re invested in the success of your product and through a collaborative, honest, and personal approach, we’re confident that we can help you design, build, and launch your idea.
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about the author
Client & Project Operations Coordinator
Alanna is our Client Experience & Project Operations Coordinator. Having come from a family of entrepreneurs, and founding a small online shop herself, Alanna has a direct understanding of the founder experience and is passionate about helping businesses succeed. With a depth of skills and experience in Business Process Management, Design Thinking and a CAPM Certification, Alanna excels at driving operational efficiency. Utilizing a human-centred and empathy-first approach, she aims to enable clients and the team at the Lab to work together to make product dreams become product realities; and to help innovation teams thrive as she co-designs and facilitates Design Thinking and Product Development workshops.