We use a step-by-step process to evaluate ideas, develop concepts, and bring products to market. Some additional time and money is required at each step, so we make sure that the idea warrants moving forward. Using our process limits the risk to the inventor/investor and helps ensure the best product eventually makes it to the store shelves.
Our process follows these 8 steps:
Step 1: PROBE
We research the market for similar and competing products, locate potential manufacturers, learn about customer wants & needs, find experts in the particular industry, and discover what existing intellectual property exists. Before we physically create anything, we want to clearly determine the demand or "pull" of an item.
Step 2: PROTOTYPE
We build a prototype to simulate form, fit, and function. Most times the prototype is a "works like, acts like" model and may be created by a professional prototyping company based on its complexity. Here we prove the product works as conceived and functions as designed and we get a rough feel on the start-up and per-unit production costs.
Step 3: PROVE
One of the most important steps is ensuring the product meets the need or solves the problem that we've identified. Using focus groups, market surveys, and discussions with potential customers and suppliers, we verify the product "pull" with our prototype item. Our target market gives us the most important go/no-go feedback: would they purchase it and do we have potential customers?
Step 4: PRICE
Simultaneously with discovering if our target market would buy it, we learn how much they would pay for it. We firm up manufacturing costs, distribution mark-ups, and compare an eventual selling price to our cost-to-make. We amortize start-up costs and determine break-even. Unless we can meet our pre-defined profit goals, we can’t move forward.
Step 5: PROTECT
A lot of upfront work is done before we ever focus on intellectual property protection. We usually have a patent strategy determined at Step 1, but we won’t invest the time and money in it until we’ve proved the product is in demand and we can make it for a price customers are willing to pay. Then we go after the most practical protection for the item.
Step 6: PLACE
Over the course of our research, surveys, and questions about the product, we've discovered where our target market would expect to find the product and how it can be distributed to those outlets. At this stage we identify partners with complimentary lines that want to work with us to maximize reach. We find value-added distributors and wholesalers that want to carry our product before production begins.
Step 7: PRODUCTION
Finally, we start production – but even then it's a small run to test the product. Maybe a few hundred or thousand pieces are made to provide to distributors for feedback, refine designs and merchandising, and test in retail outlets. Once the distribution network is primed, we slowly ramp up while trying to anticipate demand and stay a step ahead.
Step 8: PROMOTION
Products almost never sell themselves. Along with creating a good brand and merchandising strategy for a product, we determine what pull-through is required to target customers and get them into the retail outlets carrying the product. We continue to research for the best distribution networks – dropping those that turn out weak and trying new vendors.
Finally, we find ourselves back at Step 1, probing the market, our customers, and suppliers to ensure we are providing the best possible product at the right price to meet their need. If not, we step through parts of the process again to refine the product and make the same the go/no-go decisions.
The entire process is managed in-house by our expert project managers and adheres to our principle of RISK MANAGEMENT. At each step, we evaluate the results, proposed costs, and expected returns to determine if the product is ready for the next step. By following a strict discipline, we don't spend time and money on products that won’t bring a favorable rate of return.
We prefer to oversee the manufacturing and marketing of our products. Although we don't manufacture anything in-house, having direct control over the production and distribution allows us to ensure the satisfaction of our customers and stay well connected with our product's distribution network. In fact, our project management teams are skilled at managing the entire process to ensure our profit goals are being met.
We will review any product, whether in the conceptual phase or already in production. If you are an inventor or small company with questions about your new product or idea, see our Partner With Us page for information about a free evaluation and consultation.
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