Posts Tagged "hardware startup"

Early-stage hardware product development advice.

The Early-Stage of Hardware Product Development

Early-stage hardware product development advice.When it comes to hardware product development the road to success is often winding and full of bumps and roadblocks, rarely is it linear. Navigating these unforeseen challenges can be overwhelming for many first-time entrepreneurs. To share some guidance, we have compiled a few of our top blog posts related to the early stages of hardware product development.

Get Your Product Idea Off the Ground

Coming up with a hardware product idea is exhilarating—knowing that you have an idea that will help not only yourself, but an entire segment of the population, is the very definition of exciting. So now you have an idea, but you aren’t exactly sure what to do next.

When it Comes to Product Design, Let Creativity Shine

When it comes to product design, creativity can really make a difference in the success of a product. First time entrepreneurs can get caught up in the idea that their original idea is the best idea, however this is not always the case. There are many reasons that your product may shift during product design—it is not efficient for manufacturing, timing is off, it’s too difficult for customers to use, it doesn’t have a solid consumer base. There are numerous factors that can change a product, and that is okay. It is okay to end up with a product that is different than your original idea, because the goal is success.

Design Patents and Utility Patents for Startups

Patents, copyrights and trademarks are all forms of intellectual property. For the purpose of this piece, patents — particularly design patents and utility patents — will be the focus of the conversation. While all three types of IP are indeed essential for success, hardware-focused products rely heavily on patents. Often times, proper patent protection can mean the difference between success and failure for a hardware startup.

Building A Hardware Startup Outside of a Major Tech Hub

In today’s connected world, these major tech hubs are becoming less and less appealing for entrepreneurs just setting out with their startup. It’s no secret that the cost of living in major tech hubs is astronomical and upfront costs to get your business going also come at a premium. So if you are an entrepreneur looking into hardware product development and starting a business, but have no desire to pick-up and move, below are a few ideas on how you can successfully launch your hardware startup from your home city.

Questions for Potential Product Development Partners

Product development partners are a great way to team up with knowledgeable experts that can help make your product idea a reality. A hardware product development partner can work with you from product idea through manufacturing and can assist in a wide variety of ways. Here we share a few suggestions on questions to ask potential product development firm partners.

Have additional hardware product development questions? Send us an email, info@3d-innovations.com

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When it comes to product design let creativity shine.

When it Comes to Product Design, Let Creativity Shine

When it comes to product design let creativity shine.When it comes to product design, creativity can really make a difference in the success of a product. First time entrepreneurs can get caught up in the idea that their original idea is the best idea, however this is not always the case. In a recent article we read on Entrepreneur, 8 Funny and Relatable Experiences That All Entrepreneurs Go Through, their third point really stood out to us: “Your end product is very different from the idea you started with”. Time and again we have seen this—the final product is not the exact original product idea.

There are many reasons that your product may shift during product design—it is not efficient for manufacturing, timing is off, it’s too difficult for customers to use, it doesn’t have a solid consumer base. There are numerous factors that can change a product, and that is okay. It is okay to end up with a product that is different than your original idea, because the goal is success. You want to launch a product that resonates with consumers and successfully launches your startup.

To harness your creativity and be open to where product design can take you. If you are working with a product development firm, be open to design ideas. There are new manufacturing methods and design technologies available today that might be just what your product needs to take it to that next level.

Two technologies that will help you during the product design phase are:

3D Design

3D design will give you a feel for your product before it is even in your hands. You will be able to see your product in 3D and test your design to validate it all before you have a physical object to hold.

3D Printing

3D printing technology allows you to design and develop a product that breaks the confines of traditional design. Complex designs that break traditional constraints are now manufacturable thanks to this innovative technology.

Depending on the size of your product, your first physical prototype might be 3D printed. This technology will let you design, refine and re-print your product until you land on a final design.

When it comes to product design, think outside the boxway outside the box. Don’t get in your own way and stifle your creativity. With the technology available today, you are able to let your design imagination run wild, and the craziest part is that what you imagine can actually be made.

Have additional product development questions? Send us an email, info@3d-innovations.com

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Design patents and utility patents help protect a hardware startup.

Design Patents and Utility Patents for Startups

Design patents and utility patents help protect a hardware startup.Patents, copyrights and trademarks are all forms of intellectual property. For the purpose of this piece, patents — particularly design patents and utility patents — will be the focus of the conversation. While all three types of IP are indeed essential for success, hardware-focused products rely heavily on patents. Often times, proper patent protection can mean the difference between success and failure for a hardware startup.

Patent Basics

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. There are three types of patents: utility, design and plant patents.

  1. Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
  2. Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and
  3. Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
Conducting a Patent Search

Once you have decided that you are interested in patenting your product, the next step is to conduct a patent search. A proper patent search will tell you if your invention, or its likeness, has been patented before or if your invention is indeed one-of-a-kind. There is nothing more time consuming, financially draining and demoralizing than filing for a patent, only to find that someone else already holds the patent to your invention.

The USPTO makes it possible to conduct a preliminary patent search on your own; however, it is highly recommended that you consult with a licensed patent search firm to assist with the bulk of the research. These firms have vast experience researching and are extremely knowledgeable in the classification systems.

Exploring Design Patents and Utility Patents

Design patents are often overlooked and underutilized compared to the more common utility patents. “Five percent of all patent applications (more than 30,000 per year) are design patents.” (Upcounsel) Design patents focus on the exterior design, features and overall aesthetics of the product. Utility patents focus on the functionality and features of your invention.

Design patents extend to what is exactly shown in the line drawings, nothing more. “Some products might need multiple design patents. Each would cover a specific physical feature of the proposed product. Cars, for instance, require many design patents.” (Upcounsel) Having high-quality professional line drawings by a CAD designer is extremely advantageous. With a design patent, you are able to use the coveted phrases, patent pending and patent issued on all marketing material, and have confidence that your invention is protected for the next fourteen years. Also. when it comes to cost, design patents are considerably cheaper to file than utility patents.

Utility patents focus solely on the inner workings of your invention, its unique functions and overall usefulness. “While a utility patent is harder to get, it offers better coverage. The utility patent has stronger protections built into the patent system.” (Upcounsel) An invention is deemed useful if it provides an identifiable benefit and is capable of use. People often refer to utility patents as “patents for invention”. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, ninety-percent of the patent documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents. With a utility patent your invention will be protected for the next twenty years.

A design patent coupled with a utility patent provides overlapping protection for both the inner workings and exterior design of your product, and is a powerful tool in your IP arsenal.

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Insight into the first steps in hardware product development.

Hardware Product Development: The First Steps

Insight into the first steps in hardware product development.When it comes to hardware product development you are sure to have a lot of questions. The path to success is not linear with any business, and hardware products are no exception. For first-time entrepreneurs, we have gathered some of our most popular hardware product development posts that give insight into the first stages of development along with tips and suggestions.

Product Development Strategy: Launching Your Idea

We recommend starting slow, so that you aren’t overwhelmed, and building a support system to help encourage you and keep you focused. If you plan on developing a hardware product, below are actionable items to keep you on track so that you are successful.

Get Your Product Idea Off the Ground

Coming up with a hardware product idea is exhilarating—knowing that you have an idea that will help not only yourself, but an entire segment of the population, is the very definition of exciting. So now you have an idea, but you aren’t exactly sure what to do next.

Building A Hardware Startup Outside of a Major Tech Hub

In today’s connected world, these major tech hubs are becoming less and less appealing for entrepreneurs just setting out with their startup. It’s no secret that the cost of living in major tech hubs is astronomical and upfront costs to get your business going also come at a premium. So if you are an entrepreneur looking into hardware product development and starting a business, but have no desire to pick-up and move, below are a few ideas on how you can successfully launch your hardware startup from your home city.

Hardware Startups: Knowing Your Market Segment

The key to a successful product launch and sustainable business success, is knowing the market segment you are launching your product into. An understanding of the market will provide insight into the competition, best distribution methods, customer acquisition and manufacturing methodology.

Marketing a New Hardware Product

When it comes to marketing your new hardware product, our best piece of advice is to start early. If you wait until your product is being manufactured, you are late to the game. Starting early, means that marketing and product testing often go hand-in-hand. You will simultaneously be able to gather feedback during your hardware product development stages, while also making your target market aware that it will be available to them soon.

How can a product development firm help me?

A product development firm should be your partner in this startup journey. Having a great product idea is exciting — executing that idea though can be a bit tricky since the road to product commercialization to fraught with obstacles. Often, startup founders turn to a product development firm to help make their idea a reality.

Don’t let the notion that hardware is hard stop you from pursuing your dream of building a product and launching your startup. With the right information and secure partnerships, successful hardware product development is possible and the time to start is now.

Have any additional questions about hardware product development? We can help. Please send us an email at info@3d-innovations.com

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A startup mindset is powerful for business, students and employees.

A ‘Startup Mindset’ is Advantageous

A startup mindset is powerful for business, students and employees.The startup mindset is a powerful thing. Being at the helm of a business is exhilarating—there are ups and downs but the uncertainty of it all can be quite exciting. For people with a startup mindset they find the unknown to be an exciting challenge. Often the conversation around the startup mindset is focused on how it pertains to entrepreneurs, however, this mindset can be applied to students, individuals starting a new job or those looking for a new perspective in their daily lives.

Key Elements of a Startup Mindset
Problem Solving Skills

Does uncertainty motivate you? Do you like to find creative solutions to a problem? Entrepreneurs look at uncertainty as though they have control of their future. They understand the problem they are facing and take control of solving it on their terms. Often this trait can come across as unshakable confidence. Solving a tough problem to them means they are in control of their future.

Healthy Curiosity

Children and students are great at asking ‘why?’, but as adults our constant curiosity can slowly diminish. The fear of the unknown can cause us to look for certainty in all situations. With a startup mindset our curiosity is reinvigorated. This mindset allows us to constantly ask questions and ultimately shake up entire industries by developing revolutionary ideas and businesses.

Upend the Status Quo

“That is just the way things are done” does not work with a startup mindset. Established wisdom does not mean that is how it must be done going forward. “Disruptive success comes from thinking in a different way than others have done, not just from following in their footsteps.” (Brainscape)

Take Risks

Starting a business is a risk—it is both a financial and time commitment risk. People with a startup mindset look at risk as an opportunity to create something bigger than themselves. No business is guaranteed success, and in many cases, failure is more likely. However, the challenge of launching and scaling a business is a risk worth taking for those with the right mindset.

Learn from Mistakes

Mistakes are part of being human, it is how we learn from them that sets us apart. Roadblocks during product development, manufacturing and product launches are all normal. How we decide to tackle these roadblocks is what matters. As we have all heard time and again, often we can learn more from failure than we can from success.

These are five elements of a startup mindset that you can take with you into any school, career or startup. The flexible, fast-moving and curiosity-driven mindset of the startup world can transform your approach to every aspect of your daily life.

Resources

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A product development firm can help launch your startup.

How can a product development firm help me?

A product development firm can help design and launch your product idea.A product development firm should be your partner in this startup journey. Having a great product idea is exciting—executing that idea though can be a bit tricky since the road to product commercialization to fraught with obstacles. Often, startup founders turn to a product development firm to help make their idea a reality. Here we look at ways that a product development partner can help you beyond the design and prototyping phases.

Product Development Firm | A Partner from Idea to Commercialization

A product development firm should be by your side from idea to store shelves. Having a single team in place throughout the entire product development process means that there is less room for error and that you can count on consistency. A full-service product development firm is invested in the success of your product and wants to see it on in the hands of your customers just as much as you do.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is no longer a “should have”, in today’s globalized world it is a “must have”. A product development firm will be able to help you navigate the world of patents, trademarks and copyrights along with your IP attorney.

Line drawings are necessary for design and utility patents, and your product development partner can produce these for your patent application. Since product development firms work with a range of IP attorneys, they will also be able to help you connect with one that fits your specific product needs.

Licensing

When it comes to licensing, your product development partner will be able to provide the technical aspects of the design to interested partners as well as their manufacturers. Licensing a product requires strategy and know-how, and this is exactly what a firm will be able to provide.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing your hardware product is no small task. Whether you decide to manufacture at home or abroad, there are certain unavoidable challenges. A product development partner will help you navigate the manufacturing process and connect you with potential manufacturing partners.

With the assistance of a product development firm, you will be guided by knowledgeable experts throughout the entire development process. You can ask questions, share ideas and collaborate on all aspects of the product development process. A skilled product development firm will be able to guide you from design to manufacturing and beyond.

Now it’s time to get out there and meet potential product development partners. In this blog post we discuss what you can expect during your first product development meeting.

Have additional questions about product development? Send us an email at info@3d-innovations.com.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Understanding your market segment is important for startup success.

Hardware Startups: Knowing Your Market Segment

Understanding your market segment is important for startup success.The key to a successful product launch and sustainable business success, is knowing the market segment you are launching your product into. An understanding of the market will provide insight into the competition, best distribution methods, customer acquisition and manufacturing methodology. According to the popular book, “The Startup Owner’s Manual” there are three types of markets.

Established Market

Entering an established market means that the competition is strong. Often the best way for a hardware startup to make a splash in this market segment is by offering a premium product. “Companies succeed by building premium brands, having sustainably better technology, or being close to their costs of production. The headphone market is a great example here: Think Beats (premium brand) vs. Bose (better tech) vs AmazonBasics (closest to costs of production).” (Bolt)

New Market

Some of the most creative products of today started in a completely new market—think Apple iPod & iPhone. While competition is low, failure rate is high. When you are the first in a new market segment you have to pioneer new distribution channels, find your customer base, work hard to establish product/market fit and educate the market. According to “The Startup Owner’s Manual”, startups in this market won’t spend heavily on marketing and sales since you are not yet sure that a customer base exists yet.

You hear the term “pivot” quite a bit regarding startups, and that is what many startups find themselves doing when entering a completely new market. Your product is very likely to change to meet consumer demands.

Re-segmented Market

This is the most common market segment for startups to launch a product into. Your product will either re-segment via low cost or re-segment via niche. If you are aiming for low-cost you have a product that has less frills yet still adequately meets customer demands but at a lower price point. “In other hardware markets, startups work in product categories that users already understand, but focus on a niche that really appeals to a small subset of users.” (Bolt) With a niche product, you are aiming to launch a product that is intriguing enough for brand loyalists to switch over to your product.

When it comes to the re-segmented market, you do not have to completely educate the market since your competition has spent time doing that. However, you do have to adequately educate them as to why your product is not only different, but why they need it.

Startups that have a clear idea on the type of market segment they are entering will be in a better position when it comes time to launch their product.

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Early market validation for your product idea is key to success.

Market Validation: Test Your Product Idea Early

Early market validation for your product idea is key to success.Market validation is the process of determining whether your product idea is of interest to a given target market. Before you invest the time and money into developing your product, it is recommended that you validate with your target audience that this is a product that they not only like, but will buy.

Below are three ways to quickly complete the first phases of market validation to test your new product idea:

Look for Competitors

Successful competitors offer proof that demand exists. While it can often be daunting to first-time entrepreneurs, competitors validate that there is a market for your product.

When you are the first to market, you are faced with the challenge of not only selling your product, but educating your target market about the major problem as well. Established competitors have already educated the market and conducted market validation, now you get to come in and offer a new solution.

You can offer the product in a new location, market it to a new group of people, or differentiate based on features or price to carve out market share. (Entrepreneurs Handbook).

Talk with Your Target Market

While your friends and family might find your idea cool, are they your target market? Will they be making a purchasing decision for your product? If the answer is “no” you need to reach out to your actual target market—the people you want to buy your product.

If your product is challenging to explain in a clear and concise manner, a visual prototype can really help you convey your idea. Depending on the size of your product, 3D printing technology allows you to design and print a visual prototype quickly.

The feedback from your target market is going to help you build the product customers will buy, so the design of your product will most likely change a bit to accommodate customer needs.

Research Search Traffic

Google is a powerful tool and can give you a glimpse into the collective mindset of your target audience. See how frequently people are searching for the product solution you want to launch.

It will be up to you to interpret the data, but this market validation strategy is a way to see what people are looking for and the words they use to describe it.

Early Market Validation is Key to Success

Due diligence is crucial in entrepreneurship because it helps you avoid losing time, money, relationship capital, and confidence on a bad idea. (Entrepreneurs Handbook). These three tests are a quick way to start the market validation process, test your idea and ultimately help your startup succeed quickly.

Do you have additional product development questions? Send us an email at info@3d-innovations.com

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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3D printing expands product design possibilities

Is 3D Printing Right for Your Project?

3D printing expands product design possibilities3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a technology that has expanded product design possibilities and manufacturing capabilities. While 3D printing can certainly help as you work your way through the product development process, it also has its limitations. Below are a few factors to help you determine if 3D printing is a good fit for your next project.

Are you building a prototype?

3D printing is an excellent option for initial prototypes. You can get a physical prototype in hours, refine the design and print again. It will take a few iterations to get it just how you are imagining it. Startups all over the globe are now turning towards additive manufacturing technology at various stages of product development—low cost and quick turnaround times make it ideal for budget conscious hardware startups.

Eventually you will want to build a functional prototype for design validation and testing, and additive manufacturing can help with this as well.

Do you have a complex design?

One of the primary advantages of 3D printing is that you can break traditional manufacturing barriers with your product design. With 3D printing technology, complex geometries, internal features and built-in interlocking objects with no assembly required are all possible. With these additional design capabilities, additive manufacturing creates new product design opportunities.

Do you need customer feedback?

Gathering customer feedback during the product development process is always a good idea. Show potential customers your product design, let them hold it, test it and then incorporate their feedback. Remember that the feedback is going to help you build the product customers want, so the design will most likely change a bit to accommodate customer needs. Additive manufacturing allows you to quickly print a visual prototype that you can show to your target market for feedback. You can quickly incorporate their feedback and print another prototype.

Are you looking for small batch manufacturing?

3D printing isn’t quite at the mass manufacturing scale yet, but it can certainly help with small batch manufacturing. If you need just a few parts or pieces for a project, 3D printing can certainly be of assistance.

Do you need a customized part?

Customization is the “sweet spot” for additive manufacturing. The automobile, aerospace and dental industries have been utilizing 3D printing’s customization ability for years now. If you need a one-off customized part, 3D printing will most likely provide you with the quickest turnaround and best cost efficiency—depending on size of course.

Additive manufacturing is constantly evolving and so are its capabilities. As design software advances and material selection increases, 3D printing will continue to shift the manufacturing landscape and prove that it is a very useful tool for professionals and makers alike.

Are you still not sure if 3D printing is right for your project? Go ahead and send us an email, info@3d-innovations.com so we can talk further about your design and manufacturing needs.

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Patent protection is critical for startup success.

Innovation and Patent Protection for Startups

Patent protection is critical for startup success.Patent protection is critical for startups today—technology and globalization have made it easier than ever to find, steal and patent invention ideas. Patents provide you with a way to protect your invention from other individuals that may want to commercialize it without your authorization. From the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):

“A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.”

“The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or ‘importing’ the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention.”

Make: Magazine recently published an article, “Patent Pandas: How One Maker Is Turning Her Horrible Experience Into a Force for Good”. It is a real and very telling story of how a person, actually a crowdfunding backer, stole an idea from a crowdfunding website and later tried to sell the invalid patent back to the original inventor. Unfortunately, stealing and patenting ideas that are not your own has become big business.

Patent law is complicated, and it is always best to consult with an attorney. However, we have compiled a list of resources below to get you started as you begin looking into the process of patent protection.

Crowdfunding Backer Patented My Project (Patent Panda)

I never thought about patents much. I just wanted to make stuff and share it with others. Then one day someone else patented my work.  So what happened?  And what did I learn?  Well, first off, don’t panic!

General Information Concerning Patents (USPTO)

Some people confuse patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Although there may be some similarities among these kinds of intellectual property protection, they are different and serve different purposes.

Navigating IP on the Path to Commercialization

Patents are a critical factor for sustainable success. Whether you are at the helm of a startup that plans on crowdfunding a product or a SME working on a new and innovative technology, securing and protecting your intellectual property (IP) rights to that invention is key to successful commercialization.

IP Watchdog

This website is managed by Gene Quinn, a patent attorney with decades of experience. The articles on the website touch on a number of patent issues and provide in-depth education opportunities.

How to Prepare for Your First Patent Attorney Meeting

Most hardware startups find themselves thinking about intellectual property early-on and wondering if it is truly necessary for their invention. If you are planning to manufacture your product abroad, considering a crowdfunding campaign, wanting to speak with potential investors or find yourself constantly worrying about someone copying your invention, then meeting with a patent attorney is a great idea. In many cases, having a design or utility patent will be beneficial for your startup in the long-run.

Our team works closely with the Hawaii State Bar Association and understands the importance of patent protection for startups. If you have a question related to patent protection, we are happy to help. Please send us an email with your questions, info@3d-innovations.com.

Additional Intellectual Property Articles from 3D Innovations

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