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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.
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 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.
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 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 email@example.com.
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 on your new hardware product, while also making your target market aware that it will be available to them soon.
While a minimum viable product (MVP) will allow you to talk about features and show aesthetics, a functional prototype will clearly convey what your product is all about. Once you have a prototype, you then want to get it to the hands of your target market.
A focus group will let you gauge reactions and gather feedback about your hardware product. You can ask this group questions, they can share their initial reactions and then you can go back and apply any changes.
It can be hard hearing that your product isn’t perfect, but that is the beauty of feedback. With feedback early on, you can modify your design so that it better suits the needs of your target demographic. Ultimately, you want to build a product that is going to sell.
Provide your product to a small test market to have them try your product in their daily lives. Follow this up with questions/interviews to gather feedback on how your product fares.
Crowdfunding has made this very popular, but you don’t need to have a crowdfunding campaign to start taking pre-order sales. Setup an area on your website for pre-orders to see how the market is reacting to your new hardware product.
As you can see, marketing and product testing are closely related early-on in product development. While marketing looks different when you start early, it is effective at building a group of loyal followers. The people that you have testing your product, providing feedback and taking pre-order sales—are going to not only be your first customers, but they are going to want to share your product with their network.
Have additional questions about product development? We are happy to help. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are some great STEM events coming up around Honolulu. Our 3D Academy and 3D Innovations team has had the pleasure of participating in these STEM education events and know what a great opportunity they are for students interested in STEM subjects.
Students will get a first-hand look at career options in STEM fields. Professionals will talk about their area of expertise and how they chose their careers. Learn more about ‘Hawaii World of Work Week’ here.
The 10th annual Hawaii STEM Conference is quickly approaching. This is a two-day conference that allows both students and teachers to immerse themselves in STEM education. Breakout sessions let students connect with industry professionals in STEM areas that really interest them. It is a hands-on conference that brings academia and industry together. Learn more about the ‘Hawaii STEM Conference’ here.
The Honolulu Mini Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these “makers” to show hobbies, experiments, projects.
“We call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. Glimpse the future and get inspired!” Learn more about the ‘Honolulu Mini Maker Fair’ here.
You don’t need a background in science, technology, engineering and math to participate in these STEM events. If you are curious and want to see what STEM education is all about, we highly recommend checking these events out.
3D Academy, a division of 3D Innovations, specializes in developing and integrating industry technologies with STEM education and custom programs. 3D Academy promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education programs that integrate 3D Technology into K–12, as well as university classrooms.
Using hands-on and project-based learning strategies, we have been effective in providing students with opportunities to excel in the areas of STEM and to integrate industry applications into their learning experiences.
3D Academy has a range of programs that seamlessly transition into the classroom to expand and broaden students’ coursework. We provide an introduction to a range of engineering subjects—3D Printing, Robotics, Digital Media and Drones, just to name a few. The 3D Academy team works closely with teachers to create a custom curriculum that most benefits their students.
In partnership with HI FusionEd, Office of Naval Research (ONR), and Navatek, VPerch was created to provide students with the opportunity to learn about various STEM applications as they relate to underwater robotics. The emphasis of VPerch is to introduce students to engineering design through the virtual design (3D CAD) process where they can design and simulate (virtually test) their design and analyze the results before building the physical system. Using the virtual design and simulation process, students see first-hand how their design will perform under certain conditions. Once their virtual design is completed and have enough confidence that it will perform as designed, they migrate to the build phase where they can build their ROV based on their virtual design specifications.
Throughout the duration of the project, students will learn about robotics, marine engineering concepts, and science/math applications to build an underwater ROV while integrating problem solving, teamwork, and technical skills.
3D Academy STEM enrichment camps are a great introduction to STEM education. No prior engineering classes or skills are required to attend a camp. We start with the fundamentals and help students build upon those. [Note: Our STEM Enrichment Camps align with the Hawaii Public School calendar and occur during school breaks (i.e. Winter, Spring and Summer break).]
If you are interested in learning more about our 3D Academy, please send us an email at email@example.com so that we can talk about your specific STEM education needs and what type of program will work best for your students.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Intellectual Property Articles from 3D Innovations
There has been a lot of talk recently about STEM education—both at the industry level and the government level. Companies are now working with schools to provide technology collaboration to help prepare students for 21st century jobs. While the focus is on educating students around the four subjects—science, technology, engineering and math—the true value of these subject areas goes far beyond an engineering career or science major. STEM education provides a solid foundation for entrepreneurship.
“It’s clear that curiosity, creativity and innovation lead to a deeper exploration of entrepreneurship.” (Entrepreneur)
Testing a hypothesis is a major part of STEM education. A reoccurring question at every stage of a science experiment or design challenge is, “Why?”
Answering the simple “why” question gets students thinking about possibilities. It is amazing how one word can take a student beyond a traditional way of thinking and get them exploring alternatives.
Entrepreneurs face this same question everyday as well and are required to think out-of-the-box. Critical thinking skills are key—and one might even say, mandatory—when it comes to starting a business.
Whether you are an entrepreneur designing the latest tech gadget or a new restaurant concept—innovative solutions drive your business. Problem solving skills are the very foundation of STEM education and teaching this valuable life skill translates both to college and beyond—no matter the career field entered. Having the ability to stop, assess, analyze, hypothesize and solve a problem is a skill every individual needs at every age level.
When we have the correct answer to a problem, we want to share it. It doesn’t matter if we are the first to figure out a challenging math equation or the first to design the iPod, we have an answer to a problem and want to share it.
A quick glance inside of a STEM focused classroom will show a range of design possibilities to the same question posed by the teacher. Students love to think critically and use their creativity—much like entrepreneurs. Getting hands-on and designing a solution is what entrepreneurs do best.
STEM education is more than four subjects, it’s a mindset. The skills taught in STEM classes can be used in any career field—especially, entrepreneurship.
Have questions about the way our 3D Academy program can complement your areas of study in the classroom? Send us an email at email@example.com
Did your 2019 resolution focus on product development and launching a business? The New York Post published a piece that says New Year’s resolutions, on average, don’t even last two weeks—that’s right, January 12th is the fateful day for many resolutions. Resolutions are hard—changing your behavior, mindset and shifting your focus can be extremely stressful if you jump in and do it all at once. 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 starting a business in 2019, below are actionable items to keep you on track so that your resolution is successful.
Write your goal down in one or two sentences. Keep it short and concise. Then post your goal somewhere where you will see it every day—whether it is at your office, your bathroom mirror, or as a reminder on your phone. Having it around will be a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish this year.
Business mentors are a great resource. You can bounce your product development strategy ideas off them and ask for advice when faced with obstacles. It will be even better if you can schedule a monthly meeting with your mentor to help keep you on track and pushing forward. Having a measurable goal and/or accomplishing a task before your next meeting will keep your startup moving ahead.
There are many great business plan outlines online. Find one that fits your specific startup and start filling it out. Get all of your ideas, goals and ambitions out there on paper. You will see your plan start to solidify, and the plan will show you your strengths as well as your areas of weakness. Keep in mind that entrepreneurs aren’t great at every single aspect of business—and asking for help is normal, and extremely beneficial.
“Two founders, rather than one, significantly increases your odds of success. You will raise 30% more investment, grow your customers 3 times as fast, and will be less likely to scale too fast.” (Inc.: 5 of the Most Surprising Statistics About Startups)
By now you have an idea, you have probably sketched the product design out a few times, possibly built a rough version out of items around your home and you are ready to get going on an actual prototype. Great!
Depending on your product, 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 imaging it. Startups all over the globe are now turning towards 3D printing 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, especially if you are going to move on to patent protection.
Take your prototype and start talking to friends, family and people you know to gather their thoughts on your product. In your business plan, you have outlined your target market, so try to find people that fit in this category. 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.
Here at 3D Innovations, no matter the stage of your business, we can help you meet your goals. Our team has a proven track record in all areas of product development and we work side-by-side with you throughout the entire design and manufacturing process. Peek at the Case Studies section of our website to see a few examples of the startups we have previously partnered with, and how they leveraged our design and manufacturing expertise to reduce time to market.
Have additional product development questions? Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Within the last five to ten years there has been a visible shift in the way teachers approach, introduce and incorporate STEM education into their classrooms. Technological advancements coupled with vocal industry proponents, have successfully transformed the way STEM education is taught. This is great news, because the long-term benefits of STEM education are profound on students’ future career success—whether in a STEM field, or not.
Where once lectures and standardized tests were the main ways to teach and test STEM knowledge, today’s teachers understand that there are better, more hands-on methods, of educating students around STEM subjects.
For instance, 3D printing technology has revolutionized classrooms, schools and makerspaces around the world. 3D printing makes learning fun and engaging. Students can now move away from books and lectures and actually design and print the subject they are learning about. Learning about ancient Egypt? Design and print a model of a mummy.
Let’s take a quick step back, and before you even get to the 3D printing phase, a CAD model must be designed. This is just another way in which students get to test ideas, theories and use their critical thinking skills. Here at 3D Academy, we have seen a real shift and educators are more interested than ever in introducing students to 3D modeling programs because they understand the long-term benefits of this skill set.
Drones are taking off, literally and figuratively, in the classroom. This is another area that draws awe from students and they have proved a great way to provide hands-on learning. Whether students are working together to design an actual drone, a replacement part for one or understanding the ways in which this technology can be used in different industries—it has successfully captured the attention and imagination of students.
“Engineers will address the complex societal challenges of the 21st century by building a new generation of machines, materials, and systems. We should fundamentally rethink how we educate engineers for this future,” says Ed Crawley, the Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.
Working as part of a team starts from a young age and continues on into the workplace. Learning how to collaborate and work together is a necessity. Teamwork helps students learn about different perspectives, respecting other ideas and coming up with a solution together.
Hands-on lessons for STEM subjects often revolve around solving real world problems. Students must assess a situation and develop a solution. Problem solving skills are immensely beneficial both inside and outside of the classroom. Having the ability to stop, assess, analyze, hypothesize and solve a problem is a skill every individual needs at every age level.
We are all aware of the benefits of “thinking outside the box”, however, this does not always come naturally. Learning to ask questions and develop diverse solutions helps to instill an inquisitive mindset.
The way STEM education is being taught has fundamentally shifted and this change will no doubt have a major impact on our future generation of STEM professionals and business leaders.
To close out the year, we are sharing the top four 3D Innovations blog post of 2018. This past year, our readers were particularly interested in 3D printing technology, how to get your product idea off the ground, product development as well as STEM education.
Coming up with a 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. Here we have gathered helpful advice and insight into the next stages of your product development journey.
As the cost of 3D printers has dropped significantly in recent years, more schools are able to adopt and incorporate the technology into the curriculum. 3D printing technology promotes active learning and has the power to open a world of career possibilities to students. 3D printing inspires creativity and can help encourage students to explore a career in engineering or science.
Many first-time entrepreneurs want to jump right in and get to work building their product, only to realize that they may not have the exact skillset necessary to develop the product all the way. This is where a product development firm is brought in to aid in the process. It can be nerve-wracking sharing your idea with someone else, and we all like to have a general idea of what we can expect in initial meetings.
We are going to start off with the good news, building a hardware startup outside of a major hub (i.e. Silicon Valley, Boston, L.A.) is possible. In fact, 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 to launch a product and start a business, but have no desire to pick-up and move, here are a few ideas on how you can successfully launch your hardware startup from your home city.
This past year was fantastic as we helped a number of startups launch their idea and assisted others with various product development and manufacturing solutions. We can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!