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How Early-Stage Innovators Can Prepare for The Product Development Process

Updated: Apr 19

Early-stage innovators typically have a lot of questions about new product ideas. As a product design and development firm, we enjoy these conversations and the passion that comes from these innovative ideas. We are designers, after all, and love new challenges.

In most instances, early-stage innovators come to us very early in the product development process, and they lack the resources or capabilities to move forward with their ideas. Naturally, they seek professional advice, and we are always happy to provide guidance, but ultimately, it is up to the innovator to take the next steps.

Early-Stage Product Development Checklist

A product development firm collaborates with early-stage innovators to create new products and bring them to life. Before talking to a firm, innovators should take several essential steps to guarantee a successful and productive collaboration.

These steps will help clarify their vision, goals, and needs, making the interaction with the design company more efficient and effective.

Here are some key actions early-stage innovators need to consider for the product development process:

Research and Define Your Idea: Have a clear understanding of your innovation or product idea. Research the market, potential competitors, and the problems your product aims to solve. Clearly define your value proposition and unique selling points.

Create a Detailed Brief: Based on your business plan, prepare a detailed brief that outlines your concept, objectives, target audience, and any specific requirements. Include sketches, diagrams, or any visual aids that can help communicate your idea more effectively.

Have an Initial Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy - Mitigate the risk inherent in the introduction of a new product. Understand your target market profiles, create an initial marketing plan, sales goals, and distribution strategy. Don’t forget about packaging design and other brand design assets that help end-users understand your product.

Identify Core Features and Functionalities: Prioritize the key features and functionalities you want your product to have. Understand what aspects of your product are critical and which ones can be considered for future iterations.

Understand Your Target Audience: Identify and understand your target audience's needs, pain points, and preferences. The better you know your potential users, the more tailored the design can be.

Set a Realistic Budget and Timeline: Determine a budget and timeline for the product’s full development – concept to production. Be transparent about your financial constraints and project deadlines. You will minimally need a budget to engage a firm and get the project to a point where you have a pitch deck and models to raise significant funding for full development.

Protect Your Intellectual Property: consider meeting with a qualified IP council and filing for provisional patents protecting your intellectual property before sharing detailed information with the product development firm.

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA): If you have sensitive information that you want to protect, consider having all parties you engage with sign an NDA before discussing your concept in detail.

Be Open to Feedback and Collaboration: Be open to suggestions and feedback from the product design firm. Successful product development often involves collaboration and iterative improvements throughout the process.

Define Success Metrics for the Business: Determine the metrics or indicators that will define success along the way. These metrics could include initial milestones, such as usability testing results, or user feedback to units produced and sold.

Communication and Expectations: Clearly communicate your expectations for the collaboration and establish effective communication channels. Regularly update each other on progress and any changes in requirements.

As you work with a professional product design company, these steps will help the early-stage development process go smoothly and successfully.

Wrapping Up: Navigating the Early-Stage Product Development Process

Before collaborating with a product design firm, it is important to do your due diligence. Prepare to effectively express your vision and have a streamlined product development process. These steps will guarantee a smoother and more successful product development journey.

Attend Startup Boston Week 2023’s Product & Design Track to learn more about planning, launching and scaling your startup’s product.

Want to learn more or have an innovative idea you want to discuss with us? We can help you get started.

About the Author: Mike Jewell is the Director of Business Development & Marketing at Motiv, a Boston-based product design and packaging firm working with early-stage startups, established companies and innovators. Our firm takes an integrated and collaborative approach to branding, packaging, and product design and development.


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