Best Time To Launch An Idea

You have an idea, great, what now?

So, you’ve dreamt up an idea that you think has value, enough value that it might get someone else to spend their hard-earned dollar on it… Or so you think. At Denham Products, we take these ideas and make them real by modeling them, engineering them, and producing prototypes that our customers can then go and test the market with.

We pride ourselves on doing this at roughly half the industry’s standard cost. We get a lot of great ideas, but it is the inventor’s job to determine whether their idea has real value. So when someone asks, “When is the best time to launch an idea?” The answer is straightforward. RIGHT NOW! But let me explain why. 

The most common approach (expensive, inefficient, and it can leave you holding the bag)

Let’s walk you through the approach that currently exists in this industry. The most common first step we see with a new inventor is signing an NDA and scheduling a meeting to disclose their idea privately.

They’ve come up with a great idea and now they want to develop it. So, they pay an engineer/designer upwards of thousands of dollars to create a computer model of the concept. Next, they spend more money developing a working prototype. From here, they get an intellectual property attorney to patent the idea. At this point they have probably spent close to $20,000 if they’re lucky enough to even get to this step, and this has probably taken close to six months! 

So, now they have the IP and they’ve paid an engineer even more money to get a production-ready design. Next, they have to source suppliers and get tooling made. Once all that’s taken care of, they have to purchase a minimum order quantity of 500 units (on the lowest end) and pay for delivery. This round costs another $30,000. 

This whole process has already cost around $50,000, and the one thing missing from all of this is the customer. The inventor forgot to ask, “Who cares about the product? How many people care? How much do they care?” The inventor was so involved with making the product “perfect,” they thought the outcome would sell itself, but products never sell themselves and sales are difficult to predict without market testing. In this case, they have gone for a lottery approach. It might be an instant hit, but the chance of succeeding in this manner is slim at best. 

A failed startup that I was previously a part-owner of had developed object recognition/object detection cameras that operated on the edge. We spent a year and a half and thousands of dollars developing the product.

When we pulled our nerdy engineering heads out of the tech, we quickly realised there were no customers for our idea. We did cold calls, market research, and sales pitches, but the people we assumed wanted our product cared about a different set of needs that our tech didn’t capture. We neglected the customer, and that eventually crippled us. 

Some might argue that this is a winning approach. In some cases, yes, if you have Ph.D. level research that is guaranteed to boost efficiency or benefit an entire industry, definitely take this approach. However, in most cases, the idea is to reconfigure off-the-shelf parts to be used in a new way, and the benefit might be less quantifiably guaranteed. 

Even if you fall into the Ph.D. moonshot camp, it is still beneficial to talk to customers and let their input guide the product development because, at the end of the day, if they aren’t willing to give you their money, then your product is not as valuable as you thought it was. You will be left holding the bag.

Our methodology (why you need to talk to customers about your idea) 

Denham Products is innovating the mindset behind product development, and it all starts with the suspected customer. In most cases engineering and design are easy while sales and marketing are complex.

I admit, you can market your way to obtaining market demand, but most of us don’t have a $2 to $80 million marketing budget, so we are better off finding a need instead of creating one. 

So, if you have an idea that you think has value, launch it now! Go to the target market where you think the suspected customer is and describe the idea. This could be an individual or a business.

Ask them if they are interested, if they find value in it, and then most importantly, try and get them to do something for you in return, such as having them sign up for an email list, place a pre-order, or give you some money to secure one.

By getting the suspected customer to do a little work and “go further” with your idea, you will quickly determine how much they care. If they don’t care about your idea, they won’t do the work. 

For example, you might say, “Hey, would you want to pay $20 as a deposit for the product?” and if they say no, you work with them to figure out why. You might ask why not, and they may say, “I would if it were cheaper,” so you know to lower the price. Then, if they still say no, you can ask why again.

Now they might say, “Well, it just doesn’t have value to me,” and you might start to think that this is the wrong customer for your idea. It may be time to check a different market at this point. Or, if they say they would buy it, but it needs to have an additional feature, you’re under the assumption that if you add that feature, they will want to buy it. So, change the sensor and revisit the conversation.

This is how you let the customer guide the design. Like anything, this can go too far, so it’s up to you to process the input and figure out the minimum set of specifications needed to get a sale. 

One proposal against this that we hear is, “What if someone steals my idea?” Realistically, most ideas already exist. Even if your idea is cutting edge, it’s not unlikely that 100 other people have already thought of it, and a few of them have maybe started developing it. Moving quickly is imperative.

Speed will beat intellectual property almost every time. Also, most people with whom you share your idea simply don’t have the time, money, or drive to steal it. The one thing they can do is give you valuable feedback on whether or not they’d buy it and why.

Too often, inventors get weighed down by look and feel and lose sight of the need that their product is fulfilling. For example, an investor may say, “I am making a coffee cup that keeps your coffee warm because it drives me crazy when my fresh cup of coffee gets cold only a few minutes after I pour it.”

In that description, the value proposition is “keeps coffee warmer longer,” however, all-too-often, when working on the product, the inventor starts to lose sight of the “value” and starts nitpicking on things that don’t matter.

They may say, “Well, it needs to be shiny and have this pattern in the texture, and it needs to sing Ode to Joy every time you pick it up,” and the list goes on. This fallacy leads to expensive wasted time. If you’re looking at a bell curve of customers, the majority of them will buy the product based on the original value proposition of “keeps the coffee warmer longer.”

Of course, most people would want to keep their coffee warmer longer. Sure, maybe some people will buy it for the Ode to Joy feature but, realistically, it’s unlikely. The point I’m trying to make here is to start with the original value proposition and KEEP IT SIMPLE. Make the plan straightforward by developing an innovative coffee cup that keeps coffee warmer longer.

If people don’t buy it based on that value, there probably isn’t a sustainable market, even if it was flashier. Inversely, if people buy it and love it when it’s simple, then you can turn around and inject that revenue into the singing, expensive version.

Your job is to keep costs down while you flush out the truth about your invention. If you do strike a nerve, then go back and add features that will help you capture more of the customers on the fringe of your market.

Denham Products has been innovating the mindset behind product development, and it all starts with the suspected customer. We are simply applying the scientific method to product development. First, the inventor observes and questions problems around their industry and hypothesizes a solution. Then, they come to Denham Products and want to develop their solution.

In most cases, they don’t attempt to invalidate the hypothesis with experimental data; they want to jump straight to the big launch, which is a horrible way to prove anything scientifically. So, instead, we recommend that they conduct many little experiments along the way and let that data guide and direct future experiments and developments.

Then, when they have struck the right “need,” they can conclude the product will be a hit and launch with all the data to back up its success. Instead of playing the lottery game, they bring the odds in their favor. 

You save 3 to 5 times the amount of money you spent taking the original approach by following this methodology and are more likely to succeed. I like to quote that if you aren’t embarrassed about the first version of your first product, you launched too late.

Choose Denham Products, we’re excited to work with you!

At Denham Products, we are working to become a platform where innovators can launch their products fast and affordably. If you have an idea, our goal is to bring it to life. So feel free to reach out.

How We Cut Product Development Costs with our Process

Before jumping into the product development process, discussing product development and why someone wants to pursue it is essential. Generally, a product is a solution to a problem. That problem could be personal to an individual, it could have a far-reaching impact, or the problem may affect an entire industry.

Regardless of how unique or broad the problem is, a product must solve a problem. It sounds obvious at first, but a common reason that ideas fail is that there isn’t a “need” for the product. For example, someone goes, “I am going to make a new coffee mug that is super cool.” Cool has value, and you might sell a few of them, but you’re not solving a problem, and without the need for your idea, the product is dead in the water. 

The traditional approach to product development lacks discovering the “need.” It puts the cart before the horse. The traditional method goes something like this: An investor has a good idea; they value protecting the idea over discovering if it matters to people or industry.

The inventor keeps the idea under strict Non-Disclosure and hires an engineer (expensive) to develop the concept enough to get a patent (costly). Then once the patent is issued, the inventor hires the engineer again to create a finished product (expensive). Finally, the IP is protected, and the product is finished. The inventor took years to do this and thousands of dollars.

The launch date is fast approaching, and the inventor is desperately trying to get the word out about the new invention. Launch day arrives, and thousands of people, businesses, and other stakeholders see it, yet no one buys it. The inventor starts asking why. They discovered that some things on the product didn’t resonate with the market they were selling in.

The inventor now has to change not only the engineering and design of the idea, but they also need to change all the tools that they used to produce the product (costly), and even worse than that, the product will likely change in a way that the patent becomes less valuable. This scenario has played out repeatedly and is an old way of approaching product development. 

The product development process goes from an idea to a product. A product is a solution to a problem. The traditional method is cumbersome, expensive, and ripe for innovation. 

How We Cut Product Development Costs with our Process 

Until recently, there hasn’t been much innovation in the product development space due to a lack of enabling technology. There also hasn’t been a mindset shift in this space. Instead of thinking of a product as a finished consumer good, it is thinking of a product as a sellable prototype developed from a pretotype.

Then you take the prototype and sell a small batch of units to customers. Whenever a customer rejects the sale, you ask why, which lets you know which product attributes to change to meet market demand rapidly; not having formal suppliers and product tooling saves thousands of dollars on product changes.

You can rapidly iterate without a significant financial impact. This is the difference between going from a dull unbalanced knife to a sharpened katana much faster and cheaper because you are using evidence-based testing to understand that weight and sharpness matter to the customer instead of guessing that they matter. 

The enabling technologies that have facilitated this step-change in product development leveraged by Denham Products are Additive Manufacturing, Advanced Modeling Software, and a Globally Connected World. Each of these has dramatically reduced the time and effort needed to get a part into a customer’s hands. Denham Products has noticed these enabling technologies and adopted the pretotyping mindset to pass along significant savings to our customers. 

Additive manufacturing, specifically 3D printing, went from producing low-quality fragile parts to a process that can create looks, feels, and works like physical parts. Traditional manufacturing methods include injection molding, sheet metal stamping, or milling. These usually take a long time to set up because numerous steps are involved before the part can be produced.

For example, with injection molding, a mold needs to be milled out of aluminum or steel, then the mold needs to be prepared by a mold maker to refine tolerances or add texture. Then these facilities normally run non-stop, so you have to wait for capacity to put the mold in the machine to make a few of your parts.

With a 3D printer, you upload the model and start printing. With additive manufacturing, you can now produce sellable parts. This is huge because the high cost to tool up a factory to produce a part is now eliminated with a much lower cost 3D printer. 3D printers also produce initial amounts much faster than traditional manufacturing. 

With advancements in computers and software, a product design that would have taken a week with a traditional engineering drafting table now only takes a few hours on engineering software. Modeling the idea is the bread and butter of the product development process because the idea first comes to life!

This is also the phase that can reduce cost significantly down the line. In the model, you can simplify or eliminate parts. If you make an excellent engineered model, you will reduce the chance of the features not working once you make them in the physical world. Changes are very cheap at this phase. 

Covid 19 impacted the world negatively, but it also kick-started some trends that will shape our future moving forward positively. One of these trends was that companies had to take everything online quickly during the pandemic. Every meeting, project, and social hour was online. This electrified the transition to a work from anywhere mindset. This means that the world became globally connected and efficient almost overnight.

You can have workers in the opposite timezone, which means you can work around the clock to deliver faster. Also, the supply chain was streamlined. As more people started shipping items all over, it became more accessible, faster, and cheaper to communicate with suppliers abroad and get parts from them. 

 

Choose Denham Products, we’re excited to work with you!

At Denham Products, we pride ourselves on taking an idea and creating a working product that either solves your initial problem or allows you to build a business around it. We strive to put out quality products for anyone searching for an engineering arm, from individuals to big companies. We bring together talented individuals who share our vision of building tools that solve the problems of our lifetime. Our team loves the challenge: They want their next project to stand out from those created before them.

If you have an idea, our goal is to bring it to life. So reach out to us, and let’s start the process of turning your vision into a reality.

What Is Engineering Feasibility?

What Is Engineering Feasibility?

You may or may not have a specific technical solution in mind, but you know the result – having a solution that works is cost-effective and will take years as your company grows.

An Engineering Feasibility Study is an analysis that provides both the engineering consulting firm and its clients with enough information to determine whether the project is truly a viable candidate for the final engineering and product manufacturing stages.

At Denham Products, we identify all of the significant risks that your project may face, consider all viable options to achieve the project’s objectives, and consider any alternatives when it comes to the project’s scope to derive the best value solution. 

Our Engineering Feasibility Studies and engineering services provide you with an evaluation of the potential success of your product and the best path for us to move forward. We consider the material acquisition, design, environmental resources, and the cost of designing your product. Our services also define your project’s requirements and costs while providing you with all the information needed to make informed decisions. 

The consequences of not performing a detailed Engineering Feasibility Study are: 

  • Project Delays 
  • Heightened Cost of Design & Delivery 
  • Missed Opportunity Cost

From our experience, whenever the Engineering Feasibility Study is skipped, a project ultimately proves to be more expensive and time-consuming as the issues that would have been discovered in the early stages of the study are not identified, thus creating delays that increase the overall cost of the project.

Example of Our Engineering Feasibility Study

How We Conduct A Engineering Feasibility Study As A Denver Engineering Consulting Firm

An Engineering Feasibility study is a study that is based on current and future technology trends, your financial constraints, and any long-term risks that could present themselves in the future. With our research, we can determine the cost of your product, the duration, and the risks associated with bringing it to market. 

Our customized feasibility studies allow you to discover: 

  • Alternative technical options
  • Duration of installation
  • Environmental awareness
  • Capital estimates of all options
  • Operating costs, both short-term & long-term.
  • Specific industry standards and local & government regulations that apply to your operation
  • A reliability analysis
Example of Our Engineering Feasibility Study

How Does This Translates To Your Product?

With technology advancing at such an astonishing rate, every decision surrounding your product should revolve around extending its longevity and flexibility. Essentially, it comes down to selecting the best design for your product’s needs while also meeting industry standards and still being flexible enough to meet changing business needs. 

Our main objective at Denham Products is to acknowledge and mitigate the unknown factors of bringing your product to market while avoiding direct & lost-opportunity costs. This allows you to save both time and money with our engineering feasibility studies

Example of Our Engineering Feasibility Study

Key Areas In Our Engineering Feasibility Studies

Our Engineering Feasibility Studies help identify whether a given project should be undertaken by minimizing risks and costs associated with various product development areas. 

 

Technical Limitations

With a detailed examination of the technical limitations regarding your project, we analyze the technical feasibility of bringing your product to market. If it is determined that your product is technically feasible, we then compile a list of risks associated with the project’s technicalities. 

Cost Analysis

The next step after determining the technical feasibility of your product is to examine the cost of bringing your product to market. Our Engineering Feasibility Studies address whether moving forward with this product is within your proposed budget and if it affects your other projects or, if applicable, company sectors. Not only does our financial analysis include a current project budget, but we also consider all possibilities of overruns. 

Available Resources

One of the most important steps is determining what is available on hand and deciding on whether they’re sufficient and appropriate to sustain the project to its completion. Resources are a broad term encompassing both physical and software resources needed to bring this product to market. 

Time

The next part of our feasibility study is to determine the time required for the project and whether you can undertake it for its entire duration.

Choose Denham Products, we’re excited to work with you!

At Denham Products, we are working to become a platform where innovators can launch their products fast and affordably. If you have an idea, our goal is to bring it to life. So feel free to reach out.

What Is Engineering Design For Product Manufacturing?

What Is Engineering Design For Product Manufacturing?

Engineering design is a methodology in which engineers create functional products using various processes. This is a highly iterative process as the steps are repeated multiple times.

At Denham Products, we conduct the engineering design process with basic science, mathematics, and engineering to ensure that the result performs as expected. The fundamental elements of our approach are the establishment of goals and criteria, synthesis, analysis, construction, testing, and evaluation. 

We start by establishing the requirements of your idea. An example may be a product that needs to have a button that turns it on and off, and it needs to have a range of motion of 180 degrees. After establishing requirements, we disclose the feasibility of creating your product. The design requirements and feasibility determine the product’s cost and narrow down the product’s look. This part of the process also helps determine the specification of the product. However, this should ultimately be determined by the target audience’s needs.

Product manufacturing requires a high degree of design input to bridge the gap between your design concept and the actual manufacturable design. Often, we see cases where the early plan is not sufficient to bring the product to the manufacturing stage because there isn’t a manufacturing technique that can build the product in its current state.

For example, you want to develop a plastic piece with negative features, thin sections, and no draft angles. Unfortunately, these features make the design impossible to manufacture with standard plastic manufacturing equipment and need to be corrected to save cost and time. 

A high-quality computer model is usually built to facilitate the engineering design process and design for manufacturing. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) helps develop the idea from a pretotype to a prototype and production-ready model. In addition, a well-built CAD model can dramatically reduce the likelihood of failures and decrease the cost of future design changes.

Denver Product Manufacturing based on Engineering Design

Why Engineering Design Is Relevant To The Manufacturing Process

Engineering design for manufacturing is highly relevant as it provides information needed by the manufacturer to produce your product. Generally, this information is relayed via 3-D Design files. Detailed definitions of every part of a product can be found within these files with ample specificity for manufacturing.

These files also explain the ultimate assembly of its parts to demonstrate the completed product, along with a list of materials needed and an exploded showcase view. This manufacturing process is used after our engineers develop a thorough understanding of the product and explain to the manufacturer and consumer why each part needs to be built in a particular way and a particular order.

Our engineering design process also allows manufacturers to focus on cost reduction. By reducing the number of working parts and having a simple assembly process, we can bring your product to the market as efficiently as possible. 

A product may be produced by:

  • CNC Machining
  • Joining
  • Casting
  • Injection Molding
  • Sheet Metal Forming
  • Turning
  • 3D Printing
  • And many more

 

Denver Product Manufacturing based on Engineering Design

Choose Denham Products, we’re excited to work with you!

At Denham Products, we are working to become a platform where innovators can launch their products fast and affordably. If you have an idea, our goal is to bring it to life. So feel free to reach out.

What Is A Pretotype & How We Plan on Disrupting The Industry

What Is Pretotyping?

A professor at my alma mater was influential in developing the hypothesis of pretotyping, Sid Saleh. He used to say, “it is not a spelling error; it is pre-prototyping.” 

Pretotyping is the rapid construction of a problem solution to test the answer immediately. 

For example, if your idea is a new coffee cup. You could make a pretotype coffee cup in 1 day out of high-density foam. This pretotype would allow you to feel the ergonomics of the product, and you could go interview coffee drinkers with the pretotype in hand to see if it solves a perceived problem with existing coffee cups. 

Pretotyping is the first stab at solving the problem. It should be fast, simple, and cheap. It would be best to use it as a stepping stone to customer feedback. If used correctly, this allows you to test how well your actual product will work in the open market.

Pretotypes vs Prototypes?

A pretotype is the first attempt at capturing the essence of the proposed product. It should be a quick and affordable mock-up of the product so that you can use it and deliver feedback and so that potential customers can use it and provide feedback as we discussed in our previous blog. 

At Denham Products, we pride ourselves on getting products to market efficiently. Our dedication to perfecting the small details drives us to iterate pretotypes multiple times based on user feedback. The cost of building out multiple prototypes is prohibitive; that is why an innovator should only build a prototype out once or twice.

The ideal time to prototype a product is once a solution is discovered that appeals to your target audience. A prototype should look, feel, and function like a finished product. Still, it might have a few workarounds, such as an off-the-shelf circuit board instead of a custom one, or it may be 3D printed instead of injection-molded, or cuts made with an angle grinder instead of a laser. It may be rough around the edges, but it is sellable and should be attempted to be sold.

Pretotypes vs Prototypes?

Pretotyping allows inventors to iterate at lightning speed for a fraction of the cost. It means that for the price of one prototype, you could make ten pretotypes, talk to customers, and synthesize the root need of the product down to precisely what the customer will purchase. In addition, Pretotyping allows you to learn fast. You can jump from one problem to another and accumulate the feedback to create a prototype that hits the customers’ needs dead on. 

Often, someone has a “great” idea that will “totally revolutionize” the industry; however, this idea is a hypothesis and must be tested through experimentation, aka pretotyping. An example of this type of failure is the Ford Edsel. Ford wanted it, but the American consumer wanted a smaller, more economical vehicle. The Ford executives made the car based on presumptions and didn’t do the due diligence needed to establish a market niche for the car, and it flopped. It was discontinued only three years after its inception.

Choose Denham Products, we’re excited to work with you!

With our mission to revitalize the American and Global Innovator, we must give back to our community! Denham Products is a company that cares about the community around us! Frequently, we participate in ways well beyond our dollars, from donating to nonprofits to showing kids with dyslexia that the sky is the limit. In addition, some team members partner with their alma mater to mentor the next generation of innovative dreamers. 

If you have an idea, our goal is to bring it to life. So reach out to us, and let’s start the process of turning your vision into a reality.