How do we get our started on our first product?
Discussions About New Product Development Issues
New product development is the set of activities that begins with the perception and analysis of a market opportunity, and ends in the production, sale, and delivery of a new product. Risk and uncertainty accompany new product development, and there are many challenges to “integrating the fuzzy front-end of new product development.” The best way to manage the front-end process is to use a systematic approach to integrating your business strategy and technology strategy.
Such a formal process requires a sequence of steps that transforms a set of inputs into a desired set of outputs. A technology strategy defines the venture’s approach to the development and use of technology. It specifies the venture’s “technological goals and the principal technological means for achieving both those technological goals and the business goals of the organization.” The significance of a technology strategy is that it explicitly links the management of a venture’s technology activities to its larger business strategy.
From the technology strategy perspective, technology must be planned and managed so that it is consistent with, and supportive of, the overall business objectives of the venture. A technology strategy aids in quality assurance, coordination of the venture team as informing them on what to do and when, establishing milestones that anchor the schedule of the overall development, management for comparing the plan to action, and helping to identify opportunities for overall improvement.
Establishing Product Specifications
This book provides you with an oversimplified conclusion of the product development process for a new business venture. You need to efficiently flesh out the minimum set of features to ensure that the targeted customer will buy the new product, the minimum resources required to accomplish this, and the fastest, most efficient method to getting it done.
We now present a methodology for helping you to establish product specifications. First, it must be assumed that lead-user input and customer needs are already established. Generally, these customer needs are expressed in the “language of the customer.”
And in order to provide specific guidance about how to engineer, develop, and market a new product, your team needs to establish a set of specifications that will indicate in precise, measurable detail what the product has to do in order to be commercially successful for your venture.
Taking this step not only ensures that the product is focused on true customer needs, but it can help you identify latent or hidden needs as well as explicit needs, provide a database for justifying the product specifications, create an archival record of your development process, ensure that no critical customer need is missed or forgotten, and develop a common understanding of customer needs among the venture team.
New product specifications also help determine the following:
– annual production volume
– sales for total lifetime
– sales price
– number of unique parts
– development time
– development team size
– development cost
– production investment
Start with a Limited Objective Experiment
It is important to stay very focused, looking at the venture’s first new product development process as a one-time-only “project” with very fixed time, firm objectives, and using limited resources. Too often entrepreneurs complicate the process with “too many moving parts” in a complex product. As Alan Patricoff states, “Instead of just blasting out, this is walking carefully and figuring out things in a more measured environment.”
George Abe, venture partner at Palomar Ventures based in Southern California, says that by going the “experiment route” entrepreneurs can start small and look at uncovering and understanding the vital economic drivers of the opportunity. Venturing in these early days becomes a continuous work-in-progress through experimentation and through a series of small successes and noncatastrophic failures.
All the entrepreneurs and so-called experts in the early days of aviation tried to accomplish too much, too quickly. It was on a cold morning on December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, that the fragile aircraft of Wilbur and Orville Wright proved, in a span of sixty seconds, that powered, heavier-than-air flight was possible. They did not start out by engineering a Boeing 747 with hundreds of thousands of working parts. They practiced with a glider, researching and learning as they went, how to do a most difficult thing, flying. They broke a huge accomplishment into its parts and proceeded with only one task at a time. They started with one original idea, what they called “wing-warping,” a method for redirecting airflow to provide lift and directional control.
They had no books to read, nor engineering schools to attend. In fact, they had to create their own formulas, and in a few weeks at the end of 1901, “they rewrote and vastly extended the entire store of man’s aerodynamic knowledge.” Today, a fully loaded Boeing 747 takes off weighing some 750,000 pounds; before the Wright brothers’s flight, man could not successfully fly a single pound.