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    Phase 10: Production

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success

    In Phase 9, Paragon Innovation’s 12-Stage Product Development Course provided everything developers need to know about successfully marketing their product. In the next stage, Phase 10, developers have entered into final production processes. The production phase may seem straightforward but ensuring production success depends on the sturdy framework you have built throughout your product development process.

    Beginning a Production Run

    In this phase, developers will have previously addressed any electrical, mechanical, software, and manufacturing issues to produce a fully working unit. In order to begin a production run, developers need to have their finalized computer-aided design (CAD) files. According to Paragon Innovation’s General Manager and Founder, Mike Wilkinson, a CAD file involves “every aspect of [your] product. That’s the schematic. That’s the layout. That’s the solidworks.” A CAD file includes all the mechanical files, source code, and everything a contract manufacturer needs to produce a device.

    Once developers have entered into their production phase, they are producing units, shipping units, and maneuvering the supply chain. As customers begin receiving units, it is more important than ever that developers focus on providing excellent customer service. One bad review can make or break a product’s rate of success.

    What is a Contract Manufacturer?

    Developers can utilize the help of a contract manufacturer for the production of their units. A contract manufacturer is a way of outsourcing manufacturing to a third party that is set up for volume manufacturing. There are many different types of contract manufacturers that produce items like commuter rail lines, rubber products, heavy machinery, plastic injection molding, industrial electronics, and much more.

    Mike at Paragon Innovations suggests that developers involve at least two contract manufacturers as their production volume increases. There are a number of reasons why developers might add a second contract manufacturer:

    • Changes may need to be made in production surrounding a obsolete parts. It’s a good idea to have a second contract manufacturer that can begin producing units with required updates as soon as possible.
    • A second contract manufacturer in a different location expands a product’s footprint. Having a manufacturer in a second location allows for ease in supply chain and logistics.
    • Incorporating a second contract manufacturer is cost-effective in that developers can have options if manufacturing rates are changed or increased.  

    Paragon Innovation’s Documentation Offerings

    As an experienced and reputable design engineering services firm, Paragon Innovation’s supplies their clients with an all-in-one documentation package that includes finalized software, CAD drawings, and all of the tools developers need to digitally capture their product. In Mike’s words, “We believe [that] he who pays owns.” Developers will benefit from Paragon Innovation’s expert engineering design services.

    As production begins, inventors may tend to think that their work is done. While their product’s design process is winding down, there’s still more that needs to be accomplished. Stay tuned for Paragon Innovation’s next phase in there 12-Stage Product Development Course where they the inner workings of post-production!

     

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    Phase 9: Sales and Marketing

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success

     

    Phase 8 of Paragon Innovation’s 12-Stage Product Development Course focused on the importance of passing various regulations and why achieving certain certifications can make or break a product. Phase 9 centers on how a product’s successful marketing strategy can lead to sales.

    Developing A Product’s Marketing Strategy

    In Phase 9, President of The TranSynergy Group, Donna Hegdahl, makes a guest appearance to support developers in their product’s sales and marketing strategy. “Marketing is an important part of new product development,” says Donna. She advises that developers start thinking about how their product is going to be marketed from a product’s inception. Additionally, Donna advises that developers design their marketing strategy by asking important questions like:

    • Why does your product exist?
    • Why do customers want/need your product?
    • What value does your product provide your customers?
    • Are there competitive alternatives already on the market?

    Developing Your Brand

    Many believe that a brand is sequestered to a name, logo, or color that makes consumers think about your product. “What a brand really is your brand promise,” Donna clarifies. Your brand is what you will be known for. When your brand promise has been established, it is time to examine your WIIFM.

    W – What’s

    I – In

    I – It

    F – For

    M – Me

    A product’s WIIFM does not involve the key features and technical aspects of your product. Your product’s WIIFM sums up the key value that your product offers to customers. Examples of key values that a product can possess include time savings, money savings, or other enhancements. 

    Establishing Your Target Market

    Once you have a brand promise and the key value of your product set in place, Donna advises that it is time to define your target market. With new product launches, developers should stick to one or two specific audiences to target. Defining a target market should include groups that will have the “easiest” sales rates. Keeping a fixed target market allows developers to remain focused on the specific people that are purchasing their product. Donna reminds developers that “Over time, you can add other target markets. Eventually, you can have as many as you can afford to market to.”

    Launching Your Product

    “You have a name, a logo, a marketing message,” says Donna. “Now you are ready to launch!” Prior to picking your launch date, your brand needs to have a comprehensive, user-friendly website that is easily accessible to your customers and has e-commerce capabilities. “You need to develop a professional website that has all of your [product’s] benefits spelled out, as well as your [product’s] features,” recommends Donna. Once a website is live, a brand can build out its social media presence.

    A great opportunity to promote your product’s launch is an already established tradeshow or event that provides a pre-built audience. Developers can utilize events to conveniently disseminate their marketing message. Developers should limit their focus to five strategies to promote their marketing message. Ways to promote your product include:

    • Tradeshows/events
    • Email marketing
    • Traditional mailers
    • Social media
    • Networking in groups or individually
    • Develop a list of referral sources
    • Co-marketing opportunities

    Advertising is another great option to promote your product, but Donna is wary to suggest it as an avenue of promotion right off the bat. “People don’t buy the first time they hear something,” warns Donna. “Advertising is very expensive. You want to make sure you have a good plan and that you’re going to invest in dollars six or more times in a year so that [potential customers] see [the advertisement] enough times.”

    Maintaining Your Marketing Plan

    One of the most important things regarding a marketing plan is maintaining consistency in it. Once established, developers will need to be disciplined in their outreach methods. “You can’t do it once and hope it works,” says Donna. “You need to be there on an ongoing basis.” The sales aspect of your product can be directly attributed to the marketing actions developers take to convince a customer of a product’s usefulness and validity. “You do all of these things and you’ll have a dynamite product,” concludes Donna.

    If you have found Phase 9 of Paragon Innovation’s 12-Stage Product Development Course helpful with your marketing and sales strategy, stay tuned for Phase 10 where Paragon provides a comprehensive outlook at Production.  

     

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    Phase 8: Regulatory

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success

    Phase 7 of Paragon Innovation’s 12-Stage Product Development Course centered on how developers should focus on the fine details of pre-production. In the next stage, Phase 8, Paragon Innovations explains what developers need to focus on during the regulatory processes of a product’s development.

    The regulatory stage encompasses everything a product requires to meet specific government or industry testing standards. Testing standards are regulations and requirements put into place to ensure the safety, usage, and performance of a device. Paragon Innovations CEO and founder, Mike Wilkinson, says that the regulatory phase is important “because it’s required by most governments around the world to have your product tested so that it’s safe for people to use and operate.”

    There are a variety of regulatory testing standards throughout the world. Major testing standards used in North America include, but are not limited to:

    • UL
    • FCC
    • CSA
    • CE
    • PTCRB
    • TUV

    Different certifications test for different standards. For example, UL certification ensures the overall safety of electronic devices, whereas FCC certification focuses on ensuring safe radiation levels within electronic devices . “It’s important to know which regulatory agencies you need to get through for your product,” comments Mike. During a product’s development process, there are a number of simulations made to ensure that a device will pass certain testing standards. However, you can never be too certain. “Simulations never completely take away from doing real testing in a real lab,” notes Mike.

    Having your device pass specific regulations testing is also an expensive and time-consuming process. If a device requires cellular PTCRB testing, developers can expect a time frame of as little as a few weeks to nine months. Luckily, rules around regulations testing are always evolving. “Paragon can add value to our customers because we can now do self-certification for LTE [and] CATM1 cellular radios right here in our facility.” Developers can save time and resources during their product development process by utilizing Paragon Innovations as their chosen engineering design services firm. 

    Passing regulations is a crucial step to achieving a successful product release. If you have found this phase of Paragon Innovation’s 12-Stage Product Development Course informative to your process, don’t miss Phase 9 where Donna Hegdahl, President & CEO of The TransSynergy Group, explains the importance of a product’s comprehensive sales and marketing strategy.


     

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    Phase 7: Pre-Production

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success

    Now that you have successfully completed the tangible construction of your prototype in Phase 6 of our 12-Stage Product Development Course, it is time to begin pre-production of your product. The pre-production phase focuses on identifying and eliminating errors before a product enters the final manufacturing stages.  Pre-production units aid developers in debugging small cosmetic issues, updating packaging requirements, finalizing marketing collateral, organizing logistics, and more.

    Considerations In Pre-Production:

    Our founder and CEO, Mike Wilkinson, comments that developers “need to start thinking about product packaging and how that is going to look” during the pre-production phase. It is important to consider how users will experience the packaging in which they receive a device and if the intended packaging will protect the device during shipping, stocking, etc. Inventors need to determine packaging requirements before entering the final production of their product.

    The pre-production phase is also the stage where logistics must be organized. Developers should keep the following logistics consideration in mind during preproduction:

    • SKUs
    • Model Numbers
    • Fulfillment
    • Distribution
    • Supply chain
    • Preorder long lead components
    • Domestic and international shipping taxes and requirements

    “If your product contains a lithium battery, that is something you need to be concerned about very quickly and take very seriously,” Mike advises. Lithium battery regulations change daily and shipping requirements surrounding lithium products can significantly affect the successful distribution of your product. To mitigate delay Mike advises developers to “make sure your contract manufacturer is up to date on all the regulations so that you can safely ship products with lithium batteries.”

    The Final Details

    This phase also incorporates all required changes from prototyping to enable success in pre-production units. Any last minute changes or errors will be corrected on the next spin of the PCBE. Possible changes found in the prototyping stage of a product’s development process include:

    • Schematic and mechanical CAD file changes/updates
    • Resolve manufacturing issues
    • Design change requests

     

    Once pre-production units are built, shipping requirements have been met, lithium product handling requirements have been addressed, and beta customers are testing units, it’s time to begin the next process in Paragon Innovation’s 12-Stage Product Development Course: Production.

     

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    Phase 6: Prototype Construction

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success

    As we reach the halfway point in Paragon’s 12-Stage Product Development Process, developers should be prepared with the preliminary research they have conducted as the ‘foundation’ of their product. This includes a critical design review, a thorough requirements document, adequate fundraising, and more. Phase 6 focuses on building a successful prototype and our founder and VP, Mike Wilkinson, says it best, “We’re going to get cracking on construction!”

    The prototype construction phase of a product development process is where design work and documentation are verified. A prototype is a functional model that is very similar to the desired product and demonstrates the feasibility of all major design issues. The most convenient way to get a prototype constructed is to utilize a contract manufacturer. Prototype construction is advantageous to the overall product development process in that you can create a better final product through user feedback. It’s important to communicate to the user that this is not the final product.

    Prototype Development Cycle:

    As with an entire product development cycle, prototype construction is best addressed as a piece-by-piece process. Similar to building a multi-story home, it pays to go step-by-step in the prototype construction phase. The prototype development cycle includes:

    • Early concepts / 3D screen models
    • 3D printed concepts
    • Paper design
    • Determine CM and include them in Design Reviews
    • Incorporate Pre-DFM issues to save a step.
    • Prototypes made (PCB, 3D model, hand machined parts)
    • Design package updated and EIN/EOD produced

     

    If you are collaborating with Paragon Innovations on developing a product, you are leveraging their decades’ worth of engineering design experience and industry connections. “Our lab is complete with all soldering gear, a wet lab, and all the equipment necessary to test [your] device,” says Mike. A comprehensive lab is essential for prototype testability. Testability refers to design features that are added/subtracted from prototype models to ensure manufacturability.

    One of the most important steps within the prototype construction phase is record-keeping. Any change or correction within a prototype must be documented to ensure the success of a final product. A successful prototype construction benefits each phase of the last half of our 12-Stage Product Development Course. If you found the prototype construction phase helpful, stay tuned for Stage 7: Pre-Production!

     


     

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    Phase 5: Detailed Design

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success

     

    “At Paragon Innovations, we focus on the detail design of your next-generation product,” says CEO and Founder of Paragon Innovations, Mike Wilkinson, in Phase 5 of their 12-Stage Product Development Process. Phase 4 of their series is centered around generating a comprehensive requirements document. Phase 5 involves an in-depth look into detailed design.

    If you were building a home, the design phase would be the work of the architect. “In this phase, we make all kinds of decisions about which components to use,” continues Mike. “This is a big portion of [your] overall project.” When looking at the technical and business aspects of the detailed design phase, developers should consider:

    • The size and shape of your product
    • The power source of your product
    • The overall project cost of your product
    • Features that consumers desire
    • The intended purchase price of the product

    The detailed design phase covers many aspects of industrial design. Described as the “touchy-feely stuff of design elements, industrial design applies to aesthetics, ergonomics, functionality, and/or usability of a product. It can be helpful to reexamine the Initial Human Factors Evaluation results from the first phase of your product development process when determining the industrial design elements of your product.

    Designing a product involves many different details. All of the decisions come from different departments, such as Business or Engineering. The technical aspects of the detail design phase include:

    • Software Design
      • Select software tools
      • Software development
      • Software debug
    • Mechanical Design
      • Mechanical 3D modeling
      • Rapid prototype development (SLA, SLS, FDM, machining, etc.)
    • Electronic Design
      • Schematic capture
      • PCB layout
      • Component sourcing and purchasing
      • PCB production
      • PCB assembly

    After the details of your design have been finalized, a Critical Design Review will take place. The CDR is arguably the most important piece of the detail design. Mike explains that a CDR “is when we all come together [to] review this detail design, and we go over every last detail.” A CDR marks the moment where last revisions can be made before final approval. Any changes made down the line are costly and time-consuming. Mike urges developers to “pay close attention, get the documents in advance, go over them, and ask any question you can think of to make sure that you get everything answered so that when you move into the prototype phase, everything goes smoothly.”

    If you found Phase 5: Detailed Design of Paragon Academy’s 12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success, check out the next Phase 6 where Paragon talks all about prototyping!

     


     

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    Phase 4: Architecture and Requirements Gathering

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success

     

    Paragon Innovation’s third module focused on essential tips around raising funds for your product development process. The series’ fourth stage revolves around developing an effective, organized requirements document. Founder and Vice President of Paragon Innovations, Mike Wilkinson, defines a requirements document as a file that “describes your product idea in detail with a very specific list of requirements.” Requirement documents are an integral portion of the product development process as they help developers clearly communicate with internal and external engineering teams of exact specifications of their product.

    The specifications within a requirements document must be concise, consistent, and accurate. “Additionally, there is a difference between marketing requirements and system requirements,” says Mike. “Marketing requirements are things that need to be included to reach the market. A system requirement is a requirement for making sure [a] unit operates properly.” It is critical that developers avoid ambiguities in marketing and system specifications within a requirements document. Mike advises including buzz words in a requirements document like “should, must, maybe, [and] shall not” to further outline the perimeters of a product.

    A requirements document should:

    • Provide accurate estimates in relation to the costs, design, and functionality of a product.
    • Include the source of the requirement like customers or engineering teams.
    • Allow for feasibility in that requirements may be implemented within the constraints and perimeters of a project.
    • List all necessary requirements that customers, engineers, or external influences will actually need.
    • Include a spectrum of prioritization. Statements within a requirements document should be categorized as high, medium, or low-level priorities.
    • Refrain from using technical, marketing, or industry jargon. Language within a requirements document must be simple and straightforward.
    • Include verifiable facts through test results and sources of information.
    • Be consistent in their message.
    • Allow for modification with revisable requirement specifications.

    Just as there are recommended words to include within a requirements document, there are also words that developers should stay clear of. Words that should not be used within a requirements document are:

    • All
    • Never
    • Common
    • Industry-standard

    In addition, it’s advised that developers refrain from providing prior knowledge of suppliers or any information that would imply impertinence within supplier relations. The requirements document of a project development process should focus on the project without supplier complexities. If you have found this phase of Paragon Innovations’ 12-Stage Product Development Process useful for your product development strategy, stay tuned for the next step where we examine the detailed design phase.

     


     

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    Phase 3: Fundraising

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success


    Paragon Academy’s second module centered around how inventors can effectively research their product development process. In the series’ next phase, the Vice President of Paragon Innovations, Mike Wilkinson, narrows down the process of financially backing a project with assistance from guest speaker, Blake Petty, Executive Director of the Aggie Angel Network.

    Where Should Funds Come From?

    Mike comments that “There are plenty of other fundraising opportunities, from debt financing to private equity to crowdsourcing to IPO’s [initial public offering].” Common financial sources used to back a product development process include:

    • Friends and Families
    • Credit Cards
    • High Net Worth individual(s)
    • Crowd Sourcing
    • Angel Investor Groups
    • Venture Capital
    • Public (IPO)
    • Others (credit cards, banks)

     

    After family and friends, a lucrative fundraising avenue that inventors should investigate are angel investors. Blake defines angel investors as “Private investors who want to contribute in an equity fashion, invest in brand new, usually technology-based businesses.” Blake continues to say that angel networks can be found throughout the nation and that some angels can invest up to $500k individually. 

    What is a Pitch Deck?

    Raising funds for your product revolves around the ability to communicate the value of an inventor’s solution to an audience. Also known as an elevator pitch, a pitch deck is a critical organizational tool to effectively translate the value of a product. “It's the 10, 20, 30 rule,” says Blake, summarizing Guy Kawasaki’s tips for a successful pitch deck, “It's a 10-slide maximum, 20 minute -maximum, and 30-point font.” Blake explains that a slide deck is a convenient way for inventors to convey pertinent aspects of their product in a visual format, without overwhelming their audience with too many fine details.  

    Slide Deck Contents

    The purpose of a pitch deck is to provide potential investors with succinct information that can help visualize the benefits of a product, service, or goal. A successful slide deck will include 10 slides for the main presentation (not including backup slides), 30-point font to help limit the amount of information per slide, slide numbers and a master slide template throughout the presentation, and graphics where appropriate. The content of the slide deck should also include:

    • A brief title slide with one graphic of the company’s logo or an image that depicts your product’s vision.
    • An agenda slide that covers what will be presented within the pitch.
    • An Opportunity/Problem/Pain Slide that addresses the opportunity or problem within your product’s applicable market(s).
    • A Solution Slide that presents your product’s intended use and advantages.
    • A Customers Slidethat defines the specificities of your product’s intended audience and potential users.
      • References should be included within this slide for increased credibility
    • A Customer Testimony Slide can be incorporated if your product has already been introduced into the market.
    • A competition or Alternatives Slide is a crucial aspect of a pitch deck. Competitors and alternatives show that similar products are in demand, and you will have the opportunity to provide evidence of why your product is set above the rest.
    • An Unfair Advantage Slide presents whyyour product, strategy, team members, or industry relationships give you an “unfair” advantage over others.
    • A Development Team introduces the strategy of your development team.
    • A Market Size Slide presents the economic environment surrounding your product.
      • Use specific data and credible sources
    • A Market Research Slide talks about the advocates, key persons, and speakers that can clearly communicate the advantages of your product
    • A Revenue Model Slide addresses costs, margins, and expected net profit of initial and volume production.
      • Use examples for sales projections and price points.
    • A Marketing Strategy Slide defines advertising avenues for your product likeSEO (search engine optimization), Adwords, print magazines, newspapers, events. Local or national?
    • A Distribution Methodology Slidedefines the distribution avenues of who and how your product will be shipped.
    • A Use of Funds Slidedefines how fundraised monies will be allocated in areas like product development, marketing, facilities, salaries, advertising, utilities, and so forth. 
          • It is encouraged that inventors include a modest salary so that investors may see that you are vested in the company/product. 10 – 20% should also be included for any revisions throughout the process.
    • A Management Team Slideidentifies important individuals, consultants, and employees within the project.
    • A Financials Slide should provide top-level financials, and you should be prepared for more detailed financials. 
      • A 3-5 year profit and loss projection should be included.
      • Back-up slides should include P&L / Cash flow / Balance Sheet for the same period.
    • An Exit Strategy Slide provides information on your strategic exit. Do you intend to sell the company, initiate an IP, or produce regular dividends to shareholders?  
    • A Board of Directors Slide is optional to include for very new startups.
    • A Milestones/Schedule Slide defines set dates for goals after funding is provided.  
    • A Roadmap Slide allows investors to visualize the “big picture” of the long-term evolution of your product. This includes product upgrades, accessories added, etc.
    • The Next Steps and the Call-to-Action Slide tells investors how they can get involved in the next steps of the project.
    • Backup Slides include more supportive detail and data regarding first 10 slides.
      • Information on back-up slides should be well-sourced and referenced.  

     

    If you found the Fundraising Phase beneficial to your development process, stay tuned for Paragon Academy’s next module, Phase 4: Architectural and Requirements Gathering, where we provide a detailed explanation of compiling a requirements document.

    About Paragon Innovations

    Founded in 1990, Paragon Innovations is a leading provider of engineering and design service consultation. Paragon Innovations serves Fortune 500 companies and startups in developing turn-key product solutions. As a three-time winner of the Aggie 100 Award, Paragon Innovations’ skilled team is unmatched in their level of expertise and product management capabilities. Acquired by TTI, Inc. in 2021, Paragon Innovations joins the Exponential Technology Group (XTG), a collection of electronic component distributors and design engineering firms that collaborate to enable the development of modern technologies. XTG is a subsidiary of TTI Inc.’s Family of Specialists: TTI, Inc., Mouser Electronics, Symmetry Electronics and Sager Electronics.

     

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    Phase 2: Research

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12-Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success

    Meta: Phase 2 of Paragon Innovation’s 12-Stage Product Development Series focuses on effectively researching the aspects of a design to ensure the successful development and deployment of products and cutting-edge devices.

    The first module of Paragon Innovation’s 12-Stage Product Development Process focused on ideas and concepts surrounding initial product development. The series’ next step, Phase 2: Research, homes in on investigating and identifying important technical aspects that must be included to ensure successful development and deployment of your product. Let’s examine the important aspects that inventors should research thoroughly before proceeding to the next stages in their product development process.

    Business Aspects of Product Development Research:

    Acknowledging the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) that a product may possess is an effective way to research the positive and negative attributes of your design plans. Founder and Vice President of Paragon Innovations, Mike Wilkinson, says that a SWOT analysis is “a great way to determine how your product fits in with other alternative [devices] in the marketplace.” In this phase, inventors should be conducting in-depth market research to determine user habits, find opportunities, evaluate risks, and identify regulatory requirements surrounding their product’s industry.

    Mike explains that “Most electronic products require some sort of regulatory approval, like the UL or Federal Communications Commission (FCC), before you can sell it to the general public.” Correctly establishing and identifying regulatory requirements and approvals devices need is key in researching the technical aspects of a development process. Some common regulatory certifications are:

    • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
    • Industry Canada (IC)
    • Conformité Européenne (CE)
    • Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

    In the research phase, Mike notes that “A lot of work needs to go into this to make sure that you’ve really identified a solution to a problem out there.” Activities that inventors can use to conduct in-depth research on their design include:

    • Risk evaluation. Can you identify any potential negative impacts that your product may have?
      • Risk assessment involves research surrounding prevention of potential hazards.
    • Option trade-off studies. How does your device measure up to alternative solutions on the market?
      • Trade-off studies can help you evaluate if there are other cost-effective or optimized solutions to incorporate into your device.
    • Initial Human Factors Evaluation. How will users interact with your device?
      • Human factor research includes how users will perceive and navigate your device.
    • Opportunity Finding. How can you generate ideas for opportunity?
      • It’s important to determine possible opportunities that your device may have including markets, add-ons, and synergies.
    • User Research. What demographic will your device serve best? Is your device an effective solution to a problem that users are currently facing?
      • User research is a comprehensive way to identify the behavior, motivation, and needs of your audience.

    If you found the Research Phase beneficial to your development process, stay tuned for Paragon Academy’s next module, Phase 3: Fundraising, where we examine effective ways to requisition funds for your project.

    About Paragon Innovations

    Founded in 1990, Paragon Innovations is a leading provider of engineering and design service consultation. Paragon Innovations serves Fortune 500 companies and startups in developing turn-key product solutions. As a three-time winner of the Aggie 100 Award, Paragon Innovations’ skilled team is unmatched in their level of expertise and product management capabilities. Acquired by TTI, Inc. in 2021, Paragon Innovations joins the Exponential Technology Group (XTG), a collection of electronic component distributors and design engineering firms that collaborate to enable the development of modern technologies. XTG is a subsidiary of TTI Inc.’s Family of Specialists: TTI, Inc., Mouser Electronics, Symmetry Electronics and Sager Electronics.

     


     

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    Phase 1: Idea and Concept

    Paragon Innovations’ Series:

    12- Stage Product Development Process

    From Start to Success

    As the founder of Paragon Innovations, Mike Wilkinson, asks in the first module of Paragon Academy’s 12-Stage Development Process Series, “So, you had an idea in the shower yesterday. What do you do next?” Mike explains that developers need to initially begin with thinking through basic design questions:

    • What size/shape will the device be?
    • How will the product be powered?
    • What are the manufacturing costs of the device?
    • Is this type of product in demand and/or does it exist?
    • How much will consumers be willing to pay for the product?
    • What features are consumers looking for in this type of device?

     

    Mike advises developers to avoid confusing themselves with the customer. To slide into a pair of consumer shoes, try conducting a simple market investigation with friends, family and colleagues by asking their opinions. “We need to understand what makes this gadget, this idea you have, so attractive [to] other people,” says Mike. A significant portion of the Idea and Concept phase is identifying the desires of others and whether they are congruent with your device’s intended use case. There are several activities that developers can perform in their initial effort to operationalize intangible concepts:

    • SWOT Analysis
      • Find the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of your device’s design and work through hypothetical approaches to foreseen scenarios.  
      • User Research
        • Basic user research on your device’s intended target audience can provide developers with keen consumer insights regarding patterns, habits, and desires.
      • Opportunity Finding
        • Missed opportunities can be detrimental to the success of a project. One early way to generate ideas for opportunity is to play your own devil’s advocate. Acting as a naysayer of your own product can help you spot holes and places for improvement in your concept.
      • Research and Development
        • For early processes of research and development, designers should research technologies and processes that are applicable to their design process.
      • Initial Human Factors Evaluations
        • Human factors and usability evaluation focuses on the interaction between people and the devices they use. How will consumers interact with your device?
      • Project Details
        • In the early development stages, developers should become knowledgeable in processes, production methods, quantities, and certification requirements to ensure a successful product deployment.

    It’s important that developers distinguish how their concept enhances the current standards of technology that are being used presently: what attributes set your device above the rest? Designers should use this phase of the development process to properly think through ideas before allocating time, money, and other resources before proceeding further. Every project begins with an exciting idea, but successful product deployment takes more than wishful thinking.

    If you found the Idea and Concept Phase beneficial to your development process, stay tuned for Paragon Academy’s next module, Phase 2: Research & Development , where we examine the importance of Detailed Research.

    About Paragon Innovations

    Founded in 1990, Paragon Innovations is a leading provider of engineering and design service consultation. Paragon Innovations serves Fortune 500 companies and startups in developing turn-key product solutions. As a three-time winner of the Aggie 100 Award, Paragon Innovations’ skilled team is unmatched in their level of expertise and product management capabilities. Acquired by TTI, Inc. in 2021, Paragon Innovations joins the Exponential Technology Group (XTG), a collection of electronic component distributors and design engineering firms that collaborate to enable the development of modern technologies. XTG is a subsidiary of TTI Inc.’s Family of Specialists: TTI, Inc., Mouser Electronics, Symmetry Electronics and Sager Electronics.

     

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