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Houston innovators: Tips for turning your product idea into a reality

Product development is not easy, and there's no one right way to go about it. Here are some tips and considerations to take into account. Photo via Getty Images

Successful entrepreneurs are strategic business people. It is one thing to conceive an idea and another to know how to bring it to the market. In a competitive world, you must learn to think ahead of other entrepreneurs. This is the only way to stay on top of your game.

Here’s a guide on how you can pursue that great idea.

How to go about your product idea development if it’s not your primary business

Not every product developer or inventor designs products for a living. It may be the case that product development is a side-hustle for you. However, you should look before you leap. It is not in your best interest to dive straight into product development without first mapping out a plan.

The first step is to carry out comprehensive research on the product you want to design. Online, there's an abundance of information on similar products. Also, you get to see companies that have tried to create similar products and failed. Take out a notepad and write down why they failed.

Next is to find how to include such a project in your schedule. You must be able to keep track of the progress and also set milestones. In addition, new developers must learn to measure gaps in their skills and resources. So, you can write out what you need to do to cover these lapses.

After you have learned the basics of developing a new product, you should talk to experienced developers to guide you. Just make sure that your notes and reference materials are organized.

Later on, you can develop a plan with milestones where you have to define your responsibilities. You must make a list of one-time and recurring tasks to see what can be delegated or outsourced.

How to determine if your idea is worth it

It is unwise to spend time, energy, and resources on a project that will most likely not materialize right from the onset. Hence, you should probe the potential of a product and know if the idea is worth pursuing.

First, new developers ought to do a proper guestimate on the market size of a product. You've got to determine the Total Addressable Market (TAM) and the Serviceable Addressable Market (SAM). But note that these are not the only indexes to guestimate. Once the guestimation is done, you should estimate your potential sales and profits. This is a smart way of decoding what amount to pump into your project as capital. And don't hesitate to check out market data about trends looking upward.

If your products have already been developed, you should try to sell them on platforms like Etsy or launch a Kickstarter. This process is called Pretotyping or pre-sale launch. You are merely testing the interests of potential customers and acceptance of your products on the internet.

​How to develop a plan for creating a product

Having a plan helps you achieve your goals faster as an entrepreneur. If you are set to draw out a plan for your project, using the LA New Production Development Team's product development map is a good idea. Also, some pre and post-production activities and expenses will go a long way in determining the success of your product. Some of these considerations include legal, marketing, and other factors.

When entrepreneurs find it hard to succeed, it is not because they are not brilliant. In most cases, new developers lack consistency. You must determine how much time you can allocate to a project per week and ensure you meet that target. And don't beat yourself up when it's taking longer to develop a product. It usually takes time to turn in excellent products if you are not yet a professional.

Moreover, you need to talk to potential engineers and manufacturers to find out lead times. Then you can look forward to the best time to launch your new products. You may decide to make Christmas sales or consider other strategic events.

​How to find providers for product development

Remember we said earlier that you can’t develop a product alone if you want the best? You need business partners that you can collaborate with. Developers need to consider what kind of areas they need help with. It could be Marketing, Sales, Engineering, etc.

Your next assignment is to write a job description for each of the potential partners/suppliers. This is to let you have a clear understanding of what you need from each of them. At this stage, you have to make Google your best friend. Open your PC and search for the best partners you can ever get. They are all over the internet, including Quora, Reddit, Linkedin, Facebook groups. And you can also rely on the words of mouth of professional developers, accelerators, and incubators about potential partners.

How to define the end goals of product development

Before committing to product development, there are metrics and indicators you need to set for yourself. Knowing when you would stop product development motivates you to target milestones in your career. If the product idea is not sustainable, you shouldn't even consider making it your primary source of income.

You also have to estimate the lifetime of your product. When will you need to raise additional capital, if need be? Likewise, you must determine what it means to you if the project is successful or not.

How to set yourself up for success

Funding is the backbone of any successful project. You should be on the lookout for perfect investors or clearly evaluate your monthly allowances for the project (like a spare cash). Notwithstanding, you can waste money on a product if the project suffers attention. Your energy should be channeled towards actualizing your goals as a developer. I cannot overemphasize why you have to create a special time for your project.

And, of course, things might not go as always planned. It is a given that entrepreneurs experience challenges in their journey. There will be bad days just like the good days. But tough times don't last; only tough people do. So, you have to stay motivated and keep your head in the game.

Wrapping up

Having a plan is crucial if you must survive and succeed as an innovator. Sooner or later, you will encounter some challenges. But these challenges will be a walk-over for you. And why is that? This is because you would have identified such bottlenecks and also mapped out how to navigate them right from the beginning.

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Onega Ulanova is the founder of OKGlobal and partner at LA New Product Development Team.

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Building Houston

 
 

After working with thousands of interns, Allie Danziger of Ampersand Professionals says she's now got a product to upskill and train new hires for employers. Photo courtesy of Ampersand

After seeing success with her internship training and matchmaking platform, Allie Danziger, founder and CEO of Ampersand Professionals, has expanded the concept to include a new hire training service that allows employers to better optimize the onboarding process and have a well-trained new staff member from day one.

In just over a year, Ampersand has worked with over 7,000 professionals through its original concept of upskilling and matching young professionals to internship programs. A few months ago, Danziger and her team expanded to include career development training for students first entering the workforce with the City of Houston's Hire Houston Youth program. Danziger says it was developing out the platform for this program that proved there was a need for this type of training.

"While we have focused on matching professionals with businesses for paid internships, we recognized a further gap with employers that have their own recruiting/talent acquisition teams, or just their own preferred way of bringing on entry-level talent, and didn’t have a need for our matching platform," Danziger tells InnovationMap. "But, they recognized the benefit of our proven training platform that pre-vets and de-risks their hires, and still wanted access to the training for their own hires."

The new program has evolved from training interns to new hires, so parts of the program that focuses on interviewing or applying for a job have been removed. Instead, the 8.5 hours of training focuses on networking, best practices for working with a manager and team, performance reviews, common software training, and more.

Danziger says usually new hires need the most experienced mentor or manager, but they don't usually get that support — especially when it comes to businesses that don't have their own built-out mentorship or training program.

"Ampersand’s new training product fills that gap — it gives employers of any size any easy solution to provide basic job readiness training to employees, access to our team of dedicated coaches, and a detailed report at the end of their training summarizing how their new hire did in the training and any trends recognized and tips for managing this employee based on what the platform uncovered," she says. "Businesses can also sign up for additional coaching sessions and customize training materials, as an add-on if interested."

The program costs the employer $100 per new employee, and checkout online takes less than a minute. Through both this program and the original internship program, Ampersand is constantly evolving its training content.

"These professionals are going through the same training experience that we have proven out over the last year, and we are constantly adding to based on data we see in the user experience," Danziger says.

Danziger recently joined the Houston Innovators Podcast discuss some of the benchmarks she's met with Ampersand, as well as the importance of investing in Gen Z hires. Listen to that episode below.


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