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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

 
 

Eight of the 10 most-promising life science startups named at BioHouston and the Rice Alliance's event are based in Houston. Photo courtesy of Rice Alliance

For the second time this year, Houston life science leaders and startup founders gathered to discuss the future of health care in Houston.

The annual Texas Life Science Forum hosted by BioHouston and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship was usually held during the fall before the pandemic pushed it off schedule. In February, the two organizations hosted the previous forum, but as of this month, the annual event is back on track.

The day included panels and networking, plus over 50 companies — about half of which are based in Houston — pitched their solutions across medical device, therapeutics, pharmaceuticals, and more to the crowd.

Houston-based Bairitone Health won the Michael E. DeBakey Memorial Life Science Award, established by BioHouston in honor of the groundbreaking Houston cardiovascular surgeon. The company is creating a wearable technology that takes a more innovative approach to sleep apnea and snoring with its SOMNAR platform that detects tissue-born sounds, identifies obstructions, and more. The award was presented by Ann Tanabe, CEO of BioHouston.

Ann Tanabe, CEO of BioHouston, presented the DeBakey Award to Houston-based Bairitone Health. Photo courtesy of Rice Alliance

For the first time, the event also named a people's choice award winner, as voted on by the audience members. Baritone Health also claimed the prize.

At the conclusion of the event, the Rice Alliance and BioHouston named the 10 most promising life science companies selected by investors and presented by the Greater Houston Partnership. This year's selection included the following companies, in alphabetical order.

Autonomize

Austin-based Autonomizeunlocks data and context to enable human health outcomes

bEHR Health Systems

New Orleans-based bEHR Health Systemsdelivers, medical, lifestyle, and social solutions to health for African Americans.

EMPIRI

EMPIRI, based in Houston, is revolutionizing cancer care with a novel technology that accurately predicts each cancer patient's treatment responses empirically, enabling doctors to make the optimal treatment selection for each cancer patient.

InformAI

Houston-based InformAI develops AI-based medical image diagnostic tools and uses large dataset synthesis to develop clinical outcome predictors for physicians, hospitals, and medical imaging/medical device companies

March Biosciences 

Houston-based March Biosciences is impacting the most challenging lymphoma and leukemia.

MRG Health-SmartCare360

MRG Health-SmartCare360, based in Houston, is a determinate of health and disease specific virtual care management technology and services company that improves patient access to care and clinical outcomes for people suffering from one or more chronic disease.

Prana Thoracic

Prana Thoracic, founded in Houston out of JLABS at TMC, is a medical device startup that's innovating for the future of early intervention in lung cancer.

Steradian Technologies

Another med device startup based in Houston,Steradian Technologiesemploys deep-photonics technology to diagnose respiratory diseases in seconds, all for the price of a latte.

TYBR Health

Houston-based TYBR Health makes a hydrogel that protects tendons from scarring after surgery and improves patient outcomes.

Voythos

Voythos, based in Houston, is making medical records work for today's healthcare.

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