ABILISTA BLOG












Let’s start with some simple steps to get your product idea or invention started. I will get into more detail on each of the steps in next blogs but for now let’s have a quick overview of the process.


The idea

The first and simplest thing that you need to do is to get a pen and a paper now and write down everything about your idea, anything that you can think of at this point, from features, technology, market, competitors, potential users and so on. It doesn’t have to be accurate or structured at all for now, just throw in those ideas and thoughts and keep them out of your mind. This will also help you to think on more ideas as you write and make space for new thoughts to come.


A good suggestion is to transfer all of these information to some document in the cloud such as Google docs or Dropbox. In this way, you can access it anytime and you can write any new ideas and thoughts quickly as they come, otherwise there is a chance that you will forget to document it.


At this stage no idea is too silly and the more you can think out of the box the more opportunities you will open to improve your idea. So get crazy!


I personally use Google docs, and I often use the comments tool to clarify concepts. I found it extremely useful and a good repository to go back and understand your journey.


All of this is great and you will see a lot of value as you progress, however don’t spend much time defining all the wonders of your idea just yet, instead you must understand the problem that you are trying to solve first.


The Problem

Well, but the problem is obvious, isn’t it? You have come up with this great invention that solves that particular problem. Does it, really? You are most likely not truly thinking on the problem and rather on your solution. Your solution is just one of the different ways to solve a particular problem, is your idea the best option? why your idea doesn’t exists yet (if it really doesn’t)? Are you missing something?


The best approach is always to spend enough time understanding what is the problem that your target customers are trying to solve. I won’t go in much detail about this topic as there are loads of literature and articles written about it (read about understanding the problem and defining the problem statement), but I will briefly comment on the two main ways to get feedback about your customer’s problem:


  1. Do your own research. Use the internet, publications, competitors and other sources to get information about the pains and difficulties of your customers (forums, Q&A sites and Linkedin groups are examples of good sources). While this is a quick and simple way to get to know the generics of the problem, this can oftentimes be too generic and be misleading of your actual customers’ behavour. I, instead, recommend the second approach.

  2. Find your customer. You should know exactly which is your target customer or at least have an assumption. In order to test this assumption, you must find out where to look for someone with these characteristics (for example, a fishing shop or club it’s a good start for a fishing invention). Once you have access to them (let’s say 10 persons to start with), find a way to talk to them and ask questions. Prepare an interview with the main topics that you will like to discuss, but make questions as open ended as possible (you are interested in knowing what you don’t know yet). Don’t try to sell your solution! Remember that you are seeking to understand the problem first and you should not think on a solution at this point. Make sure that your questions are not unconsciously trying to validate your initial solution and are focused on finding the fundamental problem.

Channels to get to your customer: Meetups, Conventions and Fairs are some alternatives to find your customers.


No matter which approach you use, make sure that you narrow down the problem to something as specific as possible that your target customers will clearly be identified with.


Example:


Gopro didn’t start by trying to build the best sport camera, instead they understood the underlying problem of that particular market:

Amateur sport photographers could not get close enough to the action or buy quality equipment at reasonable prices”


Explore

Once you have clearly identified the problem that your customers are suffering, then you are ready to look at potential solutions to solve that problem. But how do you know which is the right solution? Well, this is where we start our exploration journey. No solution is the only one and right solution to a particular problem and most likely not the one that came to your mind on the first place. The way to go here is to open your mind and draft as many solutions and variants as you can think of. There are many tools to do so, the most popular being Brainstorming, but there are other techniques (Mind-mapping, SCAMPER, reverse thinking, forced analogy to name just a few) that can help you to unfold a wide variety of ideas. The important thing at this stage is to identify as many different solutions as possible just in simple terms, it can be a few words in a post it, simple drawings or images from the internet.


Next you will need to filter all of those potential solutions following any of the techniques mentioned earlier which normally involve some sort of scoring or voting. You should get a few solutions that meet the criteria that was set, ideally you will have your top 3 solutions to explore further. Develop a bit further those top solutions, but keep it still as simple as possible, and finally decide which would be the solution that you will test first. This will be the one that you will use to create your first low fidelity prototype or proof of concept, meaning anything that can show the main values of the solution. This could be an sketch, a render, a mock-up made of paper or foam, or even a 3d printed solid. But it is crucial that at this stage you don’t spend much time or resources building your first prototype as this will just be used to get your first feedback from customers. Yes, again! Now it’s the time to go back to your customers and show your potential solutions to get some insights. Are you in the right path? Use this feedback to understand what resonates with them and what not, how would they use the product, what additional features would they like, and most importantly is this solution solving the problem that you have identified earlier?


This is an iterative process and you should spend enough time here before you move to the next stage. Based on the feedback and insights gathered you will keep testing your other top solutions or discard them all along. You may even go back to explore some of the very initial proposed solutions and refine them with the feedback from your customers. Iterate until you are confident that you are getting the right feedback from customers and that you have a compelling solution to their problem.


...continues in Kick-off Your Idea (Part 2)





About Jesus Marti Palop

Jesus is an Industrial Engineer with more than 10 years of experience in developing products for several companies in different countries around the globe, Spain, France, China and Australia. His experience spans across different industries such as Automotive, Consumer Electronics, Textile soft goods and Medical Devices. In those experiences Jesus has gained extensive knowledge in the full product development process from concept to manufacturing, as well as industrial operations and supply chain management .

www.linkedin.com/in/jmartipalop