How To Predict an Orphaned Product


Every week potential clients present us with new manufacturing engineering projects that are on the fast track to nowhere. These poor misguided people are leaping into an abyss that filled with what we call “orphaned products.”

What’s an orphaned product? It’s a new product introduction – sometimes a brilliant idea – sometimes not, that has no business getting past the brainstorming phase. Regardless if the potential client is a Fortune 500 company or a raw start-up, the programs they’re so eager to move on aren’t ready for prime time.

In the past, when these ardent entrepreneurs, inventors and marketeers found their way to us, we’d be very patient, schedule a meeting, travel to their office and spend a couple of hours discussing their new concept… Only to walk away because we couldn’t ethically take money from people who didn’t know what they were getting themselves into and were destined to fail.

Based on this repeated experience, we’ve developed a brutally direct “Go/No-Go” checklist. We can tick through it in fifteen minutes on the phone. If they get a passing grade, it’s a “Go” and we’ll explore managing their manufacturing program. If it’s a “No-Go,” it’s no harm/no foul and we wish them well and walk away.

Here’s our ten point checklist.

  1. What is a UPC?
  2. Have you ever sold a new product before?
  3. How much can you sell this item for?
  4. Do you know how to develop a sales channel?
  5. Do you have/know what CAD files are (no, your pencil sketches won’t do)?
  6. What are soft tools, hard tools, NRE and a Bill of Materials (BOM)?
  7. Are you prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get to the cusp of commercialization (with no guarantee of commercial sales)?
  8. Did you know that you’ll have to prepay the supplier (at least for the first order)?
  9. How will you fulfill future orders?
  10. Is all of this news to you?

A negative answer or shoulder shrug to any one of these questions is a sure predictor of an imminent orphan. We feel badly for these people, especially when they’ve developed the concept for a truly interesting product. I think that we’re doing them a favor when we crush their dreams.

So… Do you homework, get help with your plan and don’t add to the population of product orphans


Jack Daniels

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