“Is Your Product Fully Defined?”


We had a conversation with a potential client last week who wants to produce an automotive aftermarket product. What he described sounded cool, I could visualize how it would be used (cooler still) and I could imagine customers actually buying and using the device. [Way cool as many product concepts that entrepreneurs think are the best thing since canned beer don’t generate a single dollar in sales!]

This guy had gotten started on a crowd funding website and tried to procure a prototype from a broker before getting completely sideways. The campaign was canceled as it didn’t hit its funding target and the prototype was so poorly executed it couldn’t be used as proof of concept to raise funds from other sources.

Now beyond this guy not having a clue on how he was going to sell the product, (the most common downfall for inventors and early stage companies) he had no grasp of the complexity of the task ahead and the costs involved.

Jack: “Do you have a PRD (Product Requirements Document)?”

Entrepreneur: “What’s a PRD?

Jack: “Is the product fully defined?”

Entrepreneur: “Yup… It might have Bluetooth. It will definitely have a switch on the dashboard. It will probably have video. I think that it will work with your smart phone. We’ll probably need an app.”

Jack: “How much have you paid the broker?”

Entrepreneur: “$40K for the development and the prototypes.”

Jack: “Does that include NRE and tooling?”

Entrepreneur: “What’s NRE and tooling?”

Ugh… A lamb being led to the slaughter.

This poor fellow believed that without design or direction, an offshore CM could cobble together off the shelf parts including sensors, Bluetooth modules, wire harnesses, switches, adhesives, PCBs, aluminum extrusions (and a long list of items that he had no knowledge of) and come up with a finished product.

Jack: “You’re way too early for us. You need to hire an electronic/industrial design firm to generate a solid design and prototypes. Someone nearby that you can work with closely while the product is being defined.”

Entrepreneur: “Will that cost more than $4OK?”

Jack: “Way more…”

Moral of the story: make sure that your product is defined and the design is “in the can” before you consider manufacturing onshore or offshore.


Jack Daniels


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