A Altitude Accelerator Expert’s Take on the Process of Product Development

By Samantha McKay, Altitude Accelerator’s Communications Intern

Scott Parsons founded Launch Product Development, a company that aims to aid startups through each step of the product development process. Scott visited the Altitude Accelerator and made a presentation for our incubator clients about the product development process and how they can make sure they make money. These are the highlights.

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One of the most important things for startup founders to understand is that the product development process is not a straightforward one. Startups will often take three steps forward and four steps back in the product development process. They’ll have to re-design parts, make changes, and go through numerous back-and-forths with designers, producers, and builders.

According to Scott Parsons, founder of Launch Product Development, not only is this normal, it is a sign of success to come. If you are continuously working to make your product better in the development phase, your finished product will be the best it can be. Practice makes perfect, after all!

The Process

Scott’s number-one piece of advice for startups in the product development phase is to start early.

“Start preparing for production as soon as you possibly can. Even when you’re in the conceptual stage, keep in mind that you want to start picturing in your mind how these parts are going to look in production. That will save you a lot of headaches down the road,” Scott said.

According to Scott, here are the six steps in the product development process. Again, keep in mind that you might have to re-visit and re-do some of these steps in order to get them right.

  1. Concept
    1. This should be the shortest phase, in which startups should define the problem it aims to solve, its market, and get to know the competition.
  2. Design & Development
    1. In this phase, startups should refine their product idea into a proof of concept.
  3. Prototype Testing and Analysis
    1. In order to track your progress and get a better understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve, this phase will allow you to test your product and find issues with your initial build.
  4. Detailed Development & Engineering
    1. In this phase, startups can make modifications to their product based on the feedback they received in the previous testing phase. This phase is typically the longest and most time-consuming.
  5. Testing
    1. In this phase, it is important to complete effective testing, identify the root cause of problems with your product, and solve them.
  6. Production Readiness
    1. In this final phase, it is time to select a supplier, make finishing touches on your product, and manage cost creep.

Remember . . .

Scott says that the most common mistake that startups make in the product development phase is relying on CAD models instead of making traditional drawings in addition.

Nowadays, especially with 3-D printing, you can afford to do that, but what you’re losing is that you’re not conveying all of the design intent that is needed and can be described in a drawing,” Scott said.

The path to product development isn’t a straightforward one. Scott says it is important to be patient and take the time you need to build a strong foundation for your product in order to set your startup up for future success.

Looking for more tips from industry experts? Check out Altitude Accelerator’s bi-weekly Expert Speaker Series to see what seminar is the best fit for you!

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