How Do You Design a Product if You Are a Start-Up?

Hitesh Devara | Published : Aug 2019

Over time at our design lab, we have encountered one question very often: at what stage I should consider product design?

The majority of tech start-ups neglect product design, because they see it as secondary to the technical aspect. Design is simply part of aesthetics and it will be covered once they’ve finished the functionality.In another scenario we observed, new start-ups have a great idea. But they struggle when it comes to resources. In such a case, they decide it’s not very feasible to invest in product design.In both situations, the failure to invest in design and build it into the product’s DNA ends up hurting their original idea – and limiting their success.We’re firm believers in design. We think of design as the empowerment of an idea. It can bring attention to the finer and crucial aspects of your product and its productivity.Why is design required for start-ups? First, it allows you to explore more possibilities. In a short time, you can validate your idea, without developing a fully-fledged prototype.Design always focuses on users first. It is for them you are solving the problem. This helps to ensure fewer errors in your first product.Good design planning can also add an extra element to your product - something that might give you a decisive edge over your competitor.We talked about these points in our earlier blog, check it out here.

We understand the struggle of limited resources, that’s why it’s important not to rush the design phase in your eagerness to get your design off paper and to have something tangible in your hands.Today we will talk about how a start-up can use design to refine their ideas with limited resources.

1. Define your product

Defining your product is very crucial if you have a fresh idea. This can be done through industry segmentation, consumer profiling, and their behavioural analytics. Recognizing your consumer’s demographics such as economic stature, as well as behavioral features,with lifestyle and usability among them, is the only successful way to write the script of your product’s success.By undertaking these activities, you will get to know what is expected by your target consumers. This will help you to define your product’s worth, price, competition & usability.


2. Create the product sketch

The next step in your product design arc is to create an absolute product architect diagram.This is similar to what you used to draw in school: a simple block diagram. That’s all. Try to include all the elements, features and applicable value.

3. Build the minimum demo-able product :

Based on the architect diagram, build a minimum demonstrable product (we call it MDP).Entrepreneurs can make it using cardboard, polystyrene or any material which is easy to form. A demonstrable product is a look-alike device which doesn’t necessarily have functionality, but it should have the same feeling and shape factor of your product. The demonstrable product gives you an opportunity to understand how the product will look at the end. Of course, there will be a lot of revision to get to your original idea, but this is an important first step.
For example, imagine we are making a water bottle which we thought would make a cool one-litre water bottle with a ton of smart features in it. We build a demonstrable product using cardboard and realize it’s too big to comfortably carry. We revisit to our product features and specifications to refine our ideas further.


4. Design Research

Once you have a demonstrable product, now it’s time to gather some questions from your potential consumers. Make a list of the things a user would need to know in order to use your product.
This might include: to whom the product is relevant? How do you view the demonstrable product? When you will use this product in your day to day life? What sort of color, material, and finishing would you prefer? What kind of shape and feel would you prefer?The list can go on and on, depending on what you are building. We suggest you collect questions from at least 20-30 future potential consumers of your product and analyze their responses.Try to identify the gap between what you want and what they want. Design research will provide you with a clear vision of your consumer's needs of your product and their expectations of similar types of products.

5. Minimum viable product

Based on data which you gathered from your design research, you can create some concepts and build a minimum viable product which can perform the primary features of the product.Always look at this stage to integrate existing components and parts to keep costs down when building the minimum viable product. If you can use 3D printing or additive manufacturing processes at this stage, this can also help to keep costs down. The other benefit of adopting 3D printing technology at this stage is that, often, it will produce a better finish than traditional approaches at this stage. Once you have the MVP, go back to the users which you interviewed earlier and ask them again about their experience and views of your minimum viable product. This time they can see the product function, so they are in a position to provide more constructive feedback on your product ideas.

6. Concept development & selection

Now you really need the assistance of professional industrial designers, like us. We can help you in developing different concepts (5-20 concepts, minimum). We will make hand sketches to explore different shape and form factors around the product application. Also, we will help you to perform CMF (color, material and finishing analysis) for your product to get an idea about how your product look and feel with different material and colors. Discuss this stage of results again with your consumers and your team before deciding on the one concept you like the most: freeze it and move further.


7. Technology design

Once you are done with concept design, and have selected the best option according to consumer needs and applications., you are now ready to progress with technology design. where, you can work on internal electronics design, mechanical design and development,and 3D Modelling. you’ll need to undertake the required simulations and see if you are getting desired output. These stages will help you refine your ideas – then you’ll need help to source potential manufacturing partners and really get your ideas to market.We can help with every stage of this process. If you would like support, please get in touch.

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