Any reader who has been keeping up with the recap of our very first Innovate This! event will have seen that coming out in first place was no simple feat. Our students went through a full day of rapid-cycle design to tackle an existing problem for moms and toddlers, and each team came up with an impressive solution. Congratulations again to SUPS team members Hari, Lance, Nicholas and Shivaani for taking first place with their innovative design!
This week, the winning team members met up with Ken Johnson, VP of Idea Development at local design firm WAGIC, and Yugen Lockhart, WAGIC designer, to test out how far this idea can go. Ken led the meeting as a client meeting, and asked questions to better understand the team, their perspective, and of course their product and its context.
For anyone thinking about their next big idea, or who thinks they are ready to take a product to market, Ken emphasized a few universal points that need to be taken into consideration.
1) Deeply understand customer needs. Your product has to be doing what current products aren’t doing to meet customer needs, and it needs to do it well. Even if your product is the coolest idea ever, no one will like it if their basic needs remain unmet, which makes it not the coolest idea ever.
2) Is your product competitive with what’s out there? Make sure you have a thorough understanding of companies producing current competing products and the retail price of those products. Like it or not, price matters to the end customer, and your manufacturing cost will directly affect your competitiveness within your market segment.
3) Don’t make assumptions without testing them first. Don’t assume that moms or toddlers, or whoever your end consumers are, will automatically know how to use, and like using, your products. This is related to the first point. Deeply understand your customer by doing as much research as you can through various methods (e.g. internet, focus groups, etc).
Next up: Our SUPS team has their work cut out for them. While our expert judging panel had unanimously voted in confidence to see SUPS move forward, the team still has to continue researching the market to prove that their product can withstand and surpass the competition. Next, they will consolidate their research for WAGIC to see if their existing product idea (especially in terms of manufacturing costs) will be viable to prototype and test out on Kickstarter.com.
Will SUPS take their product to the prototype stage? Check back to keep up with our winning team’s journey!