Imagine that you have an innovative idea for a new product but need confirmation that your idea has real market potential to secure funding or executive buy-in. Can it be built reliably at a price point that consumers will accept? What does the competitive landscape look like, and how does this product offer something unique to the market? What are optimal technological architectures to employ that will lead to efficient and cost-effective production? How do you flesh out and document prioritized requirements to make sure you’ve thought through critical performance requirements?
Early phase design investigations can demonstrably answer these questions and help secure funding or executive confidence before moving on into full-fledged design engineering and prototyping. Let’s dig in more deeply on this important topic.
Why are Early Phase Design Explorations important?
If you plan on engaging a design partner, it is important to engage them as early in the ideation phases as possible to help guide you through the process when costs and risks are lowest. While it may be tempting to skip this type of “due diligence” in your excitement to move forward with your product concept, early phase explorations can literally determine the ultimate success or failure of a product, and help determine whether or not investors want in.
Investing for Success, Security for Investors
The relatively low cost to complete these types of explorations make them a clear choice from a cost/benefit perspective. Further, early phase explorations provide 3rd party confirmation for investors that you have an estimate for development and production pricing, have firm funding requirements and scheduling milestones identified, and understand project scope–thereby clearing an easier path to funding.
A Useful Introduction to Partner Capabilities
Early phase design explorations also provide good opportunities to build trust with a design partner before reengaging them for larger, subsequent design work. Sometimes you may need a design partner to provide technical demonstration units to actualize a proof of concept with potential investors. Through these explorations you can get a sense of a development partner’s engineering brain trust, strength of communication and planning skills, and ability to set expectations and meet commitments.
Let’s take a deeper look at some types of Early Phase Design Explorations development partners can provide for your next development project:
1. Feasibility Assessments
Early-stage feasibility assessments help prove out a concept for product idea viability. This type of assessment can be critical both from a performance, manufacturability and eventual cost perspective and provide estimates of future development investments. Rough or CAD concepting can be helpful to demonstrate feasibility for cost, form factor, and functional constraints.
2. Product Development Research
Product development research can take on different forms. Sometimes, an engineering research report can inform whether a design idea warrants further concepting, architectural explorations, feasibility studies, or prototyping. Other times it can be a competitive product analysis or benchmarking report that fleshes out differentiators and price points that help dictate likely market and competitive viability.
This type of early exploratory research is a great way to investigate an idea or concept – a proverbial way to dip your toe in the design engineering pool without committing too much, too fast.
3. Product Architecture Explorations
Product architecture starts with defining various options for how the product could be designed, which can reveal functional interdependencies between different product subsystems. The product architecture is a roadmap for more detailed engineering development, so it’s critical that it is given proper time and attention from experienced engineers.
The deliverables from an architecture exploration vary based on the type of product that is being designed but can include rough CAD models of mechanical design options, a selection of critical electrical technologies or specific components, and documentation of the system behaviors that will be later implemented in software or firmware.
4. Requirements Development
Documenting user and performance parameters at the beginning of a development effort is critical. Without prioritized requirements identified early, missteps can be costly and inefficient – the engineering equivalent of painting oneself into a corner. Careful planning and requirements prioritization to guide tradeoffs between product features can help streamline engineering decisions, reaffirm critical feature sets, and ensure continued stakeholder buy-in as the design progresses.
5. Collaborative Brainstorming
Sometimes you are so engrained in your own industry, that you don’t realize the assumptions you’re making on product constraints. Leveraging a variety of engineers with experience in industries other than your own can lead to unexpected creative solutions that improve and simplify your product. Collaborative brainstorming can be done internally at Simplexity or with the client’s involvement. It can also be employed throughout the design process, exposing alternate approaches to design challenges along the way.
Proof of Concept for Investors During Early Phase Design Explorations
Simplexity delights in helping clients navigate all the above types of early phase design explorations to gain or retain investor confidence and executive support. Whether you need early investigations to assess product feasibility, research to affirm market viability, development of optimal product architectures, or help defining robust requirements that define product uniqueness within the constraints of engineering feasibility, our team of multi-disciplinary engineers is experienced in delivering proof-of-concepts for investors.
We’d love to know what amazing ideas you are working on. Reach out today to see if we can help with your early phase design explorations!