Updated: Apr 26, 2022
An insider look at product development steps and timeline
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You should plan on constant, dedicated effort for twelve to eighteen months—in some cases even longer—with a complete team, in order to go from a well-defined product idea to a finished product that is ready to ship. It is impossible to anticipate all delays and complications, so be prepared for these setbacks from the start and schedule a realistic timeline with this in mind.
To understand what sort of roadblocks you might encounter, take a look at some of the funded design projects on Kickstarter. Scroll through the updates and check out the explanations for delays in the schedule. These are all normal, and your project will be no different. Before crowdfunding, these delays were opaque to the consumer because the process was hidden inside corporations until they were finally ready to launch. And on top of the public scrutiny that crowdfunding is subjected to, product development delays in that arena are often compounded by an inexperienced founding team and underestimated budget requirements.
Sources for delays include potential manufacturers overpromising what they can deliver; it is easy to simply underestimate the complexity of various parts that will end up requiring revisions and adjustments. And these adjustments might come after the time that you had planned for them to be in full-scale production. I backed the Tiko 3D printer on Kickstarter in March of 2015 and it was scheduled for delivery in November of that same year. At that time, the founding team was small and competent, yet inexperienced, and they had a working prototype. A critical component of their design was a plastic extruded chassis that contains precise rails for a gantry system, and their manufacturer had indicated that it should be no problem to make. They related their manufacturing difficulties in an update as that year came to a close. They had started extruding the chassis in May but it had come out as a crooked, ugly, and inaccurate mess. Finally, by the end of that year, they had achieved the chassis quality that the design required, but they were still nowhere near delivering their product as scheduled…
…So, taking caution, let us now look more specifically at the steps and timeline for delivering such a product. This outline would be for a handheld-sized consumer product. Let’s use the mustache comb as an example. First, why an Internet-connected mustache comb? Absurd! Indeed it is. (That’s right; we are leaving the market analysis to another book.) Let’s claim that the comb monitors mustache health and uploads the data to a personal facial hair grooming app. This indispensable tool is comprised of several parts. The body of the comb is injection-molded plastic. The design will depend on a research phase to be sure that the handle is comfortable to hold and that the teeth are spaced just right. We don’t want to take anything for granted or to simply copy what has been done before. There will be a…
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