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Expert's View-Point

Before you track down a designer to get your idea into the stores, here is a to-do list to go through.
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Things to Consider Before you Design your Product
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You've Got a Great Idea. Everyone will Love it and you Will Sell Millions
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Idea Refinement Worksheet (pdf)

Idea Refinement Worksheet (excel)

Things to Consider Before you Design your Product - By Doug Golenz

  • What problem does your idea solve?
  • Protection: Protecting your idea
  • Market: the four P’s of marketing
  • Use and the environment of intended use
  • Process
  • Start to visualize the idea
  • Specifics: Materials, production process

What problem does your idea solve?

Somewhere before you came up with the idea of the product, there was an unmet need or some open-ended issue. That answer in your hand was just not cutting it. Write down the issue and why / how your idea solves it.

This simple statement will become the focus of your product and guiding light of your product’s positioning, it’s reason for being. In each step, come back and make sure your solving the problem you set off to do. It is amazing, how in the process of making products, companies forget the true north positioning and why they set out to produce the product they did.

Protection: Protecting your idea:

If you think you have an original idea or something that you cannot find in the market, start protecting that idea. Unfortunately ideas cannot be copyrighted or patented. Copyright protects expression and patent law protects inventions.  For both, working beyond just the “idea” is critical.

Copyrights can be filed for as little $45. Anyone can put a small “c” next to something, but until it is formally filed for it, that is not enforceable.

Patents: Provisional patents application is the easiest form to file an invention, for as little as $110 with the United States Patent Office.  This will allow you to apply using your drawings and words. The one limitation is you must “exercise” the provisional patent within one year. This means file for a nonprovisional patent or full patent. This could cost between $5,000 and $10,000.  

One way to protect and idea without either a copyright or a patent is through the use of a Confidentiality Agreement. This will be a signed agreement between you and a party you are disclosing the idea to. In the agreement, they promise that they will not use your idea or even talk to others about it without your consent.

The long and the short is about maintaining proper documentation including dates. One way to assure you are doing this correctly is seek legal console.

 Market: the four P’s of marketing:

In Marketing 101, they often talk of the four P’s of marketing: Product, Promotion, Price, Placement. These four elements work together to assure the success of a product. A product could solve all the world’s problems, yet if no one knows of it or if it cost too much or it is hidden, the product will not be a success.

Therefore, when thinking of this new product, understand where it will be sold, who will be purchasing it and what will be it’s competition, understanding these elements will help determine what processes / materials to use, sourcing issues, and target price points.

Use and the environment of intended use:

Who is using this product and where? If a young child is the target customer, this will result in a totally different form factor then an older child or an adult. Also, the environment of the indented use: imagine designing something to be used by a diver in the ocean. Specific materials and the quality of those materials becomes a big issue.


Understanding that designing a product is like accomplishing most anything, there will be several steps or phases. Generally they may look like the following but not limited to:

  • Research: patents, market, user interface, manufacturing processes etc.
  • Ideation: the initial concepts that should lead to the final product    
  •  Design refinement: perfecting the design
  • Design finalization: Get the design ready for downstream processes, like engineering or production

Start to visualize the idea:

In process, the general understating of multiple steps or phases is important. Before designing actually starts, it is helpful to have some starting point other than words. Images of competitive product as well rough sketches will help shape the design early in the process.

Specifics: Materials, production process, whatever else:

Having completed research and understating the market will allow you to start making very specific requirements about the product. Already, the product must solve a specific need or problem. With more thought and research, additional requirements can be written down as well. This will ultimately only help the design process further. There is nothing worse then trying to “guess” what the correct answer is, rather than knowing what the correct question is going into the project in the first place.



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Product to Market Process

This video covers the 12 steps to consider prior to bringing your idea to market.

1. Idea Refinement

This video covers how to refine your idea with the free idea refinement worksheet.

This video covers your product search, an initial patent search and The Gelato Principal.

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