From the Paperclip to the iPhone, all iconic products started from just an idea. Ideas grow and evolve as they’re worked on — and a lot happens between the initial sketch and the first product leaving the production line — but each idea starts with a seed.
You’re probably reading this for one of three reasons:
- Perhaps you’ve got your own idea and are wondering what to do next.
- Perhaps you’re curious to learn how products you admire came to be.
- Or perhaps you’re already on your own product development journey and are looking for another perspective.
Regardless of why you’re here, I’m hoping to use the experience I gained from bringing five products to market with my company Version 22, to offer you some insight into the world of product design, development & manufacture. Better yet, I want to arm you with the tools to begin (or continue) your own creative journey… bringing that idea of yours to market.
So, let’s dive in, shall we?
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1. First, Ensure Your Idea Is Unique
Imagine the scenario. You’ve never heard of Dyson vacuum cleaners and you’ve just come up with the most amazing idea…
“Why don’t I use the cyclone technology from saw mills to create a more powerful and effective vacuum cleaner that never loses suction?”
Then imagine your disappointment when, after months investing your time, effort and money on prototyping and developing your innovative “cyclone vacuum cleaner”, you spot one of these in your local department store…
Image courtesy of Dyson
Before you get too emotionally or financially invested in your new idea, take some time to do some in-depth research to ensure it is actually your idea. Here are 3 good places to start:
1. Google Image Search
Google is an obvious starting point yes, but in particular I like to use its image search function. This way you can see several dozen hits at a glance for products found with a particular search term. All without having to click through to any sites.
Next try searching on Amazon. After all, Amazon is now one of the world’s biggest search engines, and it specifically focuses on products! If you find a product of interest when searching on Amazon, make use of the “similar products” and “people who bought this also bought” sections to help find even more.
3. Patent Search
Next try searching patent databases such as Google’s Patent Search or Espacenet. This is a good way of finding products that: a) were patented but never made it to market (still a potential problem), and b) products that might currently be on their way to market.
That's all for now, but tune in next week for Step 2! Any questions? Let us know in the comments.