What are the optimal steps for pursuing development of a product innovation?


I have a great idea for a (tangible) product innovation in a very niche industry and would like to find out what the optimal steps are for pursuing this.

Note: I have been reading a lot about the theoretical accepted processes however my question is directed more towards those who have practical experience doing this.

Thank you

Products Niche Product Development Cycle

asked Sep 2 '11 at 23:20
509 points
  • You can't go wrong by implementing it (or a subset of it) and getting it in front of the prospective customers ASAP. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • Thanks Tim, the problem is that to manufacture will cost a significant amount. I know there is a market for this but don't know if putting up a large investment to test is a good route to take.. – Sam 12 years ago
  • Then you need to go to prospective customers and ask if they will put money down to build the solution. Jason Cohen has some blog posts about this for his wordpress engine site. Get people to sign on/commit. then get them to give money or take that list to investors. But it is much easier if you have something to show investors. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • the reason you get no answers might be that your question is too general, while you expect practical advice. Answers can be just as practical as the question is. It is not even clear if the idea is for a software or a physical product. Either way, I'd suggest finding a partner who has experience in the practical side of your idea. By the way, you can't know if there is a market for it, unless it's not a real innovation. – Mihaly Borbely 12 years ago
  • @Mihaly, thanks for your insight into my question. The question was geared towards the process of manufacturing, investing, marketing and sales. I was hoping that someone who has launched a tangible (which is physical and therefore not software) product from initial idea to end user would be able to share some insight. I ended up meeting some entrepreneurs that gave me some great insight. – Sam 12 years ago
  • @Tim, thanks for the tip. I got some prospective customers to commit to investing in the product, which not only validated my idea, but also gave me some capital to work with :) – Sam 12 years ago
  • Sorry, I didn't know the word "tangible", so my mind just ignored it. :) I'm not a native english speaker. – Mihaly Borbely 12 years ago

1 Answer


I don't know about this being the optimal approach, but here is a sales strategy that has worked for us in the past for getting a new product off the ground:

  1. Visit businesses in your target market. If it's big business you will probably need to do some research on who to present to. If it's a small enough business you can probably walk in the front door and ask to speak to the boss.
  2. Tell them that you need some advice. Remind them that you aren't there to sell (after all you don't have anything to sell them yet), but wanted to find out if somebody in their industry could benefit from your product. Advice is cheap for people to give.
  3. Present your product, it's features and what you believe the benefits are. Especially concentrate on any competitive advantage that it would give the user of the product and return on investment. Ask them if they agree or disagree and make notes! You'll need to adjust your 'pitch' as you go from business to business.
  4. Close by asking them if they believe that your product could benefit their industry. If they agree, ask if they know any smart people in their industry who would be willing to partner with you to help build the product. If they don't agree try and understand their position and learn from their objection.

With a bit of luck you will soon find somebody who will back you, or at least point you in the right direction.

If the sales process is a bit daunting, you can play up the "I just need advice" angle. For more assistance in selling you might want to read SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham which presents a specific process for working with large value sales.

answered Oct 27 '11 at 20:54
Paul Filmer
790 points

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