We’re coming up on our 15th anniversary and we’ve assisted hundreds of customers, large and small with sourcing complex and highly engineered products. A lot of our work involves bringing new products from the prototype stage (or before) to volume production.
The products have included medical imaging equipment, consumer video displays, office furniture, professional audio amplifiers and wearable devices. Along the way, we’ve developed the ability to accurately predict which companies will “make it” and which won’t.
Our skill at presaging which products will make it does not (unfortunately) extend to predicting market success. If we had that ability, the EastBridge team would be sitting on a beach somewhere drinking daiquiris… Or masquerading as venture capitalists.
What we can accurately predict is if the company has what it takes to see the project to the finish line – shipping salable product. We’ve developed a six point list of, sadly, negative predictors. They’re listed below:
1. The project is a side hustle or moonlighting effort for the management team. They have “real” jobs to fall back on.
2. The company/project is under capitalized. NPI always takes more money than they imagine.
3. No one in the company has ever earned a living selling a tangible product. The technical staff far outnumber those with sales and marketing experience.
4. They’re not putting much effort into the commercial plan, focusing principally on the design and manufacturing effort. This is closely related to #3.
5. Having an unrealistic manufacturing time line. “You’re crazy – it doesn’t take six weeks to cut tools”.
6. The design/development team loads up the first generation product with tons of dubious “features” making it over complicated to build and service. The IoT-thinging of the world.
So, I’m being a little hyperbolic here, but we see these elements again and again. They combine to slow down the NPI process to a crawl. Loss of momentum is a turnoff to investors, suppliers, customers and your employees. Address these items before you start and you’ll stand a much better chance of shipping on time.