The Product Innovator’s Handbook


Maybe you were cooking dinner, taking a shower, or putting up a shelf. You might have been at work, grappling with a problem that’s been bugging you for years. You could have been chatting with a friend, listening to their tale of woe. Or maybe you were walking the dog. And it came to you out of the blue: ‘There must be a better way to do this.’

That’s how products are born. You experience a problem and have an idea for a gadget or device that will solve it. When that solution is out in the world, it will give you the satisfaction of having created something lasting and meaningful, and – if you’ve done it properly – it will make you money. The wonderful thing about developing a product is that it fulfils so many of our desires. Whatever you want to achieve in life – creating an income, learning something new, helping people – it’s a way to do it all.

Right now, though, it’s still in your mind’s eye. You can see it on a shelf; you can imagine people talking about it and recommending it to their friends; and you can envisage it making their lives easier and more enjoyable. But it doesn’t exist yet. Coming up with an idea is the simple part – it’s turning it into a commercial success that’s the challenge. One of the misleading things about the product marketplace is that we don’t see the inventions that didn’t make it into the world – the ones that never got produced, or flopped as soon as they hit the shelves.

Products that don’t sell aren’t necessarily badly conceived or designed; there may be other reasons, such as having too little investment or poor market positioning. There are so many disciplines that you have to master to create and sell a product – from research and manufacturing to fundraising and marketing. Yet you don’t know what you don’t know. Were you aware, for instance, that a 3D CAD model alone rarely provides enough detail for a manufacturer to make your product? That your idea might infringe someone else’s intellectual property? That there are ways of selling your product that will make you more money than others? Or that there could be a fundamental flaw in your idea that will only become apparent after it’s produced? It’s rare for anyone to be an expert in all these areas.

I’m the founder and Managing Director of ITERATE, a product design consultancy, and I’ve been designing products for over 15 years. In that time, I’ve witnessed pretty much every pitfall on the product development journey. From concepts that aren’t technically feasible and designs that aren’t patentable to ideas that are plain unworkable – they’ve all crossed my path. On the other hand, one of the joys of my job is carrying products through to completion, enabling them to improve people’s lives, make a difference in the world, and generate a healthy income for their owners.

I’ve learned that there’s a lot you need to think about if designing a product is going to give you what you want. That’s why I’ve written this book – to present you with a toolkit for making your product a success. You’ll learn how to tell the difference between an idea that has potential and one that’s a dud; methods for strategizing your product so that you design and sell it in the right way; what to do about protecting it through patents and design registration; useful information about funding and manufacturing options; and how to choose the right designer for you. Read more…

About the Author

Gethin Roberts has over 15 years’ experience in developing new products in the medical, industrial, and consumer sectors. He started his career as an in-house design engineer, which gave him hands-on experience of designing products for manufacture. It also meant that he was involved in the various commercial aspects of developing new products.

He’s now Managing Director of ITERATE, a dynamic product design consultancy that blends cre- ative and technical expertise to develop products from concepts all the way through to production. Gethin’s master’s degree in Rapid Product Development taught him that many businesses are slow to respond to market demands; this led him to create the Rapid Development Product Pathway for his business, which focuses on removing the barriers that stop new products getting to market.

As a consultant on the Welsh Government’s SMART Productivity and Design programme, Gethin has gained huge insights into an array of product sectors. From multi-million-pound companies to small start-ups, he’s seen it all. He’s also lectured at the University of the West of England, supporting its product design faculty and helping students with design submissions to the annual Royal Society of Arts competition.

When not working with clients to help them create plans for their product development, poring over CAD drawings, or presenting his consultancy’s latest 3D-printed prototypes, Gethin enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters.

Contact the Publisher

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