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  • Thomas Pannell

Got a product idea? What’s holding you back?

We’ve all had an idea for a new product or business. They don’t always make it beyond the idea stage, but what if you want to make your new product idea into a reality? How can you give yourself the best chance of success? Where do people normally fall down?

At Pinpoint, looking for existing products isn’t all we do! We also help our customers to develop new items for their product range or we work with start-ups who have nothing more than a few drawings and a lot of passion for their new product.

Working with start-ups is one of my favourite things to do. I get the same feelings I had when I first started out and helping them avoid my mistakes and see their ideas become a reality is incredibly rewarding. It can be frustrating too – they don’t always have experience of manufacturing and can be naïve about how things work.

Getting products made is fairly easy when you know factories that specialise in the different processes you need. For example, people that can make injection moulded plastics, die-cast or stamped metal parts – and most importantly someone that can put them all together and package them for shipping! This is the part I worry about the least for new product designs.

The difficulty is in following a set process, keeping momentum with the timescales involved (yes, it can be a year or two to get things sorted!) and managing a budget. A typical product development process follows the steps below to get your items to market:

  • The Idea – you’ve seen a gap in the market and have a great idea for a new product!

  • Technical Drawings – these are essential and need to be done properly, having 3D renders is a good idea too

  • Prototyping – making a few pieces as per your drawings. This is done by local specialists, think 3D printing and a bloke doing some welding

  • Cost Estimates – we take the prototype to factories to see how easy it is to make, get estimates on how much it would cost and also how many we’d need to order

  • Factory Samples – our chosen factories make a small order as a sample set. The cost for this can be high as we might buy the same items for 2 or 3 factories. From these samples you pick which factory to go with

  • Revisions and changes – once we have samples to study, test and show to potential customers, things become apparent that you didn’t notice when designing your product. Take this feedback on board and make the changes before you part with any more cash

  • Push the button – now everything is in place you can send over your purchase order and wait for your shinny new products to arrive!

So where do people fail? Well, knowing the processes that are available is key. A lot of factories will tell you that you need to invest in expensive moulds and toolings, then order full container loads. This is simply not the case. We can use different manufacturing processes at first to make small quantities. This can cost more, but we would know that when there is demand we can invest in tooling to scale up production and save costs.

When to start to marketing and selling your product? Waiting until your items are in a warehouse is a bit too late! Getting feedback on your prototypes or samples from potential customers can help you foresee design problems or changes that are needed. Engaging a manufacturer early on will help a lot too. You’ll be able to determine your products cost price and benchmark it to check that you can sell them at a profit. Having orders lined up before you have stock can really put your mind at ease and help with getting finance too.

Budget. People also spend too much money at the early stages of developing their products. The advice I give to new start-ups about their products is simple – keep costs and risk as low as possible. Simplify your designs to use the least amount of parts possible, try to reuse parts across designs and don’t invest in mass production and stock until you have demand for it!

If you are designing a new product, outsourcing your product development and sourcing is a great option. It can save you money, is a way to get the knowledge, skills and experience you need on board quickly and it will also put you in touch with trusted manufacturers that you might not find otherwise.

At Pinpoint Product Sourcing we will spend a lot of time getting to know you, your products and what your goals are – this means we can work as a partner and become your product development and sourcing team for just the time we’re needed. Once you’ve got your product to market, you can continue with business as usual without any additional salary costs or overheads to consider.

If you have a great idea or are designing some new products why not get in touch to see if we can help you?

Email: or call our MD Thomas Pannell on 07917 606 208.

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