Archive for December 6th, 2012

Trossen Robotics Shop Talk # 3

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

In this episode of Shop Talk Matt shares some of his experience on the business side of developing and launching a product. There are a lot of lessons he’s learned about the pitfalls that stand in the way between a project and a successful commercial product.

0:25-Soliciting Peer Review
Recently Ken McClain of Biomimetix came in to show us his Biomimetix Open Source Servos(BOSS). Ken wanted to get our feedback on his project, and we were able to give him advice based on our experience in the smart servo market. When you have other people reviewing your project you can get a fresh perspective that will catch problems and opportunities that you might have missed. Peer review can also establish relationships that can lead to awesome collaborations.

5:10-Ideas Are Cheap
Matt also talked about how many different people try to pitch products and ideas to Trossen Robotics. More often then not, these pitches are ideas, not finished products. There are a million ideas out there, but only a small percentage have actual products behind them. Real value comes from execution of an idea. Having a finished, tested and documented product is what really matters.

7:38-What is the Trade Off?
Matt talks about the trade offs that occur when you start selling your products through resellers. In exchange for exposure to your product and marketing, you need to give your resellers good margin. Without a healthy margin, resellers can’t operate. Resellers need to document products, learn about them, answer tech support questions and more. Matt also talks about other hidden costs for resellers in stocking products.

12:20-What suggestions and tips would you give to people who want to show their products to retailers?
If you’re serious about showing your project to a reseller, you need to be ready! You should have a finished product (and if you don’t, be very clear that you are just soliciting feedback). You also should have pricing, both MSRP and wholesale. You need to do your own research your competition and similar products to figure out what you will sell your product for. Documentation is a must, including tech specs, dimensions and instructions. If you’re not ready for prime-time and you’re soliciting feedback, make sure to keep your questions short and direct.

17:56-Embracing Open Source
Another consideration when launching a product is how open you want to be with it. The Open Source movement has taken the tech world by storm, and there can be a lot of benefits to launching products openly. One great example of companies is Adafruit industries.

Being overly protectionist in the current market can have a negative impact on your product before you can even get it to market.