Many skeptics insisted that it couldn’t be achieved – inventing, creating, and delivering an award-winning product in a mere seven months, especially with an initial budget of just $100,000.
However, we defied the naysayers and successfully brought a hardware product to life, known as SkyBell, a Wi-Fi enabled doorbell equipped with a video camera that allows homeowners to remotely see who’s at their door through a smartphone, all within an unprecedented timeframe.
This ambitious product encompassed hardware, manufacturing, software, cloud servers, and a mobile app. As one of the founders, I took charge of our product marketing and mobile development, shaping user stories, features, and benefits for our product while collaborating closely with our engineering team to transform our vision into reality.
Here are the pivotal factors in our product development journey that facilitated our rapid progress. Learn from our experience so you can achieve the same success.
Commence with an Exceptional Concept
Exceptional products find their origins in remarkable ideas. If you haven’t conceived one yet, remember that the finest products address tangible problems. Keep an eye out for areas where enhancements or innovations can elevate our lives. Even existing products can be reimagined.
For instance, at SkyBell, we infused Wi-Fi and video technology into a traditional doorbell, enabling it to link with the internet and transmit video to a mobile device. Prior to our intervention, the doorbell was simply that – a doorbell. Now, it functions as a proactive deterrent against potential break-ins.
Engage Your Ideal Customers
Do people truly crave your product? Engage with them to find out. Initiate by gaining a deep understanding of your customers and their pain points. Concentrate on their needs and the degree to which your product alleviates those needs. The aim is to verify that your idea offers a genuine solution to a real predicament rather than trying to locate a predicament to resolve.
Define User Stories and Product Requirements
Armed with a deeper understanding Armed with a more profound comprehension of your users, delineate how a customer will employ your product (user narratives). For instance, the central user narrative behind SkyBell is the capability to observe, listen to, and interact with a visitor at the front door using a smartphone.
your users, outline how a customer will use your product (user stories). For example, the central user story behind SkyBell is the ability to see, hear, and communicate with a visitor at the front door through a smartphone.
Translate each user story into a product requirement. In the case of SkyBell, this involves a camera, speaker, microphone, and mobile app. Be unequivocal in your descriptions to facilitate your engineering teams’ understanding.
Prioritize Key Features
Prioritizing user narratives is pivotal; encompass only the most essential features in your initial release. Additional features can be incorporated at a later stage. Initially, we aimed to launch with both Android and iOS. However, we opted to focus solely on iOS initially, unveiling Android six weeks later. In hindsight, this choice expedited our progress.
Assemble an Expert Engineering Team
Recruit engineering expertise with a track record of success in your specific domain. For hardware, consider professionals with experience in mass manufacturing, not merely engineering design. In the software realm, seek out programmers with past projects closely aligned with your objectives.
Implement Project Management Tools for Accountability
Gantt charts prove invaluable for scheduling pivotal development milestones and enforcing accountability within your engineering team. It’s crucial to have unwavering faith in an engineering resource that adheres to a Gantt chart or a similar project management system.
We brought our concept to Indiegogo and amassed $585,000 from early adopters. Crowdfunding not only furnishes financial backing but also aids in procuring early customers, securing press coverage, and obtaining user feedback. Additionally, angel investors and incubators serve as dependable funding sources in the initial stages.
Maintain Daily Team Meetings
When time is of the essence, convening with your team daily, particularly if they are external vendors, is imperative. Initially, we held meetings twice a week. Nevertheless, as our deadline loomed closer, we transitioned to daily meetings, significantly expediting our progress.
Opt for Domestic Manufacturing
We designed, engineered, and manufactured SkyBell in the United States. Engaging a local team facilitated prompt communication due to being in the same time zone, eliminated language barriers, and expedited product delivery. While cost differentials may exist, they are offset by the benefits of speed and precision.
Declare a Launch Date
Regardless of your best intentions, there’s a high likelihood of missing your shipping deadline, whether it’s set at six or twelve months. It’s prudent to set a date and commit to it to maintain accountability to your customers, stakeholders, and yourself. This imposed deadline-induced pressure proves beneficial for you and your engineering team.