Welcome to our step-by-step process for mapping out your success in bringing a new product to market. This system has been developed by the Bucknell SBDC Engineering Development Services (EDS) and has been informed by case studies of hundreds of small business clients in Pennsylvania. You should find this system equally valid whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur with a new invention or an existing company seeking to develop innovative new products. This process reveals the best practices in developing and commercializing new products so you can do it right the first time...so you don't have to do it over! If you don't take advantage of the knowledge and experience of those who have been successful (and those who have failed), you may find you never even get that second chance. So make a commitment right now to yourself and those depending on you that you will follow a disciplined path.
How the System Works
It’s like building a house. The first level – Row A, Investigation – is the foundation. The details of this investigation will need to support all future construction. It must be built with certain characteristics that ensure it will offer the proper support over the life of the building. Below we show those attributes and compare them to items on the map. Save or print out a copy of the Flex-Trac Client Map (PDF Format) for reference.
- Site selection = the value proposition, the first place to start. Some sites, like some ideas, are more suitable than others to build a house upon.
- Strength of foundation = completing the entire row to the best of your or your team’s ability.
- Continuity of foundation (all parts of foundation equal in strength) = all parts of map thought through carefully.
- Depth of foundation = an appropriately detailed draft of a business plan (not too deep, not too shallow).
- Meeting building codes = following best practices for activities to be undertaken.
- Home builder = you and whatever experts need to be brought in to get the job done right.
Just as you would build a home foundation as solidly as you can, then perhaps allow it to rest a little before continuing, likewise with a product development effort. Let the information in the initial business plan sink in a bit. Then, inspect it again to see if any cracks may be developing. Repair any damage before continuing.
The second level– Row B, Feasibility – continues along the same path. It is analogous to applying the decking which will eventually become the finished floors. The rows C, D and E follow a similar logic, so that in the end you have a beautiful – and soundly built – home, equal to a product launch. One last analogy is in order here. Just like in a house, all the elements must work together in harmony and be done in the highest quality way…or we introduce the potential for collapse.
Why the System Works
The system is based upon hundreds of best-practices studies of real-life product launches in thousands of companies. The PASBDC has added to those studies our own real-life experience through hundreds of commercialization efforts with entrepreneurs and small business spanning all industries throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
What do I do next?
Contact your local SBDC www.pasbdc.org to get started. You will work with business consultants and technology specialists who will work with you to assess the status of your product development effort. They will guide you through this process, and refer you to EDS for direct technical assistance at the appropriate time.
Finally, a few words of caution:
We meet many independent inventors and established companies alike, who seek to "shortcut" their way to market with their inventions. Shortcuts may be prudent and the system is intended to be flexible … but always be sure to make informed decisions. One shortcut that should never be made is focusing only on the invention and prototyping. Smart inventors know finding someone to buy the invention, regardless of whether they will manufacture or license, is not an afterthought… it should be the always thought.