How To Develop A Product
The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
How To Develop A Product
Also sponsored by Cereal Entrepreneur
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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but it's to focus on mvp minimum viable product we've all heard the term before but when it comes to hardware it's particularly important but of course it crosses lines into all elements of business whether it's service or whether it's a software piece you really need to think about how to make your best feature the real innovation that golden knuckle that you thought about how do you make that shine and nothing else so we have a motto um that's plastered across all of our design from offices it's a brilliantly simple design modern clean sophisticated edgy but focusing on that one or maybe two core features for your first version [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin millers serial entrepreneur that has grown several startups into seven and eight-figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and if you ever need help feel free to go to strategymeeting.com and grab some time and we can chat now today is another good expert episode and so we have kevin mako and kevin is the president of now i forgot now i'm going to or mess up the the name i know it's mako but i think there's a couple words that go on and go with that right mako design yeah macro design and inventory okay make mac oh sorry and i i i slaughtered that whole thing i said mako designed it or a mako it's a tobacco and then design i forgot the design so you know what you are we get we got both sides and it's all good either way all right so mac o design and so today we're going to talk a little bit in the expert episode kind of about you know things that so a lot of times you know on my end when we're doing patents and trademarks now we'll have somebody that comes in and says i've got a great idea or you know usually hopefully a little bit beyond this the idea stage but then it's a matter of discussing okay you know how do we protect this if before you go out and tell the world and show the world and give them all your great ideas what can you do to protect the brand or to protect the invention and that but there's kind of the things that run in parallel to that and one of those is going to be actually making the product you're developing the product right so not only do you want to come up with an idea that you're protected but you also have to deliver some of the marketplace so that's where kevin will talk a little bit about today is you know when you're trying to figure out how you do product development how you do design work how you do maybe manufacturing how you get into all of the product side of bringing something to market and even what precedes that of how you actually take an idea from a concept to something that's tangible with you know in whatever form that might be and so we'll have a good conversation and a good expert so with that much as an introduction welcome on the podcast kevin thank you very happy to be here so give it before we jump into all the fun questions of uh product development design and all that give us a maybe a one or two minute background just kind of as to what you do why why you know what you're talking about and you know what uh what uh people should why people should trust you well uh you know it's been an interesting journey i started this business in high school uh almost 20 years ago the whole goal was very simple how do we take global caliber design high-end top-tier designers but apply it to startups and small product businesses and traditionally 20 years ago that was um considered completely uh off the charts bonkers of an idea if anybody had either the size or the caliber of a design firm like we are today 90 plus percent of their business would be fortune 500 clients and in fact every design for my new everyone that i talked to my mentor said oh you know what you avoid startups like the plague they are a stepping stone you don't want to work with them um if you have to to pay the bills go for it but eventually you know you want those big revolving monthly contracts well i disagreed i didn't i didn't like that philosophy the industry was archaic the way product development was done was very archaic especially from a startup standpoint so i incorporated in university i then went and studied uh in hong kong and hong kong university for supply chain management and manufacturing and all that and then when i was done i was section class president at the ivy business school um which is the harvard business school sister school picking my litter of jobs and i turned them all down and said you know what i've got to try this business but please let me back in the door if i screw it up and the reason i laugh is a little bit i have the same feelings in the sense that you look at the legal industry and that's a lot of the same way it is you get the fortune 500 clients you know the big clients that pay a huge amount you know huge monthly recurring revenue and you build your business around that there's nothing wrong with that i get that it's not a bad business model a lot of successful law firms that do that but it's kind of the same thing of all of the startups and the small businesses that are needing oftentimes need the most help because they don't have the resources to do it in-house they don't have the resources to do it on their all their own tend to get left in the dust or in the dark because the people don't want to focus on them because they want to focus on the big clients and the other thing is those are usually the most fun clients in the sense that you know big clients you're usually a small cog in a big wheel they have a lot of projects going on it takes years to bring the pass and they have multiple pro if one product doesn't fail you know they'll move on to the next one type of thing whereas startups they only have a one shot they have to make it work and they have one idea and you get to have play a much more intricate role with them so i just you know smiled as you're telling your story as i think that there's i think that in a lot of industries whether it's the product development legal industry or others the conventional wisdom of not doing startups or small businesses not focusing on them if you do it right you can obviously prove that wrong well that's what you've done with miller ip which was really exciting to me you know looking at uh being on your show because you built a and are kind of going through that journey very similar to what i did 20 years ago um you know you're tackling it in a different way you're tackling the problems a different way you're making it accessible but you're also not sacrificing on quality and you're figuring out how to make that that balance but also figure out what makes it really tick to protect and help the small folks and that's really what it comes down to and you're right it's much more enjoyable working with these types of clients i wouldn't trade this for the world if i was offered you know a complete switch right now and i'd have one massive client that paid me 10 times the amount i'd turn it down because that's not my passion i built this company from that which was zero working out of my condo when i when i finished both of those universities i had a part-time industrial designer working out of my condo project by project basis cash flow based i had no investors no debt no financing and grew that to four offices from coast to coast um miami austin san francisco and toronto we've got 30 a 30-person team at this point in time we've worked on a thousand client products from end to end so the interesting thing over this whole 20-year journey is that it really starts to become very very abundantly clear what it takes to succeed in the product space which if you're listening and you don't have a physical product idea or an invention isn't on your horizon these exact same methodologies will apply whether it's a service-based business or whether it's an app or a software piece of services because the interesting thing about hardware is it really takes almost an extra level of planning and extra level of due diligence because you can't just simply change a line of code and fix a problem so if you can become an expert at understanding the methodologies that allow a hardware product to succeed those lessons transfer through everything else so so now without any more ado because we could chat a lot more about what why we love startups why they're fun and our history but i'm sure the listeners are going to want to hear a little bit more and get that expertise as to what how to actually start to tackle this so maybe with that transition we'll jump into it a bit but you know first question i'd probably throw out to you is the one that you i'll typically get you know aside from patent trademarks but if i'm getting in the product side or the business side and they have questions um you know they'll say okay so i've got maybe they have a rough prototype right they've either done they've you know closed it together they've made it you know they roughed it out they've done a maybe it's only a cad rendering or they've done 3d modeling they've done a hand sketch you know they kind of got that a little bit beyond a concept a little bit beyond the idea got some details but then the question inevitably comes is now what do i do or what do i do next or how do i tackle this and so you know i'll ask it in two different ways you know one is if they have a bit of a budget and if they have ability to go and you know use your services that's one thing if they're if they don't have the budget how do they tackle so it's a two-part question if you don't have much of a budget where should you start if you have a bit of a budget how do you get started well we can actually you know go up to the helicopter view of what's going on here and and you know it's a great segue into what i wanted to talk about because the first the very first thing that that you can look at whether you're professionally developing a product whether you're tinkering around with something in the garage or whether you're just sketching something on napkin or doing google searches the very first kind of tip for success for a new product no matter what way you are developing it or what way you are trying to commercialize it number one this is a big one um and it is very much not adhered to for the most part in the very early stages until it's learned but it's to focus on mvp minimum viable product we've all heard the term before but when it comes to hardware it's particularly important but of course it crosses lines into all elements of business whether it's service or whether it's a software piece you really need to think about how to make your best feature the real innovation that golden knuckle that you thought about how do you make that shine and nothing else so we have a motto um that's plastered across all of our design from offices it's a brilliantly simple design modern clean sophisticated edgy but focusing on that one or maybe two core features for your first version this is particularly important let me ask you a question on that because and i've railed on the i hate the term minimally viable product but i'll give you the reason why and then we'll because in my mind it always feels like it's the crappiest product you can put out as quickly as possible and you know and then it's not a good product it doesn't represent what you want and so how do you define minimally i'll tell you how i define minimally viable product and then let's hear your definition see how they match up but maybe they'll match up but you know me is look let's look at the constrains we have if we have 50 000 budget we have 20 weeks you know or three months to do something and we have to get to here then let's see what what's the best product we can put out within that time or what meet matches within our constraints as of putting out the worst product you know or the crap you know what i'll call the crappiest product so is that kind of how do you define minimally viable product and how you know what is that when you say that what do you envision because i've heard a lot of different definitions and everything from put out as crappy a thing as you can just put down the market see if anybody will pay for it to you know more of my definition was let's put out a good product but make sure that we it meets our constraints of time budget money and effort but how do you can define that you know that's a perfect question i would actually flip it around and say the key to great mvp is not getting crap out the door in fact it's the exact opposite we think about mvp especially around a product you want to get an absolutely stunning high quality ultra robust very well designed very well developed but simple clean focused version of your product as soon as you start cutting out features which is an amazing exercise if you're if you've got a product right now i would challenge you to do this very simple exercise write down all the features that you that you want or have or need for this product and this can happen at any phase in development even if you have the product already out there do this focus on your features you're going to write down a list try and get that list really to encompass all of the ideas all the features all the things that you're thinking about look at that list scratch off half of them right away look at that that this now that you've cut in half scratch half of those off as maybes those last three to five points that you have that's your product scrap absolutely everything else especially if you're a startup this allows you in an mvp format to focus on perfecting the quality of your one or two key main um benefits or that key invention that you have and nothing else so this means it's going to be cheaper to develop shorter to develop less cost to develop in terms of overall time frames and overall cycles uh easier to manufacture easier to discover defects better reviews as your customers actually just are buying that thing for that one feature and there's less defects less warranty issues less returns etc now you're ready to think about what is the next feature or the next edition but you won't be doing it at that point in time on your own thoughts or your own dreams and ideally not on your own dollar at that point you're going to be doing it both on what you learned throughout that process and what you actually got to market but also and arguably more importantly you're going to be learning those next features from your customers what do they want either customers that you sold to or prospective customers that said hey if you had this i would have bought it that's the difference between i like your definition that's probably a lot more in line with that because i mean you hear all the books and the gurus or the podcasts or whatever and they're like just get something out the door and see if they'll pay it and i'm half the time that what do you see the bitterly viable product it's a piece of junk that it it's kind of unfair to the business or the idea in the sense that nobody would ever pay for the junk you know a piece of junk but if you were to refine it and focus it to your point have the you know the features that are the most critical and important first then i think that it it lines up with i think what minimally viable product is intended to mean not what it seems to have evolved to have meaning and here's a trick it will be easier to sell you will actually the less features you have the more units you're going to sell on your first run and i know that's counter-intuitive but start reading some of you know what the best entrepreneurs in the world talk about when they when they use the word niche and niche market the narrower the more specific the more targeted the market is the higher the probability that an individual within that niche market will actually make a purchasing decision when it comes to buying a new product you have to get over that hurdle of somebody actually whipping out their credit card and placing the order online or buying it in the store or whatever else to get over that hurdle you need to make it as easy as possible the easiest way to do that is to focus on one pain point to one set of demographics and scale from that two main reasons for this one you have a global marketplace so i would have a hard time anybody convincing me as a startup right now that they think that they will saturate their niche market within their first product run it's simply not going to happen unless you're a even billion dollar companies struggle with saturating their niche so focus on that product understanding unless you're the snuggie and then i think they did finally resaturate or the pet rock everybody that wanted one finally had one and they had to diversity but even then it took them a while to saturate the market and make their inroads so that also started a billion dollar toy company called spin master toys right which also happens to be a client of ours for for some of our client products but you know the interesting thing about um products as well when it comes to selling it is that there's you know analysis paralysis from a buyer so the more features you have although you may perceive them as well you're adding benefits to the user things they may use you create something called analysis paralysis or confusion where the buyer won't actually take that tipping point moment to whip out their credit card instead they're saying i don't understand it or i don't get it and they turn away so the quicker you can describe your product the faster somebody's going to make a buying decision the simpler your product is the faster it will be to execute on that marketing message that one key feature that you're solving for them you know and i think even a good example then we'll dive into a couple additional questions is you know you take what would be fitbit versus what would be the apple watch and look at the even how quickly they adopted fitbit original product they came out was dead simple it was a step counter that went on your wrist and told you how many steps you did today and that was your whole pitch right versus you had apple watch it had a whole bunch is it a phone is it a doing apps is it texting and kind of did some things and it took multiple iterations to even get to where people are adopting it today because it was a bit of a muddled message even though you had apple that was a huge company lots of marketing dollars big following and still people couldn't really figure out how they were going to use the apple watch for a long period of time and i'd still argue that most people still don't know what they're going to do with an apple watch it's just apple and it's a cool factor and you know they use it for one or two things but most of the time it's they don't use it for half of the features that it has versus a fitbit you know they've they came out one thing step counter on your wrist or it used to be a little thing that you clipped on what so now let's dive into and there are so many rabbit holes we'll have to try and get through as many as we can for fun but you know you take the one of the biggest dilemmas that people and startup or an entrepreneur has is once they have the idea they have you know either a little bit of money that they have set aside for savings and maybe they have a little bit of a friends and family round and they have you know a little bit or or their self-funding is from their day job or they you know they have something of that nature but how do they even start to afford to do product development in the sense that you know if they really want to get a product their minimally viable product let's say they go through the list they tick off half of the list and then take off half the list again and get their three or four or five features of that that core set of features how do they get started on beyond just hey i've made something i 3d printed it myself or i made a drawing covered i got a sketch when is i that's a lot of questions in there how do they get started and when is it too early or too late to get started kind of when's that sweet spot and how do they afford it and i know there's a whole bunch of questions in there so i'll pause and at least let you try and answer a few yeah you know what um i actually think i can pull those together so first things first when you're thinking about so you've got your mvp you you really understand and you have your focus um number one remember that's the first thing second thing is focus on manufacturing as your end goal which is going to lead back to budgeting and steps and when's the right time for all these things to happen it's really important that you understand the goal especially for a hardware business but again this applies to software this applies to services what is your actual first customer relationship's going to look like how are you actually planning and how how are you actually looking at your end goal see it's great to plan you know you hear all these things about planning five years out and working it back and all that it's great to plan that that long but i can tell you as a startup whatever you plan five years from now simply is not going to be where you are from five years from now you will pivot you will change opportunities will present themselves it will be a different landscape what you can control is the near future goal and the near future maybe is looking three months out six months 12 months out you have and it's still not a perfect science but you have a tremendous amount of control on what you focus on at that point in time for a product company it all comes down to manufacturing whether you're planning to license your ip out or whether you're telling planning to sell your ip to a partner or whatever else or whether you're planning to go to manufacturing yourself it actually doesn't matter which of those channels you choose to go what does matter is that you understand that the value happens at the manufacturing front so even if you're looking to license your product understand the person who's licensing it from you the company that's doing that they are only looking at manufacturing and obviously how that technology fits into it they need to sell units it's a very simple game manufacturing comes down to selling units and somebody buying them so unfortunately in the world there's all this confusion in terms of well what what does it cost what is it what is necessary for a product to succeed it has to get to production one way or another so if you understand the end goal it's okay i have this invention and one way or another i need to get to production then you can start stepping back and say okay at what point um am i going to tap out my own personal resources whether that be technology aka skills let's say you're a designer or a tinkerer or whatever else you have the ability to rough this thing to a certain point yourself and or and probably and financially how are you going to actually get this thing because everything costs money development costs money prototyping and of course manufacturing costs money ip protection cost money all these things do cost money so how do you actually stage that back first things first in terms of the skill base i would actually argue even though i run a design firm do as much as you can yourself to really drill down the idea and even if you have no engineering skills whatsoever build this thing out of wood in your garage hack it together with putty you know bust out that uh your kid's plato set and see what you can come up with to really start to visualize and understand the product that you're trying to build do the research that you can look online the entire global resource at your disposal so look online and see what's going on in and around that industry you can actually do a lot and push really push far without spending a dime but now that gets into the point where you decide okay i'm ready to take the serious i understand my value proposition i've got a simple product i know i want to get to manufacturing one way or another what do i do next my second piece of advice which also hurts my business as a design firm but is definitely better for customers in the long run is push off funding outside funding as long as you can the further that you are able to develop a product yourself um or let's call it um you know friends and family or whatever else keeping it in the bubble um you know a loan from grandma whatever it is the further that you can develop that product yourself the exponentially more valuable that product becomes so if you're to try and raise twenty 20 000 today on a product that's just a sketch that's going to cost you a considerable amount of equity something where if you have just pushed it into design or further into prototyping or further into protected prototyping or further into actually pre-production or even a production run your business becomes multiple times more valuable and you will be really upset that you gave up that initial 20 grand for half your business when nowadays you could get 500 000 for 20 of your business so it's really important to push funding as far as you can and understand that equity is built substantially over time the more that you actually put into it so now i think in building and i think that's a great point and that's even what i think on whether it's intellectual property product development or anything first of all i like the point of do your homework there's a lot of resources out there as imperfect as they may be or is you know sometimes when i hear people they read online with intellectual property i cringe because it's so wrong but there's a lot of good resources out there and doing your homework ahead of time first of all saves you money convinces yourself that it's worthwhile to pursue and it starts to refine things but then to your point pushing it along as far as possible such that you're not giving up that equity ahead of time or too early or too much can create huge dividends in the back end so let's say they've done all that and now they've reached a point whatever you know they push it along as far as they can whether it's the wood block model whether it's 3d printing whether it's hand sketches and cads and whatever it might be they're saying okay i i can't do that i i've reached the limit of what i can do and i need somebody else's help how do they start to engage product development do they come to you with that prototype and they say here's what it is you know make it make it work or what is that engagement or how do they start to tackle that product development phase for sure i mean you know something to keep in mind and it comes down to you know one of the two categories you've got money but you also have expertise even if you are a designer or engineer at some point you're gonna you're gonna hit the limit it takes it takes on a non-electronic consumer product it takes six to seven highly trained experts to get to make a good quality modernized 2021 product from sketch through to manufacturing not including the actual manufacturing itself that that's your essentially your design resources so you know you've got your your sketch designer your concept designer industrial design mechanical engineering materials designer then you've got your project manager who understands the flow of all those things and how they go together your manufacturing engineer your tool designer that's before you even go into production right and that also it includes obviously design engineering prototyping along the way so realistically speaking at some point you're going to tap out those uh your own internal resources in terms of skill sets and at that point is where you have kind of your best opportunity to professionally and properly develop something that is to production now there are a couple ways of doing it obviously working with a design firm like ours especially one of the cars that is tailored to startups which is a bit unique is helpful but firms sometimes can do this in-house you can hire on your own team as well that generally takes considerably longer you'll go through a bit more learning curves but that is another way of doing it arguably that's going to be more expensive and take more time in any case but of course i'm going to be a bit biased as a design firm owner but realistically speaking it it took us probably 10 years to get that core 8 to 10 person team together to be able to to really well execute on a product because not only do you have to hire great talent and have the systems to ensure that you are hiring the best of the best they have to work well together and then on top of all that you have to have all the processes and systems built in place to how that flows to get you to production in any case when you are ready let's say to work with a design firm or to hire outside help i think the most important thing to consider with this is this part of your overall long-term business is like by far the most important piece of the business and that comes into ip as well right if you have good quality ip filed you have well-designed product that's smoothly produced that allows you a real powerful shot at the market so in the in the in the long run whatever you're spending on development whether it's 10 grand or 20 grand or if it's a bigger project two or three hundred thousand that should be a drop in the bucket to the overall business the true cost that the cost that most people don't really understand is the fact that you've had this like once or maybe twice in a lifetime opportunity where you've thought of an invention that really changes the world and you're trying to now nickel and dime and shortcut and find ways to execute on this without actually doing it properly that could cost you that business and although it seems like it's worth nothing now talk to any of our clients talk to any person that you know that succeeded in the product space that have built multi-million dollar businesses and they would shudder at the concept if they had if they had failed on that business and they never would have had that innovation let alone the thousands or tens of thousands or hundred thousands of people that have derived value from from that so it's really important to consider no matter what way you're gonna develop your product no matter what way you're gonna go into production make sure for your first product if you keep it simple do the darn thing right the first time make a high quality product that really well hits that pain point that you've discovered that is very niche very focused ensure that you have that production ready so that your job now becomes whether it's licensing or selling those two things you're building the business you're making a multi-million dollar business out of this thing you don't want to be rapid going around and around in circles for years trying to patch tiny holes that will cost you an opportunity is exponentially more than just doing it right the first time executing on that and then really worst case scenario if if you want if money ends up being an achilles heel get an investor on board at that point now you have a quality product in production or pre-production or whatever else now you're ready to actually good financing rates ideally a good equity deal because you've developed all the technology you filed the ip now you're actually in good shape to raise proper money that you can pay your own bills back and then i'll obviously use that money to scale forward but don't keep out in the early phases so now let me ask you this though so one of the questions that's always difficult and i it's hard on especially on product development and i've done it whether software or physical product and everything else is to get a or to come up with a budget or to know what it is and that in the sense that you're early on a lot of times you're figuring things out you're going things along the way and you're adding features and to your point if you remove the features it can certainly focus and make it a better budget but how do you even start to budget for or understand what this is going to cost is that hey i should get pushed as far as long as i can come to you we'll sit down we'll figure out a budget should they come to you with an idea of what their budget allows or kind of how do you tackle budgets and costs and everything else when you're looking at that phase of product development yeah i mean first things first you need you need a ballpark right and you're going to get everything under the sun you're going to get you know a student group of designers that say oh we could probably whip this together for five grand and then you're going to call you know global b2b engineering house that's going to tell you it's going to be 5 million so and there's kind of almost everything in between um realistically speaking though you should you should be trying to find a firmer people or designers or whatever whatever else that align with your value and your your current kind of level of development make sure that you've got at least a quality baseline and just talk to the experts get a plan i mean for us this stuff is easy because we we've dealt with well over a thousand products so it's pretty easy for us to look at a particular trinket or gadget or even consumer electronic and at least ballpark it of course as you get into things things can absolutely change but usually when you um have enough experience around something if you're focusing on mvp if you're not trying to create some crazy actual technology some very experimental unique technology i would avoid that all together your innovation shouldn't you shouldn't be coming up with an innovation that has something that's never been done before and then just call a design firm and say hey can you figure out how to make a hoverboard hover i've got this great idea that's going to be extremely expensive very difficult and yeah it could have nowhere else you can make a hoverboard ah that would be awesome so i'm still waiting for the hoverboard for back to future yeah so really i mean the important thing here is to focus on that mvp which also helps focus on mvp of features as you kind of eliminate that feature creep that analysis paralysis all that sort of stuff you get down to a nice clean buildable thing if you have a strong design team it's fairly easy for them to look at it and say plus or minus 10 to 20 here's a pretty good idea of what your end to end budget is going to be knowing that if you add something crazy yeah you're probably going to add your budget or if you shrink it down even more you could shrink your budget so um you know it helps obviously just to just to talk to somebody who's been in the space for a long time and understands what they're talking about in terms of of first of all the type of people are the type of firms that you should be working with on your particular type of project because every project is unique but also understand really what you're getting into so that you can see it through or at least see it to a point where you say you know what i'm gonna get it to let's say a rough prototype beautiful cad designs figure out the electronic engineering on the back end and at least i have a pretty good prototype model i can file some ip on then i'm going to try and get an investor around to get me to production and then i'm going to get a you know a seed round to then get me through to scaling that those types of conversations can help you understand like where does your technical and financial budget end and what do you need to get to to push you to the next round money is actually not the holdback to products um and we're we're running down on time so i have at least one more question and then we'll kind of move to wrap things up and there's so many fun things that at least i think that would be fun to talk to talk on but one of the other difficult and it's kind of across the service industry it's the same for attorneys it's the same for product development it's a lot of different services especially when you're getting into a realm that you don't know as much about right in the sense that when people come in to you know if you're a startup small business they're they don't know a ton about patents they may have got or searched it a little bit online got a general idea but you know it's always difficult to say are you doing a great job or doing a poor job are you taking me for all they're worth and racking up the bill are you giving me a deal so kind of what are some of the criteria ways to figure out and i'm you know beyond just a mako and certainly go with you know um go with your for your design firm but if they're looking across the country and trying to figure out who to hire how to hire who to vet how to vet what are some maybe a few tips or ways to figure out if you've got a good person in your corner that won't take advantage of you and will do a good job or someone that's just going to milk you for as much as you you're worth and then move on dev good good question and you know what like for us it's actually not a priority um for getting we've kind of gone past the point where we're trying to you know attract new clients and all that sort of stuff of course we we have somebody that's a great fit that's perfect but if they're almost more important nowadays and this comes to our strategy folks and people on the front in the office if it's not a good fit that's also okay as well and what we can do at a bare minimum is at least point them in the right direction so for us we're not you know we're not in a position at this point in time where we're trying to say hey look call us we'll make your product let's get it done if anything it's it's call us let's see if there's a fit if not let's at least point you in the right direction so you know i appreciate you bringing that up and bringing up our firm but realistically speaking now everything i'm doing in terms of guest speaking and podcasts and all this sort of stuff it's really to ensure that people find the best fit for them for their product there's many instances where our firm absolutely is not the right fit for a particular product or from particular category and it's important to actually highlight those and identify them so now if yeah that's what i was going to say now that with that in mind what if you were if you had the world's next best idea for whatever your product is and you're going out and trying to figure out who to hire who to work with what would be some of your criteria yeah and that's the next step number one look at the projects that they've done that's that's the easiest thing make sure very first steps first make sure that you your vision jives with their expertise so if you're looking at projects and they're not really anything like what yours is or it's in a completely different industry or they they look archaic or old school and you want something like fresh and innovative and modern or the opposite right it looks super modern and and you know 2021 but you're looking for something with like 1950s look and feel to it then you're at the wrong place so number one just look at their work this is a mix of art and engineering at the same time especially with new products more so than ever today people want a quality product but they also want something that is beautiful so one look at that now two okay you love their work now how do you know that you're not gonna get taken for a ride the easy one is there are all kinds of review channels out there nowadays it is very very quick to see and look at the actual products that you can identify okay here's a review here's a person here's the actual product that they did i can now follow their story whatever else like make sure that the reviews you're looking at are real people that's simple right and it'll be very easy to see if if you have a if there's a great firm and they do great design work uh or even if it's an individual right and they do great design and you're working on one piece look at the work they've done look at the reviews from real people that you can qual quantify and see okay i i know them they i know their website i see yes i see their design on the customer's website and on the firm or the person site that i'm looking to hire that's an easy way to qualify it right then you need to understand um you know we get down to that budgeting thing is this a company let's say you love the design and yes they're a great firm and and their customers love them but would a customer like you love them is is the bigger question make sure that the type of customers that they work with are are similar to who you are as an individual both in terms of their brand promise and how you feel about them but also in terms of their size if you go to a firm that's primarily working with a fortune 500 customer base even if you give them a million dollars you will still be at the bottom of the barrel in terms of their hierarchy of the type of people that that they will staff on your project conversely if it's a student group that's really just you know um not exactly in tune with your product but they you know they're cheap and whatever else you may not be getting the global results that you're looking for unless of course you're just looking for a stepping stone which is okay as well but that's where it really comes down to making sure that the work is what you like making sure that they're credible and then of course making sure that they're going to service you as an individual well you want to make sure that partnership will be very strong they'll be providing you with exponentially more value than the money you are giving them and i think i think that's some great criterion and certainly gives people and i'm sure that there are more questions and more things and nuances and things to think about but i think you know one is looking at their products as if i were to summarize look at their products what they've previously done do they have experience in the areas that you're going to need or want your product develop in and two is doing refer referrals and reviews and i think that to your point you can do online reviews and even sometimes and i've done this with some of the companies will say hey do you have other clients or people that you've done work for before that we can reach out to and talk with and it shocks me how many people never actually just call a few of their previous clients and see what their experience was did it feel like they're running up the bill did it feel like they were treating them well were they responsive were they you know working with it did they feel like they're listening to you if you were to spend 10 minutes on the phone with a couple of their previous clients or people or current clients you would get a great feel for what they're you know whether or not they'd be a good match yep yep the more that you can qualify the better and i just want to before we kind of tap out here um one thing on money i kind of left hanging earlier on that i think is really important you know i mentioned that money really isn't the achilles heel of products i'll tell you if you focus on minimal viable product and look at kind of um focusing on manufacturing the final thing that you can do is hustle prioritize and learn you throw those three things together a true drive and hustle for this thing to succeed in combination with what we talked about earlier on money will come in fact it will be up to you to decide like i said try and push it as far as you can it'll be up to you to decide who you want to work with and what you feel is a fair evaluation far more than the other way around if you hustle prioritize and learn as now everyone's listening and if they made it this far in the conversation it means they're eager to learn about products so if you follow those things in conjunction with what we talked about earlier about mvp and all of that money will come if you keep pushing it it very rarely is that the achilles heel that completely kills a product unless of course you're willing to give up no equity may take you a little longer and people do it but realistically speaking if you're willing to share in a bit of the outcome and you've done great work on all these things and have a good innovation that money will be there there's a lot of money and in fact just a quick stat um there is more uh household savings in america right now than any time in human history before as a result of this crisis so yes there's a crisis but always look at the silver lining as a small business and entrepreneur there's a ton of money sitting there waiting to be invested back into the market or into startups or into friends or into family or whatever else it is there but it's up to you to take the first steps to actually provide them with value thus push the products as far as you can forward then start asking for that money only when you really absolutely need it no and i think that's all our awesome advice and i definitely encourage people to take that to heart as they're jumping in and dive in on projects we did hit on it we are reaching towards the end of the podcast and there are always so many more things and questions and things to hit on than we ever have time to but as people as we wrap up if people want to whether it is they do want to be your client even whether or not you're taking on new clients or what that might look like they want to reach out find out more pick your brain be a client be an investor be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you connect up and find out more you know what the thing that i'm most passionate about right now is actually our podcast the product startup podcast productstartup.com if you're in the hardware space in any way or you're interested in hardware or just curious in terms of how products get developed i've recently taken over the show it's the leading podcast in the hardware development industry and we've got all kinds of crazy guests on there and good stuff of course you know always happy if you want to check out our website at makodesign.com but i'd really encourage you just start your journey with learning and podcast is one of the best ways to do it you've learned a ton here um with with devin and you know he's got a ton of amazing episodes and a fantastic podcast so um this is you know an easy stepping stone especially in the product space just hop over there take a listen everything's free it's it's literally just community building and nothing else so um yeah i really encourage that if you got value out of so check it out um if you ever want to reach out i'm usually discoverable on basically every social media platform just look me up but uh you know thanks devin i really appreciate being on the show very enjoyable really good and thought-provoking questions so uh looking forward to uh talking with you further one day all right well i and i appreciate the yeah i definitely encourage people to check out the podcast check out more of beyond socials and even check out your website and here all of the above just to get as you mentioned gain that education do their homework figure out what what they don't know and and start to to push things forward because i think to er a lot of what we've kind of commonality is money will come if you're if you're tenacious if you keep pushing on things and if you keep working on it but you need to put in that effort and that time and that a bit in order to push your product forward and with that as we wrap up thank you again again kevin it's been fun it's been a pleasure and wish or the next leg of your journey even better than the last thanks david much appreciated you