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Kevin Mako

The Right Product Ideation and Development Path for Entrepreneurs with Kevin Mako

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Kevin Mako is the Founder and President of MAKO Design + Invent, a product design firm that takes physical products from the idea stage all the way to store shelves. Kevin is also the host of The Product Startup Podcast, which is the number one podcast of the hardware product development industry. Kevin is an international keynote speaker, the Founder of The Generation Fund, a registered charity for Canada’s top high school students, and a Mentor for Ryerson Innovation.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Rich Goldstein’s appearance on Kevin Mako’s podcast, The Product Startup Podcast
  • How Kevin got started in product design and his thoughts on starting a business immediately after college
  • The path entrepreneurs should take in product ideation and development for 2022
  • How technology has made it easier to get new products in front of customers
  • Kevin shares his tips and tricks for selling a product
  • Rich explains what entrepreneurs need to know about intellectual property protection
  • The value of having a prototype when testing and looking for funding
  • How to get in touch with Kevin

In this episode…

The process of innovation has been evolving over the years, mostly driven by advancements in technology. Better research and development, stronger and faster communication, and support from accelerators have skyrocketed product ideation and development. Technology has also made it easier to crowdfund using a prototype, get a product tested, and receive feedback from customers.

This means that it’s easier for entrepreneurs to iterate or improve their products. However, when starting a business, it is very important that an entrepreneur knows and understands the end goal. You can’t focus solely on product development: you also have to consider the strategies you’ll use to protect the product and sell to your target customers. According to Kevin Mako, this is how you create a valuable business. 

In this episode of the Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast, Rich Goldstein interviews Kevin Mako, the Founder and President of MAKO Design + Invent, about the process of coming up with a concept, developing the idea, and selling your product. Kevin also shares his tips for selling a product and explains how technology has made it easier to create a prototype, develop the actual product, and get investor funding. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Goldstein Patent Law, a firm that helps protect inventors’ ideas and products. They have advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 25 years. So if you’re a company that has a software, product, or design you want protected, you can go to https://goldsteinpatentlaw.com/. They have amazing free resources for learning more about the patent process. 

You can email their team at welcome@goldsteinpc.com to explore if it’s a match to work together. Rich Goldstein has also written a book for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work, which is called ‘The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.’

Intro (00:09):
Welcome to innovations and breakthroughs with your host, rich Goldstein, talking about the evolutionary, the revolutionary, the inspiration and the perspiration and those aha elements that change everything. And now here’s your host, Rich Goldstein,

Rich (00:33):
Rich Goldstein here, host of the innovations and breakthroughs podcasts, where I feature top leaders in the path they took to create change. Past guests include Lu Polish, Roland Frazier, and Kevin nations. This episode is brought to you by my company, Goldstein patent law, where we help you to protect your ideas and products we’ve advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 27 years. So if you’re a company that has software product or design, you want protected go to Goldstein patent law.com, where there are amazing free resources for the learning about the patent process. And you could email my team@welcomegoldsteinpc.com to explore if it’s a match to work together. You could also check out the book I wrote for the American bar association that explains in plain English, how patents work it’s called the ABA consumer guide to obtaining a patent. I have with me here today, Kevin Meko, Kevin is the founder of product designed for Maco design plus invent.

Rich (01:24):
They take physical products from the idea stage and bring it all the way to store shelves. Uh, he’s also a host of, of the product startup podcast, which is the number one podcast of the hardware product development industry. And, um, actually, um, we recorded an episode together where he interviewed me and that episode is now live. So I encourage you to go hop over to that podcast, the product startup podcast, and check out the episode that I did over there and, and probably you’d wanna subscribe to see the rest of the episodes that they do. Very interesting stuff, but, um, I am very pleased to welcome here today. Kevin Mako welcome Kevin Rich.

Kevin (02:03):
Thanks so much, very excited to be on the show. And look, I just wanna say before we get going, that was a great episode. And for everyone listening out there, especially if you’re interested in understanding the patent landscape from kind of a, to Z difference between utility and design patents, rich, you did a great job of breaking out all that along with some tips and tricks, especially in the, you know, invention or hardware or physical product industry. So thanks again for being on our show. That was a beauty. So I definitely recommend anyone listening now, check it out at product startup podcast. And, uh, thanks again, rich for being on the show, looking forward to chatting with you today now on your show.

Rich (02:33):
Yeah, my pleasure. And actually, um, a cool thing about that show is we talked about something that I don’t know if I’ve talked about another podcast, which is like, which is kind of like the high level expert tips to how you create a portfolio as you are developing a product as you’re making improvements upon the product. And some people often ask like, you know, should I wait to file the patent? And like, we really talked about the approach that the pros use, um, for, um, doing multiple applications and continuations and continuations in part. So it was good stuff, great episode, you know, you kind of drew out of me something that I haven’t talked about, which is, I think really helpful for people that want to take their patenting to the next level. So thanks for doing that. And yeah, that was fun. And, um, but let’s talk about you.

Rich (03:18):
So, uh, I mean, you’ve, you’ve gone pretty far in the product design industry. A lot of people are, uh, in product design or pretty much, um, one person shops and, um, you’ve grown a team of 30 plus people and you have offices in four different cities and, um, you know, essentially you’ve, you’ve done product design, uh, on a, on a high level, you’ve, you’ve basically taken quite an entrepreneurial journey, um, through, um, you know, developing your company as, as a real company, as an entrepreneurial venture, in addition to the product design, um, stuff that you do. So I think there’s, there’s a lot that you could share with people that are taking their entrepreneurial journey, um, especially, um, product based entrepreneurs, because like, you know, really that’s the, the, the nexus of what, what brings it all together. You’ve had an entrepreneurial journey, um, that, um, and lessons learned there and you’ve worked on thousands of products in terms of developing them. So, uh, very excited to have you here. And so like, in terms of like where to start, I would say, you know, let’s start with how you got into product design. Like, how did it all get started? Yeah, I

Kevin (04:33):
Appreciate that. You know, it started at, uh, it seems now like a long time ago, 20, what about 21 years ago? Uh, just in high school and all of this, I started just because I was struggling to get my invention idea developed. I had this product idea. I wanted to simply get it designed and engineered and taken to production. And I thought it was a cool new hot thing. And back in 99, that was incredibly difficult to do as a startup. So, uh, as I was working through this model and whatnot, I said, well, you know what, forget my little goofy gadget that I came up with. I could really change the world by providing this as a service. How do I create a world class end to end physical product design firm tailored exclusively to startups and inventors? The interesting thing here is when I started imagined rewind 20 years ago, everyone thought I was nuts.

Kevin (05:25):
Every design firm owner that I talked to, whether it’s industrial design or mechanical engineering, uh, even patent agents that I talked to at the time, they said, oh, forget it. You wanna work with startups and inventors like the industrial design firms. They just don’t do that. You know, you, you maybe will work with one or two to pay the bills, but then you wanna opening stone up to those big fortune 500 revolving monthly contracts. And that’s really what at the time, especially pretty much most of the revenue from most of the design firms did that was the business model. So I really went into the grain because I loved entrepreneurship. I loved the startup space. I was one myself. So I created this kind of niche within a niche. And it, you know, it at the idea at that time sounded crazy, but we struck a chord.

Kevin (06:09):
This was in the early days where Kickstarter and Indiegogo started to get the ball rolling. You started seeing university incubators. You started seeing, uh, WeWork style places popping up and all kinds of information and news. And around the entrepreneurship, you even think of shark tank, dragons, den, that sort of stuff, right? This became really hot topics. Entrepreneurship became a hot topic and we put ourselves right into the middle of that. So I went into this business, incorporated it in third year university, 2007, I turned down the job offers, uh, from, from business school that I was at that to go study at Hong Kong university for supply chain management manufacturing, and then did this full-time right outta the gate, $50,000 in student debt. And still to today, I have no investors, no debt, no financing. We’ve grown it to a four office, 30 person design in house, again, same model product development for startups and small businesses. Uh, the very same model that we started with just growing organically all the way up through the pathway there.

Rich (07:08):
Yeah, that’s amazing. Um, and you know, it’s interesting, that’s kind of similar to my journey. Not that this is about me, this is your interview, but just to say that like coming out of law school and starting my own practice is kind of unheard of like, like, you know, like, like your story. It’s like all having all that student debt, I think it was $90,000 in student debt. Um, wow. That point, which, you know, it’s kind of crazy. The kids coming out of law school today, they have like a quarter million dollars in debt. It’s, uh, it’s, it’s pretty, it’s staggering, but, um, but the point is there’s a very heavy pull to get a job, to get a job, to be able to pay those bills. So to like dive into your own business is kind of insane. I guess we’re, we’re too kind of nutty guys right here.

Kevin (07:56):
Yeah, no kidding. I’m still not sure if I’d recommend it straight outta school. <laugh>, you know, I, I would say probably four or five times, I nearly bit, bit the dust because every time that I started making money and I, I wanted to grow the business and double, I had to risk it all again, I had to take all the profits that I earned and then dump it back into the company to either hire a new person or try a new marketing strategy or build out a new office or whatever it was. And throughout my two twenties, it was just this Rocky roller coaster of growth of growing a bit and then risking it all, growing a bit, risking it all. Any one of those could have, you know, not worked out. There are times where I had six weeks cashflow remaining and I was just watching that chip down. And then you land your next customer and whew, you’ve survived a little bit and you you’re gonna push forward a bit. And that roller coaster went on until probably, you know, probably almost close to 10 years, uh, building that business out until we’ve now more kind of stabilized. We, we grow a little bit slower, more organically, uh, more in a more healthy, strategic way than kind of risking the, the whole Fort to, to get to the next level

Rich (08:56):
Now. Right. Wow. Six weeks of cashflow. I mean, I have to say that, like through a lot of my journey, I would’ve been envious of your six weeks of cashflow. <laugh> a lot, a lot closer, you know, to the vest than that over here. Um, you know, very, very often I there’s so many, you know, how many times has it been like, like my God payrolls is weak, you know, and we don’t have it. And like, so what’s it gonna be? You know, and how’s it gonna go? And it’s always worked out, but it’s, um, yeah, I mean, it, it’s it, like you said, it’s like, um, not clear that I’d recommended to everyone. Um, there is something to be said for are having that, that stability. Um, but you know, here we are, like all those years later, like we’re still here. <laugh>, we’re still here, same company on both on both sides.

Rich (09:49):
You, you know, your company, my company, the same company that we founded, right. Outta school, somehow we survived and that’s awesome. Ands, see what we can teach people from kind of like what, what we’ve learned. And, um, I, you know, I think there’s a lot of different angles. We can go at this from, but, um, let’s just say with regard to the products sphere and, and product development, like, um, like how, like what path do people follow or should people follow in 2021? Uh, like in 1999, when you started you, there was a certain path, right. But as you were out to try to develop your own product, but now in 2021, what’s the path look like to develop a product, to develop an idea that’s in your head and get it out there into the world.

Kevin (10:35):
Well, I’m glad you brought the timeframe up there. Mm-hmm <affirmative> because 20, 21 and going to 2022 here is an incredible time to be in the product space. Like I almost call it the perfect storm of opportunity for anyone out there that has like an invention idea or a product idea, some sort of gadget, whether it’s electronic or non electronic, it be anything from toys to tools, host where, or whatever the case is. It really is the perfect storm of opportunity right now. And there’s kind of six major things that I think about when I think about the industry right now that are, are big first and foremost, over the next 20 to 30 years, everything will be con connected with computer chip, some in a small way, some in a big way, the chair that you’re sitting on will have, you know, some to chip to tell you that that foam needs to be replaced. And, you know, here’s the part number, whatever else, very simple to much more complic, the

Rich (11:23):
Internet of things, basically.

Kevin (11:24):
Absolutely. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> the internet of things are just interconnectivity with, with, with, uh, chips based on that, or even just very simple linear stuff like tagging in your groceries at the grocery store or whatnot. Um, you know, passive chips that, that, that be come active when you put a power source near them. And then they give some sort of information, um, on an RFID chip as an example, right? Like absolutely everything, whether you love it or hate it, it is happening. It’s already, you notice the nest thermostats, uh, on the house walls and smart glasses and all this sort of stuff. Technology is creeping into our lives to the point where biology, hardware, and software are all merging together into, into one sphere. Uh, mark software Berg likes to call it the metaverse <laugh>, but you know, that that’s, uh, out there and, and emerging, but hardware is connecting with software at, at, at a rocket pace.

Kevin (12:15):
So what’s happening here is everything is getting redesigned. The whole world’s going through its next industrial revolution, essentially where everything around us is getting developed. Uh, redeveloped, let’s say into new products, let alone not, not just new ideas and new products or combinations of things, but also just the same products being redeveloped for the modern world that’s happening right now. And that’s where a lot of these invention ideas or product ideas are coming from is people putting two things together and coming up with a great idea out of it. So that’s big, but going further. Number two, the product design tools, uh, prototyping techniques, software, et cetera, has have made it exponentially ease easier for a, on a much lower budget to get a new product, uh, tested prototyped, um, put into the market, even potentially revised, et cetera. It’s way easier to get a product simply into user’s hands or into testing than it ever was ever before.

Kevin (13:12):
Especially when I start started out the tools weren’t nearly to what they are, let alone the prototyping techniques to test stuff out. Third big companies are spending less on their own internal R and D on new products and more on acquiring startups. They are letting the world develop the next big idea. You listeners out there, come up with that next idea. You prove the model. Then they buy you out and they make it a hundred times the size. It’s a win-win for both parties, you exit on a great exit and your product skyrockets because it it’s. So it’s actually relatively inexpensive for them to buy you, as opposed to having develop the product, let alone the Intel. You give them along the way of the users you had and whatnot that actually use the product that reviews, et cetera. So there’s a tremendous amount of value.

Kevin (13:56):
And we’re seeing this at the very high levels at like the Peloton IPOs and whatnot, but it’s Strickling all the way down to household gadgets and whatnot. People that come up with something new and interesting, they get acquired. Most of our clients that he even hit, even the low seven figures in product sales, uh, are getting acquired or have been acquired. If you look at go fish or Moonlight or, uh, pet bought, et cetera, half the products on our, on our homepage of our website. Yes, they were good success stories, but then they got bought out. Um, and, and it’s an incredible story because now they, they scale and grow from there, right? Get global reach, uh, number four. Uh, and this is a big one. Um, there’s more support than ever before. Something that I kind of mentioned. And my journey back in the early days, didn’t exist.

Kevin (14:38):
If there’s over a hundred times more incubators spaces and accelerators than there were 20 years ago worldwide. And these are things between your WeWork facilities or hardware incubators, or, um, just different organizations that are built around supporting at, at startups at the government levels, uh, at the private levels at the, and at all government levels too, like municipalities, uh, federal statewide, you name it, there’s more support than ever before for early stage startups five. And this is particular to products. Uh, additive manufacturing, the ability to not only prototype a product, but manufacture like 50, a hundred, 200 units, get them into real users’ hands, have people actually purchase these things and then learn fixed tweak refine before you spend the big capital, actually go to a full production run either locally or over overseas. And then I would say the last one is crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.

Kevin (15:37):
It’s a tremendous opportunity right now where you can develop a product to the prototype phase, then raise a bunch of money on crowdfunding campaigns, people who are pre purchasing your product to pay for your actual production run. So it makes it far easier for you to get from that prototype phase to your first production run. Even if it’s just additive, like we just talked about, it’s an amazing way to actually get that product out to the market, to test it, to validate it and to either drop it. If it’s not working change it, if it’s not working or improve upon it, based on user feedback, if it is working. And that is a tremendous opportunity, that’s really just emerging over the last few years and becoming very prevalent to early stage startups. So those I say were the big six when it comes to hardware in particular, but a lot of that also crosses over to what’s happening in the software and services industry as well.

Rich (16:24):
Yeah, I think that that’s, that’s amazing. And, and, and I think it really does, I think, um, like all of those opportunities for getting your, our product out there, or kind of frameworks for looking at how you best get your product out there. I think it applies, I think it’s pretty universal, you know, and among those, like, you know, one thing you noticed you mentioned was with the, the tools of, of kind of, um, getting your product in someone’s hands. Uh it’s like, I think back to when I started doing this in the mid nineties and it was like, if you have a product and you’re going to manufacture it yourself, um, you know, presumably you are going to either, um, you know, work out a deal with some type of distributor or you’re going to take an ad in a magazine like the, that would be the, the, um, uh, you know, the, uh, the suggestion is like, oh, you’ve got a home product.

Rich (17:17):
You should look into, get the rate card from better homes and gardens and find out how much it is to, to take a, a quarter page ad maybe toward the back. And like, you know, you’d need to actually place an ad, uh, in order to generate traffic to get customers because how else would you reach them? There was no, uh, kind of like, um, um, social media viral, um, you know, you know, viral launch techniques, none, none of those things really existed back then. And now it’s like, you can, um, you can basically reach millions of people just by being clever with your messaging and that truly didn’t exist back then.

Kevin (17:58):
Yep, absolutely. I mean, one of our clients had just released like a month ago, kick fix, it’s a laundry hamper for under your bed, 25 million views on a new account on TikTok, like the exposure that they got, they haven’t even started into their crowdfunding campaign yet. And they’ve got just such a tremendous following of people who are just super excited for their new invention, which is relatively simple design. It’s, it’s beautiful. It’s a great design. Uh, but it it’s one of those things where it, it’s not overly complicated, but a lot of people wanted it around the world. And now they’ve built a huge following almost overnight, uh, just from a social media spinoff, just regular couple with a cool idea. And it just blew up, went absolutely viral. Now, obviously that doesn’t happen all the time, but it just there’s. And we can actually talk about it later on in the show, rich too, if we kind of go into in order here of kind of the industry and then how to develop a product, but I, I’m happy to talk about some tips and tricks for selling a product, but, uh, there are many opportunities today which didn’t exist back then.

Kevin (19:00):
I mean, I just highlighted crowdfunding as one of them, but there’s probably about a half dozen others in the hardware space alone that are very unique over the last few years that give tremendous amount of power to who new startups and new brands try to break into the market.

Rich (19:15):
Yeah. So absolutely. And, and, uh, yeah, I’m happy to talk about like tips and tricks for, for selling a product. Like, like let’s go for it.

Kevin (19:23):
Well, first and foremost, I think the most important thing to understand about a product, um, is the development side. But what is the goal of development? Because the big thing, when you think about a product is it’s a bit confusing. There’s a lot of information, there’s a lot of data out there. And if you have this invention idea, you’re not really sure what to do with it. Well, I’ll tell you very clearly. You need to understand what the end goal of a startup is. And it’s two things, manufacturing and intellectual property. You need to ensure that you are doing what it takes to get the product to production, to get real sales, to real users that actually pulled out their credit card to buy your thing, and then have written reviews back to say, this is a great product. There is no shortcut or no get rich quick ski team in the product development world.

Kevin (20:14):
Every major startup that you talk to, uh, that’s been successful will tell you the same story. They developed a product, they got it to market. They filed some IP on different strategies, which rich, you were great to talk about all the ways to do that on our show in particular. But the key there was you have to get to market with real product in real people’s hands. Eventually, that’s how you create a valuable business. Now, there are maybe some earlier phases where potentially you could get into licensing, but very rarely does that happen until you’ve actually made some sales or even just in a very small way to prove and validate the market. And even if it does happen at an earlier phase, you’re gonna get a fraction of the value. And if you just took it one step further and actually got use products into real people’s hands.

Kevin (20:57):
So the big thing to understand for the, for 99 plus percent of hardware, successful hardware startups out there, you must one way or another, whether it’s you or a partner or licensee, if not, you must get this product to market. And of course you wanna have all that underlying IP to protect it now, to develop the product. It happens in a series of steps. Uh, first and foremost is your kind of ideation and sketching and this stuff you can just do at home. You know, if you’ve got that new invention idea, one of the easiest things you can do is Google it and, and start sketching just, you don’t have to be good at sketching just to visually ideate the page and then write it down. What, what does your product do? Who does it serve? It can be done on a page. So that’s kind of step one.

Kevin (21:39):
And that I think is a very important step and believe it or not, a lot of the clients that come to us, they haven’t even started with that step. It’s just been brewing in their head, but it’s a lot easier and more efficient on everybody involved. If you just kind of note down that idea and kind of give yourself some clarity on just the ballpark direction of what you want this thing to do, it doesn’t mean you have to know how it’s gonna be done. That’s for your that’s for the designers to do, but you need to have a general understanding. So that’s the first step. Second step is industrial design. It’s a confusing word, but it’s the industry’s lingo to mean the visual design of the product with some underlying understanding of how it’s actually gonna be engineered. That is the industrial design industry essentially.

Kevin (22:17):
So it’s somewhat a mix of visual design. Let’s call it art and mechanical engineering, which is, you know, hardcore math somewhere in the middle is industrial design. And that’s very important for a new physical hardware product because that’s the, the person who is not only creating the use case and the value to the actual market, but how this thing’s actually gonna get manufactured. How do you produce this thing? How do you make sure it’s gonna work physically w with the idea, the framework that you came up with, and that’s done in computer, a design through CAD software and through advanced simulations and whatnot, that gets you to the point where you get your mechanical engineering, which is actually detailing every little bolt and screw along with it, which then pushes you into your first rough prototype, which is your first rough kind of quasi functioning version of your product.

Kevin (23:00):
Then into your full test prototypes one or two prototypes to actually see how it’s working to actually run some tests, maybe get some U some, some, a handful of users to try it out and give you few feedback, which then leads you to the big one, which is manufacturing. Now through that process and rich, I, you know, it would actually be great to hear from you, but through that process, you should have some IP considerations in the beginning at the end. And also as you continue to develop, as you go so rich, maybe I’ll pass it back to you just to kind of highlight through that process from ideation to sketch design engineering and prototyping, where should you be thinking about the IP pieces of it? Cause I think that’s very important for clients to understand as well. Oh

Rich (23:38):
Man, you’re putting me on the spot now. I don’t really know much about IP <laugh>. Um, <laugh> well, well look, um, here, here’s one big picture way that I, I like to say it is like you protect an idea, um, at the, the point at which, you know, you have something valuable. So it’s like, if you have a concept and you are like, okay, the, the, the product itself isn’t necessarily new. Um, well the idea I have isn’t necessarily new. I think I see an opportunity here then. Um, maybe there isn’t something valuable yet, so maybe you have to develop it further until you’re like, oh, I just came up with a clever twist on how this thing should work. So then now that you think you have something valuable, so something that you feel you would be concerned if other people then took that portion of it, that’s when you ought to begin protection and do something about it.

Rich (24:35):
Um, you know, but a lot of times, um, you know, people will come to me when it’s too early, like they’ve, they kind of know what they want. It’s like, I, I want a new type of soap dispenser, but they haven’t really created anything yet of value, but maybe, um, then a few months down the road, maybe it’s through prototyping that they then come to the thing, which they say, okay, now this is the clever solution. Uh, that’s when they should start with protection. Uh, and a lot of times what people do is they will file a patent application knowing that it’s going to evolve over time. But the point of that first or earliest filing is to establish, uh, their rights as much as it can be for the initial concept for the initial part of it, that seems valuable and unique. And granted it could develop over time, but then we deal with that when we get to it.

Rich (25:24):
Um, and, uh, uh, you know, and just, um, kind of pointing back to what you said earlier, uh, about having something, um, that it, it’s rather difficult to just kind of sell an idea or license an idea you want to get it into people’s hands. Um, so, um, there’s actually a middle step there too, which I think is important. So what you refer to is like actually generating some product sales to, um, to demonstrate, um, proof that this is something that people want. So that definitely is extremely helpful toward getting a licensing, uh, deal licensing agreement is show is, is proof that you could sell it. Like what’s better than that. Um, intermediate step though, just kind of going into what, what you do is like, um, is getting, having something that you could place in other people’s hands. So it’s like, I know sometimes people want to pitch an idea based upon their exhibits and their charts and their pictures, but if you could actually even design it enough and prototype it far along, um, bring it far off along the prototyping chain enough that you could hand it to someone that you’re pitching it to being able to get it into their hands.

Rich (26:40):
That in itself is way more valuable than just having the idea. And then again, absolutely the next level is being able to generate some sales that you could then use to show proof that it is something that people want

Kevin (26:53):
Well, and that’s, what’s so unique about hardware is that you, people won’t really believe in it, whether it’s even, whether it’s just an investor, you’re trying to get a, you know, an angel investor to, it gets you let’s say from the rough prototype phase, maybe to your pre-production phase or whatnot, nothing excites the investor or the potential buyer or the potential partner, or the wholesaler retailer distributor, or whatnot. Then the physical thing in their hand. And I think about that Hatchimals product by spin master toys. I remember talking to the product developer or the ideator that came up with that at spin master. And he said, you know, I had this fantastic idea and, and I presented it all and I kept going up the chain and everyone said, yeah, you know, that looks nice, this and that. And he said, at one point it just kept getting kind of put aside and put aside, and it was just another toy idea and whatever else.

Kevin (27:40):
And eventually he said, you know what, I’m just gonna build this thing. And it, in front of him and his, you know, this animal hatches outta the egg and all this sort of stuff. Well, as soon as you put it in front of, of the board of the review committee to actually develop it into a product, and it did its little thing and that, you know, the animal came out of the egg and all that, everybody exploded. And of course that was because they saw it physically and they were able to feel the, the dream, what is the action that’s actually getting, uh, enacted from that product, whether it’s solving a utilitarian, uh, purpose, like a tool, or whether it’s something fun like this, like a toy, you have to be able to truly believe in that idea to get the best funding values or to get, to get funding in general. So nothing better in hardware than actually having that thing. And of course that toy went on to be this multi hundred million dollar selling toy around the world, but it all started with the prototype and it was a prototype that was good enough to showcase the product, to test it out, to get it in front of real users and then, you know, spin up the excitement to then get it into a real product and move on.

Rich (28:42):
Yeah, no, absolutely. It’s the, the value of having something to it you could put in people’s hands to evoke that emotional reaction that they then could imagine that the, their customer would, um, um, would have with the product or in the case of an investor that they could then imagine, um, the, uh, you know, the end user having that will then end up allowing this company to grow in the way that you’re telling them it, it would and why it’s worthy of investment. Yeah. And

Kevin (29:08):
Think about it. This is manufacturing, right? Going back to the, the goal it’s manufacturing. So whether or not you’re looking for a stepping stone process, like maybe trying to get a, an early stage licensing deal at the say prototype phase or an investor, whatever else their mind is thinking about manufacturing again, back to the end goal manufacturing, an IP. So you’ve got your, you’ve got this great idea and this prototype, and you think it’s gonna change the world. The only thing that that investor or buyer or partner or whatever else is gonna be thinking about is, is what are they, how are they gonna sell this and how are they gonna monetize the production production of this? It always comes down to production at the end, which seems like simple logic, but most inventors get so caught up with the details and the features and the specs and the ideas that they lose sight of the economics.

Kevin (29:52):
And the economics are very simple. I have something to sell. Are you willing to buy it? What’s the profit margin on it. It’s as simple as that. And then of course, how many of them can nice sell <laugh>, which is what they’re thinking, and that’s your, that’s your pitch? And that’s the magic that’ll come out of that prototype is being able to convince a, an investor that a lot of people are gonna buy it. And as such, because you’ve worked with rich and have the IP nailed, that’s the key. They, they both own this product for the next 20 years, but they’ve also got something that’s very enticing to the market. And all the engineering has, you know, been, I ideally close to done or, or is done if you’re into the production phase so that if they’re either investing or licensing or simply buying product off you wholesale or whatnot, no matter where you look at it, you are going to be giving them a very valuable proposition here and that you need all those pillars to be acting together in order for them to actually either cut the big check or cut you the big deal.

Kevin (30:41):
Absolutely.

Rich (30:42):
And, and so again, just, um, I think the message really is, is to have the end goal in mind, um, because that is going to illuminate the path of the rest of the journey. You’ve got it. And, um, there is so much that we could talk about. I mean, there’s so much knowledge that you could share on this. Um, I, you know, unfortunately have to wrap it up for this time. I think, uh, I’d love to interview you again, uh, and, and, and get further into, um, kinda your experience with this product journey. Uh, and, um, for now, if people want to get in touch with you or learn more about you, how do they go about doing so

Kevin (31:16):
Well? The thing I’m most excited, right, right now is the podcast, uh, the product startup podcast, it’s product startup.com and we’ve, uh, cleared over 105 episodes. I think your, your episode was I believe 1 0 5 or 1 0 6 rich. So, uh, if you check out, uh, just, just Google product started podcast, uh, or check it out on your favorite, uh, podcast player, we’re on every medium and there’s tons of different conversations with some of the world’s leading experts, including rich on all the different elements of hardware specifically. So it’s hardware products, consumer products, how to get them from that sketch on an napkin, through to store shelves. And, uh, it’s, it’s been a lot of fun on that, on that journey, especially now that we’ve cracked a hundred episodes. And, uh, but if you wanna reach out to me personally, anybody that comes on from the show and reaches out to me on LinkedIn, I will, I will gladly add back if you add me as a connection. And if you wanna check out our website, Mac design.com, M a K O design.com. There’s about a thousand blog articles there for everything under the sun about developing a product as well as a bunch of resources, videos all the rest. So rich really appreciate you having me on the show. This has been fantastic, uh, great questions and thanks as well for, for being on the product startup podcast. Yeah.

Rich (32:26):
Thank you. Thank you for being here.

Outro (32:32):
Thanks for listening to innovations and breakthroughs with your host, rich Goldstein. Be sure to click, subscribe, check us out on the web at innovationsandbreakthroughs.com and we’ll see you next time.

 

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