The Keys to Commercialization: A Series
Tags: Business Development, commercialization, federal funding, Product Development, Strategic Planning
Join me on a six-part journey through the process of product commercialization.
Part 1: The Problem
Thirty years ago research by Professor Roger Calantone of Michigan State University suggested that new products fail because too little attention has been paid to real needs. In addition, he opined that the most common failures are with products driven by technology rather than what the customer needs.
Sounds like the classic dilemma: technology push vs. market pull. Which camp are you in? Does your elevator pitch begin with a description of your technology? In how much detail can you talk about your customer’s problems?
For most technology entrepreneurs it’s difficult not to analyze a problem through the lens of their own solution. Therefore, they can’t see the problem the way the customer does.
To avoid biased assumptions about what your customer needs you must ask some tough questions:
- Is the problem significant? If not, you’ll soon discover that solutions to trivial problems are a tough sell!
- Is the need real? Is the customer even seeking a solution?
- Is the customer aware of the problem?
Remember it’s not your answers that are important … but the customers’. What’s the secret to discovering the answers? Ask as many customers as you can find, and listen carefully.
Scientists and engineers can be driven by innovation, but entrepreneurs (at least successful entrepreneurs) must be driven by real customer needs.
Part 2: The Solution – Your Product Whether product or service you’ll need to think through its features, benefits and all important value proposition.
Michael Kurek, PhD, MBA, Partner, BBC