Lately I’ve had a couple of product ideas that I’ve wanted to move forward with and explore the possibility of building an e-commerce site around each. These products fit a very niche market but they also may involve more extensive product development. Certainly it would also be ideal to have a working prototype for photos and videos on the site. However I don’t think it will be necessary to have an inventory or even a perfected product before I begin selling pre orders.
I have had some success working with a product outsourcing agency that helps find manufacturers in china and then delivers the products to you with their markup included. Unfortunately at this stage of the product life cycle there is still extensive engineering and development before I can go on. Of course I’ll also need to market and test the demand of this niche audience for their interest in the product.
Assuming that sufficent demand exists to persue a prototype my suggestion is to reach out to engineering programs on college campuses. For example BYU-Idaho provides students in mechanical engineering with a senior capstonewhere they draw on their previous years of experience to design and manufacture a prototype. These projects are frequently sponsored by individuals and companies. My next project requires some engineering know-how but some of the major benefits that I see include:
- Engineering drawings using professional CAD software
- A working prototype
- Small teams of budding engineers working to meet my criteria and specifications
- Tapping into the knowledge of professors and industry advisers
- Supporting the american educational system
- Quick turnaround time since semester projects last at most 4 months
So if you are ready to take the plunge into a new product or new market and want to hedge your risk by only producing one or two prototypes before manufacturing, try college campus programs like BYU-Idaho’s mechanical engineering senior capstone.