Just when it seems like tech has hit its peak, another inventor breaks the mold and pushes products into the B2B or B2C marketplace. Less than a decade ago, digital assistants like Siri were deemed amusing and interesting, but hardly necessary. Today, consumers have reportedly purchased no fewer than 76 million digital assisting units to help with complex and routine tasks.
To entrepreneurs, the continuous nature of the tech revolution provides tremendous inspiration. After all, dreamers want to transform the world with their concepts and visions. And sometimes, their ideas fit nicely into the tech world mode. However, breaking into technology isn’t easy. For every Spotify app there are hundreds of Samsung folding phones. Therein lies the challenge: To push out a tech must-have that won’t wind up in the failed and forgotten pile.
This doesn’t mean that your tech concept doesn’t have merit and can’t win hearts, of course. It just serves as a warning that you can’t take development of technology for granted.
Want to wow the marketplace with a new tech toy? Follow several strategies to give your brainchild the best chance of making it past toddlerhood.
1. Solve a common problem.
If you can’t convince your target audience that your tech product will solve a problem, you’ll never see significant sales. Remember, though, that a problem doesn’t have to be earth-shattering to be important. You might be driven to invent an affordable internet-free kids phone that’s truly meant for the youngest of users so moms and dads can sleep easy knowing their children won’t be exposed to adult content or online bullying. Or your goal might be to develop a space age hearing aid that requires no medical visit or diagnosis to work like a charm.
The point is that your innovation needs to have a purpose. If it doesn’t, your passion will start to wilt because no one will understand how it benefits them to incorporate the gadget into their lives.
2. Thoroughly scour the competition.
A huge mistake made by many entrepreneurs, including those who have been around a while, is conducting a cursory look at the competition. In order to complete a comprehensive competitive analysis, you must often think outside the box. For instance, if you’re bound and determined to make a new kind of device to view electronic books, you’ll probably be competing with small tablet makers. But you’ll also be competing with traditional booksellers, because many readers still purchase bound paper books.
Get creative when pulling together a list of your biggest foes. Study them and find out all you can about their distribution channels, marketing, and branding strategy. Then, figure out what your differentiating factor will be and why it will matter to your target customer base. Without this type of in-depth analysis of your biggest competitors, you could wind up simply reinventing the wheel—not to mention spinning your wheels in the process.
3. Invest in tech development partners.
Unless you have the technical know-how to bring your invention from the drawing board to reality, do yourself a favor and invest plenty of your upfront capital in electrical engineers, IT professionals, AI experts, or any other types of tech product development consultants or third-party developer organizations.
Yes, this will cost you money, but having a tech team working on your idea is far better than trying to learn how to create an app if you’re trying to start from the bottom. And don’t worry: You’ll be working with your techies as you go. Listen to what they tell you and you’ll get an education in how to build a tech product. Even though you might never be as knowledgeable as the people working on your tech concept, you’ll gain the advantage of understanding how the process works so you can duplicate it again.
4. Launch with an MVP.
In your mind, you’ve pictured a tech solution with all the bells and whistles attached. However, what you need to get in the hands of some testers and early adopters is a minimally viable product, or MVP. An MVP represents the bare bones of your technical offering, and it may be very primitive or basic. That’s okay. It only needs to do one or two things well.
By investing first in an MVP, you’ll get it to market quickly and gain valuable feedback from the people who use it. Though some companies handpick small batches of users, you could always try selling your MVP for a small fee. Many people won’t mind investing a little in the opportunity to be on the ground floor of what could be the “next unicorn.” As users tell you what they like and dislike about the MVP, you and your tech team can make rapid iterations, ensuring that the product’s next generation will have fewer glitches and provide more value.
5. Get creative, flexible, and aggressive with sales and marketing.
As the entrepreneur behind your technology, you carry with you the fire of pure passion. Leverage your enthusiasm to be the number one salesperson for your tech device, gadget, software, or app. In fact, put yourself front and center as the main seller, at least at the beginning of your launch.
You may not have deep coffers to spend on marketing and advertising, so be prepared to go grassroots. Make use of social media and get the soles of your shoes dirty and worn out from meeting with investors, partners, and resellers. At the same time, have at least some kind of loosely organized plan for building buzz, even if you know that you may have to pivot if your product suddenly takes off. But don’t be dismayed if you hear a lot of “no” responses. It’s all part of the territory when you’re introducing people to something they don’t know they can’t live without.
Do you lie awake at night, wondering how to turn your tech idea into reality? It’s not impossible, especially if you’re driven. Just follow the roads paved by other entrepreneurial pioneers.