Product Development – are all companies the same? 4 Types to consider.

Product development brings ideas to life

How they are different, when to use them, and what to watch out for.

Product Development companies are all over the world, and there seem to be more and more each day. They all have expertise and usually have great websites that claim they can help you bring your product idea to life. But how can you tell the difference between them? And which type is right for you?

Lets look at the different models that are out there, what they do, and when they might be right for you. It can be quite confusing, as many of them offer completely different services. But we have found that we can loosely group the different offerings into four models. 

Model 1 DESIGN FOCUSED Product development companies

“Design Focused” companies have a core focus on industrial design. They bring a lot of expertise and thought about the aesthetics, the ergonomics, the use by customers or how the product fits to its environment. This makes your product much more attractive and engaging to the customer, and it can be in a way that you yourself never envisioned. They may also offer research in prior patents, artwork and other products. Use them when you need to bring your concept to visual life and show it to customers, investors or partners.

DOWNSIDE : They may create a beautiful but un-manufacturable product that your factory will later need to adjust significantly.

If you want support in creating the materials, software and functional design of your product, you may need to look at:

Model 2 ENGINEERING FOCUSED Product development companies

“Engineering Focused” companies focus on the functional and manufacturability aspects of your product. They will also employ or partner with industrial designers, and their real specialty is in getting your concept into a workable prototype that is costed and detailed, that functions at a high quality level and is ready to bring to a manufacturer for production. They have experience in the manufacturing of your type of product, so understand tooling, molds and other manufacturing requirements.  

DOWNSIDE : Your factory may not agree with the manufacturing or tooling assumptions made.

If you also need to identify a manufacturer and source your components and product, you may need to look at:

Model 3 FULL SERVICE Product development companies

“Full Service” companies have industrial design and engineering, plus factory sourcing partnerships or sourcing teams. They may also offer other services like finding a warehouse partner, setting up freight, or managing factory quality inspections. So they are essentially Model 2 companies that additionally assist you through the processes of setting up your manufacturing and supply chain.

DOWNSIDE : The sourcing may be with their favorite partners versus those that are actually the best fit for you.

And finally the most recent model we have seen popping up is:

Model 4 ONE STOP FULL SERVICE Product development companies

“One Stop Full Service” is based on the idea that Model 3 is missing some key services that would help product launch – like setting up an online store, or creating a Kickstarter campaign, or having a patent attorney help with IP research. Services can even be in areas like finding you grants. loans or other funding sources. These additional services are beyond your product itself, and intend to give you the true “one stop shop” for your product launch. 

DOWNSIDE : They may not be able to offer you the quality of services you could get by finding them all separately yourself.

Keep in mind that these model names are our own terms, and there are companies out there that are what we consider Model 2 that bill themselves as “full service”. They are not wrong to do so, the problem is that these terms are not defined anywhere. So it gets confusing.

How to choose

Choosing the right model fit for you will depend on your product, your budget and your needs. We should stress – all the models are valid, are usually staffed with experienced and knowledgeable teams, and can provide great value and results!

To determine which one is the best fit for you, think about what your own needs are, and how much flexibility and control you want. Do you want to source the manufacturer yourself? Do you already have a great marketing agency? Then you do not need those services. If you are really new to the process, then having those services available may be a convenient solution for you.

Use the “Downsides” we listed when you talk to the companies – ask them what they would do in case that happened. The best companies will take that seriously and give you good answers on how they prevent those situations.

And maybe you really shouldn’t use a product development company! Here is a great counterargument to consider.

Product development is an exciting time – so congratulations on moving forward with your product idea! Come check out our marketplace if you need help in finding and choosing the right product development partner for your product.

Build Better Supply Chains – Supplino’s MISSION

Supplino is changing how physical products are designed, manufactured, and shipped. As the world’s leading talent marketplace for experts in design, logistics, manufacturing and more, we allow companies to tap into on-demand services that allow them to be as flexible and responsive as the modern economy demands. By enabling companies to operate more nimbly, we are creating global supply chains with less waste, more efficiency, and greater sustainability.

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