From Eureka to Reality: Navigating the Great Idea Maze.

Ever had a brilliant idea that you just knew would change the world? You thought it was completely original, right? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in most cases, you’d be mistaken. Drawing from my 12 years of experience in the product design industry, I can confidently say that truly unique product ideas are hard to come by. However, don’t despair! I have some insights to share on how to validate your ideas before investing your time and resources.

So, where should you begin when you have a grand idea brewing in your mind? Start with the first question: “Has something like this already been introduced to the market?” It’s difficult to find an idea that hasn’t been invented in some form or another. While you might believe your idea is groundbreaking, the reality is that you’re probably not the first person to conceive and act upon it. The internet is an excellent starting point for your research. There’s a good chance you’ll find something that can help validate your idea. However, a word of caution: be mindful of what you search for. Often, people fail to find anything related to their concept, leading them to believe that nobody has previously developed the idea. Yet, it’s possible that a small manufacturing company has designed and produced the product, selling it online under keywords that you wouldn’t typically search for. Since these products may not be optimized for Google’s search algorithms, they are harder to find in search results.

In my case, whenever I have a new idea, I kick off my research by exploring websites such as eBay, Amazon, and DH Gate. These platforms serve as excellent starting points, allowing me to discover new and exciting products available in the market. Let’s take one of my examples to illustrate this process.

Imagine this: During a camping trip a few years ago, I noticed that we would hang LED lanterns in the tent. This was to ensure we had sufficient light while getting everything ready before climbing into our sleeping bags. However, once we were tucked in, someone had to reach up and almost get out of bed to turn the lantern off, as it hung from the tent’s ceiling. At that point, I turned to my wife and remarked, “The lantern should have a 2-minute timer, giving us enough time to get into bed before the light turns off.” I thought to myself, “I could create that. It’s not a difficult task, and I’m sure there are others who would want the same thing.”

At first, I knew there was a plethora of battery-powered lamps available for camping. However, I hadn’t come across one with the specific features I envisioned at my local camping supply store. Therefore, I initially believed that such a product didn’t exist, and there was indeed a gap in the market. This is a common trap that many fall into. We experience a light bulb moment and assume that since we haven’t seen a product on the shelves, it must not be available for purchase. However, the truth is that we need to make a slight shift in our research approach. We should aim to find evidence that the product already exists. To do so, I change my search keywords. I focus on words that describe what the product does and how it functions. Often, many overseas manufacturers and online retailers offer numerous products that you might never have heard of, which either match your idea or are remarkably similar. It was during this phase that I discovered multiple products that precisely aligned with my concept. They were simply not available for purchase in my local area.

So, where do we go from here? The good news is that we can still design and manufacture the product. However, we need to alter our perspective. Instead of creating a completely new product that fills a market gap, we’re essentially designing a “me too” product that resembles existing products in the market but intends to differentiate itself in some way, such as through quality, style, materials, etc.

Now, let’s bring your idea to life! This is the part of the design process that everyone enjoys. It’s the moment when you can unleash your creativity and see your idea visually represented. If you don’t possess the necessary design skills, you may consider hiring a professional designer. However, these days, you can get started without professional assistance. There are several free (or inexpensive) design tools available that allow you to create visual representations of your idea. I will list some of these tools at the end of the post. Create sketches, schematics depicting how your product works, delve into 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and even create prototypes. Ultimately, if you decide to pursue the manufacturing route, you will need to consult with a professional to refine and optimize the design, including aspects such as material selection and the manufacturing process. Explaining all of that would require an entirely separate article, which I might consider writing in the future. If you’re interested in learning more, please leave a message in the comments.

That’s it for now!

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