Learning does not stop after school! That is why even if the school days are over for you, you still need to do some homework. Only then will you keep up with the ever-changing 3D Printing space. In this episode, Tom and Tracy Hazzard dive in headfirst into the importance of continuously keeping yourself in the know. They talk about researching design markets, customer preferences, and more. All of this informs your design process, allowing you to create better designs for the markets.
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Why We Still Do Homework
This is the Ask Us Anything segment and this is the last day of our entrepreneurship-themed episodes.
We’re going to talk about research, homework and this ties in the whole week and why we do the things that we do. There are no NDAs and we test out products, ideas, and patents with people. What it is we’re doing is we’re researching.
There’s not enough we can say about research and doing your homework. If you think you have a great product idea, where did it come from? Have you searched the earth and do you understand the market you’re going to go into?
All the things we talked about provisional patents or NDAs or why you should consider 3D printing, the consideration of it. These are research things, minimum viable product and minimum valuable product. Those things require a heavy amount of research, much more common product research than you know, in that particular case. Even when we talked to John about the masterminds, mentors and investors, you’ve got to do your homework there too. You’ve got to do your research. You better be informed about what your competition is because you’re going to get hammered with questions.
Especially if you’re talking to an investor.
You better know what’s going on out there and this isn’t something you can say, “I read this book and now I’m doing that.” That’s not okay. That’s not going to fly. Research is critical. We research a number of different ways and we have it as a part of our process and in everything we do in our business.
We make sure when we go and design and develop a product that we have researched the market we intend for it to go into, all the competitive products and it helps inform us.
The least valuable research I should say that we use is the ones that are put out by those big groups. The ones that say, “The market is going to be this size by 2020,” and I can’t even remember what it says anymore. I ignore it because it’s a guess. It’s a guess by a group whose job is to sell thousands of dollars’ worth of this research to big corporations. Everyone big has this research too. Those of us little guys got it off of Twitter whatever excerpt was free. It gets reposted and reposted all the time incorrectly. It also isn’t always accurate as to what’s going on. That’s the least valuable to us. What we think is the most valuable is what’s selling?
What are consumers buying?
It doesn’t mean that you should copy and make that. That’s where the minimum viable product goes wrong. When you say, “This app sells well. If I can make this app, but make it look a little better and do a little this, then I’m good.” That’s okay, but that’s not enough. We also want to research and understand why it’s going on. What’s going on in the retail store? What’s going on in the global marketplace? What’s going on online? What’s happening in all of these places and you have to look at them all together and say, “Why is this working?” One of the reasons why 3D printing is culminating into such a great resource for entrepreneurs is because it fits the model of a minimum viable product, lean business, fast startup and launch quickly. All of those things fit the model of how all of these people want to start their businesses and how they want to operate. It’s the perfect technology for that. It’s in the right place at the right time. I look at that and I go, “This is why you should consider 3D printing because it’s in the right place at the right time.” If you ignore that, your investors are going to know you ignore that.
It’s not only that, there are going to be other competitors who are taking advantage of it in ways that you’re not and beating you to market or being more efficient or giving more options to their consumers.
I don’t think you should pay money for this research necessarily. I mean you can and I’ve helped many inventors do it before. I feel that you don’t feel capable of it, you can pay for it, but don’t pay a big research farm for it. We do a lot of our patent research. Sometimes we turn it over to the attorney, but we’ve always done our homework first. You can do that.
I then give the attorney some direction. I do think they have some tools and resources to find obscurely related patents that I don’t or that I missed because I’m searching in certain keywords. Here’s the thing about research and honestly about many things in business. I’m a designer and I love creating new things. Most designers don’t like researching because it’s boring for them, but I want to make sure I’m designing a product that is going to sell and that’s valuable. I get into it and the more research I do, the smarter I become, the better the design decisions I make and the better the product becomes.
For us as designers, we need to see all that data. It needs to be embedded in my head so that I design better every day of the week because I’m always cognizant of what’s out there. We joke about it with people that we spend a lot of time shopping but we’re not shopping. We’re not buying anything but we spend a lot of time in stores and walking the floor and seeing what’s out there and watching people buy. We watch people pick things off of shelves. We watch people and we ask questions when that happens. We see how bad your product looks on the shelf after a while because it can look shabby.
Do you mean like a sample that’s been beaten up?
Yeah and that changes our mind about what materials to use or what we recommend because if a sample looks bad, it hurts the sale. Spending $0.10 more on a better material that isn’t going to look so shabby is smart. It also helps us make color decisions. What colors sit in there left on the sale rack?
Which colors and which designs are turning people’s heads as they’re walking by at five miles an hour? Why are they stopping? We talk about the emotional connection that you have a split second to get a consumer’s attention.
As I’m saying, I think it helps if you do it yourself to some extent because you get out there and you see it. It becomes an inbred part of your process and that’s a good thing because you need to digest all that information and understand it. You don’t want the top-level like, “Here’s the percentage that blocked.” You don’t want it that way. You want the details.
If somebody else does the research for you, all you’re going to do is have those numbers to communicate when somebody asks you. Whether I’m communicating with my attorney who I’m trying to have him do a patent search for me or we’re communicating to our clients or other business people that we’re trying to sell them on the fact that we know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t done this work yourself and understand all the detail of it, they’ll see right through you. They’ll know that you don’t know what you’re talking about as well as you should. With the patent attorney, they don’t understand our business as well as we do.
Also our product, especially if it’s something new.
The better that we can explain not only the invention but the product market and context and the business issues around that, the better job that that attorney will do crafting the right patent that gets us the protection we’re looking for. Business is a full-contact, active participation sport here. It’s not for spectators and the research is critical.
You’ve got to do it yourself. It’s your homework. It’s your job to do that as an entrepreneur. Don’t skip it. This is why I read all the time. I read when I wake up, I read before I go to bed. I squeeze in my reading for the day, both for business and personal because I know that information is going to be information I’m going to use. It’s always going to happen for me.
We’re always talking about it and it’s affecting our decisions.
If you’re interested, text us, email us, tweet us or however you want to get in touch with us. Find a way to get in touch with us and it shouldn’t be too hard because we’re everywhere @HazzDesign or HazzDesign.com. If this interests you and you want to know some more details about how we do it or parts of where we go to research and what we read and how we do it. I don’t know if that will bore you or not, but if it interests you, let us know and we’ll make some episodes about that.
We can respond to an email and point people in the right direction or post things on our resource page. There are all sorts of options.
We hope this helps.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode.
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