Introduction

It should be well understood that people do not buy products or services, they buy solutions to their problems. So you must first have a clear understanding of the problem you want to solve. Only then you can aim to solve that problem with a great product or service.

Once you know the problem, you need to determine how to solve it. The solution to a problem might be straightforward, or it might not. For example a straightforward solution is when engineers are confident there is at least one obvious approach. However a non straightforward solution is when engineers are confident there isn't any obvious approaches, and instead its likely there will be several attempts to solve the problem via trialing and testing. Non straightforward solutions also might involve scientific methods using existing and non existing research science.

The relative total project cost/timeline difference between straightforward projects and non straightforward projects, is significant. Simply because one does know how many attempts to solve the problem are required. Each attempt might be completely different strategies. Once at least one approach is found to work, engineers are back addressing one obvious approach.

It should be also well understood that while engineers might have at least one obvious approach to solving a problem. Engineers are still innovating and integrating with 3rd party technologies to development a novel product for a target application. So your still doing something that hasn't been done before, which will still require trial and testing before commiting to production - this means the approach might require rework, bug fixes and overcoming unexpected or unforeseen challenges. It is for these reasons, new product development always has uncertainty and is considered R&D.

The next section outlines possible phases for a straightforward projects. For non straightforward projects, the path forward is fuzzy. So the first step is to proceed with bite-sized reviews. This allows assessment of the problems/solutions against existing technologies to propose the most feasible approaches for trial and testing. Then propose ideal methods to do the trialing and testing, such as mathematical calculations, computer modeling, computer simulations and/or real-world scale modeling via rapid prototyping methods.

Project Phases

Once you have a idea/concept for a product. Have confirmed there is a market for your product. Then you are ready to start the design and development a new product idea. This involves the following phases:

  1. Project Review - In general, the aim of this phase is to define "what" the product should do (i.e. application and objectives). The scope of work for this phase might be to define the concept application and defined a ordered list of essential and desirable objectives. The is done via closely coupled discussions with the customer to understand their concept. Once the concept and objectives are defined, we can start the review process.
  2. Planning - In general, the aim of this phase is to define "how" the objectives will be achieved. The scope of work might be:
    1. Provide rough draft illustrations of how the product will look and work.
    2. Determine what design and prototyping work is required to get to production (e.g. 3D models, stress tests, code, electronics, etc).
    3. Compile a list of off-the-shelve materials (aka Bill of Materials or BOM).
    4. Compile a list of constraints (e.g. physical size, shape, performance)
    5. Time & Material Estimations (if required)
    The planning will be as detailed as necessary, but must allow room for the product to evolve during the prototyping phase.
  3. Design - In general, the aim of this phase is to produce detailed computer-based designs, that can be used for building a prototype. The scope of work for this phase might be to produce detailed computer-based drawings and a bill of materials.
  4. Prototyping - In general, the aim of this phase is to produce a prototype, that best fits the project concept. Depending on the project plan, we may need to first make a non working prototype, before we can move to a working prototype. At the end of the day, a working prototype is the goal, so that it can be reviewed by potential customers to gather valuable customer feedback to improve the form and function. The scope of work for this phase is to deliver a prototype that best fits the plan and project concept.
  5. Production - In general, the aim of this phase is to produce production-level volume of products, suitable for resale. The scope of work for this phase is to deliver a large volume of products at the target wholesale price.
  6. Promotion - In general, the aim of this phase is to produce promotion material for product marketing and sales. The scope of work may include: product logo, product image renders, packaging material, flyers, brochures, promo videos for youtube and/or TV.

For some projects, is it hard to know if the product idea can even be achieved in engineer terms (i.e. technically feasible), or in cost terms (i.e. financially feasible). If we believe this is the case, we will advise that two additional phases might be required after/during/before phase 1:

  1. Feasibility Study - This phase will involve proving (or disproving) on paper, and/or in a computer model, if a product is technically feasible, and/or is financially feasible - for some projects to determine if it is financially feasible may require completing the project review. For more information see wikipedia about "Feasibility study" and "Phase-gate model Feasibility Review".
  2. Proof Of Concept (POC) Development - If the product was proven to technically work on paper or in a computer model during the feasibility study, then a Proof Of Concept maybe required to prove the product (or the questionable parts of the product) truly do work in the real-world. For more information see wikipedia about "POC".

For more information on new product development (NPD) see wikipedia about "NPD".

How can I fund the cost for New Product Development?

While the cost of development is a significant burden, it is important to not worry too much about the development costs - it is a fixed cost. As long as you have a good product to drive sales, the fixed development cost just moves your break-even point.

It is well understood that New Product Development (NPD) always has uncertainty and is considered R&D. The total cost is driven by the evolution of user testing and customer feedback. It is for these reasons, we appreciate the actual total project cost is unknown. So depending on the size of the project and/or its life cycle, further funding might be required, before, during or after any of the project life-cycle steps.

Funding the development cost of a product is known as Seed money, and can be raised in various ways.

Self-funding is the best option, but if you require external funding, here are some options:

Government Grants

Seed Funding Companies

Equity Share

This funding option seems to be the most popular for new inventors.

Basically you could do a strategy like this:

  1. Self-fund the initial prototype (and/or product visualisation).
  2. Demo the initial prototype (and/or product visualisation) to an investor in the same industry as your target audience.
  3. Make a deal with the investor to:
    1. Reimburse you for all previous development costs.
    2. Get mentoring advise - they have years of experience with marketing, sales and contacts to get your product out there and selling like hot cakes.
    3. Go 50-50, or something like that, on equity share.

This way someone else pays for all the development costs, and you get a business mentor (and all their contacts).

Types of Investors:

Crowd Funding

You could use the prototypes, plus a promotional video on crowd funding platforms such as http://kickstarter.com

Additional info

Generally if you can not self-fund your project, you will need to draw up a business plan and use concept design material (e.g. life-like product visualisation as photos or 3D animations). Or a early prototype to explain and demostrate the purpose of your product. If this is the case, please let us know as we can provide you with life-like concept design material, or an early prototype.

Here are two great links to further information about raising funds for your product:

Why choose us?

Our team is comprised of a small group of very talented unique individuals. Each have been passionately learning and developing their technical arts since childhood. Together we bring a wealth of experience and cross-pollination of skills. This allows us to provide you with the most ideal solution for your needs. Here is a list of our highly skilled individuals for New Product Development:

It is also important to understand that having a skilled team like us, will not mean your project is going to cost more then a company that does not have robotics and PhD scientists. In fact, because we have these skills on the team, your project can be completed cheaper and quicker then companies without such skills (e.g. companies that specialise in just mechanics, or electronics, or software, or concept artistic design). Furthermore, having our team on your project, means the design can be optimised for minimum viable product (MVP) - which is important for maximizing return on investment.

For more information, please see our about us page.

Chief Methodology

Great products evolve through user testing and feedback from bench/field testing. Because of this, it is very common that the end/final product is very different then the initial concept/plan/prototype.

From our experience the best approach for NPD is agile-like methods. That is: one tries to get an initial prototype very fast and then show it to the end users, to get feedback and improve. The user testing and feedback and improvement cycle should be short to minimise risk. This also means NPD projects should not try to solve all the problems at once, as this increases the development risk/cost/timeline.

It is for these reasons, the following terms best fit this type of work:

  1. We work under a time and materials (T&M) agreement (i.e. hourly rate + materials).
  2. We work on a best-efforts basis (i.e. no guarantees).
  3. We aim to work under approved billable hours.
  4. We charge in 15 minute increments.
  5. Pay-as-you-go via weekly invoices (which includes our timesheet and materials). And/or advance payment deposits.
  6. All invoices are strictly 7 day terms.

How do I proceed?

To proceed, please contact us to advise us of your project brief, concept and/or list of objectives, so that we can start the project review phase.

Our Clients

Amazing Customer Testimonials

We met with Luke Cole from COLETEK and very quickly realised that he was very knowledgeable in robotics and prototyping. What separates his company from the rest, is that he had a unique value proposition - COLETEK offers a tele-operated / robotic unit for rent and with the flexibility to be modified to build proof-of-concepts. That unit lowered both the cost and time for us to produce a video showing a very challenging concept. In general COLETEK's service was great value. We would recommend them - they will get it done.

Miguel Araos Miguel Araos
Mining3, Brisbane

We engaged COLETEK to conduct a series of research projects on robotics and we very pleased with their technical skill, creative thinking and hard work. If you need to prototype a complex technical idea, they are a great partner to work with.

thumb Stephen Phillips
Mawson Ventures, Brisbane

We had the pleasure of doing business with COLETEK who provided us with service work. Their level of service and the quality of their work is exceptional. They communicated with us through the entire process to let us know when the work would be completed. We are very happy to have worked with them.

thumb Steve Sennett
RPX Technologies Inc., Oklahoma, USA

As the proprietor a DIY environmentally pest control products business I have been more then impressed with COLETEK's design capability and professionalism in assisting to realise an idea into reality. From concept, CAD drawings, 3D modelling, alterations right through to the finished product. I am extremely happy with our new termite control product. I have no hesitation in recommending COLETEK's services.

thumb Paul Faranda
EBC Enviro Bug Control, Northern Rivers

I consulted COLETEK for some work, commencing in 2014, and haven’t looked back. The project was very important to me, and COLETEK not only saw that but exuded sincere enthusiasm about the project; they are attentive, and thorough in their research and development service. They are a wealth of information and advice, for many aspects of the entire engineering and commercialization space, and this has been invaluable to me. I look forward to continuing work with them long into the future!

thumb Josh Goicoechea
Evios Pty Ltd, Brisbane

In the development of our new product Smart Syphon we had a tight deadline to launch the commercial version of our product and experienced some issues with our drawings. Luke and his team dealt with the issues, worked through the week-end and delivered a quality outcome on time.

thumb Gavin Kelly
Islex Australia Pty Ltd, Brisbane

Our company has been working with COLETEK and Luke Cole for several years. Luke is very intelligent in many areas and has provided us with excellent designs and service. With the addition of a marketing section to provide brochures, packaging, etc. COLETEK is a one-stop shop. Based on our experience, we would highly recommend Luke and his company.

thumb Adrian Morgante
Intelligent Inventions Ltd, Gold Coast

COLETEK have provided one to one communication throughout the development process and gone above and beyond in bringing our ideas closer to becoming a reality! Luke's expertise and knowledge with computer software and electronics is Jedi like, but what I liked most about working with him was his willingness and ability to think outside of the box.

thumb Jarrod Stephens
Sydney

Great prototype product made to our specs with minimal fuss. Delivered on time and within budget. Thanks team.

thumb Mike Haines
Haines Video Productions, Sunshine Coast

I would thoroughly recommend COLETEK they provided me with excellent feedback and engineering knowledge with regards to our idea. They also have continued to help us with what direction we should take and introduced us to other professionals that have also guided us. I suggest anyone who has been thinking of something they would like to pursue should contact them to get the most realistic approach of making it successful.

Greg Franich
Brisbane

I had a technical design and prototype job I needed done and had contacted two companies in Brisbane before I discovered COLETEK. From my first conversation with Luke, I knew that he was the best person for the job and he delivered under budget and within the required timeframe. The device he manufactured for my company will save us thousands of dollars and it is highly likely that we will on-sell the device to similar organisations. I recommend COLETEK for any design and prototype work you can imagine for your business.

thumb James Hourigan
Eraza Laser, Townsville

We worked with Luke from COLETEK to develop a prototype for a new venture. Luke was able to give us practical advice on how to execute the project inline with our budget that was super useful. What has been endearing, is that even after the build was complete, Luke continues to touch base with us offering help to keep the momentum of the project going forward.

thumb Matthew Hayden
Conversion Kings, Brisbane

Thank you for the fast and efficient service you have provided us over the years for 3D printing prototypes of specialised containers we are developing to manufacture. The 3D printing has been beneficial in perfecting and obtaining the perfect containers to suit the purpose and our needs.

thumb Linda Lonsdale
Rowdy's, Tweed Coast

After approaching COLETEK with a few sketches of a plumbing tool I had in mind Luke and I immediately bounced a few ideas around. Leaving things with Luke he quickly produced some 3D images and ideas we subsequently used. Before long COLETEK produced an operational 3D printed prototype of the tool. I was then able to use this prototype to seek funding for further research and development.

Kyle Berryman
Brisbane

We have used COLETEK on a couple of occasions and found their service to be professional and on time. We specialise in engineering and design of height safety equipment and since a lot of parts are made by casting from stainless steel we require a quick model before we proceed with the tool manufacture. COLETEK has been able to provide this quickly saving us valuable time and giving us peace of mind knowing our parts will look right when casted from stainless steel.

thumb Jan Kroupa
Safety Roof Anchors, Sydney

I'm in the early stages of my prototype design. I have worked with Luke for a couple of years now and in that time I have found Luke to be very reliable, responsible with my design, honest and trustworthy. What stood out the most was Luke's pride and commitment that he undertakes to ensure a positive outcome. I consider it a privilege to call Luke an associate and have no hesitation in encouraging others to do the same.

Linda Wells
Sunshine Coast

We recently engaged the services of COLETEK to perform some penetration testing on our systems. We found Luke flexible and accommodating with our specific needs. Luke provide what we needed to show our clients our security measures with our systems. I would have no hesitation in recommending Luke.

thumb Nathan Murray
etrainu, Brisbane

As a leading technology solutions provider we carefully choose our partners to outsource some of our projects. Black Box has partnered with COLETEK in delivering numerous projects. Every single time they have delivered work of highest standard and meet our project deadlines. It's a pleasure to work with COLETEK team headed by Luke and hope to work on many more projects in the future.

thumb Sudhir Kumar
Black Box Network Services Pty Ltd, Melbourne

You can rest assured, knowing that you are about to invest in a great service delivered by absolute professionals. COLETEK are extremely knowledgeable and deliver timely service with a courteous and customer centric approach. I originally employed COLETEK to assist with security camera installation but have since asked their advice on a number of innovative related matters, always with a solution. If you need a team of top tier consultants and service providers, for any technology-based project, then you have come to the right place.

thumb Martin Dominick
The K9 Centre AUS, Brisbane

I have outsourced many projects through COLETEK over the years for a variety of applications. Applications such as a online based software platform that pulls live data feeds and updates in real-time to the user. A custom built website for adding users and products that achieved over 20,000 listings. Mobile applications. Data recovery and hardware repair. Custom SEO services and secure hosting services. I choose COLETEK because I know that a job will get done as requested and within a reasonable time frame. Also I'm a stickler for security and they're the best.

Matthew Krause
Gold Coast