Developing a New Product? Get an Outsider’s Opinion First

Startups and entrepreneurs creating innovative technologies are understandably protective of their processes and soon-to-be-released products. Giving away their competitive advantage would have devastating effects on their business. This secretive nature can result in a very guarded culture in which insiders are the only ones trusted to discuss the details of their company. These beliefs, although not unfounded, often complicate the process of evaluating new product offerings.

In order to receive feedback on their latest projects, a company may commission an internal review team composed of current employees. This tightly held circle, although secure, often offers little value. While the team’s proximity to the product makes them a first choice to evaluate it, it also often means that they are biased toward the product to give an accurate opinion, hindering the results of their study. Contracting an external review team can provide an objective perspective on new products.

Related: To Patent or Not to Patent: A Guide to Protecting Your Products

Weighing the benefits of internal and external reviews for your business

Bringing together an internal review team may seem to make sense on the surface. You already have employees who are familiar with your product, so you might as well use their expertise to evaluate your prototype. Right?

On top of their redirected focus, an internal review team is a considerable expense for your business. A typical internal review could take as little as 30 hours for a small project, but could take up to 30 days for a large company.

In addition to biases, employees are commonly untrained to complete these types of assessments. Without knowing what to look for to determine the commercial potential of a new idea, they may miss important details or warning signs that an experienced expert would be able to call out. A valuable product study will contain exhaustive market research, competitor analysis and patent guidance. All of these subjects are pieces of a complete puzzle that will allow you to make informed decisions about your product.

Confidence is of the utmost importance when dealing with such sensitive information, so many startups are hesitant to speak with external sources regarding their new products. While external review agencies have little incentive to steal your ideas, as they are working to develop a trustworthy business, there are legally binding solutions you can employ for peace of mind. By signing a non-disclosure agreement, the other party will be barred from speaking to anyone else about your idea. You can also choose to enter a non-compete agreement, which prevents them from establishing a business that is too similar to yours.

With the appropriate protections in place, here are three key benefits to hiring an external review team for your startup’s new product:

  1. Quick turnaround

An agency that specializes in completing product reviews will be able to create an analysis of your invention much faster than an internal review board. Hiring specially trained experts that are skilled in product analysis will also give you a much clearer picture of the commercial potential of your offering than your internal team members could.

Trained professionals will provide you with a SWOT analysis covering the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to your business model. They will also be adept at competitor analysis and intellectual property management research, and can complete all of these tasks with speed.

  1. Affordable price

While some independent consultants may command steep rates, there are many review agencies that provide their services at affordable prices. This allows your employees to remain on task while you receive a thorough, informed review. While the external reviewers are evaluating your intellectual property management, for example, your employees can be hard at work developing these assets into better, more valuable innovations.

  1. Objective review

When it comes to judging the potential of your own product, internal reviewers don’t have the separation necessary to provide a truly objective opinion. You need to make sure that you have a completely unbiased party reviewing your product in order to trust that the results they reach are useful and fair. Remember, these are the opinions on which you will be basing your most important decisions, so you need reliable, accurate information.

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Although the results of an external review may not always give you what you wanted to hear, it is far better to be aware of any shortcomings ahead of time that you need to address than to go to market with an inadequate product.  

When you’re ready to take the next step and launch your product, check out these expert tips from top entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles.

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