Phase 1: Idea and Concept

Paragon Innovations’ Series:

12- Stage Product Development Process

From Start to Success

As the founder of Paragon Innovations, Mike Wilkinson, asks in the first module of Paragon Academy’s 12-Stage Development Process Series, “So, you had an idea in the shower yesterday. What do you do next?” Mike explains that developers need to initially begin with thinking through basic design questions:

  • What size/shape will the device be?
  • How will the product be powered?
  • What are the manufacturing costs of the device?
  • Is this type of product in demand and/or does it exist?
  • How much will consumers be willing to pay for the product?
  • What features are consumers looking for in this type of device?


Mike advises developers to avoid confusing themselves with the customer. To slide into a pair of consumer shoes, try conducting a simple market investigation with friends, family and colleagues by asking their opinions. “We need to understand what makes this gadget, this idea you have, so attractive [to] other people,” says Mike. A significant portion of the Idea and Concept phase is identifying the desires of others and whether they are congruent with your device’s intended use case. There are several activities that developers can perform in their initial effort to operationalize intangible concepts:

  • SWOT Analysis
    • Find the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of your device’s design and work through hypothetical approaches to foreseen scenarios.  
    • User Research
      • Basic user research on your device’s intended target audience can provide developers with keen consumer insights regarding patterns, habits, and desires.
    • Opportunity Finding
      • Missed opportunities can be detrimental to the success of a project. One early way to generate ideas for opportunity is to play your own devil’s advocate. Acting as a naysayer of your own product can help you spot holes and places for improvement in your concept.
    • Research and Development
      • For early processes of research and development, designers should research technologies and processes that are applicable to their design process.
    • Initial Human Factors Evaluations
      • Human factors and usability evaluation focuses on the interaction between people and the devices they use. How will consumers interact with your device?
    • Project Details
      • In the early development stages, developers should become knowledgeable in processes, production methods, quantities, and certification requirements to ensure a successful product deployment.

It’s important that developers distinguish how their concept enhances the current standards of technology that are being used presently: what attributes set your device above the rest? Designers should use this phase of the development process to properly think through ideas before allocating time, money, and other resources before proceeding further. Every project begins with an exciting idea, but successful product deployment takes more than wishful thinking.

If you found the Idea and Concept Phase beneficial to your development process, stay tuned for Paragon Academy’s next module, Phase 2: Research & Development , where we examine the importance of Detailed Research.

About Paragon Innovations

Founded in 1990, Paragon Innovations is a leading provider of engineering and design service consultation. Paragon Innovations serves Fortune 500 companies and startups in developing turn-key product solutions. As a three-time winner of the Aggie 100 Award, Paragon Innovations’ skilled team is unmatched in their level of expertise and product management capabilities. Acquired by TTI, Inc. in 2021, Paragon Innovations joins the Exponential Technology Group (XTG), a collection of electronic component distributors and design engineering firms that collaborate to enable the development of modern technologies. XTG is a subsidiary of TTI Inc.’s Family of Specialists: TTI, Inc., Mouser Electronics, Symmetry Electronics and Sager Electronics.