Lessons Learned Bringing New Products to Market: A Fictiv Expert Panel

Over the summer, Fictiv VP of Manufacturing Jean Oliveri hosted a panel of product design and engineering experts, who shared the lessons they learned when bringing new hardware products to market. Panelists included Maddy Sides, Head of Product and co-founder of Healyx Labs; Stephanie Whalen of Swope Design; and Andrew Deagon of Samsara.

Watch the video and read the transcript (below) for insight on how to overcome potential challenges in hardware design, prototyping, and manufacturing when launching a new product.


Jean: I would like to start with Maddy because she's focused on one product. And I'd love for her to start us off with the premise of what Healyx is about and the product that she would like to discuss.

Maddy: The premise of Healyx is that medical products can be made more affordable and more useful with thoughtful design and patient centered design. Really focusing on clinical benefit. What we're doing is trying to bring a specific kind of therapy to millions of patients who don't currently have access.

It's a negative pressure wound therapy...basically a suction machine to heal wounds. And focusing on what really needs to be there to heal a patient's wound and taking out all the things that make these products unbelievably expensive and not affordable in places like Nepal, Bangladesh, or India.

Jean: The first question I'd like to ask is, you probably had to be really conscientious about designing for cost, true? How did you come up with that initial set of parameters, and was that difficult?

Maddy: Yeah, definitely. We basically started from scratch, looking at what is every single component that might go into this device, and is it bringing value to the doctors and patients who want to use this therapy? And build up a product around that. We incorporated a lot of molded parts to bring the costs down.

One of the challenges there, though, is that you don't necessarily reap the benefits of using molded parts when you're making medical device prototypes in really small quantities. We had to be pretty creative there on how do we make a design that can be manufactured at scale for low cost, but also continue to make small batches of prototypes and have a reason to believe that we are making the right decisions now? And that the product will be affordable for someone in the developing world down the line.

Jean: When you're designing, how do you then determine what is necessary in your product and what is unnecessary?

Maddy: Yeah, I think for us, it's been continued interaction with physicians who are on the front lines, who are treating patients who really can't afford any kind of medical care. We've gone back and forth to work with physicians in the U.S. and overseas, showing them prototypes. Even the roughest most basic prototypes and going back over and over to both earn their trust and get their real criticism and real skepticism and questions and react from that. And continue to refine the product. It's been three years of a lot of that now.

Jean: Three years of prototyping?

Maddy: Three years of prototyping, but we really just started to transition into a production kind of mindset. I'm talking really small here, we built 15 products, 15 units. We built 15 units, with the help of Fictiv, actually, and treated 15 patients in Nepal this year for the first time. And what's on the horizon for our next build will hopefully be more like 100.

Jean: That's fantastic. Have there been a lot of iterations along the way? And how have you been able to contain both the specifications and the costs?

Maddy: Yeah, definitely a lot of iterations, using creative methods that will represent what a production part will be like. Using 3D printed parts on the inside and maybe some flashy cast your theme parts on the outside. And spending money where we need to make the product look ready. But being creative about maybe cutting costs elsewhere or keeping the design unfrozen until we really know.

It really wasn't actually after we finished our clinical trial that we committed to injection mold tooling on the housing exterior. We even made changes to the shape of the product after we saw how doctors were using it in the field.

Jean: What were the top two challenges, and what were the learnings that you got from those?

Maddy: Like I said, I think building trust is so critical when you're bringing a new product to market, particularly in medical, but really any kind of new product. Making sure the stakeholders and users know where you're coming from. And so for us, building trust has been probably one of our biggest challenges to getting our product out there.

And then in a more technical sense, I think planning for lead times. Lead times are real, and you can't work magic. And you don't wanna squeeze your suppliers and vendors too much, because your failure to plan is not their problem. I think that's been a good lesson that we're continuing to implement as we can.

Jean: Okay, so if I had to ask you what have you learned that you would not do on your follow on product or your follow on company, what is a golden nugget that you could pass along to all of us here?

Maddy: I think again, this is very obvious, but spend your time and money as wisely as you can. I was reflecting on the development process, and I can think of a time when we got some models made with a cheaper 3D printing method, and then I spent hours trying to make them look nice. It's not worth it, and so I think that kind of thing of spending money where you need to and also just accepting that sometimes a prototype is not going to be perfect and being wise with your own time, avoiding rework when possible. 

Jean: As important as it is to know what you want to do again, what would you absolutely not do again?

Maddy: I wouldn't spend or waste my time reworking something. What I would definitely do again goes along those same lines--trying to build trust with people by showing continuous improvement of the product.

You don't want to wait until you think it's perfect. You can show it to them three months early, and if you can impress them with improvements and having listened to them and taken their point of view into consideration, I think that actually does more than waiting that extra time to show them something perfect. Showing someone the rate at which you're making improvements has been critical for us and getting buy-in to our vision and what we're trying to do.

Jean: One last question for you. Is there anything that you noticed as far as building trust?

Maddy: I think the biggest antidote to mistrust is face time. It's showing up in person and actually talking to people and getting in front of the right people. That's been the most important thing for us.

It's so easy for someone to misunderstand you through email or phone, across cultural barriers and time zones, so anything you can do to get face time with people, even once, goes a long way. Six months down the road, they know who they're talking to, and that's been our biggest lesson learned in how to actually get things done in difficult environments.

Jean: Fantastic, thank you.

Maddy Sides, Head of Product and co-founder of Healyx Labs, talks about lessons learned bringing new hardware products to market.
Maddy Sides, Head of Product and co-founder of Healyx Labs, shares the lessons she's learned bringing new hardware products to market.

Jean: Stephanie, you have developed quite a few products. Do you have a special one that you can pick that we can focus on? A product that you've brought into production.

Stephanie: I'm sure I'll touch on a few, but the one I'm gonna talk about most is for a client I cannot disclose, unfortunately. But would you like me to give the elevator pitch?

Jean: Please.

Stephanie: It's a rather large product. It's relative to the little things I work on, usually with a mix of plastics and sheet metal and electronics, which many of you probably work on, as well. I can find one in every major city around the world, which is really fun. I can usually go and look at it, which I really enjoy. But unfortunately, I can't tell you what it is.

Anyway, so I worked on this project early on in the design phase, with the concept and with the company. I was off the project for a while and then was brought back on to manage the supply chain and to build for it. One thing you did miss in my intro was my last company, so I wanna give them a shout here, in case any of my friends are watching. It's Radius Innovation & Development; they're part of Jabil; they were purchased by Jabil via Nypro about five years ago. It was a partnership with Jabil, as well. Contract manufacturing ties were really helpful to this particular project.

Jean: Okay, so just speaking in generalities then, as you went to bring this product to market, did it have a long prototyping phase?

Stephanie: Inappropriately short, I would say. We had some focus groups that we used with it, as well, but there were definitely some risks in taking it to production. But there were definitely some marketing goals that needed to be met, so we marched ahead, perhaps with less rigor than we should have in the ideal world. But who has that kind of luxury?

There was less prototyping than you'd think, I suppose, without many long lead time components and stuff. And it was not a medical product, like Maddie's, or as critical. It's more of a let's figure it out, and that's a luxury that not every product has. But this particular one was a bit shorter in terms of timeline.

Jean: Would you care to expand upon any of the specific challenges that you had with that?

Stephanie: Yeah, there were some major functionality things that we went for with risk--hoping that, you know, we could figure out some of those challenges. For example, Wifi was a really big challenge, with a lot of unique different environments it would be in, and trying to coordinate a bunch of different AV equipment, as well.

We found that there were significant technological barriers in the environment, so troubleshooting that with the internal teams of the client and our teams, as well as trying to get it to production, was really challenging, in terms of resources. We eventually got it figured out, once we got the right people involved. But sometimes it's about finding that right person--at my client, in this particular case, who could help us sort out all the problems. A lot of that is tenacity, in terms of asking the right questions and trying to find out whom you can talk to who might have that particular technical detail, or in getting the right people involved and showing that you are trying really hard on that particular detail; and they're more likely to get involved once they see you spinning your wheels a little bit.

Jean: With clients, I'm sure that they all want the lowest cost, the highest quality, the most manufacturable product. How do you balance that with reality?

Stephanie: One trick I learned back in the day was when you're working with a client, they always want it really cheap, really fast, and perfect--and low-cost to their customer. And that's just not doable. Somebody has to call the shots somewhere, so that every person on your team, when they're making decisions, can prioritize. So the trick they taught me when I was at SKULLY was, if you have cost to your customer, cost to you as a company, schedule, and features, have a very clear priority as to what those are. For SKULLY, for example, the feature set that was most important, that was number one, was safety. So that was what we had to prioritize, above all else.

Jean: If you could glean all of the learnings from the different products that you've had, what would be the Golden Nugget that you would want to share with this team on what you absolutely would do going forward in developing products?

Stephanie: I'd say that when you're working with a team, communicating well with them and treating everybody really well will earn you more friends and make your life a million times easier. And you shouldn't, of course, do that because you want your life to be easier; you should do it because you're a good person, and you want to treat other people well. But I do find that I would never want to obligate anyone to work long hours to help me bring my product to market. I'd rather they want to do that, because they want to see it succeed. So it's about treating people well, helping them believe in your vision, and you're more likely to make friends that way. And even though those little fires might not get put out exactly as you wanted them to, it'll ultimately lead to a better result and amore collaborative team.

I think another nugget would be: Don't underestimate the power of your documentation. Drawings aren't my favorite thing to do. Neither are product specs. And sometimes I'd try to lie to myself and say, "Oh, I don't need these for that project." It can be really tough. It's kind of like a contract that you have, especially working with clients, to have a product requirements document, as well as your manufacturer. And then your drawings are your contract with all of your vendors as to what you're asking for. Also, the importance of specifying things on your drawings and your product specs to an accurate degree, not necessarily over-specifying or under-specifying. Because if you over-specify, if you have receiving inspections, they can reject parts for things that you didn't really care about. I learned that the hard way too many times. And then under-specifying, you may just find that they may not be using what you had intended.

Jean: Fantastic. Thank you. Andrew, talk to us about Kickstarter.

Andrew: Oh yeah. I was in the medical device field, and I kind of wanted to get out and get into tech, and so I decided to do a Kickstarter. And we had built this guitar neck that lights up. It was really fun, and a lot of people were interested. We were hitting up every band that was coming in through town, and I got to go to a lot of shows for free, which is really cool. And about halfway through the Kickstarter, I ran the numbers again, and realized that the cost did not make sense, and unfortunately, we didn't succeed, but it was a pretty good learning lesson on when you're engineering, you're not just engineering product, you're also engineering for cost, and you've got to build a sustainable business. So I think a lot of people on Kickstarter need to learn that lesson. I unfortunately learned it the hard way. It didn't succeed, and that's fine, but yeah.

Jean: At what point did it not succeed? How far did you get?

Andrew: It went all the way. We didn't raise enough money, which was fine. It was in the early days of Kickstarter, before understanding how to make a really good video, and all the marketing involved, and that was a whole production, and I think that Kickstarter has been a fantastic way for companies to sort of jumpstart their careers from nothing.

Jean: Okay. On to Ether.

Andrew: Yeah. Another failure.

Jean: Okay, great, fantastic. Let us have it. What happened?

Andrew: Yeah, so Ether was basically an Amazon Alexa, back before Amazon Alexa was a thing. We built a speaker with a bunch of microphones, and you could talk to it, and it would play music that you wanted, and it learned your habits and became a better speaker over time. And the engineering team was top-notch. It was some of the best engineers coming from Nokia and Google and Apple, but for whatever reason, the founding team just did not put a lot of priority on the marketing and sales side. And so we just ended up being this brilliant engineering hub, building this really great product, that just did not sell. And by the time you launch it, if you have no sales or marketing, then it's not going to get it out there, right? So it kind of fell flat on its face, and about the same time that we launched, Alexa also launched. And what can you do? We had a good idea, but Amazon has a whole lot of power behind it, so...

Jean: They do.

Andrew: Yeah.

Jean: Okay, then. On to Fitbit. The wearable.

Andrew: Okay. Yeah. I think a few people at Fictiv know how I feel about Fitbit. I was at Fitbit for four months. I'm not a huge fan of the company, to be honest. I think the product is great. When I came in, the company was a little bit messy. I think that they hired way too fast, and the company grew too fast, without a whole lot of priority on how to organize or how to get structure and roles to the employees. And they're a good company; they've got a good product, and we'll see how they do.

Jean: Are there any specific pain points that you learned when you were in there that they could've done better?

Andrew: Yeah, the most painful thing about Fitbit for me was coming in, and one, the project I was on was not very exciting. But the second thing was, it was not apparent to me who my team was or whom I was supposed to go to for certain roles. And especially when a company grows from, I don't know, they were probably like 300, or something, and they grew to like 1,500 people after the acquisition, and I'm about to kick off tools, and I need to know who my supply chain manager is or need to know who the project manager is, and I don't know who they are, and I'm going around asking people to figure out who my team is. I think that is a huge pain point. And that disconnect causes chaos and frustration and low motivation, and so I think that's a lot of what I felt there, so I quickly got out.

Jean: Understandable. Did they have defined processes, or were you pretty much doing things your own way?

Andrew: They might've. I never found them out. But I think that with any wearable, there's a whole lot of rigor and regulations that are involved. You can't just put any kind of plastic on people's arms. There's all kinds of bio testing that is involved with making a wearable. There's a whole team around that, as well. So as you're building, you have to go and check the specs that you're within some sort of regulation.

Jean: So at Samsara, what's a typical lifecycle for the product?

Andrew: Yeah, so, shoutout to my team over here. So, Samsara I consider a success so far, and it's been an interesting place to be building product, because it's something that I haven't really been a part of, which is that we're building sensors for businesses. It's not necessarily for consumers. So, we're not moving on the traditional consumer product lifecycle of a year and a half, or going through the traditional proto-EBT DBT PBT MP; it's more like, okay, we're going to prototype, we're going to kick off tools, and then sell it. I feel like the cameras came out in like a month or two, right? Like three months. Or, we built product in three or four months, and we've even built product with Fictiv.

There were times where we kicked off 50 parts with Fictiv, and those went directly to customers--3-D printed parts. The cool thing about it is that we're not producing for consumers, so it doesn't need to be beautiful, it just...function is king. So, if it works, and it's 3-D printed, that's fine; they're happy with it. As long as they can get the data they need and get the efficiency and the results they're looking for from the product, then it works well.

Jean: So what are the things that you do up front, to make sure that you nail it within the three months?

Andrew: Yeah, so to come back to working with Fictiv, I think that it is crucial to do design validation. You have some kind of idea of what the product is supposed to be, and then you try as quickly as possible to build a version of that product and put it out into the wild. One of our flagship products is the BG-34, which is essentially a computer that you plug into your OBD port on your vehicle, and you stick it into the dashboard of the vehicle, and then you can track your fleet. So, if you're in trucking and distribution, or a rideshare like Chariot, with a fleet of vehicles driving around San Francisco, there is a BG-34 in every Chariot. In order to understand how it's going to work, you build it as quickly as possible, and you put it out there. So, for BG-34, for instance, we 3-D printed like 20 to 50 enclosures, and then we just started hiring Ubers to drive around the city. And that's the best way to know, because you don't understand how the urban canyon is going to affect your LTE, or whether your OBD might throw some weird switches and cause the dashboard to go crazy.

These are things you can't really predict until you get that product out to the wild, and you test it, and you do some kind of design validation. With consumer, I think it's a little bit harder. You can build a prototype and give it to your friends and family. Fortunately, having a product that is for businesses, we can find friendly people who are willing to take beta product for free and then just deploy directly. We're across the street from Anchor Steam. A lot of our early sensors and products get launched into Anchor Steam, and we get free beer, and they get free sensors, and it's a good synergy.

Jean: Yes. It does sound like the best kind of synergy.

Andrew: Yeah.

Jean: Okay, so same question, then, the one that we're anxious to hear, is through all of your experiences, because you had some great--and I actually don't consider failures to be all failures; I think you get a lot of golden nuggets and a lot of successes and a lot of learnings out of those that make you better; and your team is laughing, because I'm not sure they feel the same way. But I think it's important to share, if you can, things that you learned from the challenges, from all your experiences, and what you could share with us that you absolutely would do going on.

Andrew: Would do first, and then would not do?

Jean: Would do.

Andrew: Okay. So would do, yeah, early in my career, there was a senior engineer that I worked with, who was really great at what he did, and the main thing he always imposed on me was to iterate as fast as possible, and to kind of touch on what Maddie was saying, sometimes, there's a state where you realize that done is better than perfect, and you need to get to the next stage and build something and get it out there, so you can understand what the next thing is. And it's really hard, especially in engineering, to know what that point is, when to say, "Okay, this is time to launch whatever this is and learn from it to the next thing." So, I think iterating as many times as possible is definitely a lesson that I would do when building products.

Jean: Great.

Andrew: Yeah. And have a great team that shows up with your face on their shirts.

Jean: Okay, and what would you absolutely not do?

Andrew: This is not so much like an engineering tidbit, as much as it is a personal career thing, but if at any point, you're in a job where you feel stuck, or you're not learning, or not progressing, or you feel like you wake up in the morning, and you feel like you don't really want to be here, then you probably shouldn't be there. And so for me, if you look at my resume, you'd talk about jumping around from all these different places. We're in the Bay; it's pretty normal, I think, to bounce from place to place in a couple years. But I think it's pretty critical if you want to advance your career, you shouldn't stick around in a place that is not teaching or not helping you. So, for me, the thing that I would not do is try and stick around in a place, even for instance Google, like I was sticking around at Google, and I felt like I wasn't learning that much, and it was a very cushy place with free coffee and free food, and it was good pay, and at a certain point, I was like, this is not helping my career, even though it's really nice, but let's move on.

Jean: Thank you. I'd like to do a couple of just fun questions, since these guys did a lot of prep work, and I appreciate it. Thank you. The first question is, and you can each answer this, if you wrote a book of your product flop or flops, what would the title be?

Andrew: Kickstart: Calculate your Bomb Before you Launch.

Jean: That's a good one. Maddy?

Maddy: Don't Forget the Trust, or It's about Trust, Stupid, or something like that. 

Stephanie: My Suppliers Texting Me Cat Pictures.

Andrew: Really? That's awesome.

Stephanie: Still, and Why is My Remote Flying Around China? A Personal TV Remote and Other Short Stories.

Jean: Very good, very good. Next question is, what is the one word or couple of words you'd choose to complete this sentence: "If only I had______, this product would have been amazing?"

Stephanie: "...cut half these features."

Andrew: Yeah, I think in regards to Ether, "hired a sales team."

Maddy: "...looked at my project schedule every day, not just every week."

Jean: Next question. "In my mind, I'm an engineer, but in my mother's mind, I'm _______."

Andrew: Yeah, pass.

Maddy: Well, okay, here's the thing: I think in my mom's mind, I'm an engineer, but in my mind, I'm emailing, sending things, talking to people on the phone, just running circles...so, there you go. She thinks I'm an engineer.

Andrew: My mom calls me "Little Mr. Sunshine," so maybe that.

Stephanie: My mom just thinks I'm crazy, because I'm usually texting her in the middle of the night from the floor, or something like that, so...

Jean: Crazy.

Stephanie: Crazy.

Jean: Okay. Last one. "I do my best engineering when I'm ______-ing."

Andrew: I was joking with these guys, but I was going to say, when I'm high, but maybe...it's half true. I was going to say, I do my best engineering work when I have really great team, and I feel passionate about the product, I feel passionate about the team and the company I'm working with...and when I'm high.

Stephanie: When I'm asking lots of dumb questions. Never underestimate the power of understanding something you thought was really obvious.

Maddy: Probably riding my bike home or to work. Everything becomes clear. 

Jean: Very good. Okay, that's it for the canned questions. Would anybody like to ask anything from the audience, please? Sure.

Audience Question 1: My question is in regards to medical applications. When you have a disaster, say, in Puerto Rico, and umbilical cord clamps are not available, how difficult would it be to go and have a 3D printed part used in that application, and how important is it for it to be made locally or have it shipped in?

Andrew: Yeah, I think as far as medical goes, the type of plastic matters, and I mean, if you can find a printer that is producing the type of plastic that is maybe okay, like BPA-free, or some...I don't know, exactly, then I think it's a pretty good idea. The other part of it is, how do you provide those resources, so maybe it's about partnering with non-profits in order to get printers out there to provide that kind of stuff. But...

Maddy: Yes.

Andrew: This is your domain.

Maddy: Now, just the two words that come to mind to me is process validation. Right? If you can have a validated process for any number of products, that would be awesome. It's all about protocols and validation. So, I don't see why not.

Stephanie: Oh, I get to have my hand at this one, too?

Andrew: Yeah.

Stephanie: I guess I would ask you a further follow on question, as to what the shortage was caused by, because if that one product is affected, you may have others in the same domain that are affected, and if not, you may be able to reuse something that, although it's claimed safe for a slightly different procedure, you can just do something slightly different, if the doctor was trained in it. That's mostly because I don't know the regulations on implementing 3D printed parts last minute, especially in the field of umbilical cords. I would get a really good lawyer. Bring them on board.

Andrew: Yeah, maybe you just need to do geurilla product design, right? Just get out there, and don't abide the regulations. I don't know. It's a touchy one. 

I have a friend who's doing a business where they resell medication that's expired, because a lot of medication that's expired just gets thrown away because of regulation, or for whatever reason, but they found ways to look at the law, to try and find ways to push new laws, in order to allow for expired medication to be redistributed to people who might need it. So, maybe there are ways to...maybe this requires looking at the law first.

Audience Question 2: I just had a question about protecting intellectual property at every stage of your product development iteration supply chain, and if you guys had run into any issues, and if you have any nuggets, especially when it comes to manufacturing outside the United States?

Jean: Who wants to take it?

Andrew: I can start. I think as far as IP goes, if you move fast enough, maybe we don't need to be concerned about IP. I think also, that if you're doing something that requires a patent, maybe it's a little bit more of a science experiment. If you think about Samsara and the products that we're launching, it's not so much of science experiment, it's stuff that's already being done, but we do better, maybe more up to date. So, as far as IP goes, I'm not too concerned about filing patents. 

Maddy: Don't have a ton of experience. There are no horror stories to date.

Stephanie: I'd say I've been really fortunate, I suppose, and in my career, a lot of the secret sauce for my clients is their software. So it's more about protecting that intellectual property, versus the hardware that I'm working on is a little less proprietary.

Andrew: One more thing. I had a guy that I was working with who gave me a piece of knowledge that I thought was interesting: If you file a patent at a company, it just means you can't use it at the next company you go to.

Jean: Dave.

Dave Evans: I've got two questions. If you can just tell us what is your favorite engineering resource, or where do you go to learn things today? 

Andrew: Fictiv. 

Maddy: McMaster.

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, I think Fictiv has a good engineering database. There was another website I found, called eFunda, which I think eventually went to some paid thing. You can click on the links enough times, and then they make you pay, but I basically clicked on all the links, and then download PDFs, and over time, I've gotten the whole thing without having to pay. McMaster's great; all those places are pretty good.

Stephanie: I have so many I've made a page on my website for them, so you can check there, as well. It's just called cool, and all my favorite links, but I think the one that comes to mind most, I likethisorthat.com, for quick adhesive knowledge. I also really like Battery University, which has more knowledge than you'll ever want to know about any battery anywhere, but I find that comes up in my products more often than I think I expected.

Dave: Thank you, and my second question is for Andrew, specifically. You already talked about Samsara having one of the most unique development cycles to work with. What's the inspiration for how you make the products?

Andrew: I think actually the primary reason for the way that we do things is that you have the pressure of sale cycles. You have direct feedback from sales saying this is a product that will make you X number of dollars; we just need it, and you need something in the next month, or the next two months, or this deal is going to go away. There going to find something else. So, that's been the primary drive is, oh, we need dash cameras; oh, you need dash cameras in a month, build a dash camera in a month, oh, okay, Alibaba, we'll rip off all the parts of this camera that we found on Alibaba, and then we'll go to Fictiv and do an injection mold, and re-skin it, and boom, you have a dash camera in a month.

Maddy: That's super cool. 

Stephanie: Yeah, on that point, AliExpress and Alibaba are really great inspiration from a product perspective. Definitely recommend checking that out when you're building something.

Dave: Thank you.

Audience Member Question 3:  So, could you give a bit more insight into how you actually iterate and get feedback from consumers to make sure that you refine the product, to make sure that you're on the right trajectory? Consumer interviews; things like that. How do you actually approach it for your particular demographic?

Andrew: I think for us it's been, you build it for yourself; you build it for your team to start; you build 20 units; and you deploy it, and you get enough learnings from that. I think also finding competitors and tearing those down, and understanding why they did things certain ways is a really good starting point. Then, after that, it's just about iteration. So, for us, we had CM11, which was our first dash camera that survived for maybe a few months before Christian rebuilt it, and we had the next version, which implemented all the learnings from that version. Right, so, I think it just is about iterating as fast as possible. I mean, you will quickly learn what all the faults are of your design with your RMA process, once you've launched it. Right? So, you launch the CM11, and you just deployed 5000 units to your customers, and you just watched 600 come back for failures, and then you've got to look through all of them and figure out what's wrong with them, and then you fix it.

Maddy: It obviously varies by industry, but I think for us, figuring out who is the decision maker. Who needs to be convinced that this product is worthwhile? And then getting it in front of them and saying, what would it take for you to buy this product? Physicians are very critical, and they've seen it all, and so they're great people to work with, because they're pretty fast to find what could better about the product. And then also identifying what is critical, what are tasks that need to be done with this product, and just watching people do that as many times as you can.

Stephanie: Yeah I've seen this approached in a lot of different ways. I'd say some of the more significant ones go off of a lot of the stakeholder discussion that you were just having. One of my clients just had a...it was a major tech company, but they were looking to iterate, and they were trying to come up with the product specs for the next thing to build, and the people using the product were not the people who were buying the product. The influencers there weren't the people talking to manufacturing. So, breaking down what the priorities are, and where they're really coming from, and whether someone's just adding a laundry list of features because they think it needs this.

Sometimes perception is a really big part of it, but in terms of actual user testing, just going and watching people in the wild. This particular product gives a point of sale system, so I started noticing whenever I went to a store, how people use their point of sale system, and I'd ask them questions, and I'd always come up with new things to inspire the process. So less formal, but good.

Jean: Any other questions? Going once. Okay. Thank you guys. Thank you to the panelists. Appreciate it. This was a pretty fantastic experience and appreciate you guys coming tonight. 

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