From idea to production: iMagine-It-Tech

We hear about how analytics is changing the skills marketers need to interpret customer demand online. Moreover, the digital world has expanded to include mobile and Internet of Thing devices. As a result, marketers must learn how to turn ideas into a business and development framework that allows them to work with developer teams more efficiently. 

It has been understood among developers that apps usually can be created with small, two-person teams. But managing resources and growth in the face of development opportunity can turn on a dime. The story of Twitter cutting its stream access to Meerkat, the live streaming app, is proof.

Those sorts of turns can be especially unwieldy with IoT development.  Devices involve more resource complexity.  When Ben Einstein, General Partner at Bolt Venture Capital spoke at the 2015 O’Reilly Solid Conference, he explained how development teams for devices have more items to vet compared to that for an app.  Thus he advocated that IoT teams have eight people to cover engineering, frontend, back end, and sales. 

So where should a marketer start when it comes to integrating their ideas into a development framework?  Patrick Harris of iMagine-It-Tech has a few ideas.  

Harris is the founder and CEO of iMagine-It-Tech, a firm that specializes in prototype development.  iMagine-It-Tech provides consultation and outsource prototyping services including schematic capture, printed circuit board (PCB) layouts, and Computer Aided Design (CAD). The first also offers product testing and verification.

iMagine-It-Tech has been slowly expanding its client base to include small, medium and large companies that are outsourcing their engineering work. For example, it has conducted electrical testing with PyroPhase, a research company that is developing the PyroHeater, a patented oil recovery technology that will aid oil production.

iMagine-It-Tech has also been developing plans to launch devices under its own brand.   Among other current projects, iMagine-It-Tech is currently developing a temperature sensor system, using a series of indicator lights. The system is under beta now, with a next step to see how the system works in a home environment to provide advanced real-time data stream of temperature and weather attributes. The system will offer better accuracy and is expected to aid a number of IoT-related systems. 

Harris has a strong history of product development.  A Tuskegee University graduate in mechanical engineering, Harris worked on product design and development teams at several Fortune 500 companies including Raytheon, Motorola, and Siemens.  His engineering involvement ranges from radar circuit boards for AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) to medical imagining systems and devices with General Electric Healthcare, and Baxter. 

Harris notes overcrowding as a significant challenge for businesses small and large looking to capitalize on an IoT environment.  He says, “What surprises me right now that everybody is developing an app without a real sensibility to what works and why the app should exist. With a computer and the internet you can develop software. But the real work is associating that app with electronics to do meaningful work.”

He goes on to explain the cost in developing the right device and business model to support it. “Clients usually come to us with great ideas, but with no financial plan.  A prototype can cost $5,000 minimum to produce.  A patent can add another $5000 to the initial cost.  That may be a drop in the hat for large established firms, but for many small firms, including a number of African American entrepreneurs who regularly approach us, that amount destroys budgets before marketing costs are even considered.”

Harris suggests that establishing a strategy with initial sales helps build credibility in bringing a product to market. “The most important thing is to obtain a proof of concept.  Many companies are being run by people without a heavy technical background…But ultimately you must delve into understanding how to develop a strategy to attract the right customers to your product, not just assume that everyone will buy it. Entrepreneurs should make initial runs for initial sales, then get feedback on their products, and analyze the opinions they receive.  Those insights can reveal ideas for improving the product.” 

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