Every new product development project starts with amazing optimism.  This product will change the way we do this procedure forever!  This product will be faster, more sensitive, less expensive and better than anything else!  Alas, statistical studies claim that between 70 – 95% of new products fail.  And these studies do not even count the ones that were never launched.  At Symbient, we rejoice at every successful product launch, and mourn each project that did not make it through.  We do see some common themes within the successful products and those that did not make it through.

Customer Insights

The most successful companies know exactly what their customers need.  Many times, a startup begins because the founder wanted a product that was not available anywhere else and then created the product and the company.  What does your product allow your customers to do that they couldn’t before? Does it save them time?  Money? How much time and money do they need to save to change their behavior?  How will they use your product?  Do they need to change their routines?  Have you shared rough and early prototypes with your customers?  And asked them for feedback without trying to sell the idea to them?  The more you know about your customers and how they will purchase and use your product, the higher your chance of success.

Even more important, a complete set of customer insights will help you make necessary trade-offs during development.  Is cost per assay more important than initial instrument cost? What are the necessary skills needed for the end user?  Should we spend more time reducing the complexity of the product or is time to market critical?  Starting the project with a grounded and realistic understanding of the customer will often be the difference between success and failure.

Development Resources

Product development projects have risks; things usually do not work the first time.  Turning your idea into a robust and reproducible product takes time and investment.  Keeping your budget realistic can help you make the best decisions along the way.  Sometimes you need to sacrifice long terms goals for short term survival – you need to show a working prototype to your investors to get the next round is a different goal than creating a system for manufacture.  At Symbient, we will create a timeline and budget for each phase of development so you have a roadmap.  Since we charge only for the work we have completed, we can accommodate a flexible schedule as you arrange the next phase of funding.  Some of our projects routinely go on hiatus while the customer waits for the next phase of their grant, or line up new investors.


Wrong Team

All along the development pathway there are decisions and tradeoffs.  How you navigate these with your team is key – because there are downstream consequences to each of these decisions.  Set the temperature window too tight and you drive up the costs of manufacturing.  Set the temperature window wide and the reaction might not work.  The best product development teams are diverse, with deep knowledge in key areas.  Our engineers have all had years of experience, many are on multiple patents and patent applications.




Sometimes the technology just doesn’t work well enough to be a product.  All new product development has risk – the goal is to create something new.  Sometimes the assays are not robust enough to transfer to an automated cassette.  At Symbient, we identify the high-risk portion of the project, and design rapid prototypes to reduce the risk early.  






Market timing is critical.  Yet there is a tension between getting your product launched quickly, and making sure that it is robust and reliable.  Sometimes it is better to be second to market with a reliable product priced well than to be first to market and expensive.  At Symbient, our entire business is organized on the concept of reducing development time.  Since we focus on consumable medical products, each project gains valuable insights from the hundreds of projects we have previously completed.  And with our engineers, machine shop, molding and assembly equipment all under one roof, iteration cycles are extremely fast.

Give us a call today to see how we can help you beat the odds with your new product ideas!


5 Ways Your Product Can Fail Image