In an ongoing series surrounding our recent hsDNA episode with Global VP/GM Design, Development, and Human Factors Tor Alden, “5 Traps Startups Need to Watch Out for When Engaging with a Product Design Firm,” we’re exploring his top 5 traps one by one for deeper understanding.


Previous trap’s include Trap 1 – Not Planning & Understanding the Medical Product Development Process, Trap 2 – Not Building & Scaling the Right Team, Trap 3 – Underestimating Monetary Resources, and Trap 4 The Emotional Element.


The final Trap, Trap 5, addresses the importance of Staying True to Your Value Proposition.


What is a Value Proposition?

A value proposition is a statement that identifies the clear, measurable, and demonstrable benefits consumers will receive from your product or service.


A strong value proposition understands its target market, offers specific value, and connects with its customers. Most startups are disruptive technologies that upset the apple cart. A strong value proposition will create a strong ROI.


When you are starting your journey, prepare for the adventure by reaching out to startup communities and immersing yourself in understanding the value proposition your product is offering. What pain is it removing, and what joy is it producing? “To learn more about this,” Tor suggests, “read The Business Model Generator by Osterwalder & Pigneur and The Lean Startup Methodology by Eric Ries.”


3 Components of a Strong Value Proposition

1. Identify a specific issue for a specific audience.

        2. Define how your solution solves this specific problem.

        3. Highlight the audience-specific intangible and measurable benefits of the solution.


5 Value Proposition Offerings

1. Productivity – Solutions that help your audience improve their output faster or more efficiently

2. Profitability – Service or solution providers that help customers reduce their costs, save money, or impact

their bottom line

3. Image – Solutions that affect the reliability or credibility of your target audience, that could prompt

customers to utilize or cancel business, ultimately affecting productivity and profitability.

4. Experience – The experience factor of the value proposition is measured at the end of any interaction. Did

your target audience receive an experience that will increase their willingness to continue using

your solution?

5. Convenience – Summed up as the “ease of doing business” with you.


Creating a strong value proposition and staying true to it throughout the development process is essential for creating a product that meets the needs of your target audience and, ultimately, a successful startup.


But how do you ensure that your product’s value proposition is aligned with your target market’s user needs as well as technical requirements?


“Contextual Inquiry, is a great tool design firms use to help with the translation of user needs” Tor explains, “which is a form of ethnography where we act as a fly on the wall if you will, and watch how your product is used within the environment it’s intended for.”


This process allows us to identify and recognize all a product’s user groups along with their everyday behaviors — from the service tech that will repair the product, the scrub nurse that will set up the product, and the surgeons who may change their usual behavior to mitigate a challenge with the product—to uncover challenges during use and predict risks effectively during development.


“We believe the value proposition should be addressed while doing user research,” Tor explains. “We developed a research process that allows us to focus on identifying user needs along with understanding the technology fit. Combining parts of Lean Startup Methodology with traditional Contextual Inquiry, we are able to quickly understand a problem, identify a solution, test, modify, design, iterate, test, and verify.”


Additionally, greater value can be gained for the same amount of effort by incorporating lean startup methodology into the FDA waterfall, which verifies clinical and technical requirements. Through this process, a startup can concurrently test user needs with product requirement documents, allowing them to pivot along the way if necessary, ultimately realigning their PRD to address their value proposition.


As a medical device startup, most likely, your value proposition will be disruptive to the industry.


Take note—nurses don’t like change!


For your product to be successful, it needs to either ease nurses pain, allow them to do less for more, or provide them some sort of pleasure while alleviating their pain points.


A strong value proposition is essential for any startup to effectively engage and connect with not only customers but also partners, stakeholders, and internal employees. Your value proposition is the foundation for your device and should be seen as the anchor for all decision-making, operations, and customer engagement. It is the framework for how your startup will align activities and output with your target audience’s needs.


As a startup introducing a novel device, you are undoubtedly enthusiastic about your idea. If you are not careful, that enthusiasm could make it hard to determine the difference between your desires and those of your target audience. Your value proposition will assist you in establishing a target market and enable you to recognize the primary need your intended solution is addressing.


It will define what you must provide to satisfy the demands of your targeted audience while offering them an all-around pleasurable experience. Asking yourself throughout the design and development process if decisions and actions align with the core needs to be addressed by your value proposition can help you avoid a medical device that serves too many purposes and loses focus, strength, and value, such as the “swiss army knife” medical device addressed previously in Trap 4.


Having a strong and well-defined value proposition is crucial for the success of any startup, especially in the medical device industry. It not only helps in identifying the target market and their specific needs but also guides the decision-making process throughout the product development lifecycle, ensuring your device aligns with those needs and provides what it promises.


Other keys to success for any medical device startup include planning and understanding the medical product development process, building and scaling the right team, not underestimating monetary resources, and recognizing and understanding the emotional element of device creation. To learn more about these as well as the benefits of a strong value proposition, listen to Tor’s entire talk, “5 Traps Startups Need to Watch Out for When Engaging with a Product Design Firm,” on HS Design’s podcast, hsDNA.