For startups, having a Product Champion is critically important to see a new project through from design to commercialization.
A Product Champion is someone that’s devoted to the product itself. This person is the one responsible for driving the decision to make sure that the product is the best it can be. A lot of times that means they have to juggle a lot of different agendas. They have to juggle between the aesthetics, which the designers care a lot about. They have to deal with the mechanical systems where it needs to function properly. Same thing with the electrical aspects that engineers care a lot about.

The Product Champion also needs to look at the business needs of a project. Most importantly, they need to keep the user needs and desires at top of mind to make sure that the end user will eventually need this product.

When a start-up is working on a project, that device could be the piece that launches them into stardom. Or finally gets their company off the ground. Additionally, start-ups in general are dealing with tighter deadlines and they already have a lot on their plates. For folks in leadership positions at companies that are just getting started, there may be many other factors or their focus is pulled in directions related to funding or talent or growth, not the details of the engineering within a new product.

“That’s where a company like ours, HS Design, comes in to really help those startups to understand how to make their product the best it can be and also to build that trust,” explained Bobby Boyer, Director of Product Development.

For startups going through the process for the first time they might not understand the steps or details that are needed to make sure that the project has success. They need to have someone that is looking out for their best interests and trust that somebody is committed to the success of their product, as much as they are. A lot of times startups will call it a baby essentially. You will have that baby and they want to make sure that you’re the right person, right caretaker to be able to hold that baby and be its nanny, make it grow into the right product.

I think that’s where for startups, it’s about being able to let go of some of those tasks so they can focus on their company itself and having that trust in the team and the leader that is there to make their product great. This happens for Fortune 100 companies as well. The timeframes, the investors, and the pressure, are all significantly higher for companies just getting started.

For start-ups that are just getting started and the product is their ticket to future success, there is a lot of pressure. Some of the pressure is certainly internal because they want to succeed themselves, but there are also many cases where the pressure is external and coming from many directions. Whether that be investor expectations, the market or even the “founding team,” it becomes challenging when there are a lot of different people that have different ideas and they all want to be Product Champions or they all consider themselves Product Champions.

At HSD, Bobby Boyer explains that “we like to have, almost mini champions. We’ll have the Champion that is for industrial design. We’ll have a Champion for mechanical engineering, we’ll have a Champion for the business side of things. All of these people are trying to make those particular aspects the best they can be. At the end of the day, there needs to be that one person, that one leader, that one voice that is really leading everyone to that promised land per se.”

Although, there are multiple ideas and multiple scenarios and aspects, at the end of the day, there needs to be one overall Product Champion leader. That doesn’t mean that that Product Champion is all alone. It means that they take information from multiple people and sources to decipher what is important and implement that information to create a successful product.

A true Product Champion will understand and take your personal feelings out of it and say, “You know what, you’re right.” That idea makes sense. You explained it properly. To make the product great, we should incorporate this feature.” They’re dreaming about this every night. They’re having nightmares and all of these things, where they could be at home, making dinner and say, “I’ve got an idea and I’ve got to incorporate this.” “Oh, I remember this part about the industrial design that we need to incorporate and that’s right.” That person is always thinking about it. If the Product Champion is just saying, “We can’t do it because somebody told us we can’t,” and they didn’t fight for it.

One of the best investments that a new company or start-up can make is to have talent pushing a project from inception to commercialization. The right Product Champion can help accelerate the success of new device in the market.