Customer and market understanding – Market requirements. For commercialization of technology it is essential to first understand what type of problems the technology can address, what value it brings to the customer and what the specific product needs are (product requirements). Furthermore, different types of customers or market segments may need to be examined separately to determine the go-to-market approach and product requirement commonalities and differences. We assist in developing customer focused market requirements documentation (MRD) as the basis for systematic product development. To gather necessary information, often we also assist in the development of the customer and market understanding first. It is important to note that the MRD does not focus on the product to be developed but on the application needs of the customer, value provided and the resulting business opportunity.

Translating market requirements to product requirements. With a good understanding of the market requirements, these can be translated into product requirements that are specific to the technology. The product requirements can be easily understood by the engineers and scientists as they put demands on the technology driving definition of product specifications. At Caribbean Waters we have the technical expertise to understand hardware technologies at a scientific level and to provide a bridge between technology demonstration and the market requirements. We assist in working with scientists and engineers to assure product requirements are developed that are in harmony with the market requirements.

Product definition. Based on the product requirements high level and sub-system design choices are developed and documented. We assist in working with the engineers and scientists to put together a design that meets the requirements and optimizes choices of cost, time-to-develop and flexibility. For a brand new product the typical approach is to first bring to market a minimally viable product (MVP) as quickly as possible to validate all assumptions made and to get real use cases.

Product development. A systematic approach in developing the product(s) from the start will save time and money when scaling up production and needing to service equipment in the field. Having the right, experienced staff and putting into place scalable processes and systems is critical and often overlooked in the startup phase. For example, it is not necessary to put into place an ERP system for a startup company, but it is essential to implement processes and systems early (even if tracked manually in Excel) that can later be scaled up and integrated into a more rigorous framework. We assist in the creation of the product development framework and documentation including setting up of design reviews and training of staff to follow a structured process.

Intellectual property protection. In the excitement of the startup work, it is important to consider IP protection carefully. This entails not only the coverage of the technology by patents, but also the protection of intellectual property in the form of trade secrets. Adequate processes like nondisclosure agreements and policies of public disclosure need to be put in place to avoid invalidation of patents and leakage of critical IP. We assist in setting in motion established processes that can be rolled out quickly without creating significant overhead. We have extensive experience in patent analysis and protection and can guide technology experts to efficiently summarize their inventions for patenting. Sanitary IP processes, a clear understanding of the IP environment, undisputed freedom to operate, and a comprehensive and protective patent portfolio is a key requirement for large multiples in terms of company valuation for equity investments and company exits.

Product life cycle. For more advanced companies that already have traction in the marketplace, it becomes increasingly important to put product development into the context of the product life cycle. This includes planning the concept and investigation of new technologies, validating technologies with customers, guiding the development and engineering of products, the manufacture of products, and the service of products in the field. We can provide a proven framework, adapt it to the company’s needs, assist in the implementation, and conduct training.