Home » Navigating the Innovation Process: My Journey Through the Invention Cycle

Navigating the Innovation Process: My Journey Through the Invention Cycle

Experience Sharing Notes

Being an experienced startup founder and CEO of various businesses across different industries, I’ve learned a lot about launching successful products. With experience in medical devices, IoT & AI solutions in the security and retail industries, and blockchain technology in data management, I have a thorough grasp of what it takes to bring innovative ideas to market. By sharing my experiences and lessons learned, I hope to assist other business entrepreneurs and innovators in successfully launching their innovative products into the market.

Innovation has always been a topic that has fascinated me. The idea of creating something new, something that can improve people’s lives, has always been a driving force in my life. However, it wasn’t until I started working on my own inventions that I truly began to understand the innovation process and the invention cycle. In this brief experience-sharing note, I’d like to share my journey through the invention cycle and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’ll walk you through each phase of the innovation cycle, from ideation to commercialization, and provide you with practical suggestions on how to successfully navigate the invention cycle.


DAY 00: Ideation

Ideation is the first step in the innovation process. It’s where you come up with the initial idea for your invention. For me, ideation often comes from a problem I’m facing. I’ll look for solutions and inspiration from my personal experiences or industry research. For example, while I was consulting a client on a facility optimization project in 2015, I conceptualized the Sensolist platform and its AI technology. Sensolist is an Omni-IoT platform that may interact with a wide range of sensors, smart device networks, and third-party data sources. Sensolist can assist various functional users or operators in various industries by tracking real-time data, cognition, and AI-powered recommendations, as well as automated notifications, operations, controls, or processes. In light of Sensolist’s smart workflow management feature, which does not require any coding or IT experience, all of these functionalities can be easily managed by business or functional users with minimal support from IT teams and with minimal time required to learn and start using the system. A platform like Sensolist could effectively solve all of my client’s cross-systems and sensor integration issues, as well as the frustration of engineers lacking the necessary technical and IT knowledge, while also adding more analytics and continuous improvement capacity to their cross-functional teams. Sensolist, like almost any other idea, went through various product maturity phases, and it now continues to support various businesses with security solutions, smart space solutions, smart device networks, manufacturing automation, quality control & risk management, cross-platform integration, and real-time operational and monitoring dashboards. Once I have an idea, I start to refine it by brainstorming and doing market research to see if it has potential. One tool that I’ve found useful in this stage is the Business Model Canvas, which helps me to flesh out the details of the idea and assess its feasibility. Back in 2012, during my entrepreneurial education at Maryland University, I was introduced to the canvas tool for startup development, and I should appreciate Professor Green for the valuable knowledge that he imparted to us throughout that program. When we compare the business model canvas and in general startup toolkits back then in 2010 and now, we can see how these tools have been improved and developed, and I’m very thrilled to see there is a lot of information available now for young or first-time startup owners to benefit from, especially knowledge sharing platforms and accelerator programs, which were very difficult to find or didn’t even exist when I started my startup journey in 2012.

DAY 01: From Idea to Prototype

Navigating the Product Research and Development Phase After ideation comes prototyping. This is where you start to turn your idea into a tangible product. For me, prototyping often involves building a simple model or mockup to test the feasibility of the idea. It’s essential to create a prototype that is simple and inexpensive, as you will likely need to make multiple iterations. It’s also important to test your prototype in the real world to gather feedback from potential users or customers. I often use focus groups or beta testing to get this feedback. As an entrepreneur, you likely have a great idea for a product or service that you believe can solve a real problem in the market. However, before you can turn your idea into a successful business, you need to research and develop a prototype that demonstrates the feasibility of your concept. The product research and prototyping phase of startup development is critical for several reasons. First, it allows you to test your assumptions and gather feedback from potential customers, which can help you refine your idea and ensure that it meets their needs. Second, it provides you with a tangible representation of your idea that you can use to pitch to investors and raise funds. Finally, it helps you identify potential challenges and roadblocks that you may encounter during the product development process. Here are some key steps to follow when navigating the product research and development phase:

Step 1: Conduct market research

Before you start building your prototype, you need to research the market to ensure that there is a demand for your product or service. This includes identifying your target audience, understanding their pain points and needs, and researching your competitors to see how they are addressing similar problems. To conduct market research, you can use a variety of tools, including online surveys, focus groups, and interviews with potential customers. This will help you gather valuable insights into the market and ensure that your product is positioned to succeed.

Step 2: Define your product requirements

Once you have a better understanding of the market, you need to define the requirements for your product. This includes identifying the key features and functionalities that your product needs to have, as well as any technical specifications that are required. To do this, you can create a product requirements document that outlines your product vision, target audience, and key features. This will help you stay focused during the prototyping phase and ensure that your product meets the needs of your target audience.

Step 3: Build a prototype

With your market research and product requirements in hand, it’s time to start building your prototype. This may involve creating a physical prototype or developing a software prototype, depending on the nature of your product. During the prototyping phase, it’s important to gather feedback from potential customers and iterate on your design based on their input. This will help you refine your product and ensure that it meets the needs of your target audience.

Step 4: Test and refine your prototype

Once you have a working prototype, it’s important to test it thoroughly to ensure that it meets your product requirements and functions as intended. This may involve conducting user testing or working with a focus group to gather feedback. Based on the feedback you receive; you may need to refine your prototype and make changes to improve its usability or functionality. This iterative process will help you create a product that meets the needs of your target audience and is ready for market.

The product research and prototyping phase of startup development is critical for turning your idea into a successful business. By conducting market research, defining your product requirements, building a prototype, and testing and refining your design, you can create a product that meets the needs of your target audience and is positioned to succeed in the market.

DAY 02: Funding and Fundraising

As I was launching my first startup, I realized that raising funds would be critical to its success because the second phase of development would be costly, and I needed to act quickly to avoid losing momentum, but I was unable to cover it all myself. I noticed that, as much as I believed in my idea and its potential, I needed money in order to make it a reality. So, my fundraising adventure began.

The first stage in obtaining funding was estimating how much capital I would require to get started. I analyzed the costs of development, marketing, and other expenses and arrived at a reasonable figure. Then I started looking for investors who were interested in my concept. Finding investors was a difficult process. I went to networking events, pitched my idea to venture capitalists, and contacted potential angel investors. I rapidly discovered that fundraising required a great deal of patience and perseverance. Only one or two of the twenty investors I approached expressed an interest in investing.

After many meetings and pitches, I finally secured my first round of funding. This was a significant milestone for my startup, as it gave me and the team the resources, we needed to get off the ground. However, it was just the beginning of our fundraising journey. As our startup grew, we needed more capital to expand our operations and reach our goals. This required us to continue our fundraising efforts and seek out additional investors. We also began to explore alternative funding sources, such as crowdfunding and, government incentives and grants.

Through our fundraising efforts, we were able to secure the capital we needed to take our startup to the next level. However, fundraising was not just about securing financial support. It was also about building relationships and partnerships with our investors. We worked hard to communicate with our investors regularly, keep them updated on our progress, and show our appreciation for their support. Fundraising is a crucial part of the invention cycle for startups. It requires patience, persistence, and the ability to communicate your vision effectively. While securing funding is important, it’s also important to build strong relationships with your investors and treat them as partners in your journey. Look for smart money, the doors that one of your investors can open might be worth millions of dollars!

DAY 03: Intellectual Property

Once you have a prototype that works, it’s time to protect your invention by applying for intellectual property rights. This can include patents, trademarks, and copyrights. The process can be lengthy and expensive, but it’s essential to protect your invention from competitors. I recommend working with a patent attorney to navigate the process, as it can be complex and confusing. It’s also important to conduct a thorough patent search to ensure that your invention is truly unique and hasn’t already been patented.

Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names, and images used in commerce. IP protection ensures that these creations are legally protected and can be used only by their rightful owners. As a startup founder, my startup’s IP was critical to its success. It was the foundation of our innovation cycle and the core of our competitive advantage. Without proper IP protection, anyone could copy or steal our idea, leaving us with no legal recourse.

To protect my startup’s IP, I took several key steps. The first was to conduct a thorough search to ensure that my idea was truly original and didn’t infringe on anyone else’s IP. This was crucial, as infringement lawsuits can be costly and time-consuming. Next, I applied for patents and trademarks to protect my invention and brand identity. This required a lot of paperwork and legal expertise, but it was worth the effort to safeguard my startup’s IP. I also implemented strict confidentiality agreements with anyone who had access to my startup’s IP. This included employees, investors, and partners. These agreements ensured that anyone who saw our proprietary information would be bound by law to keep it confidential. Finally, I monitored the market closely to ensure that no one was infringing on my startup’s IP. This involved regular searches for infringement and keeping an eye on competitors’ activities. The process of IP protection was complex and time-consuming, at the same time, it was an essential investment in the long-term success of my startup.

DAY 04: The Commercialization Journey

The final stage of the invention cycle is usually commercialization. This is where you bring your invention to market and start generating revenue. For me, commercialization often involves finding more strategic investors or partners to help bring the product to market. It’s important to create a business plan that outlines your strategy for bringing the product to market, as well as identifying potential customers and competitors. You’ll also need to set pricing and distribution strategies.

As a startup founder, commercializing our product was the ultimate goal. We had spent countless hours developing and refining our innovative idea, and we knew that we had something special. But taking our product from the lab to the market was a daunting task, and we knew that we would face many challenges along the way. One of the first challenges we faced when developing one of our medical devices was determining how to bring our product to market in a cost-effective and scalable way. We knew that we needed to find the right partners and suppliers to help us manufacture our product at scale, but we also needed to make sure that our margins were sustainable. It was a delicate balancing act.

Another challenge was creating a marketing strategy that would appeal to our target audience. We knew our product had the ability to alter the market due to its unique characteristics connected to improving surgeons’ quality of work, but we also realized we needed to express its value in an understandable manner. We spent a significant amount of time researching our industry and designing messaging that emphasized the benefits of our product without overwhelming potential buyers with technical jargon. As we began to bring our product to market, we quickly realized that we needed to be flexible and adaptable in order to succeed. We made mistakes along the way, but we learned from them and adjusted our approach as needed. We also relied heavily on feedback from our early customers, using their insights to refine our product and improve our marketing efforts.

Despite the challenges we faced, the commercialization journey was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. Seeing our product come to life and gain traction in the market was a thrill, and it gave us the motivation to keep pushing forward. I learned that innovation doesn’t end with the development of a great idea – it’s the commercialization process that truly brings it to life. Commercializing a startup is a challenging, but rewarding journey. It requires a delicate balance of strategic planning, flexibility, and adaptability. But with the right mindset and approach, it’s possible to bring a great idea to market and transform an industry.


Innovation Process

Final words

Innovation is not an easy road to travel, but it is a journey worth taking. With the right approach and mindset, you can navigate the innovation process and invention cycle successfully. It all starts with a spark of an idea, which can quickly turn into a fire with the right fuel. Throughout this knowledge-sharing note, I’ve discussed the steps you can take to bring your invention to life, including researching the market, creating a prototype, and securing funding. But the journey doesn’t end there. Even after you’ve launched your product, there will be many more challenges and obstacles to overcome.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you must stay focused, persistent, and committed to your vision. You must be willing to adjust and pivot as needed, and you should constantly seek expert opinions and guidance to help guide you on your journey. Finally, it’s essential to remember that innovation is a collaborative effort. Don’t keep your ideas close to your heart, share them with others, and seek out partnerships and collaborations with like-minded individuals and organizations. As the saying goes, shiny metals go through many polishing rounds, and your idea will only become better with the input and feedback of others.

I encourage you to embrace the innovation process and invention cycle with confidence and passion. With the right approach and mindset, you can turn your ideas into reality and make a positive impact on the world. Remember to stay focused, be persistent, and never give up on your dreams of innovation.

Arian Shahmar

CEO – Vega Tek Hub

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