Knock on wood. If the power in your house went out, how would you keep your house warm? It’s this very question that sparked the idea for the Car Generator. An invention from our client Jonathan Schloo, the Car Generator is the world’s first and only weatherproof inverter. Currently, it’s the most reliable, longest-running, ultralight, portable backup power solution that works on gas, diesel, hybrid, and pure electric EV vehicles. Last year Jon was invited as a guest on our podcast, The Product Startup Podcast hosted by Kevin Mako. In fact, Jon was Kevin’s very first guest on the show! In case you missed it, we’re going back in time to November 2020 to share a little bit about Jon’s story about his portable generator invention design.
With Jonathan Schloo, Founder and Inventor of the Car Generator
Like many other clients who come to MAKO for the first time, Jon didn’t have a background in product design or anything really related to that. He worked at an IT consulting company. So how did find success? For Jon, it was his careful and systemic approach. Listening to our advice, he followed two essentials steps to ensure he wasn’t jumping ahead without proper testing and feedback on his portable generator invention design:
- Design an MVP
- Start small
Design an MVP
If you’ve never heard of this term before, the MVP is a minimum viable product. MVPs focus on function above all else. By building an MVP your focusing on the functions that it’s supposed to do really well. As Kevin outlined in this episode, there are numerous benefits of building an MVP first. Jon understood that an MVP is generally faster to develop, which means it’s less expensive to produce and easier to make upgrades in the future. From a marketing perspective, a simpler product is also easier to explain which means it’s easier to advertise. A product that is simple to understand and just as simple to use will lead to a lot more sales than a product that isn’t.
Once Jon had the MVP, it’s was time to get his portable generator invention design into the hands of customers. But the key here was that he started small. In his initial small production run, he only made 40 units. But he was able to sell each unit and get important feedback, good and bad about the product.
Before you think about licensing or selling, you need to prove that your product has traction. And you can achieve that by starting small, to show that your product has value, get people to buy it, and, most importantly, get feedback about your product. Ideally, they like it. If not you can go back to the drawing board since you didn’t throw all your eggs in one basket. As Kevin points out in this episode, if you can prove that a tiny market shows interest in your product then, “that makes it very easy for a corporate buyer to say, if they’ve tested it with just this tiny little edge of the world, this little piece of the world, well with our vast distribution networks we know we can take that same thing, scale it up and create something massive from there.”
You can listen to the full episode here for even more tips and information on how Jonathan built a successful business.
Interested in becoming a guest on the show? Contact us here!
About: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry's leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Click HERE to learn more about MAKO Design + Invent!