Product Design

When I finally decided to create this course and put it online, it meant that I had to actually write it down, structure it into a legible product, and present it online.

Just because you know you want to start a camera bag brand doesn't mean you can launch it tomorrow. You'll need to find a manufacturer, get some samples, launch a production run; the list goes on.

After settling on a direction to start with, you should have your product in mind. Having no idea who you are or what you’ve chosen to pursue means I have to dart back and forth between my own random examples or generalisations to make my point, so here i go.


Product Design
I nearly started a Golf Bag brand by scratching my own itch. I was playing frequently at my local 9 hole course and was only using about five clubs, as opposed to the usual 14. Even after leaving most of my clubs in the car, my bag was still way heavier than it needed to be.

I remembered seeing lightweight half-set bags referred to as Sunday bags, but even they seemed overkill for what i wanted. I started poking around online and found myself perusing Alibaba - the ultimate direct-from-manufacturer website in China. I came across a bag that was barely anything more than a floppy piece of canvas sewn together with some pockets stitched on to hold balls - it was perfect!

I had them screen print a random mock-up logo on it and had two sent to me for about $100. Low quantity samples are always expensive so the manufacturers can cover their time cost of messing around with individual units opposed to their usual bulk orders.

After testing and confirming the bag was almost exactly what I was searching for, I had one request. The shoulder strap was adjustable, but the padded section on it was fixed. The weight of the club heads would cause the bag to hang at a specific angle, meaning the padded section of the shoulder strap wasn't actually providing padding to the shoulder.

I explained this to the manufacturer and asked if they could change the strap and modify it to have a ‘floating’ padded section, so that no matter what length the shoulder strap was set to, the shoulder padding would always stay on the shoulder. They agreed and said this change wouldn't even affect the price.

On top of this, they were happy to make as few as 50 units of this bag for me to start. So the notion that getting products made at a low cost per unit requires thousands of units upfront is simply not true these day.

This is what product design looks like. Solve your own problem and sell the solution.


Validating Your Idea With Samples

Once you have physical samples that you’re happy with, theres things you can do before going into a production run of 100+ units, which can seem a little scary.

This is the ‘Sell 1 Unit’ framework which im pretty sure Tim Ferris explains similarly in the 4 Hour Workweek

Convince your manufacturer to send you 2 samples. Use one to create content for social media and promotional purposes and list the other for sale.

This forces you to face the challenge of actually selling a single product. There’s no point ordering 100 units if you can’t sell one.

Nobody has to know you only have 1, and when it does sell you can simply say “first drop is sold out - preorder now to get in on the restock” or “more on the way” etc.

You’ve now validated your idea!


Validating Your Idea With A Pre Order

Using a similar method as above, you can get samples made and list them for sale as a pre-order. You'll need to find out how long your supplier would take to make a batch of your product from the day you place an order with them. There are a lot of potential variables, but it might look something like this:

1. You list your product for pre-order on February 1st and sell as many units as you can throughout February.
2. On March 1st, you order however many items you've pre-sold (plus some extra so you can keep selling!)
3. On May 1st, your order is ready and your supplier ships your goods to you. (or even directly to your customers for efficiency).

The benefit here is that you're making the sale before you have to purchase the stock, so there's no risk. The negative is that most people don't want to wait 2 weeks, let alone 2 months for their order, so your customers would have to be real supporters. If your product is special enough, or your lead time is quick enough, pre-orders can work.


The Golf Bag Website

I got a bit carried away with the Golf Bag concept and went as far as putting this website together for it. My plan here is to actually sell the business and release my learnings as a case study showing all the steps that go into building and selling a turn key physical products business.
I also created the website just to see if i could bring my idea to life in a legitimate way while testing the limits of the website builder.
I also like that it shows you can just make stuff without having to fully follow through. I had so much fun creating and testing the product, building out the website and perfecting all the wording on the website but when it came down to the thought of actually launching it as a business and a product i decided it was something i didn’t want to do right now.
But, If i can sell it to a keen operator i will have proved that you can even make a business out of making businesses you have no intention of starting or running yourself!
Anyway, heres the site:


Next →


Back to blog