Ken Rother is the managing director of Cornell’s eLab student accelerator program and teaches entrepreneurship at the Johnson School. He is also the director of the business incubator and event space Rev: Ithaca Startup Works and directs its Hardware Entrepreneurship program. Ken is a venture partner at Cayuga Venture Fund and has held multiple senior business and technical positions for organizations such as Discovery Communications, Reuters, Matrox, and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
In this course, you will refine an idea for a physical product by focusing on the customer. Using the Business Model Canvas, you will list your initial assumptions about all aspects of product development, from value propositions to pricing. You will then create a low-cost consumer product prototype and validate it through customer discovery.
You will develop a business model for that product using the Business Model Canvas, then build and test prototypes to gain actionable customer feedback. By the end of the course, you will have discovered the types of companies that can help you prototype.
Please note that time to build the physical product prototypes will add about 1.5 hours to the time spent on the course.
This course requires the purchase of a low-cost physical product kit.
Once you have worked out small-scale manufacturing for your physical product, you will explore a framework called Design for X. Design for X encompasses all aspects of planning for high-volume production, where "X" can be Manufacturing, Assembly, Testing, Upgrade, Repair, Sustainability, End-of-Life, Installation, and Start.
Design for X incorporates best practices from the experiences of physical product developers in making a reproducible product. You will apply these ideas to design a large-scale manufacturing process that is efficient and cost effective. This will enable you to reduce the number of steps in the process, build quality into manufacturing, and design for customer ease in the upgrade, repair, and end-of-life of the product, among other considerations. In sum, Design for X will enable you to please your customers with an excellent product that functions as promised.
This course includes a video tour of a contract manufacturing firm near Cornell University. In this video, you will observe the process of plastic injection molding, a common and inexpensive process that many physical product entrepreneurs use to manufacture their products.