Product Design Melbourne
Lee Baker, 22 March 2017
The Robogo scooter was the brainchild of a partner we worked with for years. At the time it all made sense. The business and manufacturing partners were all in place. The concept was sound. Products of a similar nature had already proven market need. It seemed a sure bet. So what went wrong? How did something we were so certain about never actually make to production?
Let's take it back to the beginning for some context. We had an existing relationship with our business partner which at the time was going well. We developed a few product designs here in Melbourne together. Each of which had been successful in licensing to respected brands and manufacturers. All products were in the tooling and testing stages and about to launch globally.
At the time the Penny board, an easily customised plastic skateboard with exciting colour options was hugely popular. We identified an opportunity to develop a scooter using the same concept. A one-piece plastic deck. Previously we designed thick moulded plastic parts for the Y-Velo balance bike so this seemed like the perfect fit.
We took the idea and created a design we knew people would love. We designed for manufacture from the beginning. We used FEA to analyse and improve the strength of the scooter design and ensure it met standard requirements. The scooter was ready for production.
Because we developed the scooter in-house as a Bayly project, the path to market was always to get a partner involved. The benefits were two fold. Firstly, having a partner would help offset the high initial investment cost of product development. Secondly, having a well connected partner would provide access to established distribution channels. Our business partner lined up a few interested parties and had a potential buyer. The buyer had experience in the toy industry and a history of developing successful products.
The deal was made. The buyer committed and agreed to a deposit payment. The buyer purchased the rights to produce the scooter and agreed to pay a royalty on each item sold. The buyer paid their deposit, but that's where it stopped. The process went no further. Because the buyer paid their deposit, no-one else could produce the scooter. The toy industry is very trend based. The contract had a time clause but by the time it ended the fad for Penny boards would have passed. The scooter was rendered dead in the water.
When making a deal to sell or licence your product make sure that you are happy with the initial payment. There is always a chance that the product will never make it to market and provide income from royalties. Have a number or amount in mind before going into the deal. The initial amount should cover your expenses, time, and hopefully a little bit extra.
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