We were first-time dads when we came up with an idea to develop a new baby device to make life easier for bottle-feeding families. We were old high school friends, but we had never worked together. We have commerce degrees, but no experience in product development.
What we did have was first-hand experience. We knew manually cleaning bottles was time-consuming and believed there had to be a better way.
Four years later, we have turned our idea into a working prototype called Bottle Bath – an electric 3-in-1 baby bottle steriliser, that also cleans and dries the bottles. It hasn’t been easy.
We juggled full-time jobs, families and young children. We often devoted two or three hours discussing and working on the project after we put the kids to bed, and more time on weekends.
All of this came at the expense of sleep and time for the things we enjoyed, such as watching football. However, we believe the sacrifices have been worth it.
Along the way, we discovered that product development is actually similar to raising a baby – it takes time, patience, money and help from more experienced hands.
These are the steps we followed:
Idea generation: Once we came up with our idea, we looked online to find existing products. When we couldn’t find any like Bottle BathTM, we did further online research to better understand the gap in the market. We brainstormed and sketched out how we wanted our product to look and work, based on our own experience with bottle cleaning and discussions with other young parents.
Independent feedback: Before progressing further, we openly discussed our idea with our most sceptical and business-savvy friends to get their advice and input. We also ran an online survey of 50 target users to gather information on their bottle-feeding experiences and their pain points. All the feedback on Botte Bath was overwhelmingly positive.
Feasibility study: We worked how much it would cost us to develop Bottle BathTM and how much we could sell it for. We also put together a very conservative estimate of demand. From the start, we decided to use our own savings to fund the initial stage of our product development, before pitching to investors.
Right partners: It takes a team of people with a range of skills to bring a product to life. One of our key core team members is a very experienced programme manager for a large US corporation and has worked for a long time in product development. He was the one who linked us up with his contacts of highly competent product development engineers.
Proof-of-concept: we needed to test our design and establish that it actually worked. This allowed us to make necessary tweaks to improve the design before building a prototype. Passing this stage was a significant milestone for us and also allowed us to secure backing from a couple of large investors.
We have come a long way, but – just like raising children – the journey is far from over.
Ricky Hee and Alex Djojoutomo, Co-founders, Bottle Bath