Unexpected Utility


  • Your product should functionally solve some problem for some subset of people to an unexpected degree.  Practical value. It’s not about what your product can do, its about what people can do with your product. (Made to stick: simple, unexpected, concrete) This requires focus. This also requires background expertise.
  • Chris Peters and Rob Ward were industrial designers who were looking through Kickstarter in the early days, thinking, “Hey, we can do better than that.” They made prototypes for Opena Case, an iPhone case that could slide out a bottle opener. They would bring the prototypes around with them to parties, bars and so on.
    • “The reaction we got from our friends was incredible. It was just instant: “Whoa, what was that?
    • It was the type of product you’d show people and they’d love it straight out no matter who they were. And then, you’d go to put the product away or put it back on your pocket and they’d be like, “I want to buy one.” I’d be like, “It’s just a prototype. It’s not a real product yet.”
    • “I want to buy the prototype.”
    • “Well, prototype is not really for sale.”
    • “Well, how much did it cost?”
    • And, you’d explain how much it’d cost– Prototypes aren’t that cheap but, when you say, it’s cost us a couple of $300 per prototype, they’d be like, “All right, I’ll buy it off you.” It’s not for sale, guys. These are just prototypes. [Laughs]
  • Opena Case went on to almost double its $15,000 Kickstarter target, and became the foundation of Annex products, a million dollar business which sells other products such as Quad Lock Case and Holda Case.

Similar story about the iPod and iPhone launches.

Further reading: Examples of unexpected utility

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