If you’re an entrepreneur wondering about the product design process, your first question is probably how long does it take? There are a lot of steps between coming up with an idea and actually selling your product. After all, you need to make sales if you hope to get your money back.

Taking your product to market is exciting, but too often many of us want to start designing it right away. That’s not where the journey actually starts and we’ll explain why.

Phase 1: Research & Planning

Before you can begin the design phase of your product, you need to do a marketing report. This is a collection of data from different sources that will help you decide if the product idea is something worth pursuing.

Here are just a few factors you’ll consider before knowing if you have a good idea.


Is your product a completely new invention? Probably not. There’s nothing wrong with creating something that already exists, but you need to look at how many other companies out there are solving the same problem. In marketing, this is referred to as Points of Similarity.

If there the market is oversaturated, you will need to ensure your product has important points of difference that will make it stand out. Not surprisingly, this is referred to as Points of Differentiation in marketing. Looking at these different things helps you position your brand in the eyes of your consumer.

Target Audience

Who are you trying to sell your product to? Often people like to think their product is for everyone because that means you have a larger audience. This isn’t the best strategy because people won’t have a clear connection to your product. It’s better to have a focused target audience so you can market to them personally and speak the same language.

Would you sell pens to people who work in an office the same way you sell pens to an artist who works at home? Not likely. Different target audiences will have different needs and concerns. To be the most successful, you want to focus on who your audience is and how you will market to them.


How much will it cost to make your product? Let’s say you have an idea for an amazing new rain jacket that has a ton of features. You’re going to sell it to sailors who need the best gear for their watersports. It’s waterproof, lights up, has tons of pockets, and even a built-in life jacket! Well, that’s probably going to cost a lot more than a normal rain jacket. Is this justified enough that your target audience will buy it, or are they going to stick with what they already have for cheaper?

After looking at all the different variables of your product idea to see if it’s viable, you’ll know what to do. Sometimes, you won’t pass phase one. That’s alright. It’s better to scratch a bad idea before investing too much time and effort into it.

According to a study from Harvard, there are 30,000 new products designed and sold every year, but over 95% of them fail. That’s why product research is so important. Many people skip this step which can affect their success in the long run.

Approximate Timeline: 1 – 4 weeks

Phase 2: Prototyping

Everyone loves this step, and you might have even started putting things together in your garage if you’re an inventor. At this point, you’ve decided you want to pursue your idea and create a fantastic new product.

If you’re a small business owner, it might only be you and a small team creating the prototype. If you’re a large corporation, then there might be a whole team of developers and designers collaborating to create a new product.

In either scenario, you’ll create the first prototype and then some iterations of it until you finalize the product. Depending on the complexity of your product, it can take a short amount of time or a longer amount of time. If there are many electronic components, then you will likely add an extra 2-4 weeks to this stage. Of course, it can take a lot longer than that, the Dyson vacuums are an example of that.

James Dyson spent 15 years perfecting his vacuums until he was satisfied.  He made over 5000 prototypes throughout the product design process. While that’s an extreme example of how long it takes to design something, it does happen.

At Ventrify, we try to do this step efficiently so you’re able to move forward quickly. Many companies can take a lot longer to do this step.

Approximate Timeline: 1 – 8 weeks

Phase 3: Sourcing & Logistics

At this stage, you have a solid prototype and you need to start contacting factories that will take your product and scale it up. If you’re working with a company like us, we’ll have plenty of contacts in the industry that we can recommend. We will always help you find the best factory to work with.

Then, they take your product and find out how to create it on a factory line. They’ll customize their machines to create your product. At this stage, you need to make sure you have the funds to pay the factories to create your product. If not, you aren’t going to get very far.

Often while this is going on in the background, your team is sorting out logistics and pricing as well. Many factories exist overseas in other countries. While it might seem simple to bring over your product in a shipping container and start selling it, it’s not that easy.

With tariffs, imports fees, and taxes on certain types of products, this can get complicated quickly. Even importing something as simple as shoes has its drawbacks. Because of that, you might decide to change certain aspects of your product. Many companies have found creative solutions to address issues like this.

Have you ever wondered why Converse shoes have a thin layer of felt on the bottom? It wears off after a few weeks outside and you can’t see it while walking, so the felt serves no practical or aesthetic function. Converse does this actually because of taxes. By adding a small amount of fabric, the sneakers are technically categorized as slippers. At some point in the design process, the brand discovered that slippers have lower import tax than shoes, so they added felt as a workaround.

Approximate Timeline: ~ 4 months 

Phase 4: Production

After you’ve chosen a manufacturer to create your product, you have to wait for it to be produced. Now, you might think that a large project takes longer than a small project, but in our experience, the amount of product you order doesn’t affect the timeline as much as you think it does.

If you think about it from the manufacturer’s point of view, they have to change all their machines each time they create a new product. Regardless of producing 1000 or 10,000 copies of your product, the set-up time is likely to be the same.

For a larger project, the manufacturer might start on your project sooner to get it done quickly as they’ll make more money. For a smaller project, you might be added to the queue until a day when they have time to do small batches all at once.

This step can get messy for various reasons:

  1. Laws & Random Factors—This is often outside your control. With Covid-19 we have seen a lot of disruption in the shipping industry, not to mention the Suez Canal incident which cost an estimated $400 million per hour in goods delayed.
  2. Product Certification—You can’t sell your products until they pass certain testing and certification requirements which also add time to this step.
  3. Customs—Some countries are a lot stricter with their customs than other countries.

This phase can be quick, but it can also last longer than you expect. You also design the actual packaging for your product and optimize it to fit in the shipping containers when you’re bringing it over. While it’s at the factory, you will still have a lot to sort out.

Approximate Timeline: At least 6 weeks

Phase 5: Shipping & Distribution

At this point, the product has been designed, produced, and is landing in a warehouse. After it’s in the warehouse you’ll now be in contact with a distributor who will then get your product in stores or in your consumers’ hands directly.

Once you’ve made it this far you are going to focus on selling the product and marketing. At Ventrify, we’re no longer involved anymore. You’ll be working with your distributor to make sure shipping to your customers and buyers goes smoothly.


Now, to answer a complicated question, your total timeline from an idea to going to market can take anywhere from 3 to 16 months. Problems can arise as well lengthening the process even if you’ve planned it out from the start. There are a lot of decisions to be made which is why it takes so long.

While there are a lot more steps including marketing and selling your product, we wanted to focus on the product design process itself.

We believe in transparency and sharing practical advice to help entrepreneurs and inventors be successful. If you’re looking for more information on product design and development then make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter.

About the Author

Ventrify is a product design and manufacturing firm that helps entrepreneurs bring product ideas from concept to market. We take in fledgling ideas and bring them through our iterative design process to create products our clients are proud of. Then, we work with manufacturing facilities worldwide to bring our clients the highest quality products at competitive prices.

If you have questions or want to discuss going remote, reach out to us through our WebsiteFacebook, or LinkedIn.

Article by Victoria Fraser

So Cheap, Yet so Expensive

Modern day injection molding practices can get many (if not most) plastic parts made very cheap – under $1.00 – but there’s a catch: mass manufacture using injection molding comes with a hefty up front fee, often ranging from 10-100 thousand dollars. So is this worth it? And where is this money doing?

We will discuss 4 major factors in Mold Costs:

  1. Product Size
  2. Shape & Complexity
  3. Mold Material
  4. Surface Finish

Then, we’ll discuss a few additional items that play into the overall cost.

Some Context

Injection molding is a common manufacturing process where a material is melted and injected into mold, or cavity, the liquid solidifies into the shape of the cavity, and is then extracted. Although this can be done with a variety of materials, we’ll talk more specifically about plastic injection molding today as this is one of the most common and most versatile materials in products today.

A Brief Look at a Common Practice

Plastic injection molding is the most common method of mass producing plastics. To discuss the costs associated with this manufacturing process, I’ll provide a brief summary, but Bill Hammack has a great video detailing this if you want to learn more. Very simply, a mold is made by taking a block of material (typically stainless steel or aluminum) and cutting out (machining) the desired product shape (cavity).

Once made, a mold can be used to make from tens of thousands of units to millions of units (shots) of product. A simple mold can cost as little as $1,000 but as we will discuss shortly, these prices can quickly escalate based on a series of factors. In addition, a finished product will typically be comprised of multiple plastic components, further adding to this up front cost.

Based on the considerable up front costs of injection molding, it is mainly feasible for large production runs. These costs may also be reimbursed by the factory (depending on the factory) at certain production quantities milestones (to be discussed in the negotiation stage, not the production stage).

Factors in Mold Costs

There are many factors that play into the cost of a mold. Here are the biggest ones to consider:

1.     Size of product

What: Simply, the volume of material required to make the appropriate size of cavity will be larger

What can you do: This depends on the type of product – often times, there is nothing to be done. If you have come to the manufacture stage and have designed a large product, it is likely for a good reason and you may not be able to do anything. If this is a functional component, and aesthetics are not important, this is something you may be able to adjust. If you do, this is likely a design decision and the design team should be consulted on any changes.

2.     Shape & Complexity

What: A complex shape is going to take longer to cut out, and require more oversight to manage machining, setup, and mold deformations. (Note, two-shot molding will not be considered in the scope of this discussion.)

What you can do: Again, this goes back to the design process as any change will be significant and noticeable. Any unnecessary complexities should already be dealt with or reviewed with the design team. What you can do, is address large sweeping curves and extremely sharp corners as these will increase cost due to tooling time and may compound with surface finish requirements – these should be standardized unless a key part of the design.

3.     Production Quantities

What: Mold material will determine how long the mold lasts – using softer aluminum is easier on the machining tools, and cheaper, but will not last as long due to the wear on this softer material. Harder stainless steel is more expensive to obtain, and takes longer to machine but will last longer as well.

What you can do: Know your priorities. Are you looking for the best deal on a long term investment or do you need it done cheap now, and are ok with spending more later on?

4.     Surface Finish

What: Machining marks left on the mold will be visible on the molded part. If a surface is visible, it should be finished to one degree or another. However, the finer the finish, the more it will cost. Large surface areas with a high polish can get very expensive. Similarly, textured surfaces are extremely expensive. These finishing processes are more precise, remove much less material than standard machining processes, and require more oversight and thus take more time/cost more money.

What you can do: You can remove any unnecessary polishes and textures (ones that are not critical to function, such as seals, or to aesthetics, such as surfaces not visible to the end user).  In addition, know what you want – A matte finish will go a long way in decreasing cost, and may actually fit your product/brand better.

A few bonus items that affect the costs of a mold:

Tolerancing – Tolerancing is important if it is finer than typical machining tolerances. These will differ based on the common practice (to be considered if you are looking oversees), but +/- 0.005” is typical and is important for smaller, functional components.

Shrinkage – Shrinkage will also factor into tolerance and is dependent on part size (about 0.002in/in), and similar to tolerance is more important for functional components.

Multi-cavity Molds & Family Molds – based on the batch production size or cost reduction efforts, a single mold can make multiple parts. This can make sense if you are running large batch sizes or your part size is very small. Family molds have multiple cavities in a single mold to make different parts (rather than multiple of the exact same part). This must be done carefully as different part geometries often cool at different rates making for sub-optimal results.

Mold Base Compatibility – Your mold is your property and a considerable barrier to entry for competition. Practically speaking, that means you can take it to a different factory (and/or country) if you don’t like your current factory… right? Well not always, some factories will create molds that only fit their machines. Creating universal base and interface will cost more if this is not standard practice at the factory you are speaking to. This will not be a problem if you have found a good factory the first time, so take the time to make sure the factory you use is a good fit for you.

Design for Injection Molding – with your mold cost will come dedicated time to design the mold. This is not part of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (which is product focused), this involves the design of the overall mold – the cavity itself, the orientation and location of the split line, the placement of ejector pins/holes, placement of sprue and runners, cooling channels, and overall mold fit.

T0/T1/T2 Samples & Tooling Changes – Every injection mold is different. It’s new, and new things don’t work the first time. It is standard to go through 2 iterations of mold changes to deal with imperfections, these are referred to as T0, T1, and T2 samples and tooling modifications are made between each to address any necessary changes.

Setup Costs and Labor – simply, all the time associated with addressing each of the above items and everything in between.


Do what you can that is within your realm of expertise. However, do not be afraid to find a professional to help you with this. Factories are a great resource and have the expertise. Working with a designer that can address some of the earlier design decisions can make a significant impact.

About the Author

Ventrify is a product design and manufacture firm that helps entrepreneurs bring product ideas from concept to market. We take in fledgling ideas and bring them through our iterative design process to create products our clients can be proud of. Then, we work with manufacturing facilities across the world to bring our clients the highest quality products at competitive prices.

If you have questions about taking your product through the manufacture phase, connect with us through Facebook, LinkedIn, or our Website.