Getting it right to market

11 June 2010

Nigel Slaughter

Following the basics: WaikatoLink's new general manager Nigel Slaughter.

There are plenty of seemingly good inventions that never make it to market, and equally many products fail when they hit the market.

Nigel Slaughter, the new general manager commercial at WaikatoLink says to be successful there are basic steps to follow no matter what product you’re trying to make and sell.

Waikato Link is the commercialisation arm of Waikato University. It has a strong track record for taking research outcomes into commercial technologies. Nigel Slaughter will talk at Fieldays about why innovative products often miss their mark and how to avoid failure.

Slaughter’s come from the UK to Hamilton with a background in technology commercialisation, plus experience in marketing big brand companies such as McDonalds, breweries and retail operations.

Slaughter says many people mistakenly believe that an idea is worth something. “It isn’t. An idea has no monetary value, it’s not until you’ve got a product that someone is prepared to pay for that there’s any monetary value.

“The biggest mistakes people make are not testing to see if there’s actually a market for a product, and gold plating their product before market testing.”

By gold plating, Slaughter means inventors spend too much time trying to perfect their product without testing the idea with people who might use it.

“Often what the inventor thinks is brilliant will be deemed useless or not quite right by potential distributors or end-users. Spoken to early enough, those companies might be able to assist with modifications and refinements that would make the product more useful and saleable.”

WaikatoLink has been successful in commercialising a number of products and nurturing spin-off companies. These include Endace, which makes high speed network monitoring, management and security applications and Zygem, which created a product from an enzyme found in Antarctica that can be used to reduce the number of steps needed for the extraction of DNA. Rural Link is a joint venture between WaikatoLink and rural IT provider Rezare Systems.

Among those appearing at Fieldays are Novatein, which makes plastics out of animal bi-products and Graftoss which is a medical device company developing a range of orthopaedic devices which have bovine bone graft and beon replacement applications.

Nigel Slaughter says 99 percent of ideas aren’t original, they are usually improvements of an earlier product. The exception? Products like Post it Notes.

“The product of someone thinking about what you can do with an apparently useless product – glue that doesn’t stick. And cleverly marketed too; the top and lower ends of the market were secured by 3M before competitors got in.”

Nigel Slaughter’s seminar at Fieldays will be on Thursday June 17 at 10.00am.

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