Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions we get asked. For more in-depth answers, feel free to schedule a meeting.
How do we get started?
It starts with a conversation. We’ll quickly determine if we’re a good fit for your business and your product. If we’re not, we’ll let you know, and try to make a referral to a better fit. If we are, we’ll get an engagement agreement in place and schedule a start date for working on your first project.
How much will it cost?
SGW projects typically range from $15k to $2MM in development and prototyping costs.
The cost to develop a product is driven by many factors:
- Product complexity
- How much cost-optimization is required
- Regulatory requirements
- Level of design refinement desired
Check out our pricing page for more detail.
I already have internal engineering resources – can you work with our internal team?
Yes. Over half of our clients have internal engineering or R&D teams. These businesses hire us for a few different reasons:
- Their internal teams are already overburdened with the day-to-day sustaining engineering required for existing product lines.
- They’re lacking the specific skills and expertise required for product development (as opposed to sustaining engineering or primary R&D).
- Projects are behind schedule, and a fresh approach or perspective is needed to get things moving again.
When are you not a good fit?
SGW is not a good fit for:
- Startups that aren’t well-funded
- People that are new to bringing products to market
- People looking for “invention submission services”
Developing products takes investment of time and money. It can be risky, and many new products (especially from first-time entrepreneurs and inventors) do not provide a return on that investment.
The companies that have been most successful working with us have realistic budget and timing expectations, know their market space well, have access to users, and are willing to question their own assumptions about how people buy and use their products.
What’s it look like to work together?
The SGW team becomes an extension of your team.
We need to fully understand your business goals and your constraints so that we can make development decisions that will work for you long term. We’ll be talking a lot about:
- Cost targets
- Target users
- Feature tradeoffs
all of which impact not just the product, but also your business more broadly.
You can expect regular collaboration with our team (e.g. weekly progress reviews).
You can expect us to learn unexpected things along the way (e.g. that a feature needs to be excluded, or that a different material is better suited to a certain part). Many of the products we work on pivot from the original vision in some way during development based on findings from prototype testing.
Do you work with startups?
Yes, while a good portion of our clients are established businesses, we do work with some well-qualified startups as well. Well qualified startups have funding for the development effort, and are open to new ideas about their product, the features it delivers, and how it is manufactured.
Can SGW produce design packages compatible with our corporate standards?
Absolutely. Most of the larger businesses we work with have requirements around:
- Drawing format
- Dimension formats
- Software / firmware documentation
- Design review processes
We’re accustomed to tweaking our processes and outputs to meet the needs of our clients.
Can SGW work on multiple products at once for my company?
Yes. Most companies that choose us as their product development team stick with us for a long time. We commonly run multiple projects in parallel for clients, and engage with businesses for long periods of time.
In these long-term relationships, we’re able to develop a deep understanding of your business, and corresponding challenges. This allows us to not only work on development projects, but also to help senior leaders prioritize their development pipeline and develop long term development plans.
How are contracts with SGW structured?
We generally operate in one of two ways:
- Usually, development projects include a lot of uncertainty, and are impossible to fully scope out. Therefore, we break the project into phases. We get a master Time and Materials (T&M) agreement in place, and we identify the work plan together with you. We build the plan with frequent review points so you can decide whether to continue funding the development effort or not.
- If a project is well defined, without much risk or uncertainty, we may be able to provide a scope and quote in contract format for one or multiple phases of the project.
Is SGW willing to work collaboratively with my internal teams?
Yes. When we engage deeply with a client, the outcomes are better optimized. We find that valuable development input comes from across an organization. We’re happy to engage with production teams, marketing groups, sales teams, and leadership teams throughout development. We’re just as comfortable in the board room as we are on the shop floor.
Can SGW help me decide where to manufacture my product?
Yes. As development work progresses, we often help clients decide what the best manufacturing options are. This might be your own internal manufacturing team, or an outside contract manufacturer, or a combination of both.
Does SGW sign NDAs?
Generally, we’re willing to sign nondisclosure agreements when the time is right. We prefer to use our own, but can review others as well. Typically, we’re able to get through an initial high level discussion without the need for an NDA. This allows us to make sure both parties feel that SGW is a fit for you prior to the administrative step of signing the NDA.
What software does SGW use for design?
Most of our design work happens in SolidWorks, Rhino, Keyshot, 3DS, and Altium.
We do have a number of clients that work in other programs, such as Fusion 360, Siemens NX, Catia, Solid Edge, etc.
We’re generally able to provide outputs from our programs that work in the platforms our clients use.
Can SGW sell me a custom machine?
No, our core expertise is development. We do develop equipment and machines for many different applications. These projects are a fit when the goal is to develop something that is not already commercially available. We approach these as development projects, as opposed to sales of a machine. We do typically build prototypes and iterate the equipment in-house as development progresses.