Tech Blog: Product development that started with a single sales document

Tech Blog: Product Development That Started With A Single Sales Document

Hello, I’m Rio Onishi, the Director of the Industry Business Division and also serving as the Chief Product Officer (CPO), now appointed as a Director and the Director of the Industry Business Division starting from April 2023. Although I hold the position of Division Director, I have previous experience in designing circuit boards using Fusion360 and collaborating on the overall design with the enclosure. I am a former engineer who has primarily worked on software and FPGA development, with a focus on embedded systems. For more detailed information about my background, please refer to this link. If you’re interested, you can also listen to the podcast about me on HACARUS’ Spotify channel.

Introducing HACARUS Check

The AI Visual Inspection System, “HACARUS Check,” is the main product of the Industry Business Division. To provide more detailed information, there are two products: HACARUS Check and HACARUS Check AI Software. For a clearer understanding, I recommend watching this video featured on DENSO Wave’s website, which demonstrates HACARUS Check. It is a device that uses a camera-equipped robotic arm to capture images of the entire workpiece and performs visual inspections using AI models.

HACARUS Check AI Software is a software solution designed for customers who either have their own imaging hardware or plan to develop their own custom devices. It comes equipped with three AI algorithms.

All of them are developed in C#, C++, and Python.

Process to actual operation of HACARUS Check

The development of HACARUS Check involved a roughly three-month MVP (Minimum Viable Product) creation period. The MVP was developed from November 2021 to the end of January. The podcast episode discusses the vertical launch achieved in just three months, and for more detailed information, the presentation slides from a previous announcement are available here. Subsequently, the product was released in March 2022, coinciding with the launch of the website. Shortly after, in late March 2022, the first customer order was received. However, due to delays in the arrival of electronic components, the hardware arrived in September 2022. Starting from October 2022, one unit of the product was installed at the customer’s factory for on-site Proof of Concept (PoC), and an additional two units were delivered in December 2022. Operations began in January 2023. A video showcasing the implementation of HACARUS Check is also available here for those interested.

Product Development Starting from a Single Sales Presentation Slide

The development of HACARUS Check was primarily based on the principles of Eric Ries’ book “The Lean Startup.” We started by creating a single sales presentation slide and showed it to potential customers to gauge their reactions. We sought feedback on the product concept, pricing, and most importantly, whether it could address their challenges and if those challenges were common among other potential customers. Once we confirmed that such a concept could solve common customer problems and had the potential for business viability, we finally began the development process.

We created a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to realize the essential features and gathered feedback by showcasing it at exhibitions or directly presenting it to customers. Based on the feedback received, we considered the next specifications, implemented them, and applied them. We repeated this process of specification consideration, implementation, and application to address any issues that arose during the application and achieve problem resolution.

Looking back, we underwent significant development iterations approximately every three months. Even after the release in March 2022, we continued development. The development process can be divided into the period leading up to the release in March, development from April to June 2022, development from July to September 2022, and development leading up to the delivery completion in December 2022, which included participating in exhibitions in October and starting on-site Proof of Concept (PoC). We determined the scope of each phase and conducted development accordingly.

The most challenging period was the development leading up to the delivery completion in December. We brainstormed with the team to figure out how we could meet the delivery deadline within the planned timeframe of December 2022. We approached development with a collaborative effort, employing a “teamwork” approach.

As for the specific development methodology beyond the MVP, as mentioned in the previous article, we followed a SCRUM-based development approach.

How to develop the HACARUS Check to ensure customer satisfaction

To  their challenges, it is an ideal development approach for a startup. Developers also have a clear motivation to work on tasks because they are directly providing functionality to visible customers. Moreover, it is highly rewarding to receive feedback from actual customers. From these perspectives, I believe this development approach is highly satisfying and rewarding for developers.

Lastly,

I have introduced the development approach of HACARUS Check. I believe it embodies the characteristic development style of a startup. Personally, I have had more experience in development within larger corporations or in a more structured manner, so I truly see this as a development approach that embodies the spirit of a startup. Of course, as the product matures in the future, the development approach may change. However, I believe that this dynamic development approach, where it is not yet clear whether value can be delivered to customers, is possible precisely because we are a startup. In this ever-changing environment, if you are someone who wants to engage in development that directly reaches customers, I encourage you to apply and join us.

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