What is it? Who can explain it?
Often the best technical people cannot explain technology to those who have no technical education and understanding.
If you cannot answer clearly, get someone who can. The best person to help you is someone who can also convince your non-technical boss or investor that your value is in the creation and use of technology.
The best scientists, engineers, and programmers I have worked with could not explain anything technical. They were more productive because they were not distracted by financial, business, management, and investment issues.
We see the best results from combinations of highly technical persons with non-technical persons.
What needs to be done?
Is this a technology question or is it more fundamentally a customer need or a management problem?
How does the technology fit into customer requirements, financial resources, staff skills, equipment, and facilities?
For example, for investors, I investigated one startup company entrepreneur. The investors perceived exciting progress.
However, there was one delay after another. The investors wanted to know when to expect a return of their capital plus a major gain. The board of directors members were all financial and related persons. No directors with any technical education, engineering, or manufacturing experience.
It is obvious to me that for the design and production of any robot, the first step is to develop working relationships with the customers. The manufacturer’s production managers and engineers can specifically show what they need the robot to do. With close relationships, you develop customers who will buy the robots when they see the robots will fulfill their requirements.
I found the entrepreneur was completely focused on the technical details of the robot. No customer relations, no prospective buyers, no assurance that the robot would fit the equipment in the factories. By the time they gave the question to me, the investment was beyond recovery.
A board member with combined technical and business qualifications could have determined this at the very beginning of the startup.
Bring in a manager to develop close creative development processes with manufacturing customers. Gain customer involvement leading to early sales of limited robot functions. Add more robot functions as customer applications develop.
If the combined technical and business skills cannot be achieved, promptly find a buyer who could use the company skills and robot components. If a buyer can be found with a strong potential to make the robot succeed, consider stock shares instead of a cash close out.
What is needed from the technology?
Is this a manufacturing process? Is it a basic mechanic detail? Is it a chemical process? Who wants it? What do they want? Is it unknown, but they would want it if offered? Is there a better choice?
Consider and answer all these questions before you proceed spending money.
Is there a better technology?
Do you have it? Can you effectively develop it? Does someone else have it? If you spend the money to create it, will you be ahead of the competition? Is it beyond your resources? Can you team with others to develop the best technology? Are you strong enough to stay ahead of the completion?
Example: The company history and culture is chemical production. Photographic film is a chemical product. The customers wanted to capture images and share the best with their friends and family. Customers discovered they could have images from digital cameras and sharing software from others. Result, the chemicals focused company and their product failed.
Consider and answer all these questions before you go ahead with the startup.