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A First-Generation Product Master Class with Milo Werner, Recorded LIVE at "Build Better 2022" (hosted by Instrumental Inc.)
Episode 875th April 2022 • Manufacturing Happy Hour • Chris Luecke
00:00:00 00:49:09

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Working on first-generation products and new product development is no walk in the park. But, Milo Werner, General Partner at The Engine, joined the "Build Better 2022" virtual conference to share her wealth of experience.

Milo joined Tesla in 2007 at a critical stage in the company's trajectory, where she led new product introduction launching the Model S and Model X powertrains. In addition to Tesla, Milo ran new product introduction at Fitbit, launching four factories in China and transitioning the company to fully automated production. Now she's a general partner at The Engine, where her dedication to solving some of the world's biggest problems, from climate to health to computing and beyond, continues.

In this extract from the "Build Better 2022" virtual conference, Milo gives us the low down on how she got her start in both Tesla and Fitbit. We hear about her triumphs and the challenges she faced developing first-generation and new product development. She also answers a bunch of intuitive questions from manufacturers in the audience.

In this episode, find out:

  • How Milo got into Tesla and new product development
  • Challenges she experienced while working on the Model-S powertrain
  • Lessons learned from building a first-generation product
  • Challenges when developing new products
  • Milo’s transition from Tesla to Fitbit
  • What characteristics need to align when evaluating a contract manufacturer
  • Lessons learned from smaller companies making first-generation products
  • Why it’s vital to be open to recommendations from contract manufacturers
  • How to determine the specifications for how good a product feature should be
  • How to manage people on long projects
  • How to find out if you’re a fit for new product development
  • The future of cars as a service

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Tweetable Quotes:

  • “New product introduction is a wonderful way to meet people and to be that glue that removes silos and brings people together as a cross-functional team.”
  • “The CM industry is run on razor-thin margins, and they've been put in that corner by one customer after another.”
  • “I want to solve problems in our community and society, and Tesla and Fitbit really spoke to me in that regard.”

Links & mentions:

Make sure to visit for detailed show notes and a full list of resources mentioned in this episode. Stay Innovative, Stay Thirsty.




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