These days, everyone even while working full-time is trying to be an entrepreneur, pitching their ideas, and are looking for people to partner with their project or give them funding. Angel investors have become serious, asking for prototypes and product plans to validate the ideas. Just saying a product idea is easy, but a person who can show you a working model of their idea has more chances of knowing how to execute it. Especially when your idea is more oriented in the form of a website, app, or digital product - if you can show something that mocks the working of your product idea or the workflow of the platform, it adds huge value to the table.
Actually, it is not a huge investment today to build a prototype. There are even a lot of platforms that make the prototyping process very easy.
So why prototype and how does it add value?
- You can show something that can be touched & felt.
You can quickly draw the working of your product on paper, show it to a UX/ UI person and build a basic visual design. Using tools like Invision/ Adobe XD, Figma, etc. you can give interactions and see the real working almost like a real product with some dummy data.
- Be clear about the implementation and priorities.
Most non-tech entrepreneurs who start a software product have big confusions/ doubts regarding its implementation effort and priorities of features that they want to begin with. A working prototype can solve most of the worries regarding what features are easy to get started, what brings more value, and prioritize based on the user journeys that they want to create.
- Pivot and try out different directions to go without spending too much.
Pivoting is not a bad thing especially while working on a totally new concept. Consider you are building a B2B product that improves the efficiency of organizational processes. You can either focus on a particular type of organization, industry, or set of features to provide to the early-stage customers or build something that works for all types of organizations irrelevant to their workflow. When you work on certain features or workflow, you may realize you have a competitive advantage of focusing on certain kind of users and their workflow. Prototyping makes it clearer to realize how something works and which direction to be moved in first. It is one of the most effective ways to gather feedback, validate hypotheses, and discover pain points for users.
- The prototype can engage the whole team.
Prototypes often engage with sales, marketing, operations, and engineering teams together within the company to plan features that required inputs from all teams. A high-fidelity prototype has the power to generate interest amongst customers as well as building a collaboration inside the organization/ startup.
- Show investors that you are committed to the project past the idea stage.
Currently, the startups and business ideas that get funding is at a high level. But if you are not competitive enough, you may get rejected as well. There is a saying that people invest in companies because of the business ideas as well as the founder's attitude to get it built. If you have passed the ideation stage and can show something that can work and makes sense, which can easily bring value to the potential users, you are already moving. You have taken action and are already committed to the product idea. You now have to get the execution part right. There is a big chance you get funding and mentoring if you can demo a working prototype.
Once you have a basic prototype, found your priorities, and have user feedback from your potential userbase, you are far from an idea stage already!
Here are 3 tips for prototyping:
- First figure out what type of prototype and why you are prototyping in the first place? Is it for testing a concept, communicate your idea, get the user journeys clear, just for your pitching process, or research more about areas you can focus on? Based on the purpose of the prototype, there are MVP & high-level prototypes, design prototypes, or even a paper & pencil prototyping you can do.
- Document the user journeys and problems/ questions you face while prototyping. And set a process from the beginning how you collect the inputs so that you have already an organized way of building the product.
- Consider the design & technical feasibility from the beginning collaborating with someone good at that. Prototyping makes it possible to concertize an idea and to understand which aspects of the idea prove difficult or impossible to implement. Making a prototype can thus highlight unanticipated physical, technical or financial constraints.