The word “prototype” originated from the Greek term “protypon.” “Protos” means “first” while “typos” refers to “mold” or “pattern.” So, a prototype is literally “the first of its kind.” It’s a working model of a machine or process that is built to demonstrate how an idea works.

Businesses, especially startups, create prototypes of their products to test them in actual conditions. They also show prototypes to their stakeholders, potential partners, and prospective customers so they can take a look at and get a feel of the product.

Other interesting terms…

Read More about a “Prototype”

In the U.S., the number of small business startups has reached 30 million and counting. However, a large percentage of them fail, with 10% closing during the first year. Based on the data provided by CB Insights, as much as 42% of startups fail because their products or services do not answer a current market need. This finding highlights the need for startups to test and refine their products or services by creating a prototype.

How to Create a Prototype

Creating a prototype lessens the chances that a startup would fail. Here’s a step-by-step guide on creating one:

1. Identify Software and Hardware Requirements

Before you can even start working on a prototype, check first if you have the necessary software or hardware to jumpstart the development process. You need to determine if you need applications that can mimic animation based on the use cases of your proposed product or service. One of the most common hardware required to develop a physical prototype is a 3D printer. Check if you need to invest in one.

2. Reverse-Engineer Competing Products or Services

If your product or service is already available in the market but aims to fill in a gap, get hold of competing products or services, and study how they work. That should give you a better understanding of issues and test if your product or service addresses them.

3. Choose Cost-Effective Materials

Reverse engineering competitors’ products or services is also an excellent way to come up with more cost-effective options for raw materials. Doing so allows you to produce products or services that can be mass-produced with high-quality materials while remaining affordable for intended consumers.

4. Create a Mockup

The key to coming up with a functional prototype is to create it yourself. After all, you are the best person to bring your ideas to life. This process will also save you the trouble of having misunderstandings with your mass producer.

5. Outsource Prototype Mass Production

Once you’ve created your mockup, it is best to get professionals to work on and refine it. That way, you also have an idea of how the product would look and function after manufacturing. When outsourcing, make sure to vet the mass producer’s trustworthiness. Better yet, have the manufacturer sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to protect your intellectual property.

Keep in mind that a prototype does not need to be perfect, but it has to be functional enough for stakeholders to see if it is worth investing in.