Prototyping · Equity

What's your recommended approach in building a prototype?

Yaya Mbaoua

February 3rd, 2014

You have a solid business concept for a web-based product but don't have a technical co-founder yet. You'd like to build a demo/clickable prototype to use as a tool for talking to potential investors and customers. 

What types of cost-effective approaches have you successfully used to find people to help you do this? accelerate the search for a tech co-founder; outsourced design & dev; outsourced design only; outsourced dev only; equity only, combination of equity + cash; all cash? 
A great idea is 1% of the work. Execution is the other 99%. In this course, we’ll teach you how to conduct market analysis, create an MVP and pivot (if needed), launch your business, survey customers, iterate your product/service based on feedback, and gain traction quickly.

Michael Grassotti Founder, Technologist & Coder

February 3rd, 2014

I would suggest making demo/prototype yourself. As a tech co-founder I get approached all the time by people who are in your situation. Many have wasted thousands hiring design/dev shops to produce beautiful wireframes and prototypes that are basically useless. Problem is that at this stage your concept is going to evolve faster than any partner can react. You need to be able to make changes fast as you gather feedback from customers and investors. My recommendation is to keep things very low-fidelity. If the concept is strong it should not need a polished presentation. Instead you need just enough to communicate the idea and map out the flow. I've had a lot of success using popapp for this. It's designed for mobile apps but I'd suggest using it even if your plan is to build a desktop site or app. https://popapp.in/

Anonymous

February 3rd, 2014

If you need to create a clickable/demoable prototype of your concept, check out Balsamiq Mockups. I use it almost every single day. It works wonders.

- Jonathan

Anonymous

February 3rd, 2014

+1 for Balsamiq Mockups for a clickable prototype. Forces you to concentrate on the nitty gritty and doesn't have a bunch of frills. Akin to a clickable sharpie drawing.

You might also check out Webflow, the featureset looks promising from a "design without code" perspective and could even be leveraged as the starting point for the real deal with specific integration points when you get developers involved.

Mike Moyer

February 3rd, 2014

Hi Yaya, I;m not a developer myself, but having run into this problem before I took it upon myself to get good at finding overseas talent that could build MVPs for low cost. Outsourcing can be tricky if you are just getting started. My company, Lake Shark Ventures, LLC, helps startups get in business with MVPs and marketing programs. We take equity in some startups using a dynamic equity model. A dynamic equity model with ensure that you provide exactly the right amount of equity in exchange for any work performed. If you send me your email I'll send you a copy of a book I wrote on the subject. -Mike

Ben Sweat Director, Product at Idealab

February 3rd, 2014

If you are looking to just make a clickable "proto type" you may be able to get by with a service like InvisionApp or something like unto it. If it isn't much programming I'd use a service like oDesk or Toptal and just pay a few hundred bucks than give equity away at that point. Sent from my iPhone

Anonymous

February 3rd, 2014

@Michael Grassotti:

Thanks for the POP app recommendation ... I've been meaning to check that out!

- Jonathan

Toddy Mladenov CTO and Co-Founder at Agitare Technologies Inc.

February 3rd, 2014

How about simple PowerPoint prototype - I've done numerous wireframe prototypes with it and you can even find free templates on the Web.

Frederic Laruelle Founder & CEO at inkWire, inc.

February 3rd, 2014

Your goal is to establish as quickly as possible a feedback loop with prospective customers. Depending on the kind of customers you're going after, your prototype might be shared on anything from a paper napkin to a working demo. Try and see what works. Your future customers most likely will not tell you what they need, so you need to ferret it out by iterating/showing things and see what sticks. In my case, our first prototypes were built with powerpoint and keynotopia, which lets you convert easily static images on powerpoint into an interactive / clickable app for an ipad. Elance is another great resource if you eventually need a form of working prototype, the key to working with total strangers yet still protect your IP is to break down your project into smaller pieces, which you end up assembling yourself. Do not wait for a co-founder, got get your customers now. :-) Good luck! Fred~

Eric Sullivan CEO at FoundationLab

February 3rd, 2014

Hey Yaya my company focuses solely on the early stage/MVP product dev for exactly what you are talking about here. http://www.bakedandbranded.com. If you would like to setup a call feel free to send me a message at eric@bakedandbranded.com

estevan carlos benson

February 5th, 2014

I've never used this but found this discussed elsewhere - http://pencil.evolus.vn/
It's a GUI prototyping tool, as it claims.