Want to get fans and investors hyped about your new product idea? Want to make sure it’s something that could actually work beyond the theory in your head? Want to engage in a creative process that will see you develop your idea into something even better? Then you need to make a prototype. Here’s a quick guide to just that.
The importance of being first
It seems pretty important that your idea is original, right? Not only is this going to help when it comes to selling it to investors and, of course, the public, but it will also save you time and money during this process.
Remember that prototyping is time-consuming and often expensive. (We’ll look at that a little more later!) So if you end up developing a prototype for an idea that’s already taken, then you’re going to have wasted a lot of resources for something that isn’t of much use. You need to take care to ensure that your idea hasn’t been patented by somebody else already. Thankfully, this is a relatively simple process.
Speaking of patents, you’re going to have to patent your own idea, assuming it’s original and feasible. But when exactly should you do it?
Filing a patent is expensive so many would argue that you should probably hold off until you’re deeper into the prototyping process – especially because designs and functions end up changing so much during the process. The specifications of the patent need to match the end product, otherwise, it won’t be properly protected. This is, however, the risk that someone else comes up with the idea and patents it first! Be careful about your approach, here.
Software and hardware
Software is an invaluable part of modern prototyping. 3D modelling and computer-aided design (CAD, in industry parlance) allow you to visualize and even, in many ways, test the product. For those who haven’t got the resources to start building things, this can be a great way of getting investors interested.
Actually making a physical prototype is the more expensive and complex task. Not that you necessarily need to have all the hardware yourself, understand. There are plenty of businesses out there that will help you with the physical production processes people developing prototypes often need, such as PU moulding.
Time and money
Working on a prototype takes a lot of time. After all, it’s a new business venture. For those of you who don’t already own a business but are looking to build one on the success of this prototype, it may be worth dedicating all the free time you have to perfecting this prototype. Taking some time off work may also be prudent – quitting altogether, however, may not be so smart.
Prototyping also costs money, so you’re going to need a source of income! If the funds required exceeds what your job can provide you, then you should consider asking others for financial assistance. You may even want to look into crowdfunding, though be careful that the manner in which you run a crowdfunding campaign doesn’t end up turning potential investors off of the finished product!