6 reasons why prototyping makes business sense
You have an innovative product which you would like to present to investors and the public, but you don’t know where to begin. Will a sketch or a computer-based drawing be enough? Will you be able to convince them based on nothing more than a description? If you are good with words, you will probably succeed, but everyone would surely like to hold your product in their hands, try it, touch and feel it, and discover that they have been waiting their whole lives for it, or rather, in the example of an investor, that they see the product having a lot of potential.
A prototype is the first step to success. Some say that it is even more important than a business plan. Why? With a prototype, you will see your idea for the first time, you will be able to hold it, touch it, try it, and evaluate it within the confines of its relationship to its surroundings. But in addition to the product itself, you will be a part of the prototyping process, which will allow you to evaluate the future production process, even before starting your company and entering the market. You will have adapted it, developed it, and optimised it. And, you will find it easier to put together a team and assign it tasks during the product development phase. In your mind, you will have an estimate of the costs of production and know all about the shortcomings, mistakes, and problems, as well as the solutions and improvements to be made. You will no longer have just an idea, but an experience.
Prototyping is a new phase of learning. It is a process that will bring forth a number of questions that you would have never thought of while looking at the idea/product on a computer screen or on a sheet of paper. With prototyping, you will move forward from just ‘words’ to ‘action’.
1. Making adjustments to the design
Having a prototype of your product in your hands, you will be able to evaluate which parts of it are in line with what you want and which parts need further improvement. You will be able to adjust the material, colour, and design. In doing so, you will be able to evaluate the visual attractiveness of the product itself.
2. Test the quality of the product
By testing the prototype, you will be able to see any mistakes or problem areas, which could lead to a defective product. Does the prototype perform flawlessly? You will be able to do all your quality testing and reach the standards you need to reach with the prototype alone. Alongside quality, you will also be able to evaluate the resistance of the product.
3. Feedback in advance
Imagine that you enter the market with your product and it is a complete disaster. All that awaits you are debt, unfulfilled promises and contracts. By having a prototype, you will be able to evaluate the response of your future customers even before hitting the market. You will be able to upgrade your product, improve it, add new functions to it and even redesign it – so it will be in line with what your customers want, even before it finds its way into their hands.
4. Assessing the work done as well as costs
Industrial designers, constructors, and producers of prototypes are already involved in the first phase of prototyping. They will ask you about the material you want to have, about the product’s use, about the functionality of the product, about the desired deadline for making the product, about the added value it will bring, about its purpose, about special uses of the product, about resources you have available for the product, and much more. Your prototype will not just make your product ‘come alive’ but it will also optimise it.
During the prototyping phase, you will get an insight into the costs which await you if you choose to take the product to the production phase. You will be able to more easily adjust your choice to a cheaper material, colour, or method of production. Or even add or drop a step in the development phase. Even within your own team, prototyping will make it easier to divide tasks and better organise the working process itself.
5. Greater product integrity
During the prototyping process, you will be able to see and know how your product was created and put together. You will know its advantages and disadvantages, and you will be able to describe all stages of its development. And when you complete the process of improvements, you will also know what the next possible upgrade could be. By being able to detect shortcomings early on in the prototyping process, you will avoid, among other things, possible recalls, complaints, and costs that would be incurred if you had to stop production due to those product defects.
6. New ideas
The automotive, building, and electronics industries swear by prototyping before they begin production. The first prototypes are often rejected and deemed to be impractical, too demanding to produce, or even not having any sales value. Despite this, industries insist on prototyping. Why? The process itself, as well as the prototype, offer them new ideas, inspire and help them develop better products or solutions.
We, at Chemets, encourage start-ups to believe in the power of their ideas.
I wish you great prototype development.
Barbara H. Wilkesmann