Back to all posts

How prototyping can help your startup idea get funding

Every entrepreneur is looking for the secret to success. They read about how others managed to achieve great things, pouring over every detail to look for hacks they could incorporate into their own strategy, as well as what didn’t work so they know what to avoid. While there isn’t one specific thing that safeguards against any venture’s failure, there are tips and tricks startup founders can use to get themselves on the right path — and one of the best is mobile app prototyping.

We’ve helped quite a few people through this startup thing (and we’ve clearly been through it ourselves). If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that mobile apps that have been through the prototyping phase are leaps and bounds ahead of their competition. If your newest startup is creating a mobile app, look no further for your secret weapon.

Prototyping Can Help You Get Seed Funding

Most people find it uncomfortable to ask others for money — no matter the reasoning. Whether we need five dollars to cover the tip for lunch or a hundred thousand to fund our new business idea, it’s still awkward to admit you don’t have what you need to cover the tab. But because your business needs the cash, you have to just figure out a way to push through the cringe-inducing feeling and do it anyway.

Prototyping can help you get the seed funding you need to jumpstart your small business.

It might go without saying, but having confidence in your startup is crucial to convincing outside investors to fund it. Even if you’re rock solid on your business model, if you don’t sound confident in your pitch, how can you expect someone else to invest in you? Luckily, we have something that will keep you standing tall and ready for anything during your meeting: prototyping.

Prototyping can showcase the hard work and attention to detail you’ve already invested in your own baby, so they can assume you’ll continue to be as dedicated as you’ve ever been when the funding comes through. Understandably, most people won’t consider investing in a company if the owner hasn’t demonstrated a significant time commitment of his or her own.

A mobile app prototype will show investors you’ve thought completely through your business concept — from the customer’s first touch with your product to the mobile app and all the way to loyal, repeat customer. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you can always make changes later, but having a functional prototype is going to wow those potential investors a lot more than a bunch of sketches in a PowerPoint presentation would.

But perhaps most importantly, it will help show them proof of concept, which is obviously a big deal when you’re trying to get them to provide seed funding. Anyone would feel more comfortable writing a check for something they can see and touch and manipulate. And speaking of, make sure you bring a tablet (or two) with you to that pitch meeting so the investors can pass it around and play with your prototype with their own fingertips.

Prototyping Can Give You A Leg-Up

Mobile app prototyping is a frequently missed step in the startup process, but those who invest the time in it are able to take their startups to the next level. It’s understandable that entrepreneurs want to get their businesses off the ground and start recouping money. Who wants to press pause on their mobile app design to make a prototype? Certainly not your competition, who is racing you to the finish line.

Our app lets you work on your prototype from anywhere.

The truth of the matter is that your competition won’t impress investors the way you will with your prototype. Again, people want to see examples of what they’re investing in before they front the money, so don’t skip this step. This will allow you to feasibly (and more confidently) ask for a higher dollar amount, and because your presentation is so much more compelling than the others they’ve seen, you’ll probably get it.

Of course, more funding means more flexibility in your business plan, in addition to the luxury of planning ahead. Next quarter, when your competition is scrambling to fix the bugs they didn’t anticipate in their mobile app, you’ll be soaking up all that user data and planning your first big update with new features.

So while they’re looking for cash to fix all their problems, you’ll be using yourstockpiled cash to focus on the future. You won’t have half the issues they do because you addressed issues in the prototyping phase, which meant you weren’t wasting cash in development. You’ll get to have a more visionary strategy, setting yourself up as the leader in your industry, as opposed to a reactionary strategy where you’re simply treading water.

Prototyping Communicates More Effectively Than Sketching

We’re willing to bet a lot of successful mobile app designs have started at the same place: a simple sketch, perhaps on a bar napkin or piece of scrap paper. They’re done with whatever writing utensil is nearby and that little sketch gets crumpled into a pocket or a purse before the end of the evening to be elaborated upon at a later time.

Sketches are an important step in the design process. They help us communicate ideas with fellow designers, work through design issues we might be stuck on, and allow us to get ideas out of our heads before we forget them. But the communication possibilities of sketching are far more limited than those of mobile app prototyping.

Sketching and coffee go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Sketches are static images. They can’t move, you can’t transform them into something else with a simple touch of the finger, and they’ll never be able to convey motion the way a functional prototype would. Don’t get us wrong — we love sketches and we always draw wireframes for our new mobile app designs, but we also make prototypes.

Prototyping is just as imperative as sketching because it answers the questions sketches can’t. What shade of green are we talking about for the background? Sure, you can use colored pencils on your sketch, but in the end, your developer is still going to be looking for an exact color code. Are we talking hunter green or forest green? Your prototype will be able to answer those questions without adding a bunch of emails to the process.

And because prototypes are animated, you can perfectly illustrate your desired transitions, from wipes to fades with no problem at all. Do you want the wipe to go from left to right or right to left? What do these drop down menus look like on your checkout page? The prototype answers all these questions (and more) for you before the developer even asks.

Prototyping Fits Into Your Entire Product Life Cycle

It’s easy to imagine how prototyping can fit into the beginning of your product life cycle. It helps you get your mobile app design into an animated, interactive format that’s easily sharable with friends, family, and potential investors. You’re able to work out the kinks and play with different ideas quickly, all in a way that is very easy to undo if you decide you don’t like it.

But what many entrepreneurs don’t realize is that it can be extremely versatile throughout the life of your mobile app. In the growth and maturity phases, you can use prototyping to test out new features and any changes you’re deciding to make based on your user data or shifts in design trends. Keeping up-to-date can extend your mobile app’s life for months or even years.

Checking her prototype, probably.

Likewise, when you inevitably get to that decline phase, you can use prototyping to either completely revamp and relaunch your mobile app, or you can choose to move on to a new idea. Remember that declining doesn’t mean abandoning. If you still have users, you should still be working to keep the app functional. You can always pop back into your prototype to tweak things.

Making Entrepreneurs’ Lives Easier

Perhaps the best thing about mobile app prototyping is that it makes your life as an entrepreneur easier — and who isn’t interested in a tool like that? Startup founders have a million little details in their heads at all times. At some point, it starts to feel like you’re juggling a few too many items, so let that prototype take over some of the responsibility for you. When people ask what you’ve been working on lately, you can just whip out your smartphone, open up that prototype, and let it do the talking for you.

This article was originally posted at:
https://blog.proto.io/prototyping-entrepreneurs-secret-weapon/

Can we take you from stuck to unstuck?

We'd love to hear from you

Call to action (CTA)

A call to action is a marketing term that refers to a prompt that invokes a response leading to a sale. When referring to a call to action (CTA) in the digital design world we usually mean the interactive element that leads to the next step in the experience - something that needs to be clicked or tapped.

User testing

User testing refers to a technique used in the design process to evaluate a product, feature or prototype with real users. There are several reasons why you might want to undergo usability testing, the most common is that it allows the design team to identify friction in a user experience they are designing, so that it can be addressed before being built or deployed.

WYSIWYG

WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ-ee-wig) is an acronym for "What You See Is What You Get". It helps identify an an interface that allows user input resulting in an output that is rendered in a similar way. For example; a word processor application interface might resemble a piece of paper,so when printed the user can see how the output will appear.

Content Management System

A content management system (CMS) is an tool that allows a website editor/administrator to manage the content that is displayed. Websites are made of HTML and CSS to create pages. Pages can be hard-coded but would require technical development skills to make changes. A CMS usually allows a person without coding knowledge to amend existing and add new content to a website using a WYSIWYG interface.

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design refers to a web page that dynamically adapts its layout to fit the size and orientation of the device on which it is viewed. A responsive design allows for a more optimised user experience across desktop and laptop computers as well as smartphones and tablets of varying sizes.

User Stories

User stories allow the functionality of a product or service to be expressed as written descriptions of an experience as seen from the users perspective. The writing of user stories creates a list of design and development tasks to complete in order to create any required functionality.

User Interface

A user interface (UI) is a conduit between human and computer interaction - the space where a user will interact with a computer or machine to complete tasks. The purpose of a UI is to enable a user to effectively control a computer or machine they are interacting with, and for feedback to be received in order to communicate effective completion of tasks.

Personas

A persona in UX Design is the characterisation of a user who represents a segment of your target audience. On a project you might create any number of personas to be representative of a range of user needs and desires. The solutions you design must answer these needs in order to deliver value to your target audience.

Card sorting

A great, reliable, inexpensive method for discovering patterns in how users would expect to find content or functionality. Card sorting is used to test the taxonomy of data with a group of subjects, usually to help inform the creation of the information architecture, user flow, or menu structure on a project.

Brainstorming

A technique used to generate ideas around a specific topic. Often done in groups, but can be done individuals. The process usually involves writing down all ideas around a topic onto paper, a whiteboard or stickies often implying some kind of association.

Minimum Viable Product

An MVP is a product that has the minimum set of features to prove the most essential hypothesis for a product. Businesses building a new product can create a Minimum Viable Product to prove that an idea is viable and warrants further investment. A further benefit being that the next stage of development can be informed by feedback obtained from testing that MVP.

Sitemap

A sitemap is a diagrammatic representation of a hierarchical system. It usually depicts the parent-sibling relationship between pages in a website, showing how sub pages might be arranged underneath their parent groupings. This arrangement forms a map of the site.

User journey

A user journey represents a sequence of events or experiences a user might encounter while using a product or service. A user journey can be mapped or designed to show the steps and choices presented as interactions, and the resulting actions.

Prototype

A prototype is draft representation built to test ideas for layout, behaviour and flow in a system. Prototypes are an indispensable tool for resolving a large number of potential issues in a concept or business before too many resources are deployed to put a design into production.

Wireframes

A Wireframe is a visual schematic that conveys a basic level of communication, structure and behaviour during the design of a system. Wireframes are low-fidelity designs that bypass including a detailed user interface or visual design, conveying just enough to get across the core idea.

Usability

To say something is usable is a qualitative statement about how easy that thing is to use. Usability is an assessment of how learnable a system is and how easy a user finds it to use. The usability of a system or product is a key factor in determining whether the user experience is a good one.

Information Architecture

Information architecture is the design and organisation of content, pages and data into a structure that aids users understanding of a system. A more organised system enables users to more easily find the information they require and complete the intended tasks.

UI Design

User Interface Design is the discipline of designing software interfaces for devices, ideally with a focus on maximising efficiency, responsiveness and aesthetics to foster a good user experience.

UX Design

The practice of User Experience (UX) Design is the coming together of many specific design related disciplines to improve the usability, responsiveness, uptake and aesthetics of a product or service.

User Experience

A general term that covers all aspects of a user's participation while engaging with something that has been designed. Usually when talking about User Experience in the digital design field it refers to the interactions, reactions, emotions and perceptions while using an app, service, website or product.

Got a problem to solve with your service? 

We'd love to hear about it. We can add value to any business that has a digital product/offering.

Book a FREE 30 min consultation

You can also call +44(0)20 3653 1310 or email us

Book a FREE 30min consultation