To successfully launch a new product, you need to pay special attention to product development and manufacturing. Here’s what prototyping teaches about making the best product possible.
Grow Your Business,
Not Your Inbox
Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Working on a new product is always an exciting and risky process, even when you have all the data suggesting that the product is a win. In addition to all the administrative work, you need to know the intricate elements of product development, manufacturing, prototyping and how to take advantage of everything a product prototype has to offer.
The purpose of the prototype
Prototyping is a process of bringing your product idea from mental concept to physical world. Hence, a prototype is a model of your product in a tangible shape and form. Prototypes can be of various types and fulfill different goals, depending on your immediate or future needs.
By creating an invention prototype you can minimize risks associated with the development of a new product and maximize its cost-effectiveness. But these are two ultimate takeaways of prototyping, which consist of a series of goals you can achieve by creating your product prototype.
Let’s look at the five main goals of prototyping.
1. Validate customer demand and save your resources
Your customers are your everything. It’s their problem that your product is going to solve. Therefore, having your target audience engaged with your product prototype will give you enough data to know whether your idea is worth the investment.
2. Test technical feasibility and set your course
Create a proof of concept prototype to make sure that your idea is doable. This type of prototype is essential to creating a road map and planning your budget in a proper way. If for some reason your invention idea is too complex and expensive or impossible to realize, you can save it for later and get to another one.
3. Improve your product’s aesthetics and meet customers’ standards
Consumers of today set quite high standards for quality as well as the look of products they choose to buy. Prototyping presents numerous opportunities for improvement, both technical and aesthetic. Actually, one can lead to another and vice versa. Each design iteration during the new product prototype development brings you closer to satisfying those standards and developing a product that clicks with the end user.
4. Showcase to investors during fundraising to gain their support
People need to see it to believe it. So when raising funds for your product, it’s wise to have a workable model, which has the ability to clearly communicate your idea to potential investors. A functional product prototype, in particular, helps you achieve that goal. In addition to showing your idea in action, it also gives the feel and look of the future product.
5. Send a sample to a manufacturer and minimize production costs
We have developed hundreds of prototypes at our product development company. Our team’s absolute favorite is the preproduction prototype. This type enables you to cut the cost of the most expensive stage of product development — manufacturing — and ensure flawless results.
For example, we once had a well-known consumer products brand approach us to design and prototype packaging for its new product line — lighting for a phone camera. The packaging was quite important because the product would land on the shelves of major retailers. It had to not only look good and catch shoppers’ attention but also be functional, versatile and easy to manufacture and assemble.
The package was going to China for production. Precise instructions of what was needed were a must. We knew that the best way to communicate all the technicalities was to show the fine-tuned preproduction prototype and a video of how to put it together. This combination of package prototype and video would also provide details such as exact colors, shape, in-process quality control and final quality control.
While prototyping, our engineers caught all inefficiencies that could cause problems during manufacturing. This allowed our customer to save the future cost on the manufacturing and assembly and to receive products from the Chinese manufacturer with no defects.
Prototyping is an art and everyone sees its benefits, depending on their own environment and case. The beauty of a new product prototype development is that there is always more to discover about your product and more to achieve. Keep a sharp eye on what other goals your prototype can help you achieve to bring the best out of your product potential.