“A 40-year-old is 2.1x as likely to find a successful startup as a person who is 25.” – A study by two MIT professors and the U.S. Census Bureau
‘Power, People, and Technology’ is an ideal tagline that befits in today’s Digital Darwinian world. Thus, age is no longer a factor to decide the fate of any business.
Startups are mushrooming at lightning speed and today, it is quite common to find a couple of cool geeks dropping out of college or people who are shackled in their day jobs, becoming night owls to show their idea a successful path. Thus, in no-time, the above statistics can change to:
“A 25-year-old is 2.1x as likely to find a successful startup as a person who is 40.”
One of the vital methodologies that are instilling courage amongst the visionaries to embark upon the journey to turn their visions into reality is to build an MVP: Minimum Viable Product.
But the question to ponder here is:
Do startups actually understand the true meaning and the steps involved in the MVP development?
Can you build an aircraft without referring to a visual model? Quite difficult, Right?
Impatiently jumping to the product development process without understanding the requirements is just as difficult.
A successful product is the result of the evolution of the idea from a unique concept to a fully-working product or service. Between the idea and a usable mini version of the product resides ‘Prototype’ that emphasizes on the ‘How’ part of the product.
Thinking and moving forward prototypically brings the projected idea to life. It reduces the risk of getting slapped with ‘Failed MVP’ label, which you will attain almost surely if you skip the important phase of MVP development: Prototyping.
What is an Ideal Prototype?
Consider prototyping as an MVP to build an MVP: not a fully-functional version, but a version to help visualize the user experience of the Minimum viable product.
Google Ventures design partner Daniel Burka says:
“The ideal prototype should be of Goldilocks quality. If the quality is too low, people won’t believe the prototype is a real product. If the quality is too high, you’ll be working all night, and you won’t finish. You need Goldilocks quality. Not too high, not too low, but just right.”
Those who are wondering about the importance of prototyping to build an MVP, following are the few benefits that can help you make an intelligent decision:
1. Mystery Unlocking: Before you Build an MVP, Get to Know the Story of Your Users
An agile design prototype is worth a thousand user stories.
An effective prototype helps the designers of both the idea and the product analyze and examine how potential users would interact. It leaves startups with the time to ask their users not only ‘what’ they want but ‘why’ they want it.
Since it embodies the product essentials like workflows but there is no real (expensive) development behind it, the team can make quick changes as feedback starts coming in. Conducting experiments and making rapid prototypes prior to build an MVP allows startups to learn more in a short amount of time by getting feedback early and often.
The resulting software development process will look something like this:
2. Visualization: Prototypes Bring Your Ideas to Life
It is very difficult to gather and organize the product’s ideas and layouts in the head. Paper sketches, wireframes, and mockups provide limited visualization. Thus, in order to bring your ideas to life, it becomes important to give birth to a highly visual product that clearly communicates and represents all your ideas and goals, and provides basic interactive functionalities.
And prototypes act as a perfect solution for transferring your ideas and vision into a product that can both be seen, and, more importantly, experienced by those involved.
3. Pitch Effectively: Develop a Prototype to Attract Funding
Social community sites on the internet are flooded with queries like:
“How do I get in touch with investors/funds with just an idea and no product?”
David S. Rose, an active angel investor and CEO of Gust provided a befitting answer to this question on Quora:
‘Having value’ and ‘Being fundable’ are two completely different things. While a good idea is usually a necessary ingredient for the formation of a good company, it is not sufficient by itself for any serious investor to fund.
The bottom line is that ideas by themselves are simply not fundable by professional investors.
Thus a proper execution is important to turn a brilliant idea into a reality, thereby fetching more investors. No doubt, execution of an idea does not guarantee a positive outcome, however, bringing the execution into play increases the chances of a large return on investment to Venture Capitalists. VCs get more tempted to fund a particular startup’s product if they go beyond the limits during the concept phase.
In a nutshell, prototypes pave the way for the investors to witness and understand the goals and vision behind your application. Presenting an interactive, high-fidelity prototype to investors not just eliminates the requirement for monotonous project documentation and messy sketches, but it also allows investors to get hands-on with the project.
Delivering a prototype, close to a working MVP increases your chances of securing that all-important seed investment.
Build an MVP, But Don’t Forget the Prototyping Phase
Remember that the prototype does not have to solve the problem you are expecting to get solved. The key to the prototype during the MVP development process is to unlock the ability to experiment, fail, learn and grow in a sandbox. The faster and more frequently the prototype is built, the earlier your MVP will hit the market.
Note that, the initial ideas always demand iterations: be it a wireframe prototype or a coded experiment. Prototypes and iterations amalgamate to transform into an ideal MVP, which in turn result in a full-fledged product ready to grow.