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Perry Kaye - Prototypes: Looks vs Functions

(Daymond John with Perry Kaye)

Prototypes: Looks vs Functions

I have seen some pretty nice looking prototypes that don't work. And I have seen some pretty ugly prototypes that work like a charm. Which is better? Seems like a silly question but each has its advantages.

Obviously, you want to have a beautiful working prototype, but those are costly. And in many cases unnecessary. The truth is you never want to make a prototype the same way you make a production unit. Production units often use hard tooling like steel molds. And while these lower per unit cost they increase production cost. Your millionth unit may cost a penny but the first unit, including the mold costs, might cost $50,000.

If you don't want to spend $50,000 on your prototype then here is a strategy I found that works well. First decide what your prototype will be used for, testing, marketing, or presentation?

If testing then make a Frankenstein Prototype by cobbling together bits and pieces from other things. Your only concern is discovering if the contraception will spark to life.

If marketing your innovation then you need something that looks acceptable and works flawlessly.

If you need the prototype for presentation, then you may just need an image or video. The product should look amazing and maybe does not need to work.

Frankenstein Prototyping is when you make something out of other things. The goal is to see it come to life or die in a quick, cheap and hopefully spectacular instant. You don't care about looks you only care about it proving the concept.

A marketing prototype is one you use to get others onboard with your innovation. These need a higher level of sophistication than your Frankenstein Prototype because they are speaking to emotional hearts instead of logical brains. People will be reluctant to try a scary gadget with sharp edges and suspect intentions. Looks should be a close second to function. For marketing, it must work and look good doing so.

For presentations you need need to have an impactful series of images, video, and text. These should look amazing, and with CAD renderings they can almost look real. This type of "prototype" is used to get you the meetings where you will show the other two prototypes. For presentations, looks are more important than function.

Can you use these prototypes in different manners? Certainly. Should you make a habit of it? Probably not. Each audience wants different things from your prototype and so should you. Using the right prototype for the right meeting will speed your licensing discussions along and help people know you are a brilliant ideator with a great innovation.

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