Three tips on how to prototype your idea into a business

So you have this great business idea and you’ve decided to quit your job and invest all your time and money in it. It all seems good in theory, but how can you be sure that people will actually buy your product? The answer is you can’t - but if you learn how to use prototyping and MVPs, you can at least get a hunch. We had three MVP pros come by to talk to us about how to prototype your idea into a business.

MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product, which basically means the smallest possible thing you can build to be able to collect valuable information from your customers in order to iterate the design process.

- My first MVP was a sketch on a paper, a small mockup, just to get a feeling of what my product could look like and how it could behave, says Lycke von Schantz, founder and CEO of the bike seat company Påhoj. I then went on to making a physical prototype - I took apart bike seats and put them together again in different ways. It looked awful, but MVPs don’t have to be beautiful. The first prototype is just to test your idea. Finally, I went to a metal smith who helped me put together a more realistic prototype. He also gave me valuable insights on the production process and if my ideas were realistic or not.

But an MVP doesn’t have to be a physical product, it might just as well be a short movie that can help answer the question: would anyone buy my product? The most important thing is to find a way to get feedback from the users. Create some content around it and share it on social media - build a community as early as possible and involve them in the process to design the product based on your users’ needs, rather than your assumptions. Once you have a proof of concept, it’s a lot easier to get investors’ attention.

Marie Ehrndal, interaction designer and content creator at Arduino, says there are three purposes for using prototypes: explore, evaluate or communicate. In turn, there are many different types of prototypes that can help you reach your desired outcome. If the purpose is evaluation, you should have specific questions or hypotheses that you want answered. Let’s say that your product is a board game and you’ve drawn it on a paper, your hypothesis could then be that the players will move in a certain direction.

Top three tips for prototyping your idea into a business

  • Test your prototype on your customers as soon as possible

  • Build a social media community around your product at an early stage

  • Involve competent people in your work to get valuable insights and feedback

You will only get an answer to your hypothesis by letting someone test it, and even if your hypothesis was wrong, you will at least know it early enough to make the necessary changes to your product.

"Being an entrepreneur means you must have the courage to try, fail, get feedback and try again", says Kajsa Bengtson, working with new business and innovation at IKEA. "Everyone can come up with ideas and an idea is seldom unique - people tend to identify the same problems - but it’s not the uniqueness of the idea that decides if it will be a success or not, it’s how you present it. The ones who dare to fail are the ones who move faster forward in their entrepreneurship", Kajsa continues.

This event, like all Minc events, was free for anyone to attend. Read more about Minc events right here.

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