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What's your recommended approach in building a prototype?

You have a solid business concept for a web-based product but don't have a technical co-founder yet. You'd like to build a demo/clickable prototype to use as a tool for talking to potential investors and customers.

What types of cost-effective approaches have you successfully used to find people to help you do this? accelerate the search for a tech co-founder; outsourced design & dev; outsourced design only; outsourced dev only; equity only, combination of equity + cash; all cash?

25 Replies

Jonathan Barronville
6
0
Jonathan Barronville Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at npm, Inc.
If you need to create a clickable/demoable prototype of your concept, check out Balsamiq Mockups. I use it almost every single day. It works wonders.

- Jonathan
Michael Grassotti
8
0
Michael Grassotti Entrepreneur
Founder, Technologist & Coder
I would suggest making demo/prototype yourself. As a tech co-founder I get approached all the time by people who are in your situation. Many have wasted thousands hiring design/dev shops to produce beautiful wireframes and prototypes that are basically useless. Problem is that at this stage your concept is going to evolve faster than any partner can react. You need to be able to make changes fast as you gather feedback from customers and investors. My recommendation is to keep things very low-fidelity. If the concept is strong it should not need a polished presentation. Instead you need just enough to communicate the idea and map out the flow. I've had a lot of success using popapp for this. It's designed for mobile apps but I'd suggest using it even if your plan is to build a desktop site or app. https://popapp.in/
Jonathan Barronville
0
0
Jonathan Barronville Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at npm, Inc.
@Michael Grassotti:

Thanks for the POP app recommendation ... I've been meaning to check that out!

- Jonathan
Raphael Londner
0
0
Raphael Londner Entrepreneur
Developer Advocate

I'd also recommend reading Lean UX for Startups (http://www.amazon.com/UX-Lean-Startups-Experience-Research/dp/[removed to protect privacy]), which tackles exactly your needs.

Mike Moyer
1
0
Mike Moyer Entrepreneur • Advisor
Managing Director at Lake Shark Ventures, LLC
Hi Yaya, I;m not a developer myself, but having run into this problem before I took it upon myself to get good at finding overseas talent that could build MVPs for low cost. Outsourcing can be tricky if you are just getting started. My company, Lake Shark Ventures, LLC, helps startups get in business with MVPs and marketing programs. We take equity in some startups using a dynamic equity model. A dynamic equity model with ensure that you provide exactly the right amount of equity in exchange for any work performed. If you send me your email I'll send you a copy of a book I wrote on the subject. -Mike
Asli Sonceley
0
0
Asli Sonceley Entrepreneur
Managing Partner at Fake Crow
We have been using Marvel, which is a simple prototyping app that uses hotspotting.

It's responsive, works very well both for web and mobile apps. It syncs with Dropbox, so your changes appear automatically on the prototype.

You should also be able to use Marvel with hand drawn wireframes as well (similar to above mentioned popapp).

If you want to create a visually appealing demo and work with a design team, here are a few of trickswe have come up with to speed up the design process for MVPs. This will save you some time and money.

hope this helps :)




Brian Ross
3
0
Brian Ross Entrepreneur • Advisor
Engineering Lead at Haven, Inc.
+1 for Balsamiq Mockups for a clickable prototype. Forces you to concentrate on the nitty gritty and doesn't have a bunch of frills. Akin to a clickable sharpie drawing.

You might also check out Webflow, the featureset looks promising from a "design without code" perspective and could even be leveraged as the starting point for the real deal with specific integration points when you get developers involved.
Ben Sweat
1
0
Ben Sweat Entrepreneur
Director, Product at Idealab
If you are looking to just make a clickable "proto type" you may be able to get by with a service like InvisionApp or something like unto it. If it isn't much programming I'd use a service like oDesk or Toptal and just pay a few hundred bucks than give equity away at that point. Sent from my iPhone
Joe Shepherd
0
0
Joe Shepherd Entrepreneur
Figure it out, Get it done, Exceed expectations
I have also used Keynotopia for iOS prototypes. Works very well and its right around $100.
Yaya Mbaoua
0
0
Yaya Mbaoua Entrepreneur
VP at MED1 and bringing doctors to patients anywhere
Awesome stuff. Thanks guys for all of your ideas. I will check them all out!!
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