How to Make a Half-Million Dollar Digital Prototype on a Start-up Budget

Think you have to choose between making a prototype within your budget or making your vision come to life with an investment-winning prototype? With the right focus and preparation, you can make a digital prototype that wins investments - for less.

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You’ve been dreaming of your million-dollar idea for months, if not years. However, a fanciful, 20-feature product concept isn’t going to raise funds from serious investors…so what is? You’re only missing two things to make your dream a reality: a detailed product roadmap that helps you make a digital prototype that kills it in funding rounds!

Together with my design team of prototype designers at Studio Moku, we’ve created prototypes that have won millions of dollars in investments.

Our team of best prototype designers made lots of prototypes for entrepreneurs and start-ups, each of them unique. However, our prototype designer always uses the same process to make a digital prototype. Prototype designers plan ahead!

You’re excited to start developing, but going into full-build mode without planning, defining, or testing will waste time and money. Plan ahead!

As a start-up entrepreneur, the best way to create and grow a product idea is to use product roadmapping to make a digital prototype.

So, what’s a digital prototype?

A digital prototype is a clickable mock-up of your product or app. It’s the first model that shows potential investors (and your team) how the product will look and work in the real world.

Once our prototype designer makes a digital prototype, we test it with your target customers. That way, your prototype becomes the most efficient and enjoyable experience for your users from the moment our prototyping services build it.

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Making a digital prototype as brilliant as the product idea in your head will pay you back tenfold – and not just in investments!

When you make a digital prototype and see your idea out in the world, it’s extremely motivating. The digital prototype is a testament to your innovative idea – and it looks better than you could have imagined.

Why should you make a digital prototype?

Investors aren’t giving money away to every business opportunity presented to them. If they can’t visualize and assess the potential of your idea, it’ll be a no.

Investors want to know your idea is achievable, profitable, well-planned, and appealing to customers. They also want to see that you’re serious about executing your product idea and have taken steps to prove it.

Lastly, they want your idea to make them feel something – which is exactly what great UX/UI design can do.

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Always prioritize good UX design when you make a digital prototype. It makes investors and future customers feel the power of your product.

Presenting a polished, clickable prototype is a great way to get an investor to see the potential of your business. It also becomes a great selling point, as good UX design leads to more conversions!

However, you can’t create a memorable experience for users (or in this case, investors) without researching your target market and customer behavior.

The user research needed to create an effective prototype can be gathered using a process called product roadmapping.

What’s a product roadmap and how do you make one?

A product roadmap is a start-to-finish execution plan for achieving the goals of your company. It’s a step-by-step guide to building your product, complete with deadlines and estimated costs.

Investors LOVE to see product roadmaps because it helps them evaluate the potential and the risk in your product idea.

When you create a product roadmap, you ask important questions that go on to define your business.

During this process, you’ll identify your audience, business model, and short- and long-term goals. These questions will help you come up with a strong brand identity and marketing message that you can use on your prototype.

use product roadmap to make a digital prototype
In our product roadmap for Festival Pass, we dedicated the first month to establishing brand identity. Our brand materials informed our prototype build later on!

Roadmapping also helps you find the holes in the market that your competitors are missing. This guarantees you’ll create a truly unique product.

Once you’ve uncovered the right vision and strategy for your product, it gets translated into a product roadmap with deadlines and budgets.

The next step is to make a digital prototype. With all the new information you’ve just uncovered, your prototype will practically fall together!

How product roadmapping helps you make a digital prototype

Creating a product roadmap will uncover the most important elements of your product. Building your prototype will be easy to organize with your business vision in front of you!

To spend your time, money, and energy as wisely as possible, product roadmapping should be the first step in making a digital prototype.

By product roadmapping before starting to make a digital prototype, here’s what you’ll have ready:

  1. A strong brand identity. As you identify your brand’s mission and what makes your company unique, your brand identity is born. All that’s left to do after product roadmapping is to choose the aesthetics that work best to convey who your company is to customers.
  2. A clear marketing message. Once you identify who your audience is and what their habits are, finding your approach to marketing becomes easy.
  3. The main features of your product. Completing a product roadmap helps you get specific on what your user’s problem is and what the best approach to solve it is. This will help you concentrate on the features that are most important in solving that problem.
  4. A defined sales funnel. Taking a look at the way your sales funnel works is great for prototype-building as well as your bottom line! Product roadmapping finds any less-than-optimal points of the funnel, which helps you make a digital prototype that guides users through it effortlessly.

The process of product roadmapping also draws all of your creative ideas out before you make a digital prototype. You’ll never miss a possible solution – or waste time going back to correct a bad one.

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Once you know what your target users need from your product, building a prototype is straightforward.

All of the planning that goes into a product roadmap ensures that you won’t waste any time or focus – and that your priorities are clear for you to go straight into prototype building.

The Benefits of Product Roadmapping and Prototyping

By now, it’s pretty clear that having a digital prototype and a product roadmap will earn you the credibility you need to gain investors’ trust. Having research to vouch for the strategy behind your prototype gives you everything you need to raise funds.

Let’s simply recap with a list of all you stand to gain from product roadmapping and making a digital prototype:

  • Business growth timeline
  • Evaluation of your current business strategy
  • Key metrics for your product’s success
  • Unique brand identity
  • A customer-tested digital prototype
  • An ordered list of priorities
  • Detailed customer personas (and a marketing strategy that appeals to them)
  • Optimized conversion funnels
  • A budgeted business strategy

At the end of the day, you’ll only get one shot in front of each investor. Presenting your product idea with a digital prototype and a comprehensive product roadmap gets you much closer to winning the angels over!

Are you ready to make your product idea a reality? Tell us about your project and we’ll find your perfect match. Getting a prototype designer for hire may be your best idea yet!

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