The cheap and cheerful trick to prototyping

Building a prototype of a new product is a great way to demonstrate your idea to investors and potential customers, as well as to iron out design problems. The best way to do so, according to a prototyping expert, can be incredibly simple.

In your mind, you may have the product that will make your business millions. How can you express this idea to others in such a way that it will be easily understood?

According to Robert Tiller of Tiller Designs, the best way to show off your idea is to build a prototype or scale model out of whatever you can. He suggests using children’s toys such as Lego or Meccano.

Speaking on the My Business Podcast, Robert says that building models as a child unwittingly allowed him to help his family prototype new infrastructure on their farm.Assorted Duplo blocks

“Coming off a farm and fixing everything, ... pulling everything to bits and rebuilding things; that whole creative spirit was pretty bright, but I never knew really what it was,” he says.

When he was younger, Robert was obsessed with Meccano, a toy focused on connecting steel parts with nuts and bolts. He particularly remembers building a windmill out of the toy, but not just for fun.

“We actually used to use [Meccano] on the farm to build prototype models for things like sheds and windmills,” Robert says.

“[The windmill was] basically a prototype, but back then I wouldn't have a clue that I'm doing prototyping. I'm just making something before I build a 40-foot one.”

This methodology can easily be extended to business owners, according to Robert. By building a model from whatever materials are easily accessible, a concept – even in a non-working form – can be demonstrated to others. Such demonstrations could simply be to get some feedback from family and friends for feedback, or to investors and industrial designers, to convince them your concept is worth funding.

However, there is still more work to do after creating your model before you can properly prototype your idea, which involves establishing its commercial reality and how it interacts with consumers, followed by creating more precise concepts and acquiring data.

Once complete, the concept can move into formal design and manufacturing.

Hear more insights from Robert about prototyping and taking innovative new ideas to market on the My Business Podcast now!

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