Written by: Jay | 10th August 2015

    You almost always need to show a working model of your product to someone when developing a new product idea.

    Whether it is to potential investors to secure funding, possible distribution and retail partners, or whether it is for pre-sale promotion on your website, you will invariably need some sort of physical representation of your product idea that will show viewers how it works and looks.

    Another reason why you need to make a physical prototype is to help you iron out any kinks that there might be in your design, and tweak any problem areas. You can take the real-world testing results from working with a physical prototype and go back to the drawing board to edit your designs and refine your idea.

    If you have limited funding and want to look for a way to showcase the benefits of your idea without spending a large sum of money on a prototype that works like the finished product would, you can make what is referred to as a ‘looks-like’ prototype. This is basically a model that looks like your idea that you can use this to show to potential partners, investors or licensees.

    There are 3 main types of prototypes:

    1. ‘Works-Like’ or ‘Working’ prototype
    2. ‘Looks-Like’ or ‘Non-Working’ Prototype
    3. ‘Works-Like / Looks-Like’ prototype

    How do you know which type of prototype you need? Well that all depends on what your goals are in making the prototype in the first place.

    A working prototype basically shows how your product idea works. Whether it involves moving parts or electronics, this prototype will perform just like your end product would. This type of prototype basically proves your concept, and while it does not need to look pretty, it will do well to showcase the major benefits of your idea in action. Working prototypes are also great for making videos and make great marketing material for your website or to show potential buyers. Just a simple video of you using the product will work wonders.

    One of our clients recently used this type of prototype and made a short video clip of him demoing his product idea to secure a deal with a major distributor. His product was a special type of sock with an arch support as steady as a running shoe. His video and prototype example proved his concept and quickly clinched him a deal.

    A non-working prototype can be a 2D or 3D digital model or a physical model of your idea, its purpose is to provide you with a way to present what the exterior of your end-product idea will eventually look like. This type of prototype is especially useful for products that do not have a lot of functions, with more emphasis placed on the product’s unique design or appearance.

    Many of our clients use 3D digital, ‘looks-like’ prototypes to be used on their website sales page, and have generated hundreds of pre-orders this way.

    One of the best things about a non-working, looks-like prototype is the very low cost barrier. Our design team regularly makes killer 2D prototype models for our clients at under $1,000.

    A works-like/looks-like prototype is a fully functioning physical model of your idea, both in terms of function and design. This is typically the most complicated and costly type of prototype and is just one step away from the main production sample or Golden Sample.

    Going with a works-like/looks-like prototype is usually a good idea once you are pretty sure that you are ready to start manufacturing and just want to be sure that there are no final problems or issues with your product. Often, you will have already made several iterations of the previous two simple prototypes before making this more complete one.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that if you are using a prototype as a proof of concept then the 2 first prototype examples are usually sufficient. One the other hand, if you have already proved your concept and are ready to move into manufacturing then the 3rd prototype example would be the one most suited to your needs.

    If you would like more information on how to get your idea made into an awesome prototype quickly and effectively that will generate lots of interest and demand then I encourage you to get in touch with us!

    Sourcing Overseas has worked with hundreds of small to medium businesses owners and entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life. My team and I would be more than happy to give you some free tips and ideas to help you launch the next blockbuster product.

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