So you have a great idea: the next killer app, a hot new baked good, jewelry made from raw-hide, or a cool new gadget to rival the Denise Austin Mini Stepper. I don’t care what your idea is. When it boils down, it’s just an idea. To make anything of it, or to get anyone to take you seriously, especially an investor, you’ve got to put those words into action. Start by creating a ‘prototype’ or a sample of your product or service. Even if it’s not perfect- and it doesn’t have to be- get a working version of your product. This is what folks can see, touch or maybe even taste. This demonstrates that your product can actually exist and that you’ve done the legwork to make it happen.
You say that you can’t build the prototype without money to fund it… while that may be true some of the time, like if you’re building the Tesla electric car. Thankfully though, this is not the case the vast majority of time. Even with a service, you can create a low cost site to test the waters to see if there’s an appetite for your product or service. For a very modest budget, you can create and test landing pages with Google adwords to see if folks can find you or to see who might be interested in your service. (If you can’t come up with a few hundred visitors during this process, then you shouldn’t even consider starting a business.) For a product, create it as this will create a more compelling case for your idea. For example, with NuKitchen, the online diet service that I cofounded prior to Wicked Start, we created a sample set of portion controlled, healthy meals when we were raising capital. Potential investors could see, touch and taste our difference. Who knew that ‘diet’ food could taste so good? After they experienced the prototype, we were able to clinch our deal and raise the capital required to get going. Without our ‘prototype’, consisting of sample meals, we were dead in the water -unable to attract any serious player to the game.
I recently saw this great short video from Stanford University about creating the minimum viable product, which you might find helpful in launching your own prototype.