Model Approach

What's Your Type?

Prototypes can serve a variety of purposes and can have a number of formats. Here are a few examples of prototypes you should consider:

vWorking model. This prototype (also called a breadboard) will demonstrate your idea's concept and how it works. It simply does what it's supposed to do without worrying about how it looks. This prototype is used in the early stages of product development to demonstrate functionality and communicate your idea to potential model makers or manufacturers so they can create a finished product for sale.

vPresentation prototype. The name says it all: A presentation prototype is created to present to potential investors or for promotional purposes. When you go to a car show and see an auto maker's "concept car," you're looking at a presentation prototype.

vPre-production prototype. A pre-production prototype looks and functions like the finished product. It is usually the last prototype made before the full-scale manufacturing begins. This prototype gives everyone a chance to inspect the product and make last-minute changes.

Build as many prototypes as you need until you are satisfied all the bugs have been worked out and that your idea is performing perfectly. This helps set a good idea apart from a great one.

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This article was originally published in the October 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Model Approach.

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