Post Image
  Entrepreneurs and startups create product prototypes to visualize, test, and improve their ideas before investing heavily in production. The process of fashioning these early models has become a crucial part of product development, particularly in the digital technology and hardware engineering industries. It’s also important to ventures in other sectors.
Read more about Business
Prototyping can be expensive; you will need money to build a sample of a future product. But it doesn’t have to drain your limited financial resources. Here’s a guide to help you build a product prototype on a budget.

Define Your Idea

Before you spend money on anything, you should have a clear vision of what you want your prototype to achieve. Sketch your ideas, write detailed specifications, and set a clear purpose for the prototype—whether that’s testing a concept, pitching to investors, or getting user feedback.

Create Digital Mockups and Simulations

With software like Figma, Adobe XD, or even PowerPoint, you can create a digital representation of your product. For more complex products, software like SolidWorks or Tinkercad can be used for 3D modelling. These digital mockups may be beneficial for getting initial feedback without manufacturing a physical product.

Use Off-the-Shelf Components

Before custom-building parts, see if there are existing components that you can use. If you’re having trouble locating these items, you will likely find some of them on some of the major global e-commerce websites. Going for already available parts will save you a great deal of time and money.
Sign up for the Connect Nigeria daily newsletter

Choose Low-Fidelity Prototyping

Instead of aiming for a polished, final product-like prototype, why not build a rough, functional version? Low-fidelity prototypes can be made from affordable materials like cardboard, foam, or even plastic. The aim here is not to craft a visually impressive sample; it’s to cobble together something functional enough to be tested out.

Leverage DIY Tools

Many hardware startups will opt for technical providers or third-party facilities when trying to produce prototypes. This is especially the case if the construction process is perceived as laborious or complex. If you want to save yourself and your business some money, you could use Do It Yourself (DIY) tools (e.g. saws, drillers, routers, and welders) to make your physical model.

Learn Basic Skills

Whether you’re making digital models or building physical hardware prototypes, it’s a good idea to invest some time in learning basic prototyping skills. We’re talking design software like CAD programs, or practices such as sewing, woodworking, or soldering. Websites like Coursera, Udemy, or Khan Academy offer courses that teach these skills.

Crowdsource Feedback

Before making multiple iterations, share your prototype with potential users, friends, or colleagues to get feedback. Niche-specific forums or even local community groups can provide valuable insights. You may get a sizable group of persons to examine (and maybe use) the sample you’ve made, and ask them to offer their honest observations. Their suggestions may prove valuable for the next stages of the product-building process.

Iterate and Improve

Prototyping is just about learning and refining. Instead of aiming for perfection in your first iteration, focus on making consistent, incremental improvements based on feedback and testing.
Register to attend the CN Business Mixer

Final Words

You can build a great prototype on a budget. It just takes careful planning, resourcefulness, and a bit of innovation. Follow the steps we’ve talked about here to bring your product ideas to life without breaking the bank. Featured Image Source: DeepSea Developments
Got a suggestion? Contact us:

You might also like:
This article was first published on 28th October 2023


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *