Prototyping for Proof of Concept: Will it Work?

Learn how to use feasibility studies and proof of concept models to test your design and impress investors.

One of your biggest early milestones in product development is proving not only that customers want your product, but that your product can work. Proving that you’re able to overcome the technical challenges that your product faces. Achieving this helps prove that your product is investable and not some entrepreneurial pipe dream. But what does it really mean to create a Proof of Concept Model and how do you do it?

Feasibility Studies

It all starts with understanding what your technical challenges are. For example, if you’re relying on being able to communicate with a wireless device underwater, it’s important to know that the technology will support this. At Touchstone 3D, we use “feasibility studies” to solve these types of challenges. Instead of designing and building out the full product, we might use Arduinos and basic housings to prove the principle. Then we can incorporate our results into a working Proof of Concept Model later on. This approach is great for products that have many technical challenges, as you can quickly explore each one independently to assess feasibility. This strategy follows the “fail fast, fail cheap” mindset that you need during the early stages of product design. Design takes iteration, and the faster and cheaper you can get your answers, the better off you will be in the long run.

Another example would be if you were developing a new type of cordless drill. One of the technical challenges would be proving that the handle ergonomics are suitable for your target market. It would be slow and expensive to build out a fully working drill for every new handle form you wanted to test.

Proof of Concept Models

Once you’ve completed these independent feasibility studies, you can take what you’ve learned and incorporate them into a full, Proof of Concept model. You’ll have increased confidence that the time and money you’re about to spend will work well. You might be wondering, how elaborate of a prototype should I make for my Proof of Concept model?

The key here is to do just enough to prove that it is possible to overcome your technical challenges in your product implementation. Think about what is going to be important to selling your product vision to potential customers and investors. Is it more important to get a premium appearance and surface finish or would you be better off getting an extra, but less refined, prototype for the same difference in cost? Is it important to be water resistant, or should you use your future investment to develop that? Sometimes it makes more sense to focus less on appearance for your Proof of Concept prototype.  You can make up for that with beautiful photo-realistic renderings to show investors and potential customers what your final product will look like.

Moving Forward

Proof of concept prototypes are an instrumental part of the product development process. They deliver confidence that your product is achievable and are great for getting customer validation and pitching to investors. In our next article, we’ll talk more about photo-realistic renderings, which are a great tool for presenting alongside your prototype.