I remember trying to explain my first product, swiggies, wrist water bottles when I didn’t have a tangible bottle to show. “It’s a bottle that straps onto your wrist and has a pull top like a regular sports bottle.” People were picturing a regular water bottle that simply strapped onto your wrist.
Even when I made a clay prototype, it still didn’t quite register. The clay was molded into a small bottle type figure that sat on top of the wrist and had a vel-stretch band through it to keep it from moving. The cap opened and closed like a sports bottle.
It wasn’t until I had the finished product in the packaging that people finally went “Oh, I get it!”
Because most people can’t visualize something exactly the way you can with your own vision. So, if you plan on licensing, or even manufacturing yourself, it’s good to have some type of prototype for several reasons.
If you want to license your product you should give the licensee as much as possible to base a decision on. Having a prototype helps them see what the product will look like in its final stage with nothing left to the imagination.
In the beginning, you can start with a crude mock-up made out of art supplies. I made mine out of clay and an off the shelf cap. The band was made from a scrap of felt material. This was incredibly helpful when I took it to the mold maker. He could see exactly what I wanted and was able to copy that same design.
Use whatever materials you can think of to make your original prototype. Here’s a list of ideas:
- Popsicle sticks
- Paper clips
- Paper mache’
Make the mock up as close to your vision as possible, even if it isn’t a working prototype.
Another good reason to make a prototype is to get the bugs out early before you invest a lot of money in things that don’t work. You may discover new features and designs as you get into the actual process of turning your ideas into reality. Besides, seeing the finished product in a tangible form will get you even more fired up about the process. Suddenly it’s real.
The next step is to take your non working model to an engineer or prototype maker. This is the stage that starts to become expensive. I went straight to the mold maker and had them make a blow molded version of my product. Luckily for me, it worked the first time and I had molds to go right into manufacturing with. A working prototype will cost you some money, but not as much as the finished product. If there are any bugs to be worked out, this is when you will be able to spot them.
You can now take your working model to a company for licensing or move on to the next step, which is manufacturing on your own. But at least you will be that much closer to a finished product.