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12.3 Prototyping the Product or Service

As noted throughout the book, a key activity for innovative activity is to engage in learning by doing. Learning by doing means that you make and build things, try experiments, and construct prototypes. Prototypes need to be constructed for tangible products and also for systems applications. If the product is a tangible product, then a generic mock-up of the product needs to be constructed as early as possible. If that is not possible, because of limited resources or an overly complex product, a handmade drawing with a graphics program or with CAD/CAM software or Google’s free SketchUp application can be used to develop a prototype. If the product is a computer application, then a prototype can be constructed using a rapid prototyping language or with a presentation package such as PowerPoint. There are also many excellent applications available for the iPad to develop mock-ups of applications and drawings for product ideas.

One interesting way of presenting the idea behind the business is to tell a story about how the product or service solved a problem. Presenting a problem and solution scenario is a very effective way for communicating a business plan concept. One business plan presentation used a clipart in the form of a scenario comic book to communicate the business concept. It involved a consumer coming home to find the inside of the house flooded. The story then went on to describe how the consumer would use a new emergency repair network to find a reputable contractor via a competitive bidding process. It was a very convincing story and quite effective in illustrating how the service was much different than the competition’s service. The goal of using a scenario is to get the readers to understand the details of what the business has to offer.