FAQ's and expert insights

Here are some common challenges when prototyping and strategies that have helped Stanford Embark members overcome them.

“I’m no good at building things.”

Keep in mind that a prototype is a tool to get responses from potential target customers without incurring the expense associated with actually building it.

Alberto Savoia wrote a book titled Pretotype It, in which he uses many examples of new product concepts that are not much more than pictures and concept statements. He points out that before McDonald’s spent any money optimizing the recipe for McSpaghetti, they started by posting a picture of the product on the menu in their restaurants and waited to see how many customers ordered it. Ask yourself “what is the response I’m looking for from my target customer, and what is the simplest form of my idea that will prompt that response?”

“I’m not getting much useful feedback.”

When you share your prototype, be an observer. At most, you should talk 10% of the time.

“This is frustrating. People don’t seem to ‘get’ my idea.”

As you put your idea out into the world and test it, you’ll need to pay attention to your emotions. It is not uncommon to feel frustrated at this point. Try to avoid the temptation to get defensive or to “sell” your idea. Instead, be a good listener. Stay focused on seeing your product through the eyes of a user. This learning experience will set you up for greater success as you use real feedback to help you refine your idea.

The doordash prototype

Tony Xu, Co-Founder and CEO of DoorDash, describes how they developed and tested a prototype for a service and what doing so told them about their customers.

Tony Xu, Co-Founder and CEO of DoorDash, describes how their service evolved from one goal and multiple different ideas.

Tony Xu, Co Founder and CEO of DoorDash, describes key questions they wanted answered through testing their prototype and how what they learned from answers shaped their service.

Gayatri Datar, Co-Founder and CEO of EarthEnable, describes rapid prototyping with the help of available resources and local experts.

Rapid Prototyping & User Interface Testing

Rapid Prototyping & User Interface Testing

Julia Hu, CEO and Co-Founder of Lark Health, discusses her early entrepreneurial years focused on rapid prototyping, user interface testing, and the impact that had on our product, as well as the company's DNA.

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User Experience and Rapid Prototyping
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