Beyond the Pitch

Investors Say Yes to User Interface Prototypes

UI Prototypes

Product prototypes create vision for investors

I ran a company that sold a software solution to create interactive prototypes of web and mobile applications and sites.

We often worked with software startups that were in fundraising mode. We had a founder who was working on an angel round of funding and wanted to use our software to create a functioning user interface (UI) prototype—the forward-facing part of the software product that she was developing, the part that the user sees. The founder then showed the prototype to potential angel investors as part of her pitch.

This was a smart strategy.

As an angel investor, I know first-hand how difficult it can be for an investor to grasp a business idea in the abstract. Unless I can see what the founder has in mind for a software product, it can be all too easy to dismiss the idea because of my lack of understanding. But if I can see and interact with a prototype of the screens of the contemplated software product a tablet or desktop, it can be much easier to grasp the idea and get behind it.

Simple prototypes work

A prototype does not have to be elaborate. For example, it certainly does not need to work with real data. The point is to quickly create something that looks like the envisioned product, that an investor can, at least to an extent, play with and understand. Some level of interactivity (with “dummy” data) is usually ideal.

It can be very tempting, especially for a founder with strong technical skills, to build an early version of the software itself, rather than “waste time” on a UI prototype.

There may be cases where this makes sense. But when the founder decides to go right to coding, the software tends to look like it was thrown together, and usually will not show well to potential investors.

How a new software product works under the hood is important in the long run for the business. How it looks to a casual observer is more important if you’re trying to raise money from angels. An interactive user interface prototype is all you need and is more useful than the first version of the software itself.

There are many free or inexpensive tools to create an interactive UI prototype. You can usually build something useful in a day or two, and then test it with “friendlies” to get feedback before your pitch to angels or other investors.

It’s very easy for an angel investor to say “no” to your business idea. As a founder in fundraising mode, you need to use every tool available to you to make it easier for an angel investor to say “yes.”

An interactive user interface prototype is a tool that will get your idea approved.

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