Pretotyping vs. Prototyping

Prototypes help you fail fast, BUT not fast enough.

Instead, make a PREtotype, for example:

Product: IBM’s Speech-to-Text Machine

Pretotype: Skilled typist + keyboard in the other room

This was a quick & easy test vs. the years of R&D to make a working prototype.

IBM then tested pretotype reactions.

They learned people didn’t want the machine because of:

1. Sore throats

2. Noisy work environments

3. Confidential material

The product wasn’t right.

Keyboards are here to stay.

Great pretotypes:

1. Test your hypothesis quickly.

2. Fake your product’s features before you build.

3. Answer “is this the RIGHT thing to build?” NOT “can we build it?”

4. Invite failure. Suppress feelings of insecurity/perfectionism.

5. Generate a high initial & ongoing interest. Conduct multiple tests over time.

Pretotypes can: replace tech with humans (“Wizard of Oz”), have stripped down (MVP) or nonfunctional features, be rented, test a small subsect, lead to “fake doors” to test clicks, and/or relabel existing products.

Data > opinions.

Don’t double down on products that have not been battle tested.

Build a pretotype.


Author of Pretotype It, Alberto Savoia

Entrepreneur & Product Guru, Bijan Bina

Author of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries

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