Every entrepreneur wants to develop a great prototype, but when it comes to prototyping, success can be elusive.

Successful Prototype Example

What’s the recipe for a prototype success story, anyway? Let’s take a look.

While studying together at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker realized they shared a passion: a more environmentally sustainable world with less trash. Together, the two formed a company called Loliware and developed biodegradable drinking cups. Though the cups are completely eco-friendly, they resemble retro glassware, merging great design and environmental sustainability. “Loliware was born because, as designers, we wanted to have fun getting super-creative with a material, but we have a bigger vision that Loliware will replace a percentage of the plastic cups destined for the landfill,” Tucker explains.

To get Loliware off the ground, the two began prototyping following their graduation from Parsons. Considering functionality is often more important than aesthetics in product design and development, as a developer, you want to see how consumers interact with your prototype. Your idea may work perfectly in theory, but it may not work as perfectly in real life, and that is the purpose of a prototype. It allows you to see how well your product works in the hands of a living and breathing consumer. After recognizing the importance of functionality for a prototype, the two set out to create an edible cup that would taste as great as it looked.

The pair entered several design competitions with two other Parsons alums and started working on the prototype development process. To design the edible drinking glass, Briganti and Tucker experimented with several different materials, including gelatin. Gelatin “has beautiful translucency, like glass,” Briganti explains. After their first prototype, the pair quickly realized they had a problem: gelatin smells bad, and tastes even worse. The product was a flop.

But Briganti and Tucker didn’t give up. They tested a range of different materials, eventually settling on agar. Agar holds shape, is vegan, and tastes and smells much better than gelatin. Thanks to successful prototyping, the product proved to be a hit. At the Jell-O Mold Competition, Loliware won a prize for structural integrity, and generated a significant amount of attention. Vodka-maker Absolut even inquired about ordering 60,000 cups for an upcoming outdoor concert. Eventually, the duo raised over $10,000 in a Kickstarter campaign to get their project off of the ground, and also received an additional $60,000 in angel investments

So, what is the key to successful prototyping? As Briganti and Tucker’s story suggests, it’s all about flexibility, adaptability, and perseverance.

Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm with strengths in software development, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial design. If you are interested in engineering a new product or updating an existing product, contact us at 1-877-206-5001 or request your free consultation today.