What Is Pretotyping? How To Use Pretotyping To Validate Your Business Idea

Pretotyping comes from the words “pretend” and “prototype.” It is a method to validate business ideas to improve the chances of building a product people want.  Pretotyping helps to answer such questions (about the product or service to build) as: Would I use it? How, how often, and when would I use it? Would other people buy it? How much would they be willing to pay for it? How, how often, and when would they use it?

Pretotyping in a nutshell

In the FourWeekMBA interview to Alberto Savoia, author of the Right It and the person who coined the term “pretotype” he explained:

The key difference between pretotyping and prototyping is the following: typically you build a prototype to make sure that what you are planning to build can actually be built to see if it will work, how it will work, how long the battery will last, etc. etc.

So, prototypes are built to make sure that you can build something. Now, my research shows that 99% of the time you can build it. Most of the apps, say, in an app store do not fail because people cannot build them, they fail because people are not interested.

As Alberto Savoia explained, pretotype is really:

Designed to ask a very different question. It asks the question, “should we build it?”So, if we build it, will people buy it?

In the book, there are many examples of pretotypes.

Let’s look at an example of pretotyping to understand how you can use it to validate your business ideas.

YouTube Pretotype case study

Alberto Savoia explained the YouTube Pretotype:

One of the techniques I teach, one of the pretotyping techniques I write in the book, is called the “YouTubePretotype,” so instead of actually building the app with code, you can use PowerPoint or KeyNote or any other program to simulate what the app will do, right? So you can make a little video, a little movie, that will show the potential users what the app actually does.

And he continued:

So you can have one screen where you write your name and you write the books that you like and then you click a button and it asks for recommendations and you see the app giving you a recommendation. You can do all of this without writing a single line of code. Anybody can do it if you can use PowerPoint or Keynote you can do that.

Key takeaways

Pretotyping (pretending to have a working prototype) is a fast way to prove an idea. Rather than focus time, effort and money on a prototype that the market doesn’t want.

With pretotyping you can flip the questions “if I build it will you buy it?” and approach the market with the following research question: “If you buy it, we will build it.”

Related Visual Business Concepts

A design sprint is a proven five-day process where critical business questions are answered through speedy design and prototyping, focusing on the end-user. A design sprint starts with a weekly challenge that should finish with a prototype, test at the end, and therefore a lesson learned to be iterated.

A business designer is a person that helps organizations to find and test a business model that can be tested and iterated so that value can be captured by the organization in the long run. Business design is the discipline, set of tools and processes that help entrepreneurs prototype business models and test them in the marketplace.

Business scaling is the process of transformation of a business as the product is validated by wider and wider market segments. Business scaling is about creating traction for a product that fits a small market segment. As the product is validated it becomes critical to build a viable business model. And as the product is offered at wider and wider market segments, it’s important to align product, business model, and organizational design, to enable wider and wider scale.

Developer marketing encompasses tactics designed to grow awareness and adopt software tools, solutions, and SaaS platforms. Developer marketing has become the standard among software companies with a platform component, where developers can build applications on top of the core software or open software. Therefore, engaging developer communities has become a key element of marketing for many digital businesses.

Impact mapping is a product development technique based on user design, mind mapping, and outcome-driven planning. Impact mapping is an agile technique intended to help teams connect individual product features that can impact the user behaviors while connecting to the key, guiding metrics for the business.

Gamification borrows key concepts from the gaming industry to encourages user engagement and experience. Some of those concepts include competitiveness, mastery, sociability, achievement, and status. The application of game principles to the business context, companies can design products that are more enjoyable to users and customers.

Strategic analysis is a process to understand the organization’s environment and competitive landscape to formulate informed business decisions, to plan for the organizational structure and long-term direction. Strategic planning is also useful to experiment with business model design and assess the fit with the long-term vision of the business.

Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.

Read next: Pretotyping: How To Find The Right Idea To Avoid Business Failure With Alberto Savoia

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