Should Seed Funds / VCs Insist On Prototypes?

February 21, 2010

If you have a great idea for a web app, one of your options is to apply for Seed funding, to get it up and running. Understandably, given the amount of money exchanged, many funds ask to see a demonstration or prototype as part of the application. For example, NYCSeed says:

What if I don’t have a product prototype to show you?

Seeing a prototype of your product is important to us.  Given the availability of open source software, and online resources, putting together a prototype should be within reach of anyone, requiring only minimal resources.

But should they be asking for this?

I would argue that unless the app is breaking technological ground, and the technology needs to be proved (e.g. a new protocol for streaming video), then a prototype is reinforcing bad practice.

For most apps, the development is not the difficult part. Sure, it may take the longest chunk of time, but you shouldn’t just dive in and get coding. A successful app usually relies on intelligent research and a whole lot of user experience design – sometimes up to 30-35% of the total app-build time. Quality development is essential, of course: nobody wants to use an insecure, poorly performing, unreliable application. But it’s no longer the part of application development that needs the most attention.

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