The CEO Dilemma: How Rapid Prototyping Can Save Your Startup

The CEO Dilemma: How Rapid Prototyping Can Save Your Startup

Yesterday, I spoke with Boaz, the CEO of an innovative biotech company. He shared their journey of launching with an investment and developing an amazing product within just a year. A few months ago, they went to market, but the experience has been tough - "nobody wants to buy," he said, and he doesn’t know why.

I understood him. I've seen this situation many times. What does a startup CEO dream of?

That the idea they started with will come to life and end customers will fall in love with the product immediately upon launch.

Many startup CEOs I meet succeed in raising funds from investors who believe in them and their vision. Then the race to get the first customer begins.

The Market Doesn't Understand the Value

I encounter sophisticated SaaS systems with brilliant ideas that save customers costs, logistics systems, or medical products with complex user interfaces. In reality, the startup CEO quickly discovers they've entered a jungle where all the parts move simultaneously on multiple planes. The market doesn’t always understand the value of the product, and the CEO feels caught between a rock and a hard place. Raising more investment without results puts them in a bad position with investors.

This isn’t an uncommon struggle; almost every startup experiences this.

I Call It "Three Steps to Certain Death," or Why the First 9 Months of Development Can Burn Out Your Startup. 

Most startups operate like this:

Development > Creating a Product > Meeting the Customer - immediately after raising funds, they allocate all resources to development, which is invested over 9 months. Towards the end of the process, they realize it's not market-ready and try to beautify the product interface. After about a year of resource-intensive development, they go to customers and discover they've developed a product the customer doesn’t want.

Investors Are Displeased

At this stage, you no longer have the budget to make changes, and the investor sees the massive resource waste unfavorably. Many startup CEOs then think, "If only I could have reached the customer earlier, if only I could have gotten these insights sooner, everything would have looked different!"

So How Can We Do Things Differently?

On one hand, by the time you meet the customer, you've invested almost all your budget in the idea you sold to the investor. On the other hand, the market shows no interest in the idea - if you pivot, you'll be seen as someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing; if you stay the course, your success likely won't change.

10 Screens Can Save You 50% of Development and Bring You a Product the Customer Loves

The solution I proposed to Boaz is to fundamentally change the development approach. We'll create a different mindset that focuses on direct contact with customers already in the early development stages, right at the idea phase. As a product design expert with 15 years of hands-on experience, we manage to save companies up to 50% of development time by bringing an approach that allows for early customer contact, generating insights within 90 days that can be implemented in development and sales systems.

So How Does It Work?

In the new approach, we'll focus on prototypes and quick iterations - a solution that looks to the customer just like the real product but can be created within 90 days and shown to the customer.

This gives us three things:

1. In Development- We understand from the customer whether the product is concretely interesting or not.
2. In Marketing - We create a virtual product that can already be sold within just three months.
3. In Appearance - The product looks its best without development limitations. This stage usually doesn’t reach maturity in the first year of the product in the traditional way and reduces the customer’s desire to commit to the product - who wants to drive a car that looks like it’s held together with tape?

Reaching a Working Product in 3 Steps by Focusing on a Prototype Built from Screens Only  

1. Research and Clarifying Customer Value - We’ll create a business map and focus on customer value, growth, and the economic model. We’ll identify the customer’s pain points and needs, and generate hypotheses for services that provide solutions. Concurrently, we’ll conduct guerrilla market research and map the competition to ensure the product's uniqueness. This stage prepares what we sell to customers and why they should buy it.

2. Building a Prototype - After the preparation, we’ll build screens that will serve as the number one sales tool. The screens can be connected to a working prototype within a few days - and from here we can already create contact with customers and focus on their desires and market fit.

3. Quick Sprints and Execution - Using this advanced sales tool, we’ll try to upgrade the product and communicate more efficiently with customers before the scheduled time. This will allow us to save up to 75% of resources and develop a product that the customer will want and love.


After 15 years of working with startups that have raised tens of millions of dollars, like NYM and SonieVie, I’ve realized there is no better way than this, which allows you to start selling within 90 days and gain insights. This method allows you to manage your budget correctly to implement the necessary changes to adapt the product to the market - by abandoning the "I know what the customer wants" approach and replacing it with "I’ll learn what the customer wants and quickly!" We’ll create a process that emphasizes rapid improvement and efficient development that leads to precise and personalized solutions for customers in the medical field. This way, we can improve the understanding of product value and achieve time and resource-efficient improvements.