How we landed multi-million pound investments with no code
For many tech startups, outside investment is needed to take them to the next level.
Getting seed funding through to Series C investment is all doable, but you’ve got to be able to prove that you’re worth it.
The question many young companies will be asking is how you wow the investors, without spending large amounts of money upfront.
Developing a fully-fledged app is expensive. In some cases, far more than most startups can afford.
Plus, if you end up creating an MVP with all the bells and whistles and the money still doesn’t come in, it could prove costly.
So, how do you do it?
We helped raise multi-million pound investments for several of our clients before a line of code was written. We did it by creating prototypes without code.
In this post we look at why this worked but first here’s some of the problems we’re trying to solve.
Common mistakes startups make when looking for investment
There are several well documented blunders startups can make in their search for investment.
These range from selecting the wrong investors to overvaluing (or undervaluing) the company. For those companies creating a digital product or app there are 2 mistakes we want to focus on.
The first can be asking for money too early.
Whenever you’re presenting to investors, whatever round of funding you’re in, you need something fairly substantial to show them. For an app it may not be enough to simply describe it with accompanying pictures.
Few investors will take a punt on a startup that’s only just got out the starting blocks. It might be worth being a bit of the way down the line before giving them a call.
The second mistake is prioritising product over customer. The thing that makes most tech startups disruptive in the first place, is their focus on improving the customer experience in banking, food or retail for example.
Investors want to see more than just an attractive, well-functioning app. They want to know whether it solves a problem for customers. Being able to show that your app actually has the potential to do this is important if you want to win that investment.
‘But hang on a minute,’ we hear you cry. ‘It sounds like what we need is the very app we’re looking to build, once we’ve got the investment!’
And yes, you’re right, that would seem to be the case. However, there is a solution.
Hopefully the investor has this facial expression when they see your product.
How prototypes help you raise investment
It’s clear that building a prototype is the answer.
A high-fidelity prototype; almost like a fake version of the app, is bound to knock their socks off, more than simple, static mockups.
This approach works whether you’re looking for investment or even if you’re working in a corporate structure where a bit of hoop-jumping is needed before big money is committed to a project.
Here’s how no-code prototypes can help to convince investors and assist in creating a better product.
1. Seeing is believing
Usually, when you’re presenting an idea to the people with money, you’ll have a pitch deck with all the key points, research and features laid out.
If it’s an app or digital product you’re building, clear and thorough visuals are essential.
GIFS or videos showing the product in action are all great to have but you can’t deny the power of having the thing itself in front of you.
Investors are more likely to put their money into something they have seen in action. They can see that it works, has a nice flow and exceeds their expectations.
We want them to see what we call the ‘golden path’. This is the main flow that an average user would take if they used the core features of the app with everything running smoothly.
We don’t need to show a myriad of different settings and features, just that the app does the main thing well.
It’s also a good way of making sure you’re on the same wavelength from the beginning. Pictures might communicate a slightly different story to what they get when they use the app. After all, you don’t ‘read’ an app, you use it.
2. Make big changes early on
Creating a prototype is also invaluable for the success of the app. The cost of to change features well increases exponentially as you progress through the development process.
You obviously want to iron out as many creases as early as possible before the cost of changing them skyrockets.
Sifting through throwaway ideas is often the only way of getting to the good stuff. But it can be hard to know which ideas are good and which are not worth exploring further, unless you have the product in front of you.
Not only that but you’ve also got a limited budget to make these changes. With a no-code prototype you can chop and change (almost) to your heart's content, to get to a place where the number of future changes will be significantly reduced.
The cost to change your mind, in time and money, will never be this low again.
3. Find out what the people want
As we mentioned above it’s essential that startups are clear on what their customer is after and whether their product solves their pain points.
If you have a prototype, you can undertake some market research and user testing before heading to investors.
Of course, some design will be based on pre-existing notions of what is effective, but this won’t always be what’s best for your target audience. Getting first-hand user feedback will allow you to hone your product even further.
This means that not only will you have a stronger presentation with good data to show investors, but you’ve actually got a more rounded product from the word go.
How to create a prototype that makes them go 🤩
Obviously, creating an effective and believable prototype is still no walk in the park.
But if you’ve already got a team on board to help you build the app, then you’re on to a winner.
As a UX design agency, we’ve created prototypes for a number of our clients, and it’s helped them land investment 100% of the time.
So, how do we do it?
Figma – For getting your idea across, fast
There are of course other programs out there, such as Sketch and Adobe XD, but we’re big fans of Figma as a workspace to quickly create lower fidelity prototypes that people can interact with.
Not only can this be used to show off ideas with smooth transitions and interactive interfaces, but it also leads in naturally to the full development process.
Rather than building, reviewing, making changes and moving things around different programs, all of this can be done in Figma.
If you’re handing over the designs to a development team, all of the flows, UI and specs are there for them ready to work with.
Principle – For turning heads with lifelike apps
Another favourite tool of ours, Principle allows us to build something quickly, without code that can be loaded onto your phone and show off the golden path we mentioned above.
It’s essentially like presenting a working app to an investor without having to spend money on getting it properly developed.
Integrating with tools like Figma, you can quickly identify, make, and import changes and bring your ideas to life.
These ‘fake apps’ are incredibly convincing and make for a winning pitch every time (assuming the product’s good in the first place, of course!)
You don’t need to have the finished product to get investment
It’s all well and good having a great idea, but when money’s on the table, investors want to know that you can execute that idea and bring it to life.
Getting a decent prototype is the answer if you want to get the money you need to bring your product to market.
No code, no problem.
If you’re in this position, then we can help!
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