Introducing African-American Entrepreneurs to the Art of Prototyping

One of the things I’m noticing with African-Americans inspiring to be an entrepreneur is the lack of prototyping skills. We have not been taught these kinds of skills necessary to start our business operation and bring a product to market. This article will discuss low-cost and effective prototyping techniques that can be used immediately to start turning dreams into a hustle. Why Prototyping Is So Important The goal of prototyping is to quickly transform your thoughts into something real that you can see and feel in the physical world. The same way a songwriter or a music producer would have a jingle or rhythm in their head and instantly record it and even beatbox the beat they thinking about to review later, which is the same practice all entrepreneurs should take. I had a lot of cats come to my blog and even some hustle bloggers try to dismiss prototyping altogether and their ignorance is glowing. In fact, that is the number one separation between me and Black Enterprise and these other hustle bloggers is that I actually know how to prototype what I talk about while all these other cats know how to do is just talk. This is also why you need to learn prototyping so you can separate from the rest of these cats out here who is just talking and moving their mouth instead of doing something real towards their goals. I remember when I talked about the IPTV some years back and one cat talking about he was on it. That cat didn’t follow up with me and then tell me he already hired some cats out in India and then when he showed me the web site, it was something cobbled together that he thought he was going to take somewhere. Look, before you bring anybody to your hustle, please have a prototype already built. Don’t believe in the 21st century that “elevator pitch” crap because all you doing is just talking. You need to do more than run your mouth and need to show cats your proof of concept. But most important, you need to show yourself the proof of concept so you can be confident that what you are talking about can be made real. I should not have to explain that all professional engineers and large manufacturing companies that spend years building prototyping. Since the beginning of 2012, me and the Dirty Rotten Dissidents have been spending hours and late night writing technical documents and building prototypes. The wiki section was prototyped over and over again in the past few weeks so we can make sure it works. We have been using the Events phone number and if you ever dialed in, you probably would have heard real cats worldwide putting in real work on getting stuff done. Professionals and engineers create prototypes and proof of concepts of their product so they can have confidence and see a real visual representation of what they have inside of their mind. Now let’s talk about the ways to prototype your hustle and the three techniques I’m going to discuss is papercrafting, 3D modeling and UI shell development. Papercrafting If you played with paper dolls or scrapbook making, then you already know how to do paper crafting. Origami is probably the original source for papercrafting and that is where the skill went beyond paper cranes to other 3D objects. When I was a child, I wanted a train set but my family could not afford one. My older brother showed me how to draw tracks and roads on a blank sheet of paper and glue buildings and trees to create a 3D layout and create paper cars and paper trains. This was when we were living in the projects and yeah, that’s how we improvised in the hood when we didn’t have money – now go ahead and make fun of that if you one of those cats that want to make fun of the so-called ghetto culture I come from. If you or your child wants to be a fashion designer or if you have a child that like building models, one of the best resources is your printer paper to create prototype of the product you have in mind. There are plenty of papercraft web sites and videos you can watch on how to create them. Keep in mind, you can even apply your own colors and design and that is why papercrafting is a powerful prototyping tool. If you want to design shoes, you can create the design with papercraft and the same with designing t-shirts with the logo on front, design custom handbags because you can run the colors through a inkjet color printer. But here is the real good part – you probably can use papercraft version of your product to start selling pre-orders if you are creating custom made products with little upfront investment to start your hustle. Because papercrafting is an international thing I would suggest doing an internet search on both papercraft and paperkraft to find resources and techniques. I believe you probably can go to Michaels or Hobby Lobby or JoAnn Fabrics to find the necessary paper and other tools to create your papercraft prototype. 3D Modeling This is probably more skilled involved but the sad part is this is easily a $200K to $300K a year career for a cat if they learn the free and open source modeling tools. This is my side rant but this is the type of stuff that make me shake my head because it is so much free software out there to hustle hard and stack real paper. Cats want to act like fools when you tell them to learn and master something like this open source software but at the same time will stand in a job fair line with 15,000 other Black folks with a paper resume in their hand waiting 3 hours just to hear there are no current positions available and get a postcard in the mail weeks later saying the employer got their resume on file. The biggest tool out there for 3D modeling is Blender.org and here is an India firm that is using this free tool and look at what they doing for clients:

SANDSHORE - 3D from Realworks Studios India Pvt. Ltd on Vimeo.

3D Visualization done using only Open source tools by our studio for one of our associate.
Modeling, Shading, Lighting, Rigging, Animation, Editing all in Blender.
Gimp used for Texturing. Renderer is Blender Internal

All of those tools they name drop are free open source tools cats can download and learn on their own time. This type of prototyping is very important for us as African-Americans because it allows me to create visuals of our hoods and the type of businesses and communities we can have. When we can create these types of 3D videos showing a revitalized hood, then other people can visualize and see the same vision we are going after and understand what I’m talking about. If you are selling everything from art to household items, this is a way to get others to see your products placed in a realistic looking setting. Now, there are other ways besides blenders and that is using these cheap 3D home design software they sell at Office Depot and Best Buy. Some of them allow you to import 3D objects you build yourself or get from the web. I know a lot of you cats are looking at this 3D modeling and saying this look difficult but guess what – that’s why the cats who learn how to do it makes $300K a year and working off their laptop in their Latin American vacation home looking at the deep blue ocean while their kids make sand castles and your behind still up there in Ohio or Pennsylvania all busted and ish talking about this look hard – that’s how cats get rich because they do what other cats don’t want to do. I already have experience in CAD and been dealing with Blender so expect to see more of this kind of content coming to Dream and Hustle as we working to visualize how we intend to revitalize the hood and hope you cats take this tool seriously to create prototypes to help you sell. UI Modeling If you are looking at create kiosk solutions, mobile apps and desktop software I never so much tutorials on YouTube that break down step by step on how to do it. But the thing you want to do first is create a simple UI prototype where we can click on buttons and see what happens when we click on those buttons. By the way, don’t be too nosey with the photo above – that’s the proposed employee console for the upcoming point of sale solution for the hood. Yes, that’s a ticker tape scrolling at the top and is the interface for employees to sign in, check their schedule, read messages, sign out on break, see their store credits and badges earned and request vacations and other stuff from a 42” flat panel LCD in the employee break area. That photo above is a snapshot of our prototype that I quickly made and demonstrated to the rest of the 30 Rotten Dissidents and that’s how you get cats worldwide on the same page. The best tool me and others will recommend is either HTML or Microsoft Express tools like Visual C# 2010 Express. You can built out nice looking kiosk screens where you drag and drop buttons and click on those buttons and a new screen appear. When you can prototype the type of kiosk or desktop or even mobile application this way, this is what you actually present to those cats over in India when you are outsourcing your project. Let them see your prototype and they can turn around your product a lot faster because they have a point of reference to see exactly what you want. Summary I hope I showed you cats how to start prototyping your hustle out so you can get the working concept out in the physical world. The problem in the Black community is we talk too much about starting a business but we don’t know how to create proof of concepts through prototyping. They do not teach us this prototyping skill in public school because they don’t want us inventing anything, they just want us to get a good job and work for somebody. Focus on learning how to prototype to get your ideas out of your mind and something you can see and visualize and be able to show to others. Do not and please do not act like prototyping is beneath you – every billionaire on this planet is demonstrated prototypes all of the time and we got African-Americans acting like this is just silly play. How many times do you think Donald Trump look at small scaled prototypes of a new building? How many times do you think Bill Gates saw UI demonstrations with no code behind the scenes? Stop talking about the hustle and learn how to quickly make prototypes. It is the first step to making your dream come true and this is where I believe the majority of Black entrepreneurs get stuck at when it comes to doing for self. Check out the YouTube videos, do some research on the search engines and watch this blog because I will definitely be showing you cats our prototyping efforts on our ongoing projects.

3 thoughts on “Introducing African-American Entrepreneurs to the Art of Prototyping

  1. This takes me back Ed. Blender and Gimp were among the tools we introduced boys to back in the comics creation and digital media technology club days – we would hand out the dyne:bolic disk and put all the kids on the same level playing field with regards to the tools at their disposal to do their work. http://www.dynebolic.org/

  2. Good article and important concept. Too often people talk about what they want to do instead of just doing it. Prototyping is a good start to actually moving forward. Whether you call it prototyping, algorithms, UI designs, wireframing, or whatever it’s important to have a mock of what you plan to do so you can see the good and bad then execute the plan.

  3. I love this article, I was a model car builder as a kid and although my sister’s doll house was occupied I thought of the possibilities all the time. Sweet Home 3d is a Java based free home design product that centers on interiors but has some exterior capabilities. I find the only thing lacking is the 3d black people you could fit into scenes. Most are Caucasian, if you don’t mind. Free pre-posed figures of African people are scarce but you can buy them to put into your scenes. 2d drawings are wonderful but can’t touch a good 3d model.

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