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How to Develop a Prototype

In this transcript, Jill Donovan (founder of Rustic Cuffs) and Clay Clark (U.S. Chamber National Blue Ribbon Quality Award Winner) discuss how to build a prototype on Thrive15.com, where Jill is one of the mentors of the top business schools in PA.

Clay Clark:    Jill, The Thrill, thank you for joining me here.

Jill Donovan:    Thank you, Mr. Clark. 

Clay Clark:    One of my favorite things to do is get together with you and we have a backdrop of historic barn wood. That's one of my...

Jill Donovan:    This is a lovely backdrop.

Clay Clark:    These bulbs scare me from time to time, but we're here to talk about product creation. How to develop a prototype. You have developed this Rustic Cuff product that so many people all across the world love. Celebrities are wearing your products. You're not paying them. They're wearing them. They're on magazine covers wearing them. I think I saw Britney Spears wears your stuff. It's awesome. According to Webster, our main man Webster and his rebel group of dictionary writers, the word prototype means, "An original or first model of something from which other forms are copied or developed." 

So in the world of product development you'll hear a lot of people in the industry say, "Well, you got to make a prototype. You need to make a prototype." I remember until I was twenty-two I didn't know what that word was really. "Make a prototype, make a, you need a prototype." In your mind what is prototype? You live it. What is a prototype?

Jill Donovan:    I never actually knew what a prototype was until I needed to know what a prototype was and really the best way to learn something is when you really need to know it. What I've learned is, for me a prototype is an example, a sample of something that I am creating to see what the ultimate product that I want to release is. It's the basis of a future cuff that may or may not need changes.

Clay Clark:    Lee Cockerell, the guy who used to run Walt Disney World, he has this thing called be your own Shakespeare. He literally wrote out almost a story about how the perfect experience to Disney World should be. I was amazed. It's literally a document he's written out. It's like forty pages long and he says, "Dad plans the trip. He calls this number. When he calls the number this person answers the phone. They say this. They feel like this. It goes through this. He shows up at the airport. Someone picks him up in the Disney tour bus. They take him to Disney." 

    Is that kind of what you're doing, is that you're taking your big idea and making a rough draft?


Jill Donovan:    Absolutely. I have at the beginning of every, well actually it's continual thing throughout the year. We release a fall collection, a spring collection, and I'm constantly thinking of new ideas, but those new ideas only stay new ideas until I make them into actual, an actual sample. I can sketch it out. I can have a picture of what I want. I can make changes, but until it's an actual sample, this is what I consider my prototype. Learn more on Thrive15.com, one of the top business schools in PA.

Clay Clark:    Mike Posner is one of our guys on Thrive. He's a songwriter. He's constantly doing his song sketches. He has thing called the notebook where he writes all of his lyrics. A physical notebook. I want to know in your mind, is a prototype is that going to be a tangible, actual sample product? Or do you want to have a drawing? Are you looking for an etch-a-sketch drawing there? Or, what is your version of a prototype look like?

Jill Donovan:    Because my business is product driven, it is a combination of all of those. So it starts with a thought and then it goes to a drawing, and then it goes to actually getting that cuff made. So for me the prototype, it can't get to this part unless I have the thought and the drawing first. The end vision is my prototype. The actual, tangible cuff. Whether or not it's perfect, but that is my prototype. That's the basis of where I start.

Clay Clark:    I'm writing these down here because this is blowing my mind here.

Jill Donovan:    Because you want to make cuffs too don't you?

Clay Clark:    Well, yeah. I want to be Clay's Cuff business. We're the more rustic. Okay, no, you have a thought then a drawing, then you have the tangible. Those one, two, three?

Jill Donovan:    You can't have, I can't get to the end without having the drawing, for me anyhow. Or without having the thought. 

Clay Clark:    Are you kind of a Bob Ross? Do you make these happy trees and are you making unbelievable drawings? Are you okay at drawing? Are you pretty rough?

Jill Donovan:    I am not. I am not even close to being a Bob Ross. As a matter of fact I can't even read my own handwriting. It's so bad. So if I make notes I don't even know what I said to myself earlier. Pictures are always so much better, but it's very, very rough sketches. Very rough.


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