Business Overview

Corporations and individuals are constantly coming up with new ideas for products, and they frequently need help bringing their concepts into reality. Prototype design businesses specialize in creating first-drafts of products that corporations and inventors think up.

Prototype design is highly specialized work, but the demand for this work is growing. As online resources and technological advancements make it easier and more affordable to build prototypes, an increasing number of corporations and individuals want to make their concepts a physical reality.

Who is this business right for?

Anyone who is highly detail oriented yet also very creative may enjoy running a prototype design business. Creating prototypes requires great attention to detail, but an ability to think outside the box is equally important to making products that have never been built before.

What happens during a typical day at a prototype design business?

Prototype design businesses don’t necessarily have a “typical day” because each new prototype presents its own challenges. On any given day, business owners might find themselves:

  • Helping clients refine their conceptual ideas
  • Reading (and sometimes refining) product drawings
  • Working with any number of materials to build products
  • Problem-solving with others who have specialized knowledge
  • Helping clients alter and adjust their prototypes

For many business owners, the variety that each new prototype brings is a major reason to start this type of business.

What is the target market?

Most prototype design businesses focus on serving one of two distinct target markets.

Some businesses primarily work with corporations that want prototypes developed. These prototype businesses are often creating products from formal mechanical or engineering drawings, and they’re interacting with professionals who are familiar with the design and manufacturing process.

Other businesses serve individuals, who are often small business owners and/or inventors. These prototype businesses frequently create products from napkin sketches, and they often offer clients more assistance with the design and manufacturing process.

How does a prototype design business make money?

A prototype design business makes money by offering prototype services. Although the work ends in a physical product for the client, clients usually pay for the service because building a prototype frequently involves several steps. Charging for the service lets businesses adjust their fees based on the time required and work involved.

What is the growth potential for a prototype design business?

Most prototype businesses have a single facility where they build prototypes, but the internet makes it easy to serve clients from all over the world if a business wants to do so. An example of a business that primarily services a local area is Armstrong Rapid Manufacturing in Syracuse, NY. Kickr Design and Mako Design + Invent are two other businesses don’t focus on servicing a particular area.