Ideas to reality: 5 free tools to build your own prototype (and potential startup)

Ideas to Reality is an article series where I take look at easy tools to help entrepreneurs get their projects up-and-running.

We all have these ideas that we think could change our world but never do. Ideas that lie dormant and ultimately die. It’s sad, isn’t it? So why not change that and turn them into something tangible, a prototype and see if it’s worth anything.

The excuses used for closet entrepreneurs not unleashing their ultimate remedy of all remedies are either “I have no time”, “I have no money,” “I have no skills,”. That’s partly true, but only partly.

Without the need of finances, a background in coding and design, or heaps and heaps of spare time, there are tools available which enable you to build a app mockup in a matter of hours — a tangible concept you can pitch, validate and boast about. After all, visually demonstrating a product is much better than talking about it.

Let’s take a look at some of these easy-to-use tools that could help you breed a whole litter of savvy product prototypes by the morrow.


No, not the comic publishing house. Marvel supports any device that carries a browser. What makes it unique is the fact that it links with Dropbox so that you can easily update images of any file type. See the demo:


FieldTest is simple and easy to use. It’s been around for a few years and, like the others, allows you to add images to the desktop programme, simulate, and share for feedback. Take a look:


This one’s made specifically with iOS 6 and older in mind. It’s also been around for quite some time with a simple A to B approach to creating your own app mockups. Add images, add touch points, and press play.

Pop (Prototyping on Paper)


Here’s a fun one. The tool literally enables you to get your product concept from paper to device. By making rough sketches of your app’s interface and general design on paper, you take a photo with your phone which you can then make interactive. It’s smart and simple.

The one thing that makes really stand out is its emphasis on collaboration. You can create unlimited projects and invite as many collaborators as you like. These collaborators can then give you feedback in realtime based. Pretty cool, right?

There is no marketplace for ideas, so use these tools to test out your products. Post them online and share with friends or at hackathons, maybe they’ll be the first step towards a business.

There are many other software tools out there but most of them charge you a monthly subscription fee. If you’re down to spend some money, see MockingBot, Balsamiq, FluidUI and

Which is your favorite? Tell us in the comments.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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