Howard A. Tullman wrote a piece for Inc that I thought was very interesting called ‘Why “Simple” is Getting Harder.’ The premise of the article is that it has become so easy to create a front end for an application or website and fake up some data for the backend. That has resulted in angels and investors being flooded with entrepreneurs with beautiful prototypes, but very shallow value propositions. This flood of entrepreneurs then buries investors and obscures the entrepreneurs that might have more deep business propositions, but equally beautiful or sometimes less beautiful front ends.
The increase in attractive looking prototypes does create more work for investors when it comes to uncovering the gold. Any good investor though does some real digging before buying into an idea. An entrepreneur that has a good idea and a truly functioning product with actual clients will beat out those more shallow products almost every time.
This leaves entrepreneurs with two important points to remember. If you want to stand out, you need a real product with real users. Put that theory behind your business idea into practice and prove out your idea and business model somewhat. To even get a meeting though, you better not ignore the design. If you don’t have the design, investors might believe that you aren’t invested enough in your idea to make things look good. If you can get them to listen, you might get in with a poor design, but why miss an opportunity by turning them off at their first look at the product. At least create a decent front end for your product. If you believe in your product, you’ll have to build that front end eventually anyway. The key is you want to deliver a great product to investors that outshines the rest. These days that means a real product with a real business model.