UX Methods and Prototyping Tools to Communicate Your Startup Vision

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By Alexa Andrzejewski (Founder & CEO, Foodspotting) When people ask me for advice on how to take an idea and make it real, my number one tip is to share your idea with anyone who will listen. This was also lesson one in the Women 2.0 workshop I took when I was first considering turning Foodspotting into a startup: The value of sharing your idea far outweighs the risk that someone is just sitting around with nothing better to do than steal it!

In fact, in building Foodspotting, I've realized that taking an idea and making it concrete is the most important thing you can do as a startup founder. Can you picture that?

Whether through an elevator pitch, a sketch or a prototype, the more effectively you can communicate an idea, the more quickly you'll be able to validate it, refine it, make connections, build a team, raise money, secure partnerships and just about everything else. I put together the following toolkit for taking an idea and making it easy for other people to grasp.

How to Communicate Your Startup Vision -- The Foodspotting Toolkit

One of the first activities is coming up with an elevator pitch for your idea — a casual, one-sentence description of what makes your idea different. For Foodspotting, my original elevator pitch was "It's a food app that lets you find dishes, not just restaurants," and while that didn't encompass everything I wanted Foodspotting to do, people almost always said, "Ah ha!" and got it.

Other activities are focused on communicating your idea visually, and this is where prototyping tools become useful. In the slides below, you'll find recipes for how to conduct contextual interviews (slide 21), do metaphor brainstorming (slide 23), assemble an experience poster (slide 27), and more. (Adaptive Path Founding CEO Janice Fraser especially champions the experience poster tool.)

I gleaned these exercises and UX methods from what I learned as a user experience consultant at Adaptive Path, and I adapted them to my startup, and hope they'll be helpful to all of you!

Editor's note: Foodspotting's founders were recently named in Inc. Magazine's Top 30 Under 30. Also, Alexa was covered in a Wall Street Journal article as a woman leader in a tech startup, and was listed in Gourmet magazine's top game-changing women in food. Still, Alexa's PR dream is to be in the Travel section of the New York Times, instead of the technology or startup section. Or, she dreams that Foodspotting is featured in a magazine for travelers, as Foodspotting's goal is to help open new worlds to people by encouraging them to travel and try new delicious things. Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Alexa Andrzejewski is the Founder and CEO of Foodspotting, a visual guide to good food and where to find it. Prior to Foodspotting, she worked as an interaction designer for Adaptive Path. Before Adaptive Path, Alexa worked at the user-insight consultancy Lextant. Alexa holds a B.S. in Visual Communication from The Ohio State University, where her information graphics work won awards from the Columbus Society of Communicating Arts. Follow her on Twitter at @ladylexy and her startup at @foodspotting.