Pretotype it, Alberto Savoia

The pretotyping manifesto

Make sure you're building the right thing before you build it right.

innovators beat ideas
pretotypes win over producotypes
data trumps opinions
now beats later
doing beats talking
simple beats complex
commitment wins over committees

90% of mobile apps generate no revenue, four out of five startups lose investors money, and 80% of new restaurants close before they are one year old. New products that are brought to market fail, but they fail not because they are designed, built or launched wrong, but because people don't want to have them.
"Life is too short to build something no one wants."
Ash Maurya - Author of Running lean
When you want to know if something is going to work or not, you build a prototype. A prototype answers many questions, namely: can we build it, will it work, how big will it be, how much will it cost to produce, how long will it last and how often will it need to be maintained, and how will people use it, and how will people use it?
Alberto Savoia poses pretotyping as a much faster and cheaper technique that tries to answer just one question: are we building the right thing? A pretotype takes us out of the speculative world in which we end up believing our own hypotheses, it lets us see if what we are going to create is something that people want or not, and it does it faster and cheaper than prototyping.
Overall I liked the bookAlberto Savoia makes it clear that it is a short book to test if people want to "have the real thing", Pretotype it is, in short, a pretotype.
This short essay has an essential contribution to the lean startup culture as the method that the author proposes for pretotyping, which I list below:
- The mechanical ottoman, consisting of replacing expensive and complicated computers or machines with people.
- Pinocchio, consisting of building a version of the product with no functionality other than its appearance.
- The minimum viable product, consisting of creating a version with minimum functionality of the product.
- The provincial one, consisting of a local test before launching the product.
- The false door, which consists of advertising a product that you do not really have.
- The intended, which consists of renting something before investing money in it.
- Relabeling, consisting of putting a different label on a product that looks like the one you really want to create.

He recommended this book Thibaut Deleval in a comment to a previous post and now I recommend it to you, and I take this opportunity to thank Thibaut.


13 responses to "Pretotype it, Alberto Savoia”

  1. Javier, thank you very much for your contribution to Pretotipar.
    I am bringing Pretotipar to Spain with Alberto Savoia himself.
    I've created a website dedicated to Europe at and I'm looking for entrepreneurs and companies that recognize themselves as having made pretotypes (although without knowing that they are called like that!) to do some interviews. We already have several interviews done in the startuppers community in Italy and you can see them on the website.
    A month ago I presented Pretotipar at the Madrid LeanCamp and there is also a video of it on the web.
    With Alberto we try to spread Pretotipar to Europe in every possible way, including seminars and workshops, so that this practice becomes part of the tools of every innovator, be it a large company or a startup.
    By the way, the book was translated into Spanish by Julián Dominguez Laperal a year ago, and you can also find it on the web.
    A hug
    Leonardo Zangrando - European Pretotyping Agitator

  2. Thibaut Deleval Avatar
    Thibaut Deleval

    Well, I am delighted that you liked it. A hug

  3. Thank you very much for the information Leonardo. I would love to see you and chat a bit about it, I think the concept of pretotyping is key for the lean startup community.

  4. Seriously, I have the feeling of being in the Marx Brothers' cabin....

    And what is left for us to invent? How to teach people who want to become entrepreneurs, how to teach entrepreneurship to those who want to be taught to become entrepreneurs, how to become entrepreneurs of entrepreneurship?

    Personally, I think it's getting out of hand....

    And above all, if it is being planned, as most things are, in order to bleed the entrepreneur or to "provide know-how in exchange for shares"?

    Cut the crap and get started now!

    Yep, I'm a warrior today! but whenever you want, we'll talk about it calmly! ;D

    1. Hobre Gelito, that's the idea; don't think too much about things and do them first

      1. To do things right, fast and "sooner", the solution is to "start doing it."

        The excess of "pre-made" methodologies only serves to "not start" and not take the first step, and this is as bad as taking twenty steps before launching...

        Personally, I think that this type of methodologies are already close to the concept of "taking the quarters from those who want to be entrepreneurs, and before being one"...

        1. If you see it as a methodology, yes, you are right. If you see it as a philosophy, what you get by testing fast is to spend less if you are wrong, something that, as you know, happens in most cases.

      2. Hi Javier Cuervo, I think that talking about not turning things around and starting now is very contradictory to the business world. There were cases in certain times (generations), where many cases occurred through cause and effect or other market factors such as demand and supply.

        Today there are many factors that must be taken into account before undertaking a project from an NGO to a for-profit business, this book for me is great but should be better developed and that is why the author himself says that it is a Pretotype (the text), then, you should think about an idea, before launching it?
        I think the best way to start is to think about the idea, but in the right way (not emotional and irrational), so as not to end up disappointed in ourselves or losing a lot of money. Regards

        1. Alejandro, your reflection on the balance between action and deliberation in business is very pertinent. You are right to point out that, in the business world, it is not always appropriate to "dive in head first" without prior analysis. Pretotyping, as a method, does not advocate hasty action, but rather early and efficient validation of an idea. This approach seeks to reduce the risk of investing in projects that might not succeed in the market. Therefore, "spinning" an idea is crucial, but it must be done in a structured and data-driven manner, not in an emotional or irrational way. Pretotyping allows just that: evaluating an idea quickly to make more informed decisions with less risk. It is a balance between careful reflection and timely action.

    2. I think that the more contributions to the entrepreneurship sector is better, especially when generating texts with analysis of empirical cases. From there comes the relative of the business world and all the factors that exist at the time of entrepreneurship, which define success or failure and I believe that sometimes one of the most important is the factor of money or risk capital and time, which is what most tries to avoid this text of Pretotype it, gives us examples of large companies like IBM that skimped an investment in a product to generate a process of pre-development of the prototype and focus their capital on other more important factors.

      Life is complex and hard, there are people with financial problems with good ideas but without a previous knowledge of how to start or how to land their business idea in such a way that they get to consume it in the market. People having many fears (negative opinions, lack of knowledge, etc) let lose that great idea or I reiterate develop a waste of time and money.

      1. Alejandro, thank you very much for your comment. It is true that entrepreneurship is nurtured by diverse inputs, and the analysis of empirical cases plays a crucial role in this learning. Regarding your observation on the importance of venture capital and time, these are undoubtedly critical factors in the success or failure of a venture. The pretotyping method, as discussed in my post on "Pretotype IT", seeks precisely to minimize these risks. By creating simplified versions of the product to validate market demand before investing significantly, entrepreneurs can save valuable resources. This is especially vital for those with financial constraints or no prior experience. Pretotyping allows entrepreneurs to test their ideas and refine them based on real data, thus reducing the risk of wasting time and money on ideas that will not make it to market.

  5. Marco Domínguez Goytia Avatar
    Marco Domínguez Goytia

    Excellent contribution, I will look for the Spanish version to read it, I hope it helps me to give better shape to my plans, greetings and success to all!

    1. Mauricio J Palazuelos Avatar
      Mauricio J Palazuelos

      Did you find it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *