Every entrepreneur is looking for the secret to success. They read about how others\u00a0managed to achieve great things, pouring over every detail to look for hacks they could incorporate into their own strategy, as well as what\u00a0didn\u2019t\u00a0work so they know what to avoid. While there isn\u2019t\u00a0one\u00a0specific thing that safeguards against any venture\u2019s failure, there are tips and tricks startup founders can use to get themselves on the right path \u2014 and one of the best is mobile app prototyping. We\u2019ve helped quite a few people through this startup thing (and we\u2019ve clearly been through it ourselves). If we\u2019ve learned anything over the years, it\u2019s that mobile apps that have been through the prototyping phase are leaps and bounds ahead of their competition. If your newest startup is creating a mobile app, look no further for your secret weapon. Prototyping Can Help You Get Seed Funding Most people find it uncomfortable to ask others for money \u2014 no matter the reasoning. Whether we need five dollars to cover the tip for lunch or a hundred thousand to fund our new business idea, it\u2019s still awkward to admit you don\u2019t have what you need to cover the tab. But because your business needs the cash, you have to just figure out a way to push through the cringe-inducing feeling and do it anyway. It might go without saying, but having confidence in your startup is crucial to convincing outside investors to fund it. Even if you\u2019re rock solid on your business model if you don\u2019t sound confident in your pitch, how can you expect someone else to invest in you? Luckily, we have something that will keep you standing tall and ready for anything during your meeting: prototyping. Prototyping can showcase the hard work and attention to detail you\u2019ve already invested in your own baby, so they can assume you\u2019ll continue to be as dedicated as you\u2019ve ever been when the funding comes through. Understandably, most people won\u2019t consider investing in a company if the owner hasn\u2019t demonstrated a significant time commitment of his or her own. A mobile app prototype will show investors you\u2019ve thought completely through your business concept \u2014 from the customer\u2019s first touch with your product to the mobile app and all the way to loyal, repeat customer. It doesn\u2019t have to be perfect and you can always make changes later, but having a functional prototype is going to wow those potential investors a lot more than a bunch of sketches in a PowerPoint presentation would. But perhaps most importantly, it will help show them proof of concept, which is obviously a big deal when you\u2019re trying to get them to\u00a0provide seed funding. Anyone would feel more comfortable writing a check for something they can see and touch and manipulate. And speaking of, make sure you bring a tablet (or two) with you to that pitch meeting so the investors can pass it around and play with your prototype with their own fingertips. Prototyping Can Give You A Leg-Up Mobile app prototyping is a frequently missed step in the startup process, but those who invest the time in it are able to take\u00a0their startups to the next level. It\u2019s understandable that entrepreneurs want to get their businesses off the ground and start recouping the money. Who wants to press pause on their mobile app design to make a prototype? Certainly not your competition, who is racing you to the finish line. The truth of the matter is that your competition won\u2019t impress investors the way you will with your prototype. Again, people want to see examples of what they\u2019re investing in before they front the money, so don\u2019t skip this step. This will allow you to feasibly (and more confidently) ask for a higher dollar amount, and because your presentation is so much more compelling than the others they\u2019ve seen, you\u2019ll probably get it. Of course, more funding means more flexibility in your business plan, in addition to the luxury of planning ahead. Next quarter, when your competition is scrambling to fix the bugs they didn\u2019t anticipate in their mobile app, you\u2019ll be soaking up all that user data and planning your first big update with new features. So while they\u2019re looking for cash to fix all their problems, you\u2019ll be using\u00a0your stockpiled cash to focus on the future. You won\u2019t have half the issues they do because you addressed issues in the prototyping phase, which meant you weren\u2019t wasting cash in development. You\u2019ll get to have a more visionary strategy, setting yourself up as the leader in your industry, as opposed to a reactionary strategy where you\u2019re simply treading water. Prototyping Communicates More Effectively Than Sketching We\u2019re willing to bet a lot of successful mobile app designs have started at the same place: a simple sketch, perhaps on a bar napkin or piece of scrap paper. They\u2019re done with whatever writing utensil is nearby and that little sketch gets crumpled into a pocket or a purse before the end of the evening to be elaborated upon at a later time. Sketches are an important step in the design process. They help us communicate ideas with fellow designers, work through design issues we might be stuck on, and allow us to get ideas out of our heads before we forget them. But the communication possibilities of sketching are far more limited than those of\u00a0mobile app prototyping. Sketches are static images. They can\u2019t move, you can\u2019t transform them into something else with a simple touch of the finger, and they\u2019ll never be able to convey motion the way a functional prototype would. Don\u2019t get us wrong \u2014 we love sketches and we always\u00a0draw wireframes\u00a0for our new mobile app designs, but we also make prototypes. Prototyping is just as imperative as sketching because it answers the questions sketches can\u2019t. What shade of green are we talking about for the background? Sure, you can use colored pencils on your sketch, but in the end, your developer is still going to be looking for an exact color code. Are we talking hunter green or forest green? Your prototype will be able to answer those questions without adding a bunch of emails to the process. And because\u00a0prototypes are animated, you can perfectly illustrate your desired transitions, from wipes to fades with no problem at all. Do you want the wipe to go from left to right or right to left? What do these drop down menus look like on your checkout page? The prototype answers all these questions (and more) for you before the developer even asks. Prototyping Fits Into Your Entire Product Life Cycle It\u2019s easy to imagine how prototyping can fit into the beginning of your\u00a0product life cycle. It helps you get your mobile app design into an animated, interactive format that\u2019s easily sharable with friends, family, and potential investors. You\u2019re able to work out the kinks and play with different ideas quickly, all in a way that is very easy to undo if you decide you don\u2019t like it. But what many entrepreneurs don\u2019t realize is that it can be extremely versatile throughout the life of your mobile app. In the growth and maturity phases, you can use prototyping to test out new features and any changes you\u2019re deciding to make based on your user data or\u00a0shifts in design trends. Keeping up-to-date can extend your mobile app\u2019s life for months or even years. Likewise, when you inevitably get to that decline phase, you can use prototyping to either completely revamp and relaunch your mobile app, or you can choose to move on to a new idea. Remember that\u00a0declining\u00a0doesn\u2019t mean\u00a0abandoning. If you still have users, you should still be working to keep the app functional. You can always pop back into your prototype to tweak things. Checking Her Prototype, Probably Likewise, when you inevitably get to that decline phase, you can use prototyping to either completely revamp and relaunch your mobile app, or you can choose to move on to a new idea. Remember that\u00a0declining\u00a0doesn\u2019t mean\u00a0abandoning. If you still have users, you should still be working to keep the app functional. You can always pop back into your prototype to tweak things. Making Entrepreneurs\u2019 Lives Easier Perhaps the best thing about mobile app prototyping is that it makes your life as an entrepreneur easier \u2014 and who isn\u2019t interested in a tool like that? Startup founders have a million little details in their heads at all times. At some point, it starts to feel like you\u2019re juggling a few too many items, so let that prototype take over some of the responsibility for you. When people ask what you\u2019ve been working on lately, you can just whip out your smartphone, open up that prototype, and let it do the talking for you. This post first appeared on Proto.io blog and has been reproduced with permission.