Interactive prototype to raise funding for a wealth management social networking app.
- UX/UI Design and Development
- ClickModel Prototype, App Map, UX/UI Wireframes, Style Guide
- 1-10 employees
- New York, USA
“We were either looking at doing a functional demo/prototype that just had a few features that we could use to build our application … or we could do a no-code version of the application, which would be quicker and more comprehensive. We ended up deciding to go with the no-code version because we liked [that] the Praxent team had experience building other financial and fintech products. We knew that they had a good understanding of the space and what an app like ours would look like.”
“I would say the whole process—the initial sessions where we decided which user flows or features we wanted to highlight and then really digging deep into every single step of those flows—was super helpful for us. … It’s helpful to get an outside perspective and then also to get some insight from people who are used to designing apps [and know] how to better translate our idea into something that people will actually use.”
Brittany Wright—Co-founder, Endex
A fintech startup sees an immediate return on investment in a clickable prototype that enables cofounders to visualize a more user-focused design for their application, raise funding, and move seamlessly into development—much faster than anticipated.
“… Being able to go through the brainstorming and the user flows, and also that it was a much quicker process. Instead of having to wait two months to get a functional demo that we would still need to hire developers to finish, we could get a no-code version done in four weeks. And then we could use that for marketing and fundraising materials. Once we had decided to go with Praxent [to create] that demo, we then used that promise of a demo and its use cases in our efforts to raise friends and family funding. That promise and the conversations we had with Praxent prior to finalizing our contract were important because we knew that within four weeks of raising funding, we would already have successfully executed on an important milestone, and our investors would be able to see that.”
Brittany Wright—Co-founder, Endex
Founded in early 2021 by Brittany Wright and Kevin Loo, Endex is a social investment platform that gives users access to thousands of high-performing, peer-managed, themed portfolios they can copy for free. Users can also connect with and build a community of like-minded retail investors, enabling them to invest alongside their friends, family, coworkers, and others with help from some of the top influencers in the investment community.
After focusing the first five months on developing their idea, envisioning their product, raising awareness, and partnering with accelerators, the cofounders reached a decision point: Should they raise money, start marketing, or start developing?
They knew they eventually wanted to seek friends and family and venture capital (VC) funding, and in order to do that, they would need to help potential investors visualize their app. Previously, they had used iPhone mockups—they made two screenshots of the main screens for the app using PowerPoint, but they needed something that could help them better convey their vision so people could get an idea of what using the app would actually be like. Creating a prototype, they realized, would help them move forward with fundraising, marketing, and development simultaneously.
An advisor introduced them to Praxent, and they were immediately impressed by the design team’s deep understanding of their application and their goals. They decided to move forward with designing and developing a clickable prototype, which along with an app map, wireframes, and style guide, they were able to complete in just four weeks, enabling them to hit an important milestone, secure additional funding, and move into development much faster than they had originally anticipated. Development has been seamless thanks to the frontend design work, and they are on track to launch in early 2022.
Early-stage ventures, especially when they are only made up of co-founders or a founding team, often become echo chambers of ideas. In many ways, the Endex co-founders didn’t know what they didn’t know—they needed an outside perspective. Then there’s the chicken-versus-egg struggle: You need investors in order to raise money to develop your product but in order to attract the investors, you need a way to take them beyond the idea to an actual product, which you don’t yet have. The co-founders needed a way to get to the next stage—they had an idea but no funding, demo, functional app, or developers.
Not being technical co-founders, they couldn’t develop the app themselves. They considered offshoring the development of a functional demo or prototype with actual features they could use to build their application, but that would take the time they didn’t have. They needed a prototype that would help them demonstrate their app visually as well as interactively—not just paving the way for more funding but also enabling their marketing efforts and setting up a more seamless development process.
“With the prototype, explaining our app concept to people is so much easier. It’s also boosted both how informative and professional our website looks as well. It’s been a great help…You can always have a nice one-liner that explains what the app is, but I definitely think the pictures and screenshots send it over the edge. And even if you’re not close to having the application done, I feel like having the screenshots help you build excitement. So it’s both a boost for you as a founder and it looks better from a funding standpoint as investors can see your vision. Those are the main reasons I think why we chose to go with the demo as the next step in our process to getting where we are now.”
Brittany Wright—Co-founder, Endex
How We Helped
Praxent’s expert design team worked closely with the founding team, diving deep into their goals for the app and helping them to apply design thinking from the earliest stage. This led to conversations around the brand, including design and colors, but also the user, which led to new feature ideas that informed the creation of the prototype.
From a project management standpoint, the founders appreciated the streamlined process and that they only were required to attend 1-2 hours per week of meetings, freeing them to focus on other important aspects of growing their venture while the Praxent design team took care of everything else.
Praxent’s approach included:
Design Thinking Workshop as an initial kick-off facilitated session that enabled the designers to:
- Gather and align stakeholder opinions and ideas
- Align around common goals, target audience, outputs, expectations, and product requirements
- Capture information that guided the creation of the design prototype
App Map that defined the UX architecture and flow of the app for primary users, including novice and expert investors
Key Wireframes that illustrated three to five key features/user tasks using easily adjustable low-fidelity designs
High-Fidelity Clickable Prototype to allow the client, investors, and developers to experience the key workflows as they would look on the finished app.
Design Style Guides to accelerate frontend development in parallel with testing.
“It’s nice to hear the perspectives and questions that people who have not been focusing daily on your idea for the last six months have and to be able to ask ‘What things have we been thinking that don’t necessarily make sense?’ or ‘What things did we not completely think through?’ Going through user flows and even the small things about the brand identity like colors, fonts, and rounded edges…we didn’t realize how many small things go into making your brand identity and how much that can affect what your platform is going to look like and how it feels as a user.” “In terms of what it allowed us to do on the business side, [it came down to] having something outsourced.…As founders, we’re bogged down by a lot of responsibilities and trying to do everything. So it’s always nice when you have somebody else to focus on something, and you can focus on other things. We were able to focus more on the fundraising side. And also pitching to accelerators and starting the work we needed to do to integrate with brokerages. Just the ability to have more time to focus on other aspects of the business was also a big benefit that resulted from this process.”
Brittany Wright—Co-founder, Endex
Early feedback from internal advisors, friends and family, and prospective users who had only heard about or seen mockups of the app but can now “see” and “experience” it, has been overwhelmingly positive, which is extremely encouraging for the founders. They were accepted into an accelerator and were able to secure additional funding, which helped them to move into development.
Developers have been able to use Praxent’s design files to guide their coding and build out the application on the backend. The team could quickly make edits and see how they’re going to look before they actually put them into the code. This has enabled development to stay on track, and the founders are thrilled by the prospect of launching their application sometime in early 2022.
The prototype also has enabled them to build out their marketing efforts. Their social media pages and followings are growing, they’ve started to pursue influencer collaborations and partnerships, and they are building brand awareness. They are looking to start a new round of fundraising in order to secure angel investors as they seek institutional and VC funding in the new year. Finally, they are talking to larger brokerages in hopes of securing more integrations.
“I think we’re at a really good stage; things are moving fast. … It’s nice that my cofounder and I have time to focus on other aspects of the business as we get more people involved on the team and helping us build out our product.”
Create an Endex and link your brokerage: In this first step, users can create their own account, create an Endex (recommended stock portfolio), and also link it to their existing brokerage to start investing.
In this step, users are able to create and customize an Endex (stock portfolio or essentially a “playlist of stocks”) and link their existing brokerage to invest directly in the Endex app.
The platform enables users to customize their index privacy, stocks, weighting methodology, and rebalancing frequency.
Connecting with Friends and Content Creators: Users can create and join group chats and communities based on their interests.
They can also join an Endex’s specific chat to get a better understanding of decisions being made by other investors and the Endex creator.
Copying Top Portfolios: Users can easily discover Endexers created by other Endexers and that align with their needs, interests, and values, via the explore page, leaderboard, or by searching specific tags. After reviewing individual stock components, performance history, and an Endex’s characteristics, users can copy (invest in) an endex with the click of a button. Users can find and research stock options, explore trends, and discover portfolios that align with their needs and interests and also copy an entire portfolio from Endexers.
Endexers is a term coined by the founders to describe users dedicated to creating and publicly sharing custom indexes or Endexers for other users to follow or copy. are the content creators for this platform whose profiles are open for users to copy them totally or partially.
Creation of the App Map to align and prioritize features based on the Customer Journey Map.
Categorization of features based on the investor’s appeal and interests as High-Priority, Potential, and Future
Design of specific user workflows for each of the high-priority features with targeted delivery by the end of the project.
UI Style Guide: Praxent created a detailed style guide to ensure the UI felt unified and consistent moving forward.
Wireframes to focus on the user experience. The style guide was applied to them to create unified UI designs.
High-Fidelity Prototype that brought the client’s startup idea to life and enabled them to impress investors and secure funding.
Thinking back to when we first got in contact with Praxent—I think it was around May or April of 2021. At that point, we had spent the first five months of 2021 diving into our idea, developing it, seeing what we wanted our product to look like, putting together our early stage pitch decks, starting to get our idea out there, developing relationships with advisors and partnering with an incubator. We were ready to move on to the next step. And that was either to raise money, to start marketing, or to start development.
We decided that we needed some form of visualization of what our project pilot would look like. Previously, my cofounder and I had created iPhone mockups by creating two screenshots of the main screens for our app using PowerPoint. Those were what we were using to visualize and convey what our app would be like to people. However, we wanted something that could better convey our idea, that we could use as marketing materials to show people who aren’t connected to us personally—investors, strangers and people on the Internet—so they could see what our vision was and get an idea of what using our app would actually be like. We relayed that to our regulatory advisor at the time. He had a connection with Tim from Praxent. He referred us, and we had a few introductory conversations over what our product was and our vision.
At the beginning, we just had our idea…no funding, demo, functional app, or developers to build those things, so the problem for us was deciding what could push us out of the purely idea phase to the next stage. It was fine for the first five or six months—when we were researching & developing the idea and trying to see what our platform would be like—for us to not have an actual visual accompaniment to explain what our idea was. But as we wanted to move forward, we did need something, especially since we didn’t have a team of developers—my cofounder and I aren’t technical cofounders; we have some coding experience but we can’t build an application. With the prototype, explaining our app concept to people is so much easier. It’s also boosted both how informative and professional our website looks as well. It’s been a great help. We can send people to the website and immediately they can see for themselves how it works, the main features, and our value propositions. And I think a lot of people are visual learners, so seeing those screenshots, in addition to just hearing from you what your idea is, helps solidify the idea in their minds. You can always have a nice one-liner that explains what the app is, but I definitely think the pictures and the screenshots always send it over the edge. And even if you’re not close to having the application done, I feel like having the screenshots help you build excitement and makes you seem closer than you are. So it’s both a boost for you as a founder and it looks better from a funding standpoint as investors can see your vision. Those are the main reasons I think why we chose to go with the demo as the next step in our process to getting where we are now.
We were talking with Praxent and another development firm in India to try to decide which of the two options we would take going forward with our demo. We were either looking at doing a functional demo/prototype that just had a few features that we could use to build our application (what the development team out of India would have done for us) or we could do a no-code version of the application, which would be quicker and more comprehensive. Although we wouldn’t be able to use the latter directly for development, meaning we couldn’t take code from the demo as a base to build our app from, we could use the high fidelity designs as a base for our UI. We ended up deciding to go with the no-code version because we liked [that] the Praxent team had experience building other financial and fintech products. We knew that they had a good understanding of the space and what an app like ours would look like.
We also liked the process that was laid out. Being able to go through the brainstorming and the user flows, and also that it was a much quicker process. Instead of having to wait two months to get a functional demo that we would still need to hire developers to finish, we could get a no-code version done in four weeks. And then we could use that for marketing and fundraising materials. Once we had decided to go with Praxent [to create] that demo, we then used that promise of a demo and its use cases in our efforts to raise friends and family funding. That promise and the conversations we had with Praxent prior to finalizing our contract were important because we knew that within four weeks of raising funding, we would already have successfully executed on an important milestone, and our investors would be able to see that.
When we finished the demo, we were able to send it to our friends and family investors, and everybody got a lot more excited. At that time, we were pitching to an accelerator, and we were able to quickly incorporate [the demo] in our deck. We could tell based on the initial pitch that we did, which was with our PowerPoint presentation mockups versus the actual demo, the reaction to seeing what the product would actually look like was much more fond. They were better able to understand what the app experience. So it was awesome that we had that before our final pitch with that accelerator. And we’re actually working with that accelerator now, soit did end up working out for us.
In terms of the design of the application, I think being able to speak through those user flows helped us to develop some additional ideas for new features. For example, before we did the demo, I don’t think we had really discussed having themed chats like ticker-specific chats and endex-specific chats. But when we were going through the design, and we were looking for ways to make it more engaging for people and to emphasize the social element, we thought of the idea of creating ticker-specific chats and endex-specific chats so that people who are following and copying an index can get information, updates, and sentiment from other investors in real time, would be a great addition to the app. That actually stemmed from us talking about how we wanted notifications to work. So that was just one feature idea that came out of those conversations.
So just stuff like that was happening. There were additions that we made going through the app map process that we did with the Praxent team. In terms of what it allowed us to do on the business side, [it came down to] having this one thing outsourced. We had one to two hours’ worth of meetings per week, which allowed us to focus on other things, which is always nice. As founders, we’re bogged down by a lot of responsibilities and trying to do everything. So it’s always nice when you have somebody else to focus on something, and you can focus on other things. We were able to focus more on the fundraising side. And also pitching to accelerators and starting the work we needed to do to integrate with brokerages. Just the ability to have more free time was also a big thing that we took from this process.
In the early stages, it’s mostly you and your founder or founding team in an echo chamber of your own internal thoughts. You have your ideas, you’re developing them, and you’re thinking you’re touching all of the points. But always when you bring in people who haven’t been focusing on your idea for six months, it’s nice to hear other perspectives, and then also, just say ‘What things have we been thinking that don’t necessarily make a bunch of sense?’ or ‘What things did we not completely think through?’ Going through user flows, even small things about the brand identity and the colors and stuff, we didn’t realize how many small things go into making your your brand identity and how much that can affect what your platform is going to look like and how it feels.
I would say the whole process—the initial one where we decided which user flows or features we wanted to highlight and then really digging deep into every single step of those flows—was super helpful for us. It helped both Praxent and us to come away with a better understanding of how this would look in our application. It’s just helpful to get an outside perspective and then also to get some insight from people who are used to designing apps. How to better translate our idea into something that people will actually use.
It was our product advisor who works with the incubator, QUBIC Labs, which we have been members of since about a month prior to us initially contacting Praxent. It was nice to be able to show our advisor the demo because he understood our product & vision before we had a visual accompaniment and was able to challenge us on things such as aesthetics, general feel, and features of our application, making sure we stayed true to our vision. He would bring us questions related to those areas that would spur conversations between him, myself and my cofounder, Kevin. Those conversations would then help me come back to the Praxent team with edits & suggestions. It was great to be able to include him in the process so that we had an extra point of feedback in addition to the Praxent team, forcing us to really dive deep into how we wanted the app to look and user experience to be. It was also great to get feedback from family and friends—people we had been explaining our idea to since early January or February—and they were so excited to see the demo. They loved it and the fact that they could finally visualize it. Those reactions were very promising and exciting to see as a founder.
Now that we’re working with our developers—with the accelerator and have developers actually making the application—they’ve said, it’s been super useful for them to have those Figma files, which they can quickly use to guide their coding and turn into real code. And then it’s also nice, because we can quickly make edits and see how they’re going to look before they actually put them into the code. I don’t know exactly how it works, how you take Figma and turn it into written code, but they certainly use it, they’re on it daily, and they’ve been using it to build out the application in the backend. So, I think it’s been helpful from all sides.
We’re currently in development, which is super nice and is a great thing for us. It’s looking like we’re going to launch our application sometime in either January or February of 2022. It’s nice to have a date that’s not too far off that we’re going to have a live product out there. That’s super exciting. From our perspective, searching for developers is hard right now in this economy, especially for startups. We’ve also been building out our marketing efforts. We’ve got our social media, our pages are growing, and we’re getting more followers that aren’t just people in our network. And that’s nice. We’re also starting some influencer collaborations and partnerships like that, so we’re hoping to get our name out there and a little bit more brand awareness. And then, in terms of fundraising, we’re actually looking to start another round of fundraising. Following on from friends and family, we’re looking to get some angel investors to come on and invest in our products to carry us for the first three or four months of our application as we seek out institutional and VC funding in the new year. I think we’re at a really good stage; things are moving fast. We’re working on getting more broker integrations outside of just the API-first brokers but working on talking to the bigger brokerages like Fidelity and Charles Schwab and Robin Hood. So it’s nice that my cofounder and I have time to focus on the business stuff as we get more people involved on the team and help us build out our product.
Testimonial provided by Brittany Wright—Co-founder, Endex