Experimentation on a Budget: The Core of Innovation Is Not Expensive
Author: Go Studio
September 11, 2023

Resourcefulness is a common topic in popular culture. Innovation is not just about developing groundbreaking products or services; it’s about finding novel ways to solve problems and streamline processes using the tools around us. Have you ever heard of KISS? It means “keep it simple stupid” and is meant to encourage simplicity in the face of unnecessary complexity. Why not apply the KISS approach to the process of experimentation? Challenging your employees to use their everyday resources to innovate and solve problems is the core of innovative culture and could make the ultimate difference in testing the viability of a new idea.

Leveraging Low-Cost Tools and Technologies

When it comes to experimentation… expensive isn’t always better. In fact, blowing the budget on unnecessary commercial-grade products can reduce accessibility to other important resources needed for the experiment to be a success. Many emerging technology components like sensors, processors or cameras are available off the shelf at major retailers. There is no need to spend a fortune on commercial-grade solutions when you can order them on Amazon or Walmart. Sometimes for the pursuit of innovation, the cost can be a significant concern for businesses of any size. Fortunately, many ways exist to test ideas and theories without exorbitant expenses. By focusing on lean and agile methodologies, entrepreneurs can run smaller experiments that fit well within their budgets. If we compare the costs of experimentation to the potential losses from untested large-scale projects or missed opportunities, we can gain a clearer understanding of how cost-efficient experiments can mitigate risks.

The Price of Inaction

Idleness places enterprises at a distinct disadvantage. Not experimenting or not deciding to experiment are still decisions that affect an organization’s ability to innovate and stay competitive in a constantly shifting and evolving market. Waiting and not experimenting puts companies behind in terms of insights, knowledge, and skill in concepts. It is important to build and develop a toolbox of skills even if you don’t build a commercial product. In innovation, failure is learning and always counts as a positive result. By forgoing experimentation, organizations risk investing substantial resources into ventures that might ultimately fail to deliver the desired outcomes. The price of failed projects can be staggering, affecting not only the bottom line but also the company’s reputation and market standing. That’s why innovation teams should feel empowered to deliver experiments with whatever tools are available to them. Using everyday items can be a creative way to ensure experimentation is happening without having to work outside of the current budget and seek higher-level approvals of extra funds.

Balancing Risk, Cost and Reward

Have you heard of the project management triangle? There is a delicate interplay between scope, time, and budget and their direct impact on project quality. Also known as the triple constraint model or the iron triangle, this framework underscores the vital role of project managers in balancing these three pivotal factors to achieve successful project completion. Picture a triangle where each corner represents scope, time, and budget, with quality in the middle of the triangle. Disturbing one corner triggers adjustments in one or both of the other corners, all in the pursuit of preserving the project’s quality. The mastery of this intricate balancing act is crucial to deliver results that exceed expectations. How is this relevant for experimentation and innovation? Let’s adapt it to the innovation process. Imagine that the three corners remain the same, and you have scope, time, and budget with innovation at the center. Let’s think of innovation as the project. While you might find yourself compelled to expand the project’s scope to accommodate new demands or opportunities, the main focus while keeping the focus on low-cost innovation is speed. For low-cost innovation and experimentation, it is important to prioritize speed, then cost, and then quality. The goal is to experiment quickly, gain the results and then experiment again in a new direction if there is a failure or further enhance the quality if the concept is validated. Experimentation comes with inherent costs, but that shouldn’t worry you. Even small-scale trials require the allocation of resources, diverting attention from other areas of the business. But smart entrepreneurs recognize that these costs are justifiable when weighed against the potential rewards of successful innovation. A measured approach to experimentation, like the balancing act explained above, allows businesses to optimize resources while minimizing risks. A shift in perspective on experimentation and viewing it as an investment in the future of the business is the best approach—that’s why top companies have and promote a culture of innovation where anyone at any time can complete an experiment. To combat the risk of not experimenting, forward-thinking leaders recognize that inaction is also a decision, one that might lead to stagnation and missed opportunities. Instead of shying away from experiments due to perceived costs, they embrace innovation as an integral part of their growth strategy. The core of innovation itself doesn’t need to be expensive; it needs to be ever-present and sustainable.

Baby Steps Toward Sustainable and Successful Innovation

The concept of “starting small” is multi-faceted and offers several avenues for experimentation. From limiting the number of regions involved in an experiment to controlling the user base or even scaling down the scope of changes within the product, there are myriad ways to embrace this philosophy. How can businesses experiment with innovation in an everyday environment? Whether it’s introducing mockups to solicit user feedback, utilizing existing tools with manual steps, or implementing impactful changes within a limited user base, each approach offers invaluable insights that contribute to a successful experiment. Stability and power come with small changes. When embarking on experimentation, prioritizing small changes can usually yield significant advantages.


The simplicity of mockups makes them an ideal starting point for innovation. By showcasing product designs, dashboards, sales processes, or user reports, businesses can gauge reactions and gather user feedback without significant resource investment. It’s likely that low-fidelity prototypes can be deployed as mockups to get an initial test in motion.

Manual Changes:

When mockups fall short, leveraging existing tools and incorporating manual steps can provide a pragmatic approach to testing ideas on a smaller scale, ensuring more effective experimentation. The Go Studio team has used a similar concept for fintech innovation. While reviewing a new mobile tap reload solution to test merchant messaging and data fields, we leveraged a physical card platform but were challenged with only being able to move through three components of the platform at a time. Getting the transaction through those three components proved to be enough validation for our purposes and allowed us to move into additional rounds of evaluation.

Limited Feature POC:

A proof of concept (POC) stands as a showcase of a product, with the primary objective centered around ascertaining the feasibility of transforming an idea into a tangible product or reality. The essence of a POC is not to gauge market demand for the concept or focus on production methods but rather to scrutinize the plausibility and viability of the idea itself. A POC serves as a litmus test for the potential attainability and workability of the new concept.

Simple Experimentation

Does innovation require a hefty budget? Not necessarily. The art of experimenting and embracing innovation on a budget can be just as powerful as extravagant spending. Simple experimentation provides great results toward profitable innovations. At Go Studio, our team of specialized experts is committed to helping you without breaking the bank. Our team works with your business to ensure your goals are being met at every level. Contact us today to learn more about our services and start your journey toward experimentation and innovation. Ready to get started? Request an introduction.

Key Takeaways:

  • Innovation is not just about developing groundbreaking products or services. It’s about finding novel ways to solve problems and streamline processes.
  • When it comes to experimentation… expensive isn’t always better. In fact, blowing the budget on unnecessary commercial-grade products can reduce accessibility to other essential resources that help experiments succeed.
  • Ongoing costs to experimentation can be a significant concern for businesses of any size. Fortunately, there are many ways to test ideas and theories without incurring exorbitant expenses.
  • By introducing low-fidelity mockups to solicit user feedback, utilizing existing tools with manual steps, or implementing impactful changes with a proof of concept, businesses can enact an experiment on existing or potential product lines without expensive prototypes or materials.

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