Index And Connect Ventures Back Marvel To Let You Turn Sketches Into Mobile App Prototypes

Marvel, the U.K. startup that lets you turn sketches into mobile app “prototypes” (and famously survived a Wonga loan), has picked up a new $2 million ‘seed extension’ round of funding.

Backing comes from Index Ventures and Connect Ventures, in addition to existing investors ustwo, Roberto Bonazinga and Richard Fearn. I also understand that the investment is in the form of a convertible note.

The company is also rolling out two new features: a user testing feature, and an online community where Marvel-created prototypes can be uploaded and shared.

“Today we’re launching our free user testing feature which integrates with Lookback and allows anyone to validate their ideas and record exactly what users do with their prototypes using our iOS app,” Marvel co-founder Murat Mutlu tells me.

“It solves a massive problem in product development. In the past you had to get users in a room to record their sessions with video equipment or install SDKs into your app. Now you can drag and drop some designs and sketches into Marvel and send a link to someones phone.

Alongside this we’re now allowing users to publish their prototypes publicly into our own community area called Explore, where they can also like, comment and discover prototypes made by other users.”

To recap: Marvel’s web, iOS and Android apps let you turn sketches, wireframes, and Photoshop files into a tappable (or clickable) demo of how your app will work. It does this by letting you add ‘hotspots’ and transitions to your images so that the resulting prototype can be navigated as if it were an actual app.

Specifically, the mobile apps enable you to photograph a paper (or back of a napkin) sketch and draw directly on the screen with your finger or a capacitive stylus.

Since we last covered Marvel, the startup has also added support for the popular design tool Sketch, and Google Drive (in addition to existing DropBox support so that any changes you make to your ‘screen’ images, even via another app such as Photoshop, are synced with Marvel).

The ability to embed prototypes into any website such as Medium, Square and Behance is also a fairly new feature and a smart addition.

Meanwhile, Marvel’s new funding is to be used primarily to go on a hiring spree. “We’re doubling our size to 16, focused on building out the design and development team plus hiring in new areas such as customer success and content,” says Mutlu.

Competitors include Invision (which has raised over $80 million in funding), Pixate (acquired by Google), POP, and AppSeed.