The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) is under construction to measure the expansion history of the Universe using the Baryon Acoustic Oscillation technique. The spectra of 40 million galaxies over 14,000 sq. deg. will be measured during the life of the experiment. A new prime focus corrector for the KPNO Mayall telescope will deliver light to 5000 fiber optic positioners. The fibers in turn feed ten broad-band spectrographs. We describe the ProtoDESI experiment, planned for installation and commissioning at the Mayall telescope in the fall of 2016, which will test the fiber positioning system for DESI. The ProtoDESI focal plate, consisting of 10 fiber positioners, illuminated fiducials, and a guide, focus and alignment (GFA) sensor module, will be installed behind the existing Mosaic prime focus corrector. A Fiber View Camera (FVC) will be mounted to the lower surface of the primary mirror cell and a subset of the Instrument Control System (ICS) will control the ProtoDESI subsystems, communicate with the Telescope Control System (TCS), and collect instrument monitoring data. Short optical fibers from the positioners will be routed to the back of the focal plane where they will be imaged by the Fiber Photometry Camera (FPC) or back-illuminated by a LED system. Target objects will be identified relative to guide stars, and using the GFA in a control loop with the ICS/TCS system, the guide stars will remain stable on pre-identified GFA pixels. The fiber positioners will then be commanded to the target locations and placed on the targets iteratively, using the FVC to centroid on back-illuminated fibers and fiducials to make corrective delta motions. When the positioners are aligned with the targets on-sky, the FPC will measure the intensities from the positioners’ fibers which can then be dithered to look for intensity changes, indicating how well the fibers were initially positioned on target centers. The final goal is to operate ProtoDESI on the Mayall telescope for a 6-hour period during one night, successfully placing targets on the intended fibers for the duration of a typical DESI science exposure.