We all know time is money. However, too much haste can lead to costly errors, making it important to spend time on your POC, or Proof of Concept. Quicker and more cost-effective than developing a prototype, this is an essential stage in the validation of your project.
Now that you are familiar with the MVP concept (Minimum Viable Product or Minimum Viable Process), let’s turn our attention to what is known as a POC.
POC, which stands for Proof Of Concept, is the first stage in the process of creating an innovative product. It is often seen as a way of proving the feasibility of a technological solution, but it goes way beyond that. A POC can be used to validate the suitability of your market in that it allows you to determine whether or not the service or product in question meets an actual need and whether or not the business model is viable..
There are 4 main stages:
Stage 1: develop your product hypotheses
You’ve just had the idea of the century.
You now have to write down all of the hypotheses you believe in, in terms of the market, the technology itself and how it could be used. The aim of this is to get you to see the bigger picture eand to consider all possibilities, even those that might seem unlikely.
Let’s consider the example of a new type of autonomous drone. Making sure your product is waterproof will be every bit as important as looking into ways of making it more environmentally-friendly.
Once you have written out all of your hypotheses, you then have to prioritise them by identifying those which you believe to be critical. These are the hypotheses you will have to test out on your target market.
Stage 2: Analyse your market
Before moving to the development phase, you must first validate your technical, economic and commercial hypotheses by testing them out on your market.
All tests have to be verified using precise metrics. For instance, you can validate a hypothesis if 70% of the target market responds favourably. The aim is to ensure that your product meets market expectations, helping to avoid a “no market need” situation.
Too many entrepreneurs are overly product-centric – nearly half of all start-up failures occur as a result of poor market research.
Coming up with a solution that meets specific market needs will save you from ending up with a product that might well do everything, but which the market has no need for.
Stage 3: Develop a real-life POC
Now that you’ve collected your data, it’s time to create a pretotype (a sketch or model of the concept) for your target client. This is what is known as the pretotyping phase.
Once your client has this pretotype they will then be able to analyse its performance.
This stage gives you the opportunity to validate your initial hypotheses.
More advanced than a pretotype, you can create an initial product comprising existing technology. It may not be the finished article, but it will meet a number of needs expressed by your target client. Although more expensive than a pretotype, it will enable you to delve deeper and to go beyond usage, looking at things from a technical perspective.
Stage 4: Taking it to the next level
You are ready to finish with a POC and move onto the prototyping stage once all of the critical hypotheses have been validated. This may also involve your target showing a keen interest in your concept or you receiving support from a financial backer.
You can now work on the technical specifications for your product.
On the flipside, if market research shows there is no interest, we would recommend that you call it a day or make changes to your product. Remember that this is the goal of a POC – to test and validate your ideas.