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What Is Proof of Concept and How to Do It Right? Expert Explains

Artur Olechowski d08c1359d2

12/08/2021 |

7 min read

Artur Olechowski

Coming up with a brand-new business idea is really exciting. No wonder that you'd like to jump straight into the process and bring it to life. 

But what if there's no need or market for your product? What if the current state of technology makes realizing your idea impossible? Or worse, what if the technology is available, but your timeframe and initial budget can't fit it? 

At this point, it's smart to take a step back and start with a Proof of Concept as the first stage of the software development process. Building your digital product without completing the Proof of Concept stage means that your idea lacks validation, and you can't prove its feasibility. This might break your business later on - even before you get into the product to the state of the MVP. 

How to avoid that? By building a Proof of Concept. In this article, we zoom in on the topic to show you what PoC is and how to future-proof your product vision using it.


Table of contents:

  1. Proof of Concept - definition
  2. How does Proof of Concept differ from a prototype?
  3. What is the difference between Proof of Concept and Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
  4. When to consider building a Proof of Concept?
  5. Why consider building Proof of Concept?
  6. Proof of Concept - what's the next step?

 

Proof of Concept - definition

Proof of Concept (PoC) is the very first step you can take on the way to launching a functional piece of software that will solve the problem of its target audience and generate revenue. A Proof of Concept is not a product yet since it doesn't offer any specific solutions regarding scalability and performance. 

But what it does offer is this: an opportunity to understand what your business idea is all about. In other words, a PoC helps you to test whether your product idea is feasible by mobilizing the minimum amount of resources. 

The goal of Proof of Concept is to answer this question:

Can my business idea be executed with the current state of technology and in line with my timeframe and budget? 

It's an exercise that provides you with an easy reality check. In many cases, it helps to avoid a range of problems that might end up costing you a lot.

 

How does Proof of Concept differ from a prototype? 

PoC allows running a quick reality check on the feasibility of your product or product feature. A prototype, on the other hand, focuses more on bringing the idea to life in order to assess its usability and gather valuable user feedback. 

The key difference between these two tools lies in the level of their complexity. A prototype is basically a working model of the application that focuses on its user interface - its look and feel. A PoC is much simpler as it engages the bare minimum of resources required to understand whether taking the next step in developing your product makes sense.

 

What is the difference between Proof of Concept and Minimum Viable Product (MVP)? 

If you've been exploring the tech world, you probably ran across the concept of a Minimum Viable Product. The Lean Startup made it an incredibly popular approach and standard procedure of many development teams. 

A Minimum Viable Product is a version of a new product that allows collecting the maximum amount of validated feedback about customers with the least effort. An MVP is made up of nothing more but the core features that deliver value to users. It's also functional enough to be released publicly and not destroy your brand. The idea is to test the product idea in the actual market conditions and gather feedback to help identify user pain points further and address them in the following iterations of your product. 

You can probably tell by now how MVP and Proof of Concept differ from one another. Building a PoC is a much simpler undertaking because it focuses only on the technological feasibility of your solution. It's not used for gathering user feedback or assessing the market value of your idea. 

 

When to consider building a Proof of Concept?

When it comes to product ideas, we basically divided them into two types: 

1)   Ones that are groundbreaking and offer something completely new.

2)   Ones that improve upon products that are already available on the market. 

If your business idea is a greenfield project and there are no similar solutions like that on the market, starting out with a Proof of Concept is a smart move. 

Every year, millions of startups are established, and very few of them survive to enjoy long-term success. Why do startups fail? Most of the time because they build a product for which there's no market need. This is the top reason Stanford research showed back in 2018 – but it's still true. The second most common reason behind startup failure is running out of cash. That might happen because you underestimate the cost of building the product. 

That's why starting your process with a Proof of Concept is a good idea. That way, you get to avoid these pitfalls. And if your business idea is based on improving an existing product, you don't really need to build a PoC because your competitors have already proven the feasibility of that application.

 

Why consider building Proof of Concept? 

Creating a Proof of Concept project is an excellent method for checking the feasibility of your idea – but it brings many more benefits. Below, are all the advantages of this approach to software development.

 

PoC gives you hands-on experience in building your product.

When you're just sketching things on the whiteboard, it's easy to overcomplicate your business idea. You might end up with lots of new functionalities that address all the possible pain points your customers might have. Even if you're forced to rethink your vision in a demo or pitch, you might still fail to uncover its flaws. 

A Proof of Concept will get you thinking about the real-life limitations surrounding your product and other viable solutions. It will give you the hands-on experience you'll value once you start building an actual product later on. 

 

PoC helps to mitigate risk.

Your idea will go a long way from a PoC to the first product iteration. But if you decide to skip this step to save time and invest in building your product anyway, you might end up losing a lot. 

By developing a PoC first, you'll have a chance to find out whether you actually have enough resources to build an MVP of your product. You will also make sure that you don't break your wallet by trying to launch a product that isn't viable in terms of technology. 

 

PoC gives you solid evidence for investors.

Few entrepreneurs are able to raise millions of dollars with just a pitch deck. Most investors look for startups that can provide solid evidence of feasibility before they decide to pour millions into it. With a Proof of Concept, you will attract angel investors to your business and show them that you're aware of the real-life limitations around your product. 

And if you're launching an innovative in-house project in an enterprise, a PoC will help you demonstrate the expected return on investment and gain buy-in from the upper management.

 

Proof of Concept - what's the next step? 

In software development, PoC is an essential exercise for entrepreneurs and enterprise innovators who can test the assumptions about their business idea. It's an excellent way to check whether the business concept is viable and feasible in terms of technological solutions available on the market. 

That's why Proof of Concept is an excellent first step to take on your journey and continue with towards the prototype, MVP, and a full-fledged product. 

 

Are you looking for a team skilled in bringing Proof of Concepts into life? Get in touch with us and let's talk about your project. At Codete, we help both startups and enterprises to run PoC projects to verify their ideas and provide them with expert consulting services to guide them in product development.

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Artur Olechowski d08c1359d2

Artur Olechowski

Managing Director at Codete. Master of Law, a graduate of postgraduate studies at the University of Economics in Krakow. In his daily work, he masters the combination of business strategy and technology.

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