What Is Proof of Concept? Definition, Meaning & Examples
March 27, 2023 Max 8min read
Just like how you would feel disappointed after buying a new phone and realizing it doesn’t meet your requirements, investing in a business venture that doesn’t work out can be equally frustrating. This is where a Proof of Concept (POC) comes into play – it helps you avoid such situations.
A POC can be in various formats but usually involves creating a prototype or a minimum viable product (MVP) to test the viability of your idea. Its main aim is to answer essential questions regarding the feasibility of your product or service and to receive feedback from potential customers. This way, you can make informed decisions and save time, effort, and resources on something that may not work out.
In this article, we’ll cover everything there is to know about proof of concept, from its definition to its practical uses and more. Get set to step up your investment strategy!
What Is Proof of Concept?
Definition of Proof of Concept:
Proof of concept (POC) is a way to show that an idea or theory could work in the real world. It’s like a test run to see if a project or product is worth investing time and resources into. Essentially, a POC is an evidence that something is doable and worthwhile enough to move forward with.
Have you ever had an excellent concept for a brand-new product or service but felt hesitant to spend your time and money on it without first ensuring that it would work?
You don’t have to worry anymore, thanks to Proof of Concept (POC.)
A proof of concept is a prototype or early-stage demonstration confirming whether an idea or technology can deliver the desired outcome. It’s an essential step in the product development process that helps lower the risk of failure for new products and services.
You can use POC to test technical feasibility, assess market demand, and gather feedback from potential users. For example, suppose you have an idea for a new app that you believe has tremendous potential.
Before jumping into full-scale development, you could create a basic version of the app and release it to a small group of users to see if they find it useful. If the app is thriving, you can proceed with development. If you need help, you can save time and money by pivoting or scrapping the project.
Proof of concept is critical in many sectors and fields, including application development, commercial development, project management, manufacturing, IT, healthcare, and cybersecurity. By gathering user feedback and insights from various team members, POCs help mitigate unforeseen risks and increase the likelihood of a successful product launch.
What Are the Proof of Concept Examples?
Below are examples of proof of concept from various companies:
One of the best proof of concept example is Dropbox. The company created a viral explainer video of its software’s potential features, which led to an overnight increase in its beta sign-up list. The footage helped Dropbox validate its idea and build an audience of future customers before the product’s launch.
SwipeWell built an email list of potential customers before launching its product, demonstrating the importance of creating demand and validating an idea before investing in a product. Other companies like AngelList used blogs to stir up interest and acquire their first customers.
Drip’s founder conducted interviews within his network to asses how much people would be willing to pay for his email marketing engine. This method validated the proposed idea and highlighted the importance of keeping the PoC phase high-level.
Allbirds is another top notch proof of concept example. Allbirds and Pebble launched crowdfunding campaigns to test consumer interest and whether people are willing to pre-pay for a product. This proof of concept validates an idea while raising capital to fund the product’s development.
Buffer and other companies built landing pages to assess demand and establish themselves in the market. This type of proof of concept is a great way to test an idea’s viability and build a foundation for SEO-driven content.
Etsy observed what was already working in the market and based its product on that. This proof of concept helps companies to leverage the success of others and save time and resources in product development.
What Should Be Included in a Proof of Concept?
When you, as a business, set out to create a proof of concept (PoC), there are several crucial elements that you need to consider.
Although the specifics of proof of concept may vary depending on the type of your business, certain key aspects should always get included.
It’s important to understand that the primary objective of a proof of concept is not to identify the commercial aspects of a business or to describe the complete functionality of a product.
Instead, the goal is to validate a specific aspect of software or an idea. By doing this, teams can gain confidence in their product and identify any potential problems or risks that could arise during implementation.
Determining User Adoption Likelihood
One of the main benefits of a proof of concept is that it helps you determine how likely users are to adopt or use the product. It is essential because it can help businesses make informed decisions about product development and marketing strategies.
Testing Technical Feasibility
Proof of concept also helps businesses identify whether their idea is technically feasible or not. By testing various product features, companies can gain insights into what works and what doesn’t. This step can help them make necessary adjustments and improvements before investing significant resources into the product.
Identifying Technical Issues and Risks
A proof of concept should also list any technical issues or potential risks related to the product’s implementation and provide solutions for these issues. This can help businesses mitigate risks and ensure that the final product is high quality.
How to Create a Proof of Concept?
We have some good idea about the proof of concept meaning and also its example. Now you might be wondering “How do I create a successful proof concept?” Don’t worry, we got you covered. Here is the proof of concept steps.
Determine the Necessity of the Product or Service
When creating a proof of concept, understanding the product or service’s necessity is crucial. More than simply assuming customer pain points is necessary for successful market research.
Project managers should conduct interviews with a sample of customers, inquire about complaints, and ask about desired user experiences.
Additional research strategies include surveys and secondary research, but it’s important not to ask leading questions.
Video recording and having a team member observe in real-time can be helpful. At the same time, online surveys can speed up the process. Combining these strategies can provide the most valuable data points for businesses to work upon.
Collaborative Ideation for Pain-Points of Target Customers
Collaborating with the team and developing viable solutions is essential based on the sample group’s responses. You have to do this to address the pain points of target customers.
Design thinking can be a helpful strategy, but avoiding common mistakes is essential.
The team should evaluate each brainstormed option, considering costs, technology, operations, competition, and resources. The most feasible ideas can get selected to create the final product.
To strengthen the proposal, the team should also discuss how the solution can help achieve organizational or stakeholder objectives.
Develop a Problem Hypothesis and Propose Solutions
When launching a new product, it’s essential to have a clear hypothesis of the problem you are trying to solve and how your solution will address it. Let’s say you’re creating a new meal delivery service for busy professionals.
Your hypothesis could be that there is a significant demand for healthy and convenient meal options you can deliver directly to consumers’ homes or workplaces.
You might hypothesize that many professionals need help finding the time to plan and prepare meals that meet their dietary needs and preferences.
To test this hypothesis, you could conduct surveys or focus groups with busy professionals. The aim here is to gather feedback on their current meal habits and pain points.
Based on this feedback, you could refine your hypothesis and develop a solution that meets their needs.
Your solution might include a variety of healthy meal options that can get customized to each customer’s dietary preferences and restrictions.
You could also offer flexible delivery options, such as weekly or monthly subscriptions, to accommodate different schedules and lifestyles.
Once you’ve researched and brainstormed solutions, it’s time to create a prototype that addresses your target audience’s pain points.
The prototype should reflect the requirements, features, and solutions you identified during the research.
Testing the prototype with the same group throughout the testing phase is essential to document feedback accurately. However, running simulations with different samples is possible if you tally the final results. Incorporating feedback will refine the solution in preparation for the final launch stage.
Refine Through Feedback
Collecting and documenting feedback during prototype testing is crucial for improving your proof of concept.
Feedback from the sample group about their experience and reactions provide valuable insight into the solution’s feasibility and usability. Their thoughts on the user interface can also be helpful.
A cloud-based platform is ideal for gathering feedback, allowing easy collaboration and participation from the project team and sample group. It’s important to iterate and improves upon the product and, if necessary, pivot in a different direction based on the data and feedback received.
Time to Unveil Your Proof of Concept and Put It to the Ultimate Test
After testing and improving the proof of concept based on feedback, it’s time to showcase it to stakeholders for further testing and approval. In the presentation, highlight the product’s value by outlining the pain points it addresses, its features, and the technologies it incorporates.
Additionally, you should provide details on the product development and project management components, including success criteria, evaluation measures, timelines, following project management plans (if approved), resource requirements, and other factors. Once approved and funded, you can implement the proof of concept.
What Are the Benefits of Creating a Proof of Concept?
We’ll discuss some of the most compelling benefits of proof of concept.
Validates Your Idea Cheaply and Quickly
Developing an idea into an operating product can be a risky move that might result in a loss of resources. With a proof of concept, you can test your ideas quickly and cheaply, ensuring demand for the product and the feasibility of developing it.
Builds Confidence With Interested Parties
Investors and other stakeholders appreciate proof of concept because of the valuable data they generate. A POC can assist product development teams in demonstrating a product’s benefits to investors and increase their confidence in investing in it.
Mitigates Risk and Predicts Possible Problems
Evaluating a POC before product development enables companies to foresee potential risks and identify practical limitations of a project. It helps manage research and development resources efficiently and brainstorm solutions to possible problems before the production phase.
A proof of concept (PoC) is a way of testing the waters before diving headfirst into a new project. The aim is to see whether the project is feasible and whether the overall idea is viable. From a software development perspective, a PoC is to demonstrate that the product idea and business plan can work in practice.
A successful proof of concept is a document or presentation that effectively showcases the idea, identifies the intended audience, and outlines the necessary steps to bring the vision to life. It’s a way to introduce people to a new concept and demonstrate its potential value clearly and concisely. A well-crafted proof of concept can help garner interest and support for the idea, making it more likely to succeed.