Have you ever thought of a great business idea or product but didn’t have the resources to create it? A common misconception is that a business or product must be complete before being introduced to the market. There are instances where it would be ideal to introduce a completed product, but when it comes to technology it is often best to get it into the hands of customers and allow them to help you improve it.
It is nearly impossible to create the perfect product on your first try. You may think you know what people want or need, but the reality is you won’t know until they show you. This is where the ‘Proof of Concept’ becomes valuable. A way to save time, save money, and position your product for success. Think of it as a prototype or beta approach. Start with your basic idea, create it in its simplest form, and introduce it to prospective customers or key stakeholders. Let them actually use it and assist you by providing valuable feedback and direction.
For startups seeking venture funding, creating a proof of concept will not only help to improve your final product, it will also provide prospective investors with a tangible product to view and consider. Depending on the type of product you are offering, whether it be an app, software-as-a-service or other technology, the venture may prove to be costly. The proof of concept will lower your expenses, get your product to market faster, and give you the ability to determine if there is a sizeable market for your product before completely building it out.
Take advice from a proven entrepreneur. In his book, The Start-Up of You, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman gives insight into introducing products to market.
“It’s the emphasis [on] time. It’s getting out and getting in the market and learning and moving, [which are] much more important than the ego satisfaction of ‘Oh, I want to do it completely behind a cloak and then [remove] the cloak and everyone knows how wonderful and what a genius I am cause they think the product is so wonderful.’ That’s actually rarely the winning strategy. The actual winning strategy is ‘I’m moving, I’m getting out there and I’m adapting at a fast rate.’” (1)
This approach is exactly the one that DWebware client, Garland Company, took when creating a sales app. Garland Company, Inc., a leading manufacturer of high-performance roofing and building envelope solutions, decided to develop an app that would assist sales staff in showcasing products and relaying information between the field and office. They did not want to commit fully to the launch of the product without creating a simplified version and using their staff to test it.
DWebware built the simplified version of the app, at a lower cost than the would-be final product, and allowed Garland to quickly get the app into the hands of their sales staff. Garland now has the ability to make enhancements to the app as they see fit. They may, however, discover the simplified version to be completely sufficient. If this is the case, they will have saved themselves time and money by using a proof of concept.
Prototypes can offer time and cost savings to both startups & established companies alike, to assure that the product concept hits the target. You don’t always have to go all-in on one idea. Making adjustments along the way is encouraged. Don’t pass up a great idea because you can’t afford to do it all at once. Get started, and find a way to make it work.