Updated: Nov 10, 2019
As entrepreneurs, we claim to have prophetic powers: We believe to foresee an unstoppable future, and we lay our innovations and competitive arsenal so we are there, in the right time and place - to pick the lucrative fruit of our materialized predictions.
Furthermore: We pitch these prophecies to anyone who would listen; to gain support, advice, and funding, or to obtain partnerships, recruit employees, and whatnot. Entrepreneurs must, in a way, bask in their future glory, believing their own pitch - so that they can muster the support they so much need, for such a long and winding road.
It is then all-important to build confidence: Of your own self, your employees, your investors - future and past - and your prospective customers. Only when you manage to prove portions of your vision, however small, in the real world, you truly gain the credibility you seek.
It is not only when your trials succeed: failures can lead to meaningful insights and revamped roadmaps, eliminating bad choices.
One step at a time, the risk your venture represents subsides, prospects rise, and with them - confidence, support, and eventually, valuation.
The bolder your technological vision, the louder naysayers would resent. Therefore, small steps or giant, it is of utmost value to build and test your breakthrough. Prove your critics wrong by showing hard data, a working prototype, a tangible difference.
It doesn't have to be pretty, but be sure experts can - under necessary precautions - evaluate your innovation and its technical merit.
The thingamajig above is the fabled NASA EM drive thruster, defying Newtonian physics and generating thrust by... [read for yourself in NASA's publication]. I love this story because the inventor of the EM Drive found himself all but outcast from scientific community. It took the theorists long years to explain - an effort that would have not been started, had the POC failed to show unexplicable results.
The disbelief in the initial claim, was replaced by curiosity intrigued by indisputable results. Awe came when theory managed to reconcile with the new findings.
Some say the technology part is the easier one: Market structure, user habits, competitive forces, vested interests, and ingrained incentives can - and will - resist to change.
The commercial POC (otherwise known as MVP - Minimal viable Product) is to prove whether your offering finds its way to the hearts of users. It proves it brings tangible value to the market - regardless of your (tiny) size.
Further - it signals to larger players that you are worthy of being on their radar, and be ready: Once you're there, things may start happening.
Finally, your stakeholders will closely observe your results: Career, partnering, and investment decisions hang on the commercial POC - proving your innovation is ready for the real world, ready to scale.
For further information about design and implementation of POCs, contact me at email@example.com