Figuring out the perfect mix between a product and its market can be a confusing process. You have to test and discover if the market will accept your product. And at the same time, you must ensure the product makes financial sense.
Those two goals aren’t out of reach, but you’ll need a Proof of Concept (POC).
POCs require research and a willingness to ask a lot of questions — especially “Why?” They help you deliver value to your customers consistently and ensure your product teams understand how and why things work.
If you’re interested in creating a POC and determining whether you’re building a product you can sell, read on. We break down straightforward principles that help reveal your product’s true purpose, validate your hypotheses, and implement a strategy to get your product developed.
You may have a great idea for a business, but understanding your product’s core purpose is more complex.
The concept is built upon four principles of validation. And when you explore each principle, you’ll have a deeper understanding of your product and its core purpose.
Here’s what you need to find out:
Ideas for entrepreneurs are as plentiful as sand in the Sahara, and it’s important not to go the way of Theranos. You must find out if it’s actually possible to build and manufacture your product at scale.
Just because it’s possible to do something, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to sell it and build a business.
Timing is a factor in business. There have been many feasible, viable products that people just didn’t want at the time. Make sure people want your product before investing time and money.
You can have a viable, feasible product that people want to buy. But ask yourself, “At what cost?” If your product has a negative impact on society and the environment, then it's time to rethink things.
To address these principles, you’ll have to test your product rigorously and survey people asking questions like:
But that’s just one part of an entire methodology to validate your product. There are many methods available to help you accomplish this goal, including Design Thinking, Google Design Sprints, Customer Development, and Lean Startup.
Lean is hugely popular right now and is a solid methodology for a variety of projects geared towards startups. It works on a Build-Measure-Learn principle that helps businesses continually improve their ideas. You’ll create a Minimum Viable Product, test multiple hypotheses, and get feedback and reactions from real users.
From there, you can refine your product and create something valuable for customers.
Your product is only a theory at this point and will remain so as long as there is no delivery on business value. It’s just a guess that it’ll succeed.
The next step is to create a series of hypotheses about your product. And from there, you’ll attempt to validate your theories and create a POC. You’ll discover:
It’s necessary to continue with this cycle of hypothesis creation and testing as long as you need. Otherwise, you risk losing valuable time and investment funds.
Hypothesis creation comes from questioning distinct elements of your product. For example, a business developing a mobile application could theorize whether customers would pay $5 up front for their product or if they should go with a ‘Freemium’ model.
You’ll ask questions like:
You’ll need a success criteria for your hypothesis. In the scenario above, the company would say success is netting and retaining the highest number of users. Testing the theory can go several ways.
The company could survey their target market or create a mock registration page for live users to go through their sign-up process. There are a variety of A/B tests the company could conduct.
The goal is to understand the product and the market better before investing in it.
With your hypotheses tested and reliable data in hand, you can now figure out if and how you’ll bring your product to life. Realistically, many companies ditch their products at this stage.
Remember, a POC is a test to see if you can build something, not how you’ll develop it. But if it’s viable to build your product, you can move on to implementing the development stage and setting your team’s priorities for each idea.
An Impact Matrix is a superb tool you can use to figure out what areas of development to target first. The matrix categorizes priorities within four groups that vary in title but have the same meaning:
Easy wins have low effort with solid returns, and big bets take more effort and offer long-term value. And to save time and money, you’ll table incremental items and remove time-wasters.
Making sure you’re building a product you can sell can be a tedious process — especially if you already have high confidence in your product. But don’t attach yourself to every idea.
Sometimes you have to alter and adapt, and sometimes ideas just don’t work out. Regardless, you must go through the validation cycle to figure out the veracity of your hypotheses — and don’t forget about your stakeholders in the process!
If you need help to validate your product, contact us. Our teams at PURPLE can help you shape and refine your product through a rigorous testing process and turn it into a solution that’s valuable to your customers.