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Proof of Concept (PoC) is the safest way for companies to start their relationship with startups. I want to point out here that the search for this type of engagement with new players is among the main objectives of a modern innovation strategy. And I speak not only of engagement with startups in your industry but also of the support areas for your operation.

When a company looks for startups in the same industry, it improves the value of its offer to the customer concerning new products and delivery formats.

On the other hand, when you want to improve your operation, you need to look for startups that help increase your productivity, reduce costs, streamline and increase process transparency.

The proof of concept, which comes from the translation of the original Proof of Concept (PoC), is a way to perform a small contract of service between companies and startups. It is a form of solution or product testing in a controlled environment with reduced exposure to understand the maturity of technology, the synergy of the solution with the company's business areas, and the acceptance of the solution in the market.

This type of testing is vital because startups typically bring a different approach to problem-solving than traditional ones, introducing a new technology that the company does not yet know and does not feel safe to implement at once for all customers.

During the proof of concept, adjustments are made to the solution and business model, depending on the startup's maturity, so that the corporation can use it on a large scale.

Checklist to perform Proof of Concept (PoC)

Before you connect with startups and start your PoC, you need to take some precautions. I checked them out so you could organize everything step by step.

1. Define an innovation strategy

Before you start a proof of concept, I suggest you have a well-defined innovation strategy with an innovation thesis supported by the board and business leaders.

It is necessary to use intelligence for innovation to structure your strategy and your thesis of innovation. With this, you will be able to make a good selection of initiatives that connect with your company's strategic objectives. Without using intelligence, you can waste a lot of money and have various problems in the future.

What are the main problems of not having an innovation strategy
Check below the main consequences of you wanting to innovate in a disorganized way, without using innovation intelligence:

  • lack of engagement of business areas;
  • initiatives spread by the company that do not feed the strategic objectives;
  • non-data-based decisions that tend to be based on strong opinions and generate harm;
  • internal development of solutions that are already offered by more advanced players for a much lower price;
  • bad reputation of the company's innovation projects that are understood only as marketing actions.

2. Make sure your company is "startup-friendly"

Before starting your approach with startups, it is necessary to check if the company's Purchasing and Legal areas have any process for hiring startups. If they don't, it's interesting to go after it as soon as possible to not delay the proof of concept.

3. Define who will analyze technical aspects

During PoC, it is crucial to have an engineer able to analyze the technical aspects of the startup's technology. If you don't have this professional on the team, consider hiring a consultant to do it. Believe me, you will save time and money.

4. Identify your company's pain

To choose the best possible partnership, you need to identify the pain that the startup product or service should help solve. You need a defined process for her to achieve her mission.

5. Define who will be the project leader

The person on your team who will be defined as the startup's project leader must have a senior position in the company. This executive will be responsible for the startup's interaction with the areas involved in the company and for the management of Proof of Concept KPIs.

6. Seek engagement of the areas involved

It is necessary to count on the areas involved in the proof of concept to identify extra costs, inefficiencies, inconveniences, or dissatisfaction with the project.

What comes after the proof of concept?

When completing a successful proof of concept, the next step is to synchronize the solution to the other business areas of the company. It is at this stage that the company builds a more robust and scalable product plan or project.

This is a critical phase and full of significant challenges. The solution needs to be concrete, and it is necessary to have consensus within all areas involved to operationalize the project.

This is because if synchronization is poorly done, the project can be set aside in the long run. On the other hand, when it is well done, the company reaps the rewards of the innovation project.

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