One of the biggest challenges facing technology startups (and many other technology companies) is getting established businesses to run "Proof of Concepts" - that is, trials of the startup's offerings, that, if successful, will likely lead to a sale.

What is the issue?

Because large firms typically do not like to be "Guinea pigs" with new technology, they rarely purchase major systems from startups without first running a PoC. To achieve revenue, therefore, startups often must undergo a process of identifying ideal target customers, finding points of entry into target organizations, cultivating relationships with relevant employees, working their way through the organizations until they identify and reach the right team members, and enduring long processes to reach the point where the prospects will run PoCs.

Also making the PoC process time intensive is the fact that, in many cases, large business have multi-step processes that must be followed in order to bring untested code into their data centers; in many situations, organizations may also need to either create fake information for a PoC, or get various signoffs in order to utilize real corporate data on previously untested systems. As a result of these factors and others, even after its product is fully developed, a startup often must expend significant time and money for marketing and sales efforts in order to obtain an initial PoC. Likewise, even if an initial PoC is successful, obtaining and executing the next few PoCs may continue to require substantial resources.

On the flip side, enterprises usually have teams tasked with identifying and testing new technology in an effort to locate the latest and greatest tools that can help improve operations and profitability. These teams are often inundated by startups peddling their wares; it is not uncommon to hear of R&D teams that spend many hours every week listening to pitches related to offerings of little value in their environments. Perhaps even worse is the problem of not finding the right PoCs: Because it is difficult to search on terms related to technology that one does not even know exists, R&D teams may never locate the startups whose offerings could bring the greatest benefit to their organizations.

In short, the Proof of Concept economy is highly inefficient.

What interesting solution just hit the market?

prooV, a startup out of Israel, has designed an interesting solution to this problem - while time will tell if it is successful, it certainly seems worth checking out.

The company, founded less than two years ago, offers a platform for both running and discovering PoCs - almost like a marketplace for PoCs in which startups can show their wares and enterprises can shop. prooV's goal is to allow startups to quickly and inexpensively deliver PoCs to the right target customers, and to allow enterprises to search and identify the PoCs that may be most valuable to their environments. prooV also serves as a matchmaker - suggesting PoCs to enterprises based on profile information that they supply.

Besides serving as the facilitator of matches, prooV provides cloud-based PoC testing environments, thereby allowing both sides to run PoCs without having to modify anything within the testing organization's actual technology infrastructure. Without the assistance of a prooV-like system, creating a PoC environment can often be tedious, time consuming, and expensive; by allowing enterprises to run PoCs in virtual PoC environments that mimic organizational IT infrastructure, enterprises do not need to deal with the bureaucracy and resource-requests often required in order to bring a PoC in house. Also, prooV lets enterprises run multiple PoCs simultaneously, and monitor the PoCs against key performance indicators - so competing PoCs can be run at the same time and judged on identical criteria. From the vantage point of the startup, prooV reduces the need to implement at client sites - which can save significant time and money.

While time will tell if prooV successfully disrupts the world of PoCs, it is clear that it solves real problems (which I have personally endured in several roles during my career), and it seems worthwhile to explore, whether you are running a tech startup or doing product research for a larger organization.