The POC way of building a zero-to-one startup


While building a zero-to-one startup you won’t have a lifeguard to save you from drowning. So before you are in the situation shown in the image below, make sure you are confident enough that you know swimming. Why not try it in a swimming pool first, before jumping into the lake directly. This is how POC will help you before you build the actual product.

So, What’s POC?

POC or Proof of Concept is to test certain assumptions in order to obtain confirmation that the idea is feasible and viable. In other words, it shows whether the product or its separate function is suitable for solving a particular business problem.

At first, when you think about an idea it will have many assumptions, known or unknown. You think you can build a unicorn out of this idea. But because of cognitive bias, sometimes you might forget to account for the most important part of the solution. So building a POC first will make you confident that you are not missing anything.

Feasibility check is something that is the first step when you build a POC. While curating an idea you might have many assumptions. The first thing you should do is to make sure all your assumptions are validated. If you feel some of your assumptions do not work, then look for alternatives.

The next thing you need to check is if your idea is viable. If you are building a zero-to-one startup you are constrained on multiple fronts. You will not have enough money at the start, you will not have the leverage of big teams. So you need to be careful before going all in. When you build a POC, you will know what it will take to convert the idea to an actual product. This will help you to plan your future roadmap better.

How to build a POC?

#1 Define your POC

Once you have conceptualised your idea, first you need to define what’s the POC you need to build and test, in order to be sure that you can convert it into an actual product. This is applicable at every phase of the startup. It can be at a stage where you are just starting on the concept or it can be at a later phase where you are adding a cool feature to your product. First. The last thing you want in a zero-to-one startup is to spend months building the product just to find in the end that it does not work. So, define your POC, which will unblock you from going into this situation. Think carefully, what all things are there which need validation.

#2 Divide it into subproblems, try to solve them separately

Once you have the overall idea, try to break it down into smaller problem statements which you can validate separately. For example, if you are building a machine learning-based startup, divide your subproblems like, how to collect data, how to build an XYZ recognizer, how to integrate the recognizer in an android app.

#3 Look for existing solutions/platforms you can leverage

Spend some time on google. See how other people are trying to solve a similar problem statement. Even though it might feel fascinating to build everything from scratch, but don’t waste your precious time on something which has been already done and dusted. Look for existing platforms that you can use rather than build it on your own. Have a basic understanding of the cost associated with those solutions or platforms. See if it fits your budget.

#4 Don’t overbuild.

Understand the difference between POC and the actual product. POC is just to validate your idea. So pick up the programing language/tools you are most familiar with and just build it in such a way that clears all your doubts.

#5 Build it fast

The whole point of building a POC is to have a concrete concept as quickly as possible. Don’t take months to just build a POC. Build it in a week. Don’t go for 99.9% accuracy. You can always improve it later when you are building an actual product.

So folks, happy building 👷‍♂️ 🧰 ⚒

This article originally appeared here.

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