Spoiler alert: The blockchain tech is moving fast. Run P.O.C. Don’t bother much about MVPs before you prove it works.
Blockchain is a tremendously stimulating market both in terms of products offering and technological proposal. Should you aim for market entry with an abundance of investment opportunities with the promise of a privacy-focused yet transparent future social landscape, you may want to plug into the blockchain innovation sector.
Let’s propose that all public and systematised matters in human affairs shall eventually be traceable, transparent, and non-alterable. Some might call this an uber-efficient, decentralised “Bureaucracy 2.0” powered by technology. It could potentially be applied for everything from running elections and proving ownership of creative works, to monitoring stock market trades. To that end, 21st-century technocrats are bullying forward to harness and combine cutting-edge tech with innovative social processes to solve the biggest problems of our time. How cool would it be to be part of or even become founder of some of the largest ecosystems and tools that will run society, the economy, or the financial system?
On the other hand, in the business sector and for whatever entrepreneurs do, there are some general and historically-proven common denominators. One of them has always stuck around: ‘who reaches the market first with an innovative idea usually creates, or predominantly owns that market. At least for a while’.
In the blockchain market, speed of execution, uncertainty of technological implementation, and proposal relevance in the wave of disruptive evolution creates the need to adapt quickly and constantly change in order to find the right product-market fit real fast for any potential project.
Let’s take a step back. For an innovation team/individual, a conventional 0-to-million endeavour pipeline will process ideation like the following:
proof of concept (can this work?) → prototype (you like it and want to invest?) → minimal viable product (let’s launch, its customer ready) → consolidate, scale, iterate (growth phases).
That seems to work just fine in a conventional, stable business environment. But in the crypto space, the slow nature of the procedure may be inappropriate. For any project new-to, synching with, or exploring Web3, you probably want to course correct the application life cycle initiation process.
The question then becomes: what truly defines a POC?
Essentially, it’s the initial product development validation step. It then acts as an exercise to produce concrete evidence (code) to verify a design concept, product, or methodology (can be turned into an /is feasible/ practicality). Is the proposal applicable in a real situation? The outcome is naturally experimental, usually lacking scaffolding, but if the idea is unique, it stands tall. In a fast-evolving technological environment, we dare say it can act as a business or product proposal (we have written code for automation after all, right?!).
To clarify the intent, we’re not looking for market confirmation here, or how to choose the best production path. In a disruptive landscape, you want to crystallise ideas fast, assess proof of worth, identify potential risks, and get data before allocating more resources behind an untested hypothesis. Eventually, a successful POC output is code. It works, and blends in with the all-new-tech out there (needless to say with yet little auditing, best practices, or state of the art - cutting edge, investment strong tech ecosystems are generally less than 3 years old).
As a potentially helpful and simplistic analogy: you want to think of it as the first or second wave of gold miners arriving on the east coast of the US, which promised the much-demanded gold, with tremendous social impact, where colonial Europeans went for the land grab to build mining operations and the prospect of better lives.
The question for a project manager or investor becomes: how much operation is enough in the innovation race to secure a marketplace? With a thoughtful proposal, market insiders, seasoned engineers, and designers, the POC stands as a draft or even an early version of the final product. Why not make it act as a prototype and MVP altogether? That written piece of automation is valuable as long as no one else has reached the market with a similar proposal, while it’s still fresh and core structures it relies on are in place. In effect, bathing in an ecosystem that develops rapidly but is also risky (zero to something ratio is usually transcendental and mind-blowing), you have to pace yourself and consider the cost/opportunity ratio.
The main advantages the process seeks to offer are identifying implementation issues early on (practical discovery phase ++), and being able to weigh the cost of solutions. This offers one the superpower to make critical decisions right at the start, reducing any financial risks to end-nowhere-near-a-viable-market-proposal.
Note that the major drawback of this approach is twofold:
- the risk to give up on a project due to biased initial criteria, which may have been viable over the long term for a little more effort invested
- scalability issues → where you try to make things stand together fast, but lack the pipeline setup/culture to follow through to production or industrialization scales.
To break the latter down to a minimum of impact, should you successfully profile your audience, determine performance expectations and list all business needs, you may just have a winning idea. And repeat. Practice makes perfect.