Generating value from POCs

Not too long ago, I was speaking with a founder of a well-funded startup.

Solution: innovative.

Team: solid.

Product: decent for an early version.

Customer interest: quite a few POCs.

Yet, no conversions.

Everybody liked it, but nobody was signing up.

This was baffling.

Then they started offering it for free/near free.

Still nobody wanted to sign up.

We started reviewing the product, the pitch and the POC scope.

Lot of things were done well.

Two important things were missing.

  1. The “success criteria” for the POC

– Before the POC started there wasn’t adequate discovery

– What problem was being solved and for whom?

– How would they measure/evaluate whether the solution met their needs?

– What would the solution do more than the POC?

  1. Identifying an urgent and valuable use case

– Most of the discussions were with prospects for which the solution was “nice to have” (vitamin in the vitamin vs painkiller analogy).

– Too many discussions were with people in their network

– Value was not clearly articulated as time saved, money saved or money it will make

Then we started working on that.

Avoided friends and family.

Reached out to strangers.

Things improved.

We got less signups.

But with companies that were really interested.

More learning.

More conversions.

Eventually more paid signups.

Happy team!

What is your experience of doing POCs?

Do you define the objectives and success criteria upfront?

Free or paid?