“In today’s world, a startup can’t sell its technology or get investment without a proof of concept. However, open innovation labs run by large enterprises don’t have the tools to put the POC process on steroids and really disrupt it,” says Alexey Sapozhnikov.

Sapozhnikov is CTO of Israel’s prooV, touted as the first-ever pilot-as-a-service platform. Global enterprises and independent software vendors are using prooV to discover, connect with and execute POCs quickly through remote and secure testing environments.

By simplifying how new technology is evaluated and adopted, prooV is addressing the irony that the very process designed to boost innovation is itself outdated, complex and inefficient.

“When you run a POC the majority of your effort is in setting up the testing environment, which can take a long time and that delay can kill the project. You need to get to the bottom line as fast as possible,” Sapozhnikov tells ISRAEL21c.

He and Toby Olshanetsky founded prooV after 20 years of experience running POCs from the enterprise and vendor sides, so they know all the pain points intimately and tried to solve them.

Enterprises, for example, benefit by easily finding startups that are relevant and mature enough to provide the sought-after innovation; setting up testing even in a classified environment; automating the process; and judging results objectively.

prooV can handle multiple POCs simultaneously on a dedicated simulation of the enterprise’s production environment, delivering insights and analytics about each pilot solution.

Isracard competition

Isracard, one of the largest financial-service providers in Israel, recently used prooV to run a POC competition to test out software in categories ranging from e-commerce to geo-based analytics.

Of the 200-plus startups that applied, 40 received access to dedicated cloud-based testing environments generated by prooV. The entire process of initiating the competition, setting up the environments, running the POCs and deciding the winners took two months. Normally this process could take as long as two years.

prooV CEO Toby Olshanetsky, center, with participants in Isracard’s “prooVday,” September 22, 2016. Photo: courtesy
prooV CEO Toby Olshanetsky, center, with participants in Isracard’s “prooVday,” September 22, 2016. Photo: courtesy

“At Isracard our chief competitors are no longer other corporate financial firms, but rather the many small startups that have carved out niches in specific services that are part of our offering, executing them in a way that is better, easier and often less expensive than we and other institutions can,” noted Ron Wexler, CEO of Isracard.

“Once we started working with prooV, we quickly realized the acceleration potential the platform could provide in our efforts to collaborate with startups, and we decided to take it to the next level in the form of a competition.”

Among other companies using prooV’s platform are Amazon, GE, AIG and Comcast.

Crystal ball

Software developers approved by prooV’s business analysis team get access to a virtual marketplace that Sapozhnikov calls “a ‘crystal ball’ where you can see other pilots running in your domain.”

You can apply to an unlimited amount of pilots and can participate in up to three at a time. Once the enterprise’s representative on the platform approves your pilot, prooV sends you a POC package with required documents, system documentation and technological access points needed for integration, as well as a messaging channel to the enterprise through the prooV platform.

“With this, you can start the POC on the spot,” he says.

“If you don’t find an existing pilot relevant to your solution, you can suggest a pilot to an enterprise and they can respond and create a testing environment for you.”

For enterprises seeking disruptive solutions, prooV’s support team can create a POC campaign including documentation and various kinds of pilots and testing environments on premises or on top of prooV’s cloud.

Founded in 2015, prooV employs more than 30 people in its offices in San Francisco, New York and Herzliya Pituah, and is backed by Mangrove Capital Partners and OurCrowd.

“We’ve raised $7.2 million in two extremely fast rounds,” says Sapozhnikov, a serial entrepreneur as is his cofounder Toby Olshanetsky. The two men have been friends for 22 years.

If the product is so great, why didn’t anybody think of it before?

Sapozhnikov says that’s because the POC problem is a relatively new one that came with the cloud-computing era. And the technology to solve it also is relatively new.

“We are the pioneers in this new market of pilot-as-a-service,” he says. “Startups were failing because of reasons not relevant to their product idea, and enterprises were wasting time — a lose-lose situation. We wanted to create a win-win.”

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